Azerbaijan, Baku, May 25 / Trend K. Zarbaliyeva /
Trend interviewed the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration socio-political department head
Q: Mr Hasanov, the results of the last Eurovision Song Contest, conducted by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) are known. Azerbaijani representaitves Nigar Jamal and Eldar Gasimov are the winners of the contest this year. According to the rules, the next contest must be held in the winner-country - in Azerbaijan. Naturally, the great flow of tourists is expected to Azerbaijan. Does Azerbaijan guarantee security of guests?
A: First of all, I want to say that the Eurovision Song Contest is a prestigious international music contest, belonging to the EBU.
For many years, this contest has been organized and conducted at the level of first-class "brand" of the musical community and visitors of the continent. By the way, we thank the public television channels NDR and ZDF of Germany, which hosted the contest, for objective and transparent holding the event. The winners of the contest, as you said, are two representatives of Azerbaijani youth. All of us are proud that Nigar and Eldar represented Azerbaijan at the contest at a high level and won the award for Azerbaijan. We thank them.
Regarding your question, I unequivocally declare that Azerbaijan is the most stable and safe country of the former Soviet Union today. We hold numerous international sports, cultural, social, political and other events every year and thousands of participants, journalists and tourists from different countries visit Azerbaijan.
The unpleasant incidents have never happened with people who participated in these events. Azerbaijan has sufficient experience in conducting international events. These issues are often found in local and foreign press. I wonder whether Azerbaijan is ready to meet, place, ensure security and resolve visa issues of a large number of people.
This issue has been recently discussed with President Aliyev. I unequivocally state that the Azerbaijani government is ready and able to organize the necessary conditions for the Eurovision Song Contest in accordance with the EBU requirements and to create conditions of safety, convenience and work of all who will join the contest.
Q: Some circles think that the current visa regime in Azerbaijan may create some problems for free arrival of great number of people in Azerbaijan. What can you say about this?
A: I have already said. The President gave instructions to relevant state bodies on all organizational issues. I do not think that there will be any problems with the visa issue. A particular variant of the permission will be chosen before the contest so that to faciliate visa issuing for tens of thousands of people arriving in Azerbaijan.
Q: As Düsseldorf's experience has shown, about 3,000-5,000 journalists are involved to cover the contest. What can you say about their activity, freedom of expression, the possibility of free broadcasting, etc.?
A: Azerbaijan is a country with an open society and rule of pluralism. Special attention is paid to European values, freedom of thought, freedom of speech and press. Using all the existing opportunities, the Azerbaijani government will create the necessary conditions for journalists to operate at this contest at the highest level. There must not be any problem. We are mobilizing all the technical resources of our country to organize free broadcasting. The broad coverage of this process by international media directly meets Azerbaijan's interests.
Q: Mr Hasanov, there is also a question which is on focus of recent discussions: will Azerbaijan be able to hold the next Eurovision Song Contest in accordance with the international standards and requirements? Is there any coordination of all these forthcoming operations?
A: As one knows, every host country is keen for everything to be organized at the highest level and greater results to be achieved at an international event held in its territory compared to previous organizers. Of course, Azerbaijan is a small country compared to such countries as Germany, UK or Russia and its opportunities are much less. But despite this, we will use all our opportunities and claim to hold the contest, which does not lag behind the previous contests, and even, perhaps surpass them.
Of course, this is the EBU's event. So, EBU and its representative in Azerbaijan - the Independent Broadcasting Organization "İctimai TV" determine organizing, rules of conduct, conditions, and rules of the Eurovision contest. Not interfering in the contest, the state organizes the work within the country to hold the contest, to create the conditions. I reiterate it operates to ensure security and visa issuing, to accommodate guests, to allocate venues for the event and to ensure free work of journalists and people of different categories. The State Commission established by Mr. President, the European Broadcasting Union, İctimai TV will coordinate their work. On behalf of the Azerbaijani state, I once again declare that the Azerbaijani government is able to arrange all the necessary conditions for the Eurovision Song Contest within the EBU.
Q: Mr Hasanov, I have not even thought to ask this question. Because there is a need for officials' position on this matter, which is widely discussed in press. The people from various categories, including representatives of sexual minorities are involved in the Eurovision Song Contest. Will not they have any problems with free movement in our country?
A: At the beginning of the interview I said that Azerbaijan is an absolutely stable and secure country. It is an example of tolerance of the South Caucasus per all parameters.
We freely build temples, representing different currents and civilization of the whole world. These are not museums, as it is observed in some countries. They actually operate as the pilgrimage places of existing religious communities and representatives of various religious beliefs.
Azerbaijan is also an international country. There are dozens of different peoples and nations. The ethnic groups live in peace and safety.
Until today, Azerbaijan has never had discriminatory actions on national or religious grounds, on the basis of different civilizations, orientations, etc. Everyone knows about our hospitality throughout the world.
We are not used to differentiate the guests on some religious, ethnic, gender and other categories. These people can entirely rely on Azerbaijan's hospitality, tolerance and modernity. There will be no problem for free and quiet stay in our country.