From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and an outstanding scientist, professor Ihsan Dogramachi at a meeting with the creative team after watching the ballet "Maiden Tower" by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli - Azerbaijan National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, April 26, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: My dear friend Ihsan, with a great pleasure I introduce you the creative group of the theater. They are beautiful, aren’t they?

Ihsan Dogramaji: They are the most beautiful and the most talented girls of the world.

Heydar Aliyev: Therefore, I declare that the Azerbaijani girls and women are the most beautiful in the world. But our boys are handsome as well.

Javanshir Jafarov is the head conductor. Musa Mirzayev is the great composer of Azerbaijan. He revised the work written 60 years ago. You know Farhad Badalbeyli well, he had been in Bilkend University many times.

Today you once more performed for us and all Azerbaijan the ballet of "Maiden Tower" brilliantly. I was told that "Maiden Tower" was revised once more. I told our friends, who arrived from Turkey that this ballet was composed in 1940 by our outstanding composer, late Afrasiyab Badalbeyli. This is the first national ballet of Azerbaijan. If the people of Azerbaijan has brought up such a composer 60 years ago and set up a national ballet, it means that the culture of our people is of high level. The first Azerbaijani ballet dancer is Gamar Almas-zade. She is alive, but probably she was not able to come to the performance today. Then, all the staging of the play was produced by Gamer Almas-zade. Now it is the same direction and music.

I repeat that the ballet is the same. However, Musa Mirzayev modernized music a bit. Its artistic arrangement is great. Everyone who worked on this production, now has fully revealed staging of Gamer Almas-zade.

The history of the national ballet is 60 years. The history of our national opera is about 100 years. For the first time our great composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov laid the foundation of the Azerbaijani opera with "Leyli and Majnun" in 1908. There was no ballet in Turkey then, there were others. Our people perceived these secular decent and human values in XIX century and at the beginning of XX century, all the spheres in Azerbaijan, including the sphere of culture have been widely developed.

I am very glad that this ballet is alive. I like this ballet from my earliest ages, as we have our national ballet, our national music and folk dances. I watched this ballet several times. After a long break, this ballet came to life again and staged. These actresses and actors, of course, performed it well. I do not know about you, but I am impressed.

Ihsan Dogramachi: I am also impressed. I watched the ballet performances in many countries, but I have never seen such a beautiful and such a gorgeous ballet.

Heydar Aliyev: I am very touched. It means, our culture lives, develops and as compared to previous years and decades is at a higher level.

I am very pleased and congratulate all of you. Thank you all. Our art, opera, ballet, that is, our secular theater should live forever. The age of the secular theater of Azerbaijan is 125 years. Now we celebrate this anniversary. Our theatre and art must live and prove that the nation of Azerbaijan has an ancient culture. Our people have always benefitted from the world art, universal human values and will do it hence. You are the performers. Congratulations to all of you. The artist of this performance also arranged a great decoration. In the past, this show had different decorations. Today's design is also great. I thank all of you. You know that I raised your salaries up to six times. I did not raise the salaries of any strata six times in Azerbaijan. I have increased some wages by 25 percent, others by 30 percent, or twice, but I increased your salaries by six times. I do not know, you get it or not.

Ihsan Dogramachi: But it is still not enough.

Heydar Aliyev: If you will work this way, develop our ballet, then after a while I shall return on this issue once more and raise your salary several times, because it is a very difficult profession.

Ihsan Dogramachi: Let us not delay this issue.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, it will not be delayed. I repeat that this is a very difficult profession.

Ihsan Dogramachi: Mr. President, many students arrived here from Turkey with me. I told them that each should take one of the Azerbaijani girls with themselves in order to beautify the future generation in Turkey.

Heydar Aliyev: We have to wait and see, whether they will agree or not.

Ihsan Dogramachi: All the Azerbaijani girls are beautiful.

Musa Mirzayev (composer): I want to say that "Maiden Tower" is the first ballet in the Orient and in the Muslim world.

Yulana Alikishizade (choreographer): Mr. President, on behalf of our entire troupe I want to thank you for coming to our performance. We express our deep gratitude for showing a lot of attention and care to our art. According to your decree our salaries were raised several times. Of course, for us it is a great joy, but at the same time a great responsibility. We promise to do all in our power and skill to develop the Azerbaijani ballet and art in future. Mr. President, we once more express our gratitude to you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I would like to mention one more question. Usually, some people come to me and ask to increase the salaries of teachers, doctors, and others. But I need to see whether there is such an opportunity in the budget or not. Despite the fact that the salary of the staff of the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre was small they have never asked to raise their salaries. They received low salaries and worked selflessly. I knew about it and personally on my own initiative I raised their salaries.

Ihsan Dogramachi: Mr. President, tomorrow morning I shall be on the plane, but my heart remains with you. Goodbye.

Heydar Aliyev: Good luck to you, I wish you great successes. Come to Azerbaijan again and be my personal guest. You are my loyal friend. Goodbye.