Speech of the President of Georgia to the Parliament of Azerbaijan

Esteemed members of  Milli Majlis,

Dear representatives of the Azerbaijani nation,

It is for me a great honor to address this Parliament.

I came here to underline how much vital the strategic partnership between our
two nations.

In fact, we are much more than strategic partners.

We are united by the tragic and the glorious memories of a shared past and by the same longing for a common peaceful and free future.

Our friendship has been shaped by centuries of tears and smiles, hopes and disarrays.

Azerbaijan and Georgia are both very old nations and very young independent States.

They have faced and they continue to face common challenges.

And, most important, they have faced them and they continue to face them together, united.

This is the lesson of the most ancient times as well as the most recent past.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am far from being an Historian but, as every leader who wants to understand the present and tries to influence the future, I have a passion for History.

And today, I would like to visit our History and humbly echo the long and deep song of the Azerbaijani-Georgian friendship.

It is this song that resonated in 2008, as you stood so firmly by us while overwhelming foreign forces were invading our land and threatening our very existence.

Its melody comes from the most remote times, the times of the Caucasian Albania and Iberia, the times of the smaller Kingdoms of Georgia and of the Azerbaijani Khanates, the times of the glorious medieval Kingdoms of David the Builder and the Great Shirvanshahs.

Its sound revives also the memory of our first Republics.

It reminds us that, in victory or in defeat, we always stood together against powerful invaders, no matter if they were Christian or Muslim, pagan or communist…

It was not by accident that our greatest king, David the Builder, gave his most beloved daughter to the Shirvanshah Manuchehr the II as a symbol of an alliance that allowed us to defeat together a much stronger enemy in Shamkir, in 1195!

Nor was it a coincidence if the best ally of Irakli the II’s in his struggle for an independent and free Caucasus was Fath-ali Khan of Quba.

And, again, it was obviously not casual if our two young states have concluded in 1919 a treaty to defend themselves against Denikin forces.

Allow me here to quote the first paragraph of it:

The Contracting State undertake to act together with all the armed and military forces and facilities against any attack that threatens the independence or territorial integrity of one or both contracting republics…

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our alliance is not only political. Nor is it based only on common threats. It goes deeper.

The interpenetration of our cultures, languages, cuisines and, if I may, of our souls was and is still permanent.

The greatest Azerbaijani poet of the twelfth century, Nizami Gianjevi, has honored Georgia with his golden words.

Another genius of these times and jewell of your culture, Khagani, even used Georgian words in some rhymes of his poetry…

Among the celebrated Azerbaijani masters of music, many had strong links with Georgia.

From Uzeir Hadjibekov who studied in Gori to Rashid Behbudov who was born in Tbilisi.

Under the tsarist occupation, our capital was indeed an active center of the Azeri culture and the azeri intellectual life.

Mirza Fath- ali Akhundov, one of the father of the modern Azerbaijani identity spent almost half of his life in Tbilisi, where he died and was buried in 1878.

Akhoundov was a pivotal figure in our own intellectual life, a friend of our greatest thinkers – Grigol Eristavi, Aleksandre Chavchavadze, Grigol Orbeliani.

It is also in Tbilisi that was founded the first journal in Azerbaijani Language “Sharqi Rus”.  

What a symbol again, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the independence of the first democratic Azerbaijani Republic was proclaimed in Tbilisi 28th of May 1918. .

We remember so vividly the first Azerbaijani Republic in Georgia, Ladies and gentlemen, because our two republics were absolute sisters, both being unprecedented attempts to build modern, democratic, western oriented states and societies in the Caucasus.

The death of one would logically mean the collapse of the other and, when Azerbaijan fell, Georgia could not survive more than 1 year.

The world stood there, watching the bravest of our people being slaughtered.

20000 of your compatriots have given their life to resist against the invaders and I want to pay tribute to them and to their Georgian brothers in arms.   

