Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the 60th anniversary of the prominent Azerbaijani writer and cinematograph Magsud Ibrahimbeyov – «Gulustan» Palace, May 14, 1995

Distinguished Magsud!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I congratulate you on the 60th anniversary of Magsud Ibrahimbeyov, on a significant event for our country and people, in t «Gulustan» Palace today. Guests from other places are also present here, that`s why I have started my speech in the Russian language. Russian is well-known in Azerbaijan; however, our native language is Azerbaijani. Today is a literary and cultural night. The place of the language in literature and culture is irreplaceable.

Dear Magsud, ladies and gentlemen!

Today, indeed, is a significant day. We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Magsud Ibrahimbeyov, a prominent representative of the Azerbaijani literature, culture and art, great public and political figure, who has done great contributions to the life and people of our republic.

As President, I have congratulated Magsud Ibrahimbeyov officially and signed a decree awarding him with the highest order of our republic, the order of «Shohret» (Fame). In other words, both congratulation and rewarding by the government have already been announced to the public. However, today I have come here at the invitation of Magsud. Because it is not only the anniversary of Magsud, but also a pleasant, significant, and even historical day for the Azerbaijani people and for the culture and literature of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

We are always proud of the history, past and the achievements of our people. Culture and literature occupy the most prominent places in this field. Along the centuries-old history culture, literature and art have brought our nation to present days through difficult ways and demonstrated high morals and spiritual richness of our people to the world. Both in the past and present our people and republic are known mostly with its culture, literature and intellectual level in the world. Just because of it, the present event is of a special importance.

It is true, due to our traditions, that such anniversaries have been held in certain forms until now. There is a certain stereotype. However, life develops and brings for us innovations. Today we hold this anniversary not as a past tradition, but on the initiative of Magsud in this form. I think that it has also its specific significance, I can say, specific taste. Today I have come here considering this anniversary as an important day for our literature, spiritual life, and culture as a whole and I am celebrating this day together with Magsud, his friends and guests.

Services of Magsud Ibrahimov are great. He has a special place in our literature and art. One of the differentiating features of our literature is the introduction of new ways, forms and tendencies to our literature from time to time by our talented personalities. One of them is Magsud Ibrahimbeyov. His creative works are specific in form; content and meaning, differing him from the creative works of others.

There is a lot to say about Magsud and his creative work. I do not want today to analyze his creative work. However, his works reflect our life, reality and our time. Recognition of Magsud Ibrahimbeyov and his brother Rustem Ibrahimbeyov by our society, their first steps in the literature, culture are in my mind, which were not ordinary, but unordinary, in a certain sense. Sometimes they were not accepted duly as they contradicted the existing forms. Even there was a period when these brothers were not known as dissidents. They were not dissidents. There have never been dissidents in Azerbaijan. When I was retired in Moscow, a reporter asked me about it. When I experienced hard days, in 1989, I was calumniated a lot.

Then it was fashionable to discuss who was a dissident, who was not. Thus I was asked that whether there were dissidents when I headed of Azerbaijan. I said no. They asked: «why?» I told them that just we were not looking for them. If we really looked for a dissident, it was possible to brand both Magsud and Rustam Ibrahimbeyovs. Some were branding and describing them in a such way. However, they have never been dissidents. They have always occupied their worthy place in the Azerbaijani culture, art, and literature and created very valuable works for our people, for the past, present and future. Those works are read today with interest, they will be read tomorrow, and I hope that the future generations will also read them and understand the life style of the Azerbaijani nation in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

The creative work of Magsud, you know, when you mention Magsud, Rustam comes to the mind, because their lives and creative works are similar. However, today I talk only about Magsud, although the creative works of Magsud and Rustam are very close to each other, they have started at the same time, they are brothers, just because of it, it is very significant that they reflect the realities of that period explicitly. Reality was both valuable, positive and undoubtedly, negative aspects of our life and society. From this point of view the creative works of Magsud and Ibrahim are similar to my activity in the initial years in politics.

Now we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of Magsud. I remember the 60s. Magsud was a 25-30 year old young man. Rustem was younger. They were taking their first steps in the creative work. I started to lead Azerbaijan in 1969. Then they were young writers and representatives of the young generation of our literature. We have covered this road together for 30 years. Now when I look at Magsud, he seems the same to me, a young man. I remember this period, we were engaged in the Union of Writers, with writers, we said that we had to meet the young writers separately. I remember. In the congresses of the Union of Writers we met both the old and the young writers separately. The young writers were Magsud, Rustam and others, and they are still young for me. Now I cannot imagine that Magsud is 60 years old and we have gathered here to celebrate it. However, at the same time it shows that 60 years are not much. Is it? How do you feel?

Magsud Ibrahimbeyov: I feel that I am very young.

Heydar Aliyev: We have spent these years together. It is true that we lost contact for some time. However, one of the characteristics of the creative work, public activity and all human qualities is that he has always chosen the right way. I hope that he will not be offended if I use such a phrase: he has not become corrupted, has not taken the wrong way. He has never changed his faith because of any conjunctive reason.

