Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 18
By Fikret Dolukhanov – Trend:
Trend presents exclusive interview with Lev Spivak, director general of the Israel-Azerbaijan International Association (AzIz).
- In anticipation of your birthday and as if summing up this year, could you please tell us about its main events and your work?
- If we talk about the activity of our association “AzIz” then, working according to our plan, we carried out several events in Israel and in particular in the parliament, and these events are significant for us and for Azerbaijan. We also continue to acquaint the Israelis with the sights and achievements of Azerbaijan. Ismailli and Kiryat Bialik became twin cities. With the support of Azerbaijan’s Healthcare Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan, we organized a specialized scientific conference of psychiatrists, which became continuation of our program to create professional bridges for the exchange of experience.
Separately, I would like to mention the observer delegation at the presidential election in Azerbaijan in April, led by Israeli MP Konstantin Razvozov.
- This year election will be held in Israel too. Please tell us about the participation of AzIz in this election.
- In my opinion, the municipal election will become the main political event of this year in Israel. In our country, mayors of cities, as well as MPs of city councils are elected by secret ballot. Besides, mayors of the cities are elected by direct vote, and MPs of the council are elected in the composition of both party and separate independent voter lists. Following the results of the election, an elected mayor forms a coalition from among the newly elected MPs and appoints his or her deputies from them. Namely this coalition in fact leads the work of all the municipal structures of the city for the next five years. The presence of strong factions representing the interests of certain groups of voters significantly influences decisions made by the council and the mayor.
Therefore, it is very important for us, repatriates from the USSR-CIS countries, to include as many our representatives as possible in the composition of city councils for the city authorities to take into account our interests and wishes in future.
Israel-Azerbaijan International Association (AzIz) public organization cannot directly participate in election, however, of course, we support all repatriates from Azerbaijan who have nominated their candidacies in the election.
- Could you tell in details about the participation of repatriates from Azerbaijan in the upcoming election?
- Representatives of our community rather actively participate in practically all electoral processes in Israel, both as candidates for posts and as political consultants leading this election, as well as journalists covering this election.
If we are talking about active participants in the electoral process, then it is worth mentioning, first of all, an Azerbaijani by origin, member of the city council of Ma'alot-Tarshiha city Arkady Pomeranets, who is running for mayor in his city.
The current deputy mayors of Yokneam city - Roman Peres, Kiryat Yam - Adam Amilov again claim their posts, running in the lists of the “Israel Our Home” party under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Mayor of Tirat-Carmel city Michael Cohen (Abramov) and his assistant, member of the City Council Aviran Mishiev. In the city of Nesher, Emil Tchaikovsky is on the second place in the list of candidates for the post of mayor. In case of victory he will become the deputy mayor of the city.
In the city of Rishon-le-Zion there are two our representatives from the Likud party and the Israel Our Home party in two lists. AzIz board member Yosi Peisarov created and led his own movement as a member of the city council during the election in the city of Or Akiva. In all these cities, the number of the Russian-speaking community of repatriates from the CIS countries ranges from 15 to 35 percent. All our lists of candidates for deputies support these repatriates from the CIS countries.
- Does AzIz support only candidates of Azerbaijani origin?
- First of all, of course, AzIz supports candidates of Azerbaijani origin. However, the candidates for MPs include people who aren’t of Azerbaijani origin, but who actively cooperate with AzIz and help us in our daily work in Israel.
It is especially worth noting Deputy Mayor of Afula city Mikhail Barkan, thanks to whom the Azerbaijan Cultural Center operates in the city.
We are greatly supported by the deputy mayor of Acre city Zeev Naiman, mayor of Kiryat Gat city Yakov Ifraimov, mayor of Sderot city Mark Ifraimov, as well as a participant of almost all our events and the initiator of the creation of the AzIz branch in his city, deputy mayor from Kiryat Bialik city Nahum Rachevsky, in the list of which there are two candidates of Azerbaijani origin - Adil Danilov and Sevin Hanukayev.
At the beginning of the interview, I said that Kiryat Bialik became the twin city of Azerbaijan’s Ismayilli. Both candidates in the list of Nahum Rachevsky are natives of the Ismayilli district of Azerbaijan.
All of them and many more whom I probably forgot to mention, and I apologize for this, also put forward their candidatures, and we hope that they will manage to get elected and retain the posts of deputy mayors of cities.
- Do you yourself take part in this election campaign?
- I live in the small town of Kiryat Ekron with the population of just over 11,000 people. At the same time, the Russian-speaking voters in our city, on which all our representatives mainly rely, account for no more than five percent. But it is worth noting that almost all candidates for the post of mayor in our city nevertheless are seeking support of the Russian-speaking voters.
In this regard, I, as a quite well-known public figure, received offers of cooperation from almost everyone who put forward their candidature in our city. However, I decided to support the current mayor of the city Hovav Tzabari, who also suggested me to join his list “Hetz”. If my work is successful, I also hope to become a deputy of our city council.
- Why did you make this choice?
- Because there are only two vital positions: the first is to sit in opposition and criticize, which is undoubtedly easier, and the second is to become a member of the team and try to help, to improve.
- What issues does the member of the City Council deal with? What can he really influence?
- I will answer using the example of my city, Kiryat Ekron, and I think it will be similar to all cities of the country. Thanks to the current mayor, Hovav Tsabari, our city has been leading for four years in the competition for the title of the most beautiful city in the country, and also has the best indicators in the country for the development of the system of pre-school and school education. The quality of cultural projects has significantly improved, but the specific issues of preserving and maintaining the culture of the country of origin leave much to be desired, and I can significantly help with that using ten years' experience of working with AzIz.
There are also issues that are important for all residents of the city: gardening and maintaining order in gardens and parks, lack of parking spaces, the fight against ultra-religious dominance and adolescent hooliganism and much more that can be improved by being a member of the right, active team. In general, a good owner will always find something to fix.
- We wish you good luck in the election. Could you tell us about the AzIz' plans for the coming year?
- We still have significant plans for this year as well. We plan to hold a congress of our organization before the end of this year, participation in which for the most part has been confirmed by almost all Russian-speaking members of the Israeli Parliament.
Next year we plan to develop the program of the twin cities, as well as to continue the ongoing training and sending of delegations of specialists, as well as reporters, who help to establish closer contacts between our countries. After all, in fact, this is exactly the goal which is guided by AzIz in its entire activity aimed at developing and strengthening the ties between our countries.
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