The Empire had stroke back, but even the most ruthless repression could not kill our dream of freedom.

This dream had to come true one day and it did 70 years later.

Because, as Mammad Emin Rasul Zadeh, the first president of the DRA said “ Bir kera yukselen Bayrak, Bir daha Enmaz! (The Flag once raised will never fall!)

For a long time, their dream had to take the path of a dolorous exile.

Georgians, Azerbaijanis and several North Caucasian leaders have joined their forces in Paris, Warsaw and Istanbul

Mammad Emin Rasul Zadeh, Jeyhun Hadjibeyli, Mustafa Vekili, Mardanbey Topchubashev together with Akaki Tchkhenkeli, Noe Ramishvili, Spiridon Kedia and the best sons of mountainous people of the Caucasus like Haidar Bammat and Abdul-Majid Chermoev founded the committee of independence of the Caucasus, which later was transformed in the Council of the Confederation of the Caucasus, composed of 12 members, four members per nationality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I can’t resist the pleasure to quote Mammad Emin Rasul Zadeh in his letter written to Stalin in 1923.

His words will sound familiar to many hears today:

And what is going on in Russia now, actually does not differ from what happened here a hundred years ago. Just like a hundred years ago, Russia continues to attach to itself more and more new colonies.

The history directed such a way that the Communist Party that came to power, decided to revive the Russian Empire. This happened to due to the imperial ambitions of the ruling elite and leads very definite results”.      

Let me also quote the magnificent address he had in 1955 on Radio Free Europe:

The Soviet dictator Stalin, who claimed that the separation from Russia is a reaction and separation from others is – the revolution, has died, but his two-faced system – Stalinism still exists. Freedom is a global idea. If there stays at least one slaved person, at least one oppressed nation, the World will not see true freedom and security”.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Rasul Zadeh’s dream did not die and finally came true a bit more than 20 years ago when Soviet Union collapsed.

Soviet Union was not invaded or destroyed from the outside.

Soviet Union collapsed from the inside, because people could not stand it anymore, because it was trying to halt the course of History.

Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as many other captive nations, became free once again.

These were turbulent, chaotic moments, and we both had more than our shares of wars, tragedies, disillusions and dramatic experiences.

But here we are standing, freer and stronger than ever.

And this time, there will be no way back.

This time, ghosts and reliques from the times of slavery cannot prevail over our thirst for freedom.

This time, Georgia and Azerbaijan have built a Statehood that will not be defeated and have integrated the world community of free nations, built partnerships and alliances that will protect their independence.

We are in 2012, and everybody should understand that, in 2012, attempts to revitalize the corpse of Soviet Union are doomed to fail.

Dear Members of Parliament,

A new old idea was proposed recently by some nostalgic leaders in Moscow: the idea of a Eurasian Union.

Let’s not be mistaken.

The name has changed - a little - but the content remains the same, fully.

This project has had many names through History: the Union of the Socialist Republics, the doctrine of limited sovereignty, the policy of sphere of influence or the “gathering of the lands” as pro-Kremlin commentators put it nowadays reviving the most imperialistic phraseology of the Tsarist period.

It has many names, but only one meaning for all of us, the neighbors of the Russian Federation: the end of our freedom and our independence, the end of the dream of Razul Zadeh and many others of our ancesters.

This project cannot and will not succeed.

It will not and cannot succeed because people will not give up their freedom, nations their independence and countries their right to choose their own path.

Even Russian leaders will have to understand this.

They will come to this obvious point: it is better to have strong neighbors than unstable vassals, it is better to be surrounded by happy and proud nations than by frustrated people dreaming about revenge, it is better to have partners than enemies.

To tell the truth, Ladies and gentlemen, and contrary to the lies spread by a powerful propaganda machine, I do not want a weak Russia and I am far from hostile to Russian national interests.

