To what extent is the Azerbaijani youth active, do you think?
The political activeness of the youth cannot be considered separately from the activeness of the whole population of the country. The activeness percentage among the young people is the same as in other age categories of the country’s population and if there is no artificial influence from outside aimed at the young generation, the degree of activeness will not differ.
Do you mean that the youth almost does not differ from the older generation?
Certainly, it does. First of all, the young people do not have much life experience and, therefore, they define their future by means of mistakes and tests. In the countries like Azerbaijan with a stable political area, the rate of the sociopolitical active people does not exceed 3-5% that join parties, public organizations and so on. In period of the election campaign this indicator may grow to 7% but not more. After the elections, people return to their usual life, everyday cares and plans. A similar situation is observed in the youth sector of Azerbaijan. Young people are active in the youth organizations of the parties, student organizations of high schools, public organizations, youth movements. This format fully meets the needs of youth people
You have stressed the “artificial influence”. What do you mean when saying “artificial” and how tensions may appear?
We have witnessed much through 10 years of working in the youth sector of the country: we have seen the one day organizations in period of elections, political adventurers, open provocateurs that provoked the public with their speeches and disappeared when their direct participation in protests was required.
For example, there is a plan to hold parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan by the year end. And today, some irresponsible politicians and separate columnists in oppositional press are developing an idea of holding some radical steps in 2010 saying young people should be in the vanguard of this process. They want to make use of the young people as the object of political process. We witnessed this during the elections held in 2000, 2003 and 2003. I recalled the past years when reading their statements in press. In our childhood almost equal pictures were distributed to children to raise their attentiveness. The task was to find five differences. Unfortunately, it is impossible to find any difference between the statements of our opposition activists and what they said three, five and ten years ago.
On the other hand, it is very strange that the western donor organizations start allocating funds for intensification of one day youth organizations in anticipation of elections. The western structures have started allocating grants for creation of pseudo-organizations and financing different projects to ensure their existence.
You have noted that youth is an object of the political process. What should be done to overcome this situation or is it not like that at all?
To be an object of the process means to play a role of a deaf performer of a thoughtless mass guided by political speculators. To avoid this role, one should either develop independently or become a subject that is a direct participant in the project. Let’s again refer to history and we will see that several international nongovernmental organizations launched pseudo-educational projects in anticipation of elections in Azerbaijan aimed at creating youth structures. Afterwards, these organizations involved representatives of the political organizations that sent young people to streets and other actions of radical opposition. Meanwhile, the post-election period was marked by the disappointment of the young people in politicians and complete indifference to the political process.
In turn, we have always been against such events and promoted the ideas of independent development of youth organizations. Azerbaijan has created all conditions for such a development.
Does it mean that the recent statements of the leaders of radical opposition that 2010 will be decisive are just statements?
That’s it. We observe this every time before elections.
Is this statement not too loud for the head of a youth organization?
Not at all. We are striving to play a role of the subject in the process and as responsible citizens of Azerbaijan we voice our position and defend it. We cannot reconcile with the fact that our compatriots are used in the process of pressing on the country’s leadership. We have a very clear vision of the future of our state and any attempt of external interference in the internal affairs of our country or any intention to weaken Azerbaijan’s positions in the international arena will get a worthy response. We are not going to sit and wait. We are promoting our own ideas.
Jeyhun, whom do you imply when you say “we”?
First of all, I imply myself and my supporters who have the same vision of the future of Azerbaijan. Believe me, we are the majority.
What about your young colleagues that reside or study abroad? Do you have any differences in thoughts, because they are presented as oppositional in some internet forums and social networks?
I wouldn’t divide the Azerbaijani youth. Every Azerbaijani should wish the best for his country. As for the young Azerbaijanis abroad, the things are different here. The first category includes citizens of foreign states, they primarily bring profit to their state and their attitude to Azerbaijan is sociocultural. The second category includes young Azerbaijani citizens studying abroad among whom there are tens of Ireli members.
You are right to say that some Azerbaijani students are presented as oppositional. But it is incorrect to think that all the young Azerbaijani studying abroad are oppositional only because of several presumptuous young people that confuse national interests with interests of donors, that tend to build their career at the cost of financial interests. Their protests gathered insignificant number of people which shows that they are not the majority.
Young people are quite educated and competent not to yield to the provocative traps and not to follow the provocateurs that are extremely active in the internet but disappear when it is time to executive virtual ideas.
Well, anyway, what do you expect from the political processes in anticipation of elections?
I think nothing unusual will happen. The apocalyptical scripts of the radicals will remain on the pages of their newspapers or come true in relation to them. There will be a struggle within the framework of the developed political system and the new staff of Milli Medjlis (Azerbaijani parliament) will be elected in the result.
As for the youth, I am sure that it will be active both as voters and as candidates. I think the year will be very interesting and fruitful.