Interview with Leila Aliyeva, daughter of Azerbaijani president

At the initiative of Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, a concert dedicated to Azerbaijan was hosted at the State Kremlin Palace on May 17. The concert included popular songs by Azerbaijani, Russian and European composers. The music was accompanied by an exhibition of Azerbaijani rugs which featured about 80 samples differing in their region of origin, ornament and production method. The book Azerbaijan was presented at this event co-organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Azerbaijan’s embassy in Russia.

Did you expect Azerbaijan to win the Eurovision song contest?

Naturally, we did, because I believe that every country dreams of winning the contest somewhere in their heart. And we were dreaming of this, too. Despite the fact that Azerbaijan has only participated in four Eurovision contests, the country has placed fairly high, coming in third, fifth and eighth places. Nothing can compare to the emotions you feel when you win. This was an overwhelming happiness and joy for us.

This concert seemed like a musical greeting, didn’t it? From Baku with love, so to say. By the way, since we are speaking about love, how is it going in AMOR, the Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia?

The organization continues to develop and is getting a foothold in new regions. It is currently present across most of Russia rather than just Moscow and St. Petersburg. Azerbaijani clubs are being set up at many universities in Moscow. The organization will hold its third forum in St. Petersburg in early June and about 70 guests are expected to come. Many organizations will come to congratulate AMOR. I would say that the organization is acquiring new friends every year becoming more and more significant. We have many plans and ideas for the future.

How was the idea born to hold this event? What goals you plan to achieve? What would you like to highlight about it?

Today we are showcasing Azerbaijan’s rich culture. This exhibition features over 80 Karabakh rugs some of which date back to the 18th century. In addition, Azerbaijani performers gave a concert. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation will be holding similar events all around the world to expose people to Azerbaijani culture. Naturally, Russia was one of the first countries where we held this exhibition. I think it was held to a high standard. I was glad to see so many guests, see them support us and enjoy this event. We have already held this event in France. Italy, Turkey and Germany are next on the list. We are also thinking of holding an art exhibition in different countries, naturally including Russia, but it is still at the planning stage.

Azerbaijan became independent 20 years ago and you are almost the same age. These 20 years can be divided into two periods, the first one associated with post-Soviet ruins and the war while the second one can be characterized by stabilization and dramatic economic growth. The second period will always be associated with your grandfather Heydar Aliyev. What piece of advice did he give you that was the most helpful in your life?

Now I understand how lucky I was to be born close to such a man and be able to talk to him. People who only had a five-minute talk with him could still draw a valuable lesson from it, but I was able to see him everyday – this was a great experience for me that cannot be compared to anything. The most astonishing thing is that he never told you what to do, he always allowed you to make the decision yourself. He was a person that I knew would never make a mistake and would find a way out of any situation. Everything was possible for him. This is why I feel that if you believe in something and desire something strongly enough you will achieve it.

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