Azerbaijan, Baku, July 27 / Trend S. Agayeva /
Trend interviewed the Azerbaijani presidential administration political analysis and information provision department head Elnur Aslanov
Q: Azerbaijan press celebrated its 135-th anniversary. How do You assess the current state of the local media? What do You think about their future?
A: National media experiences an important and crucial period of its development. It is difficult to keep pace with the time in terms of fast-moving technological changes. But without it, it is impossible to become part of the processes taking place in Azerbaijan. The more the media will keep up with these intense transformations, more surely we will speak about the effectiveness of their activities.
Of course, the media, as well as all other areas are subject to changes in public consciousness, interests and preferences of people. Despite the 135th anniversary of the Azerbaijani press is celebrated, there is a great difference between the press ten years ago and modern one. A long way has been passed. Earlier people mostly read newspapers in Azerbaijan, but today the Internet represents a new competitive information space.
There are online newspapers, internet radio, internet TV. Thematic online channels, for example, dedicated to medicine, appear. To imagine a newspaper without a page on the Internet, active debate in social networks is similar with going 20 years back. On the other hand, social networks already occupy a place of information channels, sources of information. It is difficult to keep up with information. The volume is so great that, even after reading dozens of news, it seems that not all have been covered.
National information space is formed in such a global division of media. The dynamics of the national media is gradually developing. Journalists improve their skills. But public interests are changed.
It is important for the national media to be able to pass a threshold, when the access to a new level of development is inevitable. However, this is only the beginning. The society has much to be done. It should demand high-quality analytics, interesting and relevant materials covering interviews. Such an attitude will rather benefit. Media will develop as Azerbaijani society develops today. When politics and economics improve in parallel, as repeatedly stated by the President, the media is obliged to keep pace with this development.
Q: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed decrees regarding the media, as well as allocating five million manat to improve the social status of journalists. How will these presidential decrees affect solving social problems of journalists?
A: This decision is unprecedented. This proves once again how the state is interested in the development of media space, greater openness in the relationship "authority-society". Of course, the president's step will facilitate removal of a number of social and domestic problems of journalists today.
It is not a secret that journalists sometimes face difficult problems. This is a housing problem, as well as a number of other pressing issues such as social security, insurance, etc. Solving the majority of issues, of course, is on the conscience of the employer. The president controls more global issues. On this basis, he decided to allocate 5 million manat.
Journalists are a part of the Azerbaijani society, who can see the changes in society better than anyone else due tof their activity. When they face social difficulties and bureaucratic obstacles, then, of course, there is some dissatisfaction. Do not think that all are done to gain the journalists' inclination, although, of course, good relations with the "fourth power" will never interfere. But the basic message of the President is to significantly improve the welfare of journalists to create a qualitatively new media space in Azerbaijan. New journalism in Azerbaijan is a highly intelligent space of prosperous professionals.
Q: Several international organizations still note that Azerbaijani journalists are under arrest, while those people serve sentences not for their professional activity. How is this unhealthy interest in the issue explained?
A: None of journalists under arrest serve the sentence for professional activity. The President once again mentioned it at a meeting with members of the Press Council. Every citizen is equally responsible before the law, regardless of his/her profession and activity.
Some NGOs' unhealthy interest, thereby advertising themselves, doesn't make us anxious. It is obvious that someone is trying to exert pressure on Azerbaijan upon someone's order. Some organizations simply without leaving their offices sit and write reports based on unverified information. They don't know the realities, cannot see the inside of the processes taking place in the region.
We have repeatedly said that the methodology of most of these organizations is a relic of the "Cold War legacy". And today, some radio stations, and so-called NGOs, whose goal is not criticism, but namely blackening, are used for these purposes. They can do nothing else and don't receive others' orders. Probably, there are still people who think in terms of standing of half a century.
Practice shows that at the same time it happens for very banal reasons - an assistant manager of any project becomes representative of the Armenian Diaspora, which stuff with anti-Azerbaijani information all the office of the project. Imagines anything and writes a report. That's how the so-called opinion of some NGOs appears.
Strengthening of Azerbaijan as a regional actor doesn't suit everybody. Watch over the regional projects. Ask yourself - where do they start? Azerbaijan is a completely new space, a strong state, our citizens are more confident in the future; there is stability - an important indicator of the fact that we are on the right way. Moreover, our political and economic development is based transformation of public consciousness. One need only to talk to those foreign visitors, who traveled to Azerbaijan, visited the regions, saw how the country is gradually changing, and it becomes apparent that Azerbaijan's development has enormous scope. This is a statement of fact.
Undoubtedly, it's impossible suddenly to state that all problems are solved, democracy triumphed. It takes years, decades. Consciousness is transforming, generation is changing, a new environment appears. All these take time. It is important that you go on this way, gradually, by changing and transforming the region day by day. Therefore it is clear that the South Caucasus's future undoubtedly related to Azerbaijan's future.
Q: Armenia once again puzzled the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, not adopting updated Madrid principles. At the same time the Armenian side is based on certain agreements reached with Baku in Saint Petersburg. Does it mean that Yerevan, wanting to gain time, finds new and new pretexts to avoid the settlement?
A: Armenia has irrational and unconstructive position. Moreover, it tries to shift blame to others. The Armenian President said that Azerbaijan doesn't agree with the Madrid principles, and, they say only Armenia offers to resolve the conflict based on the principles of the territorial integrity, non-use of force and the right of nations to self-determination.
Completely alogical approach. First, Azerbaijan is a state, whose territory is under occupation. Consequently, we are more interested in the principle of territorial integrity of states. Secondly, the Armenians have already constituted themselves in their state of Armenia. Thirdly, the principle of non-use of force already exists more than 16 years, but no progress has been achieved in the peaceful settlement due to the Armenian leadership's non-constructive position. International law doesn't prohibit the use of military force to establish sovereignty on its own territory.
Thus, Armenia gains time, trying to deceive their society. The Armenian leadership's naked game is already evident. Today, Armenia takes the back seat in the economic development of the South Caucasus. This understanding further exacerbated already difficult political situation in the country. And time will show how long self-deception in Armenia will last.
Q: The opposition becomes more active on the eve of parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, negotiations on unification of parties are underway. How do you assess the current political situation in Azerbaijan in general?
A: Parties function, prepare for elections, hold discussions, synchronize the clocks. Someone succeed, someone bluffs again, trying to put a brave face on a sorry business. In any case, the main individuals in these games are unchanged for over 20 years, and all the insinuations in the opposition are obviously predictable. Realities of processes in the opposition bloc once again prove it.
At the same time, sociological studies show that the ruling party has an overwhelming majority. The community evaluates the political situation as stable and corresponding to the pace of Azerbaijan's development. The community's faith in the President is quite high, and analysis of the current political situation, foreign and domestic activities of the President indicates that this dynamic will increase close to the elections.