Press Conference in Azerbaijan: on Public Diplomacy and the Need to create its Scientific Base

27/02/2024 13:40

Sputnik.Azerbaijan Multimedia Press Centre hosted a press conference of experts of the Eurasia Peoples Assembly within the Assembly delegation’s visit to Azerbaijan. The conversation took place at the end of the international round table "The role of public diplomacy in the development of Russian-Azerbaijani relations" organized by the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly. The round table was held within the project - International Contest "Leader of Public Diplomacy".

Setting the tone for the conversation, the organization’s leader Andrey Belianinov said: "Speaking about the relations between our countries, I would like to note that now some new wave has started. I was in Baku five years ago, and now we can see that a new stage of interaction between our peoples, our countries has begun. By the way, a large number of Azerbaijanis who live in Russia now contributes to this. They treat the country where they live with respect, they know the language, customs, culture, and they are always treated with the same respect.

Today, at this round table we listened to Russians living in Azerbaijan and all of them spoke in the same tone as I do. When a Russian girl was asked – weather it is difficult for her to be a Russian in Azerbaijan? - She answered, "No, it is, it helps.  This is the leitmotif of our meeting dedicated to public diplomacy.”

Andrei Belianinov noted that in the format of people's diplomacy ordinary people can say what politicians do not say to each other. Natalia Zabolotskikh, First Deputy Head of the General Secretariat of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly and Director of the Eurasian Centre for Project Initiatives, noted that people's diplomacy projects are aimed at creating favorable conditions for international communication and unification. As a concrete example, she cited the project - the International competition "Leader of Public Diplomacy", which the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly and the Assembly of Peoples of Russia have been organizing for the second year.

"For two years, we have invited thirty winners from different countries to the final of the competition in Russia. It is very illustrative and pleasant to see representatives of France, Germany, Italy, Spain among the participants. People come with a great desire to communicate and co-operate. We invite to one table those who might never have sat at the same negotiating table at the diplomatic level.

Our projects are aimed at giving an opportunity to realize an international initiative of a specific person - a leader. Someone who can lead, who feels responsible for his actions and words, and who leads not one but several people. I can proudly say that we have had people from Mexico, Italy, Spain, Germany, the United Arab Emirates. Indeed, the geography is vast with more than 30 countries".

Natalia Zabolotskikh spoke about the fact that within the competition there are real "stars" - leaders that one can be proud of:

"We have a new area - pedagogical diplomacy: there is a very interesting representative of Armenia - Vahan Sahakyan, who implements a project where he gives an opportunity to study Russian for free for teachers all over the world. He discovered such a trend and his project has already gone beyond the borders of his country.

I am proud of our alumnus, Ilya Shakalov from Krasnodar region (Russia), who organizes business missions to different countries, and today he wrote that preparing a trip to the United Arab Emirates he unites people's diplomats, entrepreneurs, public figures, state and municipal officials.

I am proud of our alumna Khristina Romanenko, who developed a project aimed at uniting and helping women entrepreneurs in Tunisia. And now our co-operation has gone beyond the competition, we are preparing to open a Representative Office in Tunisia. I think this event will really happen soon".

The First Deputy Head of the General Secretariat of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly invited representatives of Azerbaijan to take part in the International Contest "Leader of People's Diplomacy" and noted another worthy feature of the project - it contains synergy of young people’s activity and wisdom of experienced mentors.

Continuing the conversation, Secretary General of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly Andrey Belianinov said that it is important to direct all efforts today to work with young people: " We have many people who were born under the Soviet Union, but we clearly realize that children of the 21st century are already being born, and they have to live in this century, to live in our countries. It is necessary to think about our young people. How they will live, how they will respect the past, how they will treat family values, how they will build their future and the future of their children. And the main task of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly, of course, to take care of young people.”

When working with young people, it is necessary to focus attention on the importance of restoring the historical memory of the peoples of the post-Soviet space," said Valery Ruzin, Deputy Secretary General of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly and President of the Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio: "The destruction of the state begins with the degradation of historical memory - we will not name it specifically, everyone already knows everything - when the heroes of the country are those who became famous in history for exterminating a huge number of people.” -  said Ruzin, "We join our efforts to ensure that this memory does not disappear, and this can be done through the efforts of people's diplomacy.”

Valery Ruzin spoke about the Vladimir Menshov International Documentary Film Festival, which is organized annually by the Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio and the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly. Valery Ruzin recalled that the famous Soviet and Russian actor, film director Vladimir Menshov was born in Baku, noted that repeatedly discussed both with him the contribution of the Azerbaijan Soviet Union to the victory in the Great Patriotic War and, of course, the underestimation of this contribution in general:

"The contribution of the republic is enormous: the city of Baku, the oil fields, the hospitals that were here, the heroes of the Soviet Union - you can list them endlessly - how many were in which divisions. They passed a remarkable heroic way of fighting. Especially interesting is the history of the 77th Baku Division, which liberated Crimea, and there, on Sapun Hill, is a memorial to the memory of the feats of this division, which was opened by Azerbaijan's national leader Heydar Aliyev".

Deputy Secretary General of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly, President of the Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio Valery Ruzin voiced the idea that the International Union of Non-Governmental Organizations "Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly" could take the initiative and establish a system of high public awards and pay tribute to Baku, Tashkent and other cities to note their contribution to the common victory over fascism. Valery Ruzin also called on young people of Azerbaijan to join the Assembly's initiative to create the Association of Descendants of the Victors of Fascism.

"Young people always want to be proud of someone, they need to have their heroes, and these heroes are their ancestors," Andrey Belianinov added.

Stanislav Korolev, Deputy Secretary General of the Assembly of the Peoples of Eurasia, Director of the SCO National Centre for Public Diplomacy in Russia, noted that today the Assembly of the Peoples of Eurasia is the leader of public diplomacy in the world, because there is simply no more space than the Assembly and more states where international public organizations operate. People's diplomacy has gone far beyond just social or human relations. And in this regard, the question has already been repeatedly raised by partners - representatives of higher educational institutions, research institutes about the need to create a scientific basis for people's diplomacy.

"In this regard, the national centre of the Shanghai Organization has already made the first step and last year there was made a decision to establish a scientific center for the study of people's diplomacy of the SCO countries in Dushanbe on the basis of the Academy of Public Service," Stanislav Korolev said, "I think it will be very interesting for our scientific partners in Azerbaijan and other countries. I think it would be very right if Baku came up with an initiative to establish a similar national centre for SCO people-to-people diplomacy in Azerbaijan.  This would give an opportunity to create another level of sustainable horizontal ties".

Summing up the results of the meeting at the Sputnik. Azerbaijan Multimedia Press Centre, Andrei Beljaninov, leader of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly, outlined the most important steps, projects and initiatives with which the organization works  today: the creation of Eurasian sports federations, Eurasian trade unions, holding unified Eurasian Games of national and non-Olympic sports, participation in the development of transport and trade corridors North-South and West-East: "We must remember that international relations have always started with relations between peoples, and maybe that is why today, when the traditional tools of diplomacy began to stagnate, the tools of people's diplomacy began to dominate the world"