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Both Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan are countries where they honor their great sons

A well-known statesman and public figure, chairman of the Republican Foundation for the Support of Gifted Youth named after Ulugbek, academician Akil Salimov spoke about the deep historical roots of Uzbek-Azerbaijani relations, paying special attention to the high respect of the great son of the Azerbaijani people, Heydar Aliyev, for the Uzbek people.

 

— Dear Akil Umurzakovich, it has become a tradition for the Dune news agency to publish articles and interviews about outstanding people who have left an indelible mark on the history of mankind, including the life and work of great statesmen and politicians of the recent past. It is a great honor for our agency to talk with you about such a person — the great son of the fraternal Azerbaijani people, Heydar Aliyev.

— Thank you so much for your attention.

— It is known that last month, on May 10, the 99th anniversary of the birth of the national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev was celebrated. Thus, next year the anniversary date will be widely celebrated — the 100th anniversary of an outstanding statesman and public figure, whose life and concrete deeds attract attention not only in Azerbaijan, but also far beyond its borders.

Share your observations and views on the true and logical basis for a broad celebration of this significant date on Uzbek soil.

— Before talking about this, I think it is appropriate to turn to the history of fraternal relations between the Uzbek and Azerbaijani peoples. It is known that it has its roots in the distant past. We are connected by language, religion, common culture and eternal traditions, values and customs.

The current representatives of the two peoples are descendants of great poets and thinkers, such as Nizami and Navoi, who wrote unique works of "Hamsa". It is enough to recall the famous lines of Hazrat Navoi:

These legends are the fruit of the hoary ages —

Nizami and Khosrow wrote about them.

Taking the basis, I rebuilt them:

I poured more life into their heroes.

It is not by chance that a monument to Nizami Ganjavi has been erected in Tashkent, and a monument to Alisher Navoi has been erected in Baku.

We all know that in Azerbaijan, Uzbeks are treated with special respect and attention, they call us "brothers" — "gardashim".

I would like to emphasize that the Uzbek and Azerbaijani peoples have long lived on the basis of common values and traditions, their culture, art and literature interacted, enriched each other and developed on common principles and literary canons. Therefore, naturally, Nizami Ganjavi, Imodiddin Nasimi, Muhammad Fuzuli are as popular among the Uzbek people as Alisher Navoi and Zahiriddin Muhammad Babur in Azerbaijan.

Modern scientific and literary contacts of Uzbek and Azerbaijani scientists and writers have enriched the content of historical ties. The famous Uzbek poet Abdulla Aripov described Maksud Shaikhzod as a great poet, a famous playwright, a skilled translator and a unique scientist who left his mark on Uzbek literature and literary studies.

"This unique figure, born in Azerbaijan, has linked his whole life, talent and human destiny with Uzbekistan. In the last century, he and our people went through hardships and trials together. This outstanding personality, who had a great heart and soul, considered the Uzbek family his home and worked side by side with such great writers as Hamid Olimjon, Gafur Gulyam, Aibek in the field of our literature." There is a lot of meaning in these words of Abdulla Aripov.

In subsequent years, Ramiz Askar, a well-known Azerbaijani scientist and translator, translated Alisher Navoi's Hamsa, Zahiriddin Muhammad Babur's Divan and Baburname into Azerbaijani. The complete translation of Nizami Ganjavi's "Hamsa" into Uzbek, carried out by the national poet of Uzbekistan Jamal Kamal, has been published in five volumes in Tashkent and Baku.

It should be noted that more than 40 thousand Azerbaijanis live in our country. Over the years of independence, over 40 of them have been awarded the highest state

rewards'. Among the laureates are statesman Aydin Azimbekov, director Firudin Safarov, representatives of culture and art Kokyab Aliyeva, Ilkhom Abdullayev, Yusuf Aliyev and others.

I have participated many times in the Days of Uzbekistan in Azerbaijan. When I sat next to Heydar Aliyev during such an event in Baku, I witnessed how he enthusiastically and sincerely applauded Uzbek artists and cultural figures.

Historically close creative cooperation has developed between theater groups, various cultural institutions of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. These cultural relations have been further developed.

In general, one can talk a lot about the admirable close ties between the two peoples, express valuable thoughts.

The centuries-old historical friendship of the two fraternal peoples and the strategic partnership based on trust between the heads of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan naturally determine the respect and veneration of our great ancestors. Both Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan are countries where they honor their great sons.

