Consul General in Istanbul: We Must Work Tirelessly for Our Country

Interview of the Consul General of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Istanbul Masim Hajiyev to Turan

“Personal relations play an important role in deepening relations between countries”

Turan: If you would like to evaluate your 4-year activity as the head of a consular post, what would you note first?

Hajiyev: Although the norms of diplomatic and consular representations are determined by the Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963, there is no doubt that each member of the Embassy and Consulate is sent abroad with a long-term mission to protect the interests of his country, therefore I am not an exception.

Reporting to myself for my activities in Istanbul, first of all, I thank our President. I worked in this city before, I know these places. I watched closely and tried to study Turkey during my work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, and 16 years later, when I returned to Istanbul as Consul General, along with the instructions given to me, I had my own plan of activity. First of all, I must say that I have completed all the tasks assigned to me by the Ministry that I represent.

Istanbul, being one of the most complex cities in the world, as well as one of the most populous cities (except Ankara), is within the purview of the Consulate General. Therefore, as soon as I started working, I met with governors, mayors and police chiefs of large cities, including Istanbul, and established horizontal relations with Mayors and heads of districts of Istanbul.

Of course, Azerbaijan’s place in Turkey is special, and most of the doors are open for us. However, my personal experience has shown that direct contacts that I have established with the authorities help solve problems in all areas. I was convinced that if official correspondence for solving the problems of our citizens living in Turkey is 20%, then 80% is personal communication.

The establishment of close relations with the Consuls General of other foreign countries in Istanbul also helped me to conduct a fruitful dialogue with my foreign colleagues on many issues, including the issue of our occupied territories. Close relations with both the owners and the leaders of the Turkish media helped me to reflect the truth about our country in the media.

 On some special dates for our country, I wrote articles for the Turkish press. I repeat: I did not need diplomatic “trainings” to get to know Istanbul and adapt to it, therefore, having finished my protocol meetings, I started implementing the plan.

One of my main goals was to establish direct contacts between the Consulate General and our citizens located in the service territory. And we did it.

Sometimes we sent our employees to other cities for several days to quickly resolve the issues of our citizens.

The relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan are based on the words of our great leader Heydar Aliyev "One nation - two states." As before, all activity will henceforth develop on this basis. We see that Turkey adheres to the same principle.

Turan: You say you have a close relationship with the media. What kind of relationship do you mean?

Hajiyev: You know that Turkey has strong media. Soon after taking office, I met with the owners and heads of the media in the center, visited some important observers and invited them to the ceremony at the Consulate General. This is part of my work with the media.

On the other hand, I organized work on the coverage in the Turkish media, as well as in the Azerbaijani media, of information on the activities of the Consulate General. I wrote articles for the Turkish press on important dates for our country. Over the past 4 years, over 30 of my articles have been published in the Turkish newspapers Cumhuriyet, Milliyet and Yeni Çağ.

Turan: As the head of the consular department, what do you particularly remember from your work?

Azərbaycan Respublikasının İstanbuldakı baş konsulu Məsim HacıyevGadzhiev: Of course, in all the work done was the support and huge participation of the staff of the Consulate General. Of course, the staff of the Consulate General did a great job. I would like to take this opportunity to thank both our Ministry and our employees. If you do not mind, let me start with the last example: a few days ago, Çendere Avenue in the territory of the Sarıyer municipality was renamed to Azerbaijan Avenue.

For this decision, the Sarıyer Municipal Assembly was not enough (Mayor Şükrü Cenk is my close friend), and the Istanbul Municipal Assembly had to approve this decision. Although the Mayor of Istanbul is a representative of the opposition People’s Republican Party, the majority in the municipal assembly belongs to the ruling AK party. The leader of the ruling party’s faction, my friend Tevfik Göksu, told me that although they are opposed to renaming avenues and streets, but if they are talking about Azerbaijan, they cannot but fulfill this desire.

According to the results of the negotiations, I would like to inform you that at the meeting of the Istanbul Majlis scheduled for July 13, the completion of official procedures arising from this issue will be officially considered.

In 2018, several hectares of land belonging to the Bağcılar municipality in Istanbul were named the Turkey-Azerbaijan Friendship Park, and on February 25, a monument to the victims of Khojaly, which is the largest Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship park in Turkey, was erected there.

As you know, on July 18, 1921 in Istanbul, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan Behbud Khan Javanshir was killed by the Armenian terrorist Torlakyan in front of the Pera Palace Hotel in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. Since many citizens of Armenian origin live in Beyoğlu, many foreign tourists come to the region every day. I asked the chairman of the Beyoğlu district municipality, and we were allocated a place in front of the hotel where a large Behbud Khan Javanshir memorial plaque was installed last December.

The plaque was opened in December last year. The municipality of Istanbul allocated a place in a park in the Halıcı region, where we installed a bust of the great Azerbaijani poet and playwright Huseyn Javid. Under the bust, we wrote that the ashes of Huseyn Javid were brought to Azerbaijan from Siberia by our great leader Heydar Aliyev in 1982, and two lines from the play The Prophet by Javid.

Ibrahim Safi, who was born in the Sharur district of Nakhchivan in 1898, arrived in Istanbul in 1918 and studied painting there. Ibrahim Safi played an important role in the development of Turkish fine art. He had no children, and he died in 1983.

By decision of the Beyoğlu municipality, a memorial plaque was placed at the entrance to the street on which Ibrahim Safi lived. Currently, the best known private publishing house in Turkey, Kızıl Kedi, has printed a book with the works by Safi, his letters and documents. Since the documents in the book were published for the first time, it was a very good gift for art lovers in Turkey.

At the Feriköy cemetery in Istanbul, led by the family of Ahmed Ağaoğlu, there are people who have done a lot for Azerbaijan to become an independent state for the first time. Guided by the Presidential Decree on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan People’s Republic, with the permission of the Istanbul Mayor’s Office, we engraved on the wall near the entrance to the Feriköy cemetery a board with the names of famous people of Azerbaijani origin resting in this cemetery. And, of course, one of the most significant events for me was commemorative coins minted by the Turkish Treasury in honor of the 100th anniversary of our Republic in accordance with the aforementioned order.

In connection with the minting of commemorative coins, we had a great correspondence with the Treasury. I consider it a blessing of fate that these 2,000 commemorative coins were minted during my tenure as Consul General. From the side, everything I have listed may seem immodest, therefore, with your permission, I will stop here.

Turan: This is not a problem for us. But if you do not want to list more, then we will treat this with understanding. Thank you for taking the time to interview. If you want to convey something to Azerbaijan or Turkey through our agency, then please...

Hajiyev: I am grateful to Turan for the opportunity to give an interview. My message is that the friendly and fraternal relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan are deepening every day. Without the political will of the heads of state, the heads of diplomatic and consular missions will not be able to do serious work. The political will of our President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lies at the heart of the development of relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Drawing strength from the political will of the head of my state, I consider it my official and personal duty to work day and night. The existence of two states is very important for themselves because they both complement and make each other stronger. May our friendship and brotherhood last forever. If in the development of relations between “one nation and two states” there is at least a fraction of my participation and role, then I will be very happy.

Thank you for the interesting interview.

Thank you!

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