This is the period of socio-political processes and very complicated. Imagine, in which conditions we were living in the 60s, 70s and 70 and 80s. Azerbaijan suffered a lot in that period. There were very serious socio-political processes in the republic. Some of those processes harmed our country very much. Our republic was drawn to the war seven years ago. Armenia committed an aggression against Azerbaijan. The war started. Now we live in the state of war. Truly, it`s already a year we have a ceasefire. Our people have been living peacefully for a year. There has not been fire for a year. Fire sounds have not been heard for a year. We have not martyrs this one year. It is an achievement which we have gained recently. It is also true that we could not end the war and could not return the occupied lands. We have over a million refugees. We have suffered a lot. The tragedy of January in 1990 cannot be forgotten. Misfortunes experienced by Azerbaijan in the previous years, the period after the Armenian occupation…

Yes, there are a lot of changes in our life. People support different sides under the influence of different socio-political processes. They followed the wind. However, most of them, as well as, Magsud have never changed his way; they have never forgotten the reality and approached the realities as a reality. You know stability in character, social life and creative work is a very positive feature. To preserve the specific characteristics is a positive quality. All this can be said about Magsud. That`s why Magsud is loved, known and respected.

Writing in the Russian language is one of the characteristic features of Magsud. There are some people among us claim that if a writer writes in Russian, then he is not an Azerbaijani writer. Undoubtedly, this is wrong. We cannot agree with them. If we agree with them, then we should say that Nizami Ganjavi is not an Azerbaijani poet or Nesimi is not Azerbaijani. This year we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of our great poet Mahhamad Fizuli.

He has a lot of works in Turkish and Azerbaijani. However, he wrote in Persian, Arabic and other languages, too. I think that it is also a great achievement to be an Azerbaijani and to write in other languages and introduce Azerbaijan to the people in different languages, especially, when we were within the Soviet Union. We had a common international language – the Russian language. This language is well known in Azerbaijan.

You know, one cannot approach the creative work as a profession. Creative work is related to innate talent. One cannot be a poet, writer, composer or musician by studying. I know that neither Magsud nor Rustam have graduated from the literature institute. Both of them were engineers. Only due to their inborn talent they have paved the way to be writer, to literature, culture, and art, and to express this inborn talent in the Russian language is not an easy task. It is also a special talanted. That`s why I have mentioned it. Magsud is not an only example – there are other prominent persons in our literature as well, I have always treated them with respect and esteem. As a reader and politician I have not distinguished the writers according to their languages.

Now we live in an independent state. Independent Republic of Azerbaijan is our greatest historical achievement. I am sure that we will keep the independent state of Azerbaijan live and march forth. Our existing intellectual and economic potentials, the might and courage of our people will keep the independent Azerbaijan live and pass from generation to generation. That is why, we take care of the improvement of the Azerbaijani language. It was paid attention in the past, too. If it was not, such a rich literature in Azerbaijani would have not been created.

However, besides that we had a common language – the Russian language in the Union. To propagate and develop Azerbaijan and to deliver the reality of Azerbaijan in this language was a great job. I remember that when I worked in Kremlin, in Moscow, we met at the request of Magsud. He gave his book to me as a present. Then I just had returned from a significant visit in Yugoslavia. He told me that the first lady of Yugoslavia is a Serbian translator of that book. It gladdened me. I was sitting in Kremlin, and talking to Magsud. He had written a book, and it was translated into the Serbian language in Yugoslavia, the translator was the first lady of Yugoslavia – these are not samll things. There are a lot of memories related to it, I can talk for hours. However, by remembering a few of them I want to mention the richness of Magsud`s life.

Here, the words «Bakili», «bakinets», that is «from Baku by origin, were mentioned in one`s speech. Magsud has devoted most of his works to the life of Baku. However, it is really true that in Baku everyone is from Baku. Not only those, who were born in Baku, but everyone. Baku is a city which attracted whatever good in Azerbaijan. That is why, it is important to understand the word «Bakili» in this sense. It is unacceptable to distort this word and use it as a means for stratification in the society, state, and in Azerbaijan as a whole.

Today we have gathered here, in «Gulustan» Palace. Those, who are from Baku, can remember that this place was a cemetery before. It was called «Chambarkend». I remember in my youth, when I was living here, when anyone felt himself unwell, he said that his last breath had come, he would go to Chambarkend. Those, who lived in Baku since the ancient times, know it. Then I was young and did not know the meaning of the phrase «I will go to Chambarkend».

Yes, here was a cemetery. People were buried here. Now, you see that it has become a prosperous place. Now there is «Gulustan» Palace, beautiful hotels, the Upper Park and beautiful buildings instead of a cemetery. All these were created by the labor of the Azerbaijani citizens, who live in Baku.

Baku has been built for within a long historical period generation by generation and reached the present day. Baku is a beautiful city. However, its future will be more beautiful. We are thankful to those, who have built Baku until now. However, I completely hope that the future generations will make Baku, Azerbaijan, more beautiful, valuable and prosperous.

That is why, we are Azerbaijani. We are from Baku. We are citizens of the independent Azerbaijan. We are all united. By being united we can escape the hard exams and difficulties. We can follow our long way successfully by being united on the basis of moral values created by our culture, art and literature. Our way is very hard and difficult. However, I believe that it will take us to a happy future. Independent Azerbaijan has a great future. I believe in its future. I hope it will be like that. I invite all the Azerbaijani citizens to unite and march on this long road to the future. From this point of view I think that this meeting is a good step for uniting on the basis of positive moral-spiritual values, art, and literature.

Magsud, I congratulate you. I wish you, your wife, your brothers and relatives health and happiness. I hope that you will create new works for the Azerbaijani people, for the Republic of Azerbaijan and for the independent Azerbaijan. You will make us happy and the day will come that we will come to your next anniversaries proudly and with pleasure. I highly appreciate your creative work. I wish you successful activities. Thank you.

Historical backgrounds