Indeed, Heydar Aliyev is well known in Uzbekistan. At one time, he held very high government posts. In 1993-2003 he was the President of independent Azerbaijan. The modern history of Azerbaijan is closely connected with the name of Heydar Aliyev. Undoubtedly, this politician has played a significant historical role

in strengthening friendly relations with Uzbekistan. This role has always and everywhere found its recognition.

— It is appropriate to recall the visit of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Baku on October 15, 2019 to participate in the VII summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States and the meeting with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. We would like to hear your personal assessment as a statesman of the significance of this meeting.

— You remembered this meeting very appropriately. At it, the head of our state warmly spoke about Heydar Aliyev. "We are always proud of Heydar Aliyev, the great son of the Azerbaijani people. In Uzbekistan, he is remembered with respect. I've talked to a lot of people who have worked with him. He has always treated the Uzbek people with respect. Heydar Aliyev met with Sharaf Rashidov many times, and they solved many difficult issues together. People who remember those days say that Heydar Aliyev treated Uzbekistan with respect in any situation. During the difficult years of the "Uzbek cause", Heydar Aliyev, unlike others, had his own opinion about the Uzbek people," President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.

If we look back at our recent past, we will see that during the years of Uzbekistan's independent development, Heydar Aliyev visited our country twice as President of Azerbaijan. The first time was in October 1996 with a working visit to participate in the IV summit of the heads of the Turkic—speaking states, and the second time exactly 25 years ago - in June 1997 with an official visit.

On October 22, 1996, as part of the visit program, the distinguished guest got acquainted with the State Museum of the History of the Temurids,

created in Tashkent on the occasion of the 660th anniversary of Amir Temur. The wise words recorded by Heydar Aliyev in the Book of Honored Guests of the museum will not leave anyone indifferent. He texted: "I got acquainted with the museum of the great Amir Temur with a feeling of deep excitement and great respect. The exhibits create a fairly complete picture of Amir Temur — an outstanding statesman, commander and great son of the Uzbek people. Great thanks to the people of Uzbekistan for the careful and respectful attitude to the merits, historical heritage of Amir Temur, the manifestation of high morality and wisdom."

In the summer of 1997, during the official visit of the President of Azerbaijan, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Tashkent University (now the National University). At that time I was the Minister of Higher and Secondary Special Education of Uzbekistan.

Heydar Aliyev is a true national leader of the Azerbaijani people. If he went down in history as the architect and founder of independent Azerbaijan, then today we are all witnessing that President Ilham Aliyev, who successfully continues the ideas of such a famous statesman, is making great efforts to ensure the development of the country and increase its economic power.

— You know that it is not by chance that we are talking about this topic with you. The fact that you met and communicated with Heydar Aliyev has remained on the pages of the history of our people and our state. Not only Azerbaijanis, but also representatives of other nationalities — heads of a number of states, historians, international journalists and other professionals - remember the name of Heydar Aliyev exclusively from a positive side. How do you explain the phenomenon of Heydar Aliyev?

— It would not be an exaggeration to say that Heydar Aliyev's talent does not fit into the framework of time and space. He was born on May 10, 1923 in the city of Nakhichevan. The path that began here covered first Azerbaijan, then the entire former Union, eventually gaining worldwide recognition. As I said above, the modern history of today's Azerbaijan is closely connected with the name of Heydar Aliyev.

It is known that on May 28, 1918, the Declaration of Independence was adopted in Azerbaijan and the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was proclaimed. Through the efforts of the country's diplomats, the independence of the state was recognized at the Paris Peace Conference of the League of Nations in 1919.

On October 18, 1991, the Azerbaijani legislature adopted a Constitutional act on the restoration of state independence. At the initiative of national leader Heydar Aliyev, all state symbols of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic were also restored, and today's Azerbaijan became the legal successor of the ADR.

I think, speaking about the phenomenon of Heydar Aliyev, it is enough to recall two historical facts. It is known that he resigned from the post of first deputy chairman of the government of the former Soviet Union in October 1987 in protest against the policy pursued by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. In addition, after the tragedy of January 20, 1990, when a large contingent of Soviet troops entered Baku, as a result of which many people died, Heydar Aliyev demanded to punish the organizers and perpetrators of this crime against the Azerbaijani people. He resigned from the ranks of the then ruling party in July 1991 in protest against the policy of the Union leadership.

