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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Gadirov educates Aggies on Azerbaijan

A long history in Azerbaijan makes the present and future hard to identify, said Zohrab Gadirov, a first-year student in the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program, Monday afternoon.
“Identity matters, if it helps to set and achieve common goals,” Gadirov said.
Gadirov gave a presentation on the national identity and foreign policy of his home country, Azerbaijan in Koldus. Gadirov graduated from Baku State University in Azerbaijan with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs in 2003 and a master’s in international affairs in 2005.
“There is a lack of information on the region I come from, which is the post-Soviet Union area called the Caucasus,” Gadirov said.
Gadirov said the region is important for several reasons, including: its strategic location between Iran and Russia, its oil reserves that can bring central Asian oil to the West, and the fact that the country is an ally to the United States.
The country sees the United States as an ally and the populus is U.S.-friendly, Gadirov said.
“The population is not politically active but tries to follow current events,” Gadirov said.
The country does not know much about the United States, he said, because it is too far away. The central government brings ideas, and they are not contradicted, he said.
There have been several cultural and religious influences on Azerbaijan. Arabs and Turks have made a permanent effect on the country, Gadirov said.
“Arabs brought Islam to Azerbaijan,” he said. “Ever since the eighth or ninth century, it has been the dominant force and very successful in the country.”
Russia has had a more temporary effect on Azerbaijan, he said. “Due to the cultural and religious differences, the people didn’t mix well,” Gadirov said.
However, Russians did bring the Caucasian identity to the country. It became much easier to identify people, Gadirov said.
“In regard to national security issues, there are not any problems internally because the central government is very strong and in control,” he said. “Externally, the only problem is the war with Armenia.”
He said the war started in 1988, and since 1994 there has been a cease-fire between the two regions. The war started over control of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Gadirov said Azerbaijan lost 20 percent of its land and is still under the occupation of Armenia.
“From time to time, the central government goes through several rounds of negotiations, but still nothing has changed,” Gadirov said.
Even with this cease-fire, the economy is getting better, Gadirov said. This is mainly because of oil, he said.
“People generally believed that money is going toward bribes for the government and really isn’t doing them any good,” Gadirov said.
However, people do not express opposition, he said, because many people think conditions are getting better with the current president.
The country is in the process of building democracy, and it is a hard process, Gadirov said. There are not many strong institutions, and there is a heavy dependence on individuals, he said.
Gadirov plans to return to Azerbaijan and begin working on the creation of a “think tank.”
“There are so many young, educated people who could help create an institute that could provide feedback and information to those that need it,” Gadirov said.

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