The Speech of President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the opening of the statue of the distinguished Russian poet Pushkin in Baku - 9th April, 2000

-Mr. Ambassador!

Dear guests!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I congratulate all the citizens of Baku and you on the occasion of this significant event - opening of the monument of the famous Russian poet and writer Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, and I want to express my assurance that this event will contribute to the development of relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, between the Azerbaijani and Russian peoples.

Pushkin is not only one of the genius poets of Russia, but also of all the mankind. It is not accidental that Pushkin`s works know no borders, he lived a short life, but wrote much read and studied by most of the world nations, and these works morally feed people.

Pushkin is very dear for Azerbaijan. His works have studied and translated into Azerbaijani in XIX century by the Azerbaijani thinkers and poets. It is not accidental that the great writer, poet, and philosopher of Azerbaijan Mirze Fetali Akhundov also benefited from Pushkin and wrote his valuable «Oriental Poem» on the occasion of Pushkin`s death.

In 1880 when the monument in honor of Pushkin was erected in Moscow, the Azerbaijani poet Seyid Azim Shirvani devoted a poem to that event.

In XX century Mirze Kazim-bey, Firudin bey Kocherli translated Pushkin`s works into Azerbaijani and gave them at the disposal of readers.

The personal relations of Pushkin`s parents` with Abbasgulu aga Bakikhanov evoke interest, respect, and love of the persons of Azerbaijan to Pushkin. Even there is a legend that t Pushkin and Abbasgulu aga Bakikhanov met during his prominent visit to Erzurum. These are small pieces from the past. However, it is also an evidence how much the Russian writer and poet Pushkin was read and loved in Azerbaijan.

Specials events were held in Baku, Shamakhi, and Naxchivan on the occasion of the centenary of Pushkin. In Nakhchivan, in my childhood in 1899, one of the biggest streets of the town, probably a long avenue stretching along the city, was named after Pushkin. By chance, I was born in that street of Nakhchivan. In my childhood we called it Pushkin Street, but I do not know why, probably our scientists know that, it was not called street, it was called «Pushkin bilan». I spent my childhood in Pushkin bilan. However, in my childhood, I did not know who Pushkin was. Only it was clear that he was in the heart of all the Nakhchivan people either blindly or consciously. While I was at school, when I read the works of Pushkin, I understood that why his name was given to one of the longest avenues of Nakhchivan, which is not a big city.

In XX century, Pushkin became popular in Azerbaijan. As it was said here, our famous poets repeatedly translated most of his works into Azerbaijani. At school, who read Pushkin accept him as a specific poet and writer.

Operas and other stage works have been created by the great Russian composers, based on Pushkin`s works, they are always in the repertoire of the Azerbaijani theatre, especially in the Theatre of Opera and Ballet and continue to remain in repertoire.

Again I say, Pushkin is not a foreigner for Azerbaijan. However, at present, when Azerbaijan is already an independent state, the study and assimilation of his works serve and will serve the development of the Azerbaijani-Russian relations in all the fields.

On the basis of his works a lot of Azerbaijanis have written scientific works, defended their thesis, and got degrees. All is a sign of reputation of Pushkin in Azerbaijan and of his popularity. Is it not accidental that one of central streets of Baku bears the name of Pushkin. I know that in Nakhchivan, in 1899, the street was called by his name. Since I have known Baku, I have known that street. I hope that all the residents of Baku also know it. No one is interested when this name was given. It is accepted naturally. It is also a positive approach of the Azerbaijani nation to Pushkin.

We are celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the state independence of Azerbaijan. In these days of holiday, erection of Pushkin`s statue in the center of Baku in a beautiful place shows that Azerbaijan as an independent country after gaining national freedom, appreciates the other nations, especially those whom they contacted in the past.

Pushkin has played an important role in the development of relations between the Russian and Azerbaijani peoples until now. However, I think that his creativity is necessary for us today as well. He is necessary, because among the great personalities of Russia, Pushkin is the one who exerted influence on all nations with his great works, irrespective of their which social-political systems. Taking into consideration all of this, we approved the initiative of the Russian embassy. During the official visit of the President of Russia, esteemed Vladimir Putin to Baku in January, we discussed this issue, and thought that it is inevitable to erect a monument to him in the center of Baku. Now this statue has been erected. Indeed, this is a great work of sculpture. I think that distinguished Russian sculptor has erected it with love to Pushkin and to his works.

I think that the statue of Pushkin here, in the place, where all the residents of Baku and Azerbaijan are walking, will always remind the importance of the relations between the Azerbaijani and Russian peoples, and the necessity of its development. Because of these reasons, I think that this ceremony, this event, is very significant in the socio-political life of Azerbaijan, and especially on the 10th anniversary independence of Azerbaijan.

I said that Mirze Fatali Akhundov in 1827, immediately after the death of Pushkin, wrote a great poem. There are some works devoted to his death. However, as I know, the greatest one among them is the poem by Lermontov devoted to Pushkin`s death and Mirze Fatali Akhundov`s «Oriental Poem to Pushkin`s Death». Mirze Fatali Akhundov himself translated it into Russian. It spread at once and was highly appreciated. Who reads this poem understands how Mirze Fatali Akhundov appreciated Pushkin`s works. The interesting expressions used therein amaze people. There are very beautiful words. Here I want to read the hemistiches, which I love most.

Lomonosov adorned the palace of poetry,

But only Puhskin is dominating alone there.

Derjavin conquered the land of magic words,

But only Pushkin is the mighty lord there

Let Nikolay govern from the Volga to China,

But the genius Pushkin is the conqueror of the whole world.

Thank you.

Translated from «Azerbaijan» newspaper, 10th April, 2000.