From 1993 to 2003, under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev, independent Azerbaijan achieved great success in the political, economic, scientific, cultural, artistic and sports spheres. Under his leadership, great changes took place in the country's international relations, the foundation of an independent state based on scientific foundations, international norms and principles was laid, and a modern self-sufficient state was built. During the years of Heydar Aliyev's presidency, significant changes began to take place in the construction of the national army. And in May 1994, a ceasefire was announced on the front line as the first step in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The referendum on the adoption in November 1995 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan embodying universal democratic values, the holding of multiparty democratic parliamentary elections in 1995 and 2000, the establishment of the Constitutional Court, the abolition of the death penalty in Azerbaijan, the adoption and implementation of a number of important laws are closely linked with the name of Heydar Aliyev.

Yes, the great son of the Azerbaijani people, Heydar Aliyev was a world-class politician in his time, because many countries learned about Azerbaijan thanks to him. Famous people all over the world, authoritative politicians recognized him as an outstanding, wise leader, a man with a broad outlook, as well as pride,

honor, conscience and dignity of Azerbaijan.

Former French President Jacques Chirac wrote about him: "Heydar Aliyev, who was an extraordinary person, led Azerbaijan to the path of prosperity. I highly appreciate his courage, wisdom and determination shown during our meetings, in particular when discussing ways of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in turn, said: "Heydar Aliyev was a great leader of Azerbaijan. He brought stability to his country in times of crisis. The Azerbaijani people can be proud of the legacy left by them." It is well known from history that the leaders of many other countries also expressed their sincere words and objective assessments of the role of Heydar Aliyev. In a word, the whole life of an Azerbaijani politician is an example of selfless love for Azerbaijan and its people.

— As you know, in October 1983, when the delegation headed by Heydar Aliyev flew from Moscow to Tashkent (on the way to Vietnam), the guests were met by Sharaf Rashidov. At that time, many said that Heydar Aliyev had warned Sharaf Rashidov about the "cloudy days" looming over Uzbekistan, called the "Uzbek affair". Although this fact has not been officially confirmed, many believe it, because it is well known that there were close and friendly relations between Heydar Aliyev and Sharaf Rashidov. What can you say about this?

— Yes, it is quite possible. During this stay, the delegation, accompanied by Sharaf Rashidov, got acquainted with the Tashkent metro, the Peoples' Friendship Palace and other objects. Then Sharaf Rashidovich had a dinner with Heydar Aliyev, which I also witnessed.

Indeed, Heydar Aliyev was a person who personally made a significant contribution to the development of relations between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, strengthening historical ties between our peoples.

He visited our country several times on the eve of the historic date of Uzbekistan's independence. A trusting relationship has been established between Sharaf Rashidov and Heydar Aliyev. They often talked, solved various state issues together, their families were friends.

Heydar Aliyev treated the Uzbek people with great respect, highly valued our national culture and traditions.

Sharaf Rashidov attended many meetings of the former Soviet leadership and often met with Heydar Aliyev, and Heydar Aliyev, the only Turkic-Muslim member of the then all-powerful Kremlin politburo, did everything possible to help the Uzbek people.

Today's leaders of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan highly appreciate the established warm relations between the two great leaders. I have already mentioned the opinion of the President of Uzbekistan on this issue. In turn, the current leader of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, also confirmed this idea, saying that from a young age he remembers the close friendship between his father and Sharaf Rashidov.

"As a teenager, I witnessed his close friendly relations with Sharaf Rashidov, they were friends, they were like brothers, and I remember that he was very negatively impressed by the injustice that was inspired by certain circles during the years of the so—called perestroika," President Ilham Aliyev said during a meeting with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Moscow. Baku in 2019.

— Bilateral relations between our countries, as well as political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian partnership are developing under the leadership of the leaders of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev confirmed his determination to further strengthen Uzbek-Azerbaijani relations based on centuries-old friendship and strategic partnership. We would like to know your opinion as a well-known politician and figure about the prospects of cooperation between our countries.

— Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of Uzbekistan in the South Caucasus. This is very important from a geopolitical and geo-economic point of view. I can say with confidence that our fraternal countries, historically close partners, still maintain mutual political trust and close ties today. It is gratifying that bilateral relations between us are developing at all levels, the two states sincerely support each other within the framework of international and regional organizations.

Here I would also like to note that now all of humanity is going through a difficult period. Nevertheless, the peoples of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan have always looked to the future with confidence. It will continue to be so. As the famous Uzbek singer Sherali Juraev sang in one of his songs: "A country with a worthy leader has a future!" The whole world is witnessing that both Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, under the leadership of leaders elected by the will of their peoples, confidently make bold and fair steps. This path is the path to a bright future.

 

Interviewed

by the correspondent of the news agency "Doone"

Shukhrat UMIROV.