Why do you think Russia is now more active on the Karabakh conflict settlement?
As a Russian citizen, I find Russia's activeness clear and encouraging. I am very glad that Russia has started positive activity on a resolution of the Karabakh conflict. I think this is caused by several factors. First of all, Russia is one of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, which is dealing with the resolution of this conflict. And second, certainly, Russia, as a serious geostrategic player on the world political stage, is a country that must not lose the initiative in the Eurasian area as this could cause a weakening of its influence in the region. It's right for the Russian president to intensify peacekeeping efforts.
In addition, I think the Russian establishment is well aware that Armenia's non-constructive position on Karabakh hinders most processes in the region, including those related to the development of closer, productive relations not only in politics, but also in the economy and energy, which deprives Russia of additional financial dividends.
Therefore, Russia's increased activity seems well-founded to me.
As for the increased activity, to be honest we can now see only protocol meetings, where no serious achievements are made. But I still hope for an accumulative process. We can see in Azerbaijan that the country has changed dramatically in the past 10-15 years, shifting from the status of a regional country to a serious geostrategic player with the most dynamically developing economy in the region. And if just 15 years ago Europe was concerned about understanding what Azerbaijan is, today Azerbaijan is a serious player in the world arena, which has to be reckoned with since this country has not only serious political and economic resources but also because the country has gained and defended its influence and proved that it is an independent serious partner, able to assume commitments and uphold them.
What can you say about the attitude towards Azerbaijanis living in Russia? Has it changed for the better?
To be honest, I think Russians don't differentiate between Azerbaijanis and other Caucasian nationalities, as we do not differentiate between Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. To the Russians, we are all from the Caucasus.
But if we are talking about deliberate prejudice on ethnic grounds, the attitude to Azerbaijanis leaves much to be desired. To be honest, this is our own fault, since we lose out to our neighbours in the information sense. We should all, Russian Azerbaijanis, set a good example and, second, Azerbaijan should develop more active humanitarian ties with Russia. We would like Azerbaijanis to acquire a different image in the Russian information space, not one of a market trader or a Caucasian criminal, but an intellectual, clever, with the right attitude to life, with oriental generosity (for a man) and delicate beauty (for a woman). In other words, all the pluses we have should be the priority - the Azerbaijani people really do have unique qualities both in terms of genetics and history, music, culture and so on.
Certainly, much is being done in this direction, it is impossible to say that nothing is done. But for example I have complaints that we still do not have experts who can defend Azerbaijan's position in Russia, not a single countryman is a journalist with an established image who could promote Azerbaijan's interests, at least indirectly, on serious programs and talk shows.
What can be done to tackle the lack of information about Azerbaijan in Russia?
On the one hand, there really is a lack of information and this is a question for Azerbaijan, but on the other hand important information is blocked by the Armenian lobby and does not reach its intended audience, and this question must also be put to Azerbaijan. Not everything done by Azerbaijan reaches the ultimate consumer, the audience. Therefore, in this sense there is a need to create a political lobby to protect our interests. The lack of information is unfounded since those who need information will find it. There is the Internet and it is not a problem to come to Azerbaijan as there is no visa regime between our countries.
Saadat Kadyrova is a Russian political scientist and journalist, a member of the expert council of the Russian State Duma's Commitee of Nationalities and an ITAR-TASS correspondent.