In fact, I am dreaming about a proud and stable Russian Federation, sure of its own strength and its own path, a country that would not need to humiliate others in order to prove to itself an illusory greatness, a State that could ensure decent life to all its citizens and would not try to replace the bread it steals from their mouth with dangerous nostalgia, a country that would have secured, safe and clear borders and not constantly moving margins.

Myths do not feed the poor and margins are harder to safeguard than borders.

Russian patriots, those brave people who wish the best for their country, those who do not send their billions abroad and their poor citizens to unnecessary battlefields, those who want to give back to the Russian people the power stolen by a weak leadership, Russian patriots are not our enemies.

They are our partners, our brothers. They want for their country what we want for ours.

We will, one day, build with them a common space of peace and cooperation.

We will do that with enthusiasm, because we cannot change geography, we cannot erase History.

We cannot and we do not want to. It is our common place, it is our common History.

We have a past in common with Russia and a future to build together.

On our side - we are very clear about it and nothing will make us change our mind - this future will be named European Union and NATO.

This does not necessarily mean a rupture with the Russian Federation. This should not mean a rupture.

As most of you know, Georgia recently abolished visas for all Russian citizens.

It was like sending an invitation to the 140 millions Russians: we welcome you as tourists, businessmen, artists, writers, we welcome you as guests and partners, only not as occupants.

To those who reject this extended hand, to those who prefer to build mental and physical walls, to those who still see the EU and NATO expansion as a threat, I would like to say that Cold War ended a happy day of December 1991, that there is no secrete plot in Brussels or Washington to undermine their sovereignty, that they should greet changes instead of fighting them and that they should start by stopping to occupy other people s land or use ethnic cleansing as well as religious divides as policy tools.

To the other ones, I have just one word to say: welcome! Welcome in our circle of friends and partners.


Ladies and gentlemen,

If today the alliance between Azerbaijan and Georgia is stronger than ever, we owe it to a large extent to the vision and the leadership of my very close friend, the President Ilkham Aliev, and to the identity of views of our two governments for the future of the region.

We want to raise it to an even greater level in the years to come and we discussed yesterday about very concrete and spectacular projects that will benefit our two nations equally.

Nobody should be worried about this.

Our alliance is not directed against anybody.

It is – if you allow me to be lyrical – like love: you do not love somebody because you hate somebody else, you just love somebody.

Speaking about love, I could not end my speech – my love declaration would be more acurate terminology as you saw – without mentioning the most beautiful monument to the Georgian-Azerbaijani friendship, the famous novel of Qurban Said “Ali and Nino”.

Last year, we have inaugurated a unique moving statue of Ali and Nino that has become the city’s landmark and symbol.

This hymn to love, to freedom and to the Caucasus is venerated in the whole Georgia.

The love story between Ali Khan Shirvanshir, grand-son of an Azeri nobleman who killed the tsarist general Tsitsianov and Nino Qipiani, descendent of the famous Nino Chavchavadze, is more than just a beautiful drama, it reflects the past, the present and the future of the Caucasus.

Despite their different faith and origins, theyare united by their love for each other and their love for freedom.

The end of the book is tragic.

As you know, Ali is killed by the Bolsheviks who invaded Azerbaijan.

Ali’s best friend, Ilias Bek writes Ali was killed at 5.15 on the Ganja bridge. In the morning, just before the Russian attack, we have buried him in the courtyard of the mosque.  Our Republic has died, as died Ali khan Shirvanshir.

What we can do today, together, Ladies and gentlemen, is to rewrite the end of Ali and Nino.

We can turn a tragic past into a happy end.

We can and we will make in sort that Ali and Nino s love will never again be smashed by foreign invaders.

We can and we will make in sort that today’s and tomorrow’s Alis and Ninos will live in free, happy, prosperous countries, enjoying their love and their freedom far away from wars, oppressions and divisions.

It can and i twill happen.

It is already happening !

„Bir kera yukselen Bayrak, Bir daha Enmaz!“ (The Flag once raised will never fall!)



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