Yefim Pivovar: “Preservation of the traditions of mutual interest is one of the most important tasks of our intellectuals”
Interview by VK
The Chairman of the Russian-Azerbaijani Friendship Society, RSUH chancellor Yefim Pivovar told ‘VK’ correspondent about his new book “Russian-Azerbaijani relations: late 20th – early 21st centuries”.
- Congratulations on your new book! How did the concept of this work come to you?
- I research this subject matter, so I was interested in collecting materials to help my research. We are very active in our Azerbaijan studies; we have a lot of projects. When I became the head of the Russian-Azerbaijani Friendship society I saw it as my duty to write such a work, as it is my profession and I couldn’t have contributed to our friendship otherwise. So I decided to create such a work and I can tell you it was rather easy. We don’t have archives in the usual sense of the word, but my Azerbaijani colleagues helped me and granted access to some important documents of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. It also helped me that I found a publication of Russian-Azeri diplomatic documents that was made 10 years ago. It also helped that dozens of dissertations were written on various aspects of our relations, on their legal, economic and social aspects, etc. I would like to thank my colleague Chernyavsky for his book, and Izmozhdeniv for his dissertation that is made on the same topic but envelops only the period till 2000. It all gave me a solid foundation for my work. I had no model, and it was very interesting to create one which could be later used in researching other post-Soviet countries' history. Of course, we actively work in the field, for example, our media agency Vestnik Kavkaza which is present here today. We plan to send our students to Baku in May. They study design, so they will make sketches, paintings and photographs there; they will have workshops, etc. I hope it will be a fine example of our two countries cooperation. We are also preparing for our forums, whether they take place in Astrakhan, Baku or Dagestan, it is an important aspect of our cooperation, and I hope it will develop further. So I hope my book will have to have more than one edition.
- What is the role of the intellectuals in the development of Russian-Azerbaijani relations?
- It is the key role. Azerbaijan is a fine example of the careful preservation of Russian culture, of Russian heritage. In Azerbaijan the Russian language (and I welcome it a lot!) is still taught at school and in universities without any discontent. And not only this, some other subjects are taught in Russian too: any establishment of higher education has a ‘Russian sector’, theses are being defended in Russian. There are also Russian kindergartens, and not only members of Russian diaspora send their children there, Azerbaijani natives also often pick these daycare facilities because they believe that Russian language will give their children a broader range of opportunities in the future. It is a very good example, as you know there are al of of problems with the Russian language status in some other ex-Soviet states. But in Azerbaijan there’s no problem, Russian language is accessible to the major part of the population. And the intellectuals play the key role as they are the ones who guard the traditions.
It is very important to preserve the traditions of mutual interest, and it is one of the main tasks of our intellectuals. You’ve seen Mr Khazin at my book’s presentation today, he wrote a book “Azerbaijan’s symbols”. And you can see that in these ‘cultural brands’ of Azerbaijan there are a lot of Russian elements. Azerbaijanis live not only in Baku, bit in many other regions, just like Russians inhabit Baku as much as other regions, Azerbaijani diaspora is spread all over the world. The intellectuals make great contributions to the solidification of our friendship, and I think it is the ignorance that leads to xenophobia, conflicts and violence, while knowledge never leads to such things.