A Letter to the Azerbaijani People
Novinite is publishing a text by Momchil Shopov in which he has shared impressions of Azerbaijan, also sending a message to its people.
There is something that often comes to my mind. It was a dark night in December. In the beginning, I was traveling down the roads of Azerbaijan on a bus from Tbilisi to Baku. After waiting at the border for a long time, we finally set off, and up until now I still recall the feeling when the autobus headed into Azerbaijan. Back on the border I had begun a conversation with the driver, an Azerbaijani from Marneuli [in Georgia], who several years earlier had bought an autobus and nowadays helps his relatives from Georgia get to Azerbaijan and meet their kin. Many questions arose in me then, and one of them was: why was it precisely this driver that turned out to be the first representative of the Azerbaijani people whom I had managed to meet. Nearly all the way to Baku I spent the time sitting on the steps, talking with him. Everyone in the bus was asleep; after all, for the vast majority of them it wasn't the first time along that road and, probably, it wasn't as interesting. One thing stuck in my mind...
As we drove past a certain city (as I later found out, it was the city of Yevlakh), the bus stopped, and a passenger got off. There, a 60-year-old man was waiting for him, probably his father. And then the driver said: "Brother, from here to Karabakh it is just 50 km..."
You are surely finding it strange why I am talking about this. It is just a petty, insignificant conversation after all. But I am telling you that it was my first personal encounter with Karabakh. Then I returned to my seat in the bus and started to think: what was it that I know about Karabakh? What is there? What was it like before the aggression and onward? Later, already in Baku, I learned of the "refugees of Karabakh". And subsequently, every time I arrive in Azerbaijan, I sought to know more and more about Karabakh. Although people abroad have also heard of the Karabakh war, this is the only thing they know. They don't know Azerbaijan is famous for its Karabakh horses and rugs. They don't know that Karabakh is the birthplace of Azerbaijan's mugham music and poetry. They don't know either that Karabakh is an inseparable part of Azerbaijan's history. They don't know much, and this is why it has become a terra incognita for the uninformed.
While now the land of Karabakh is weeping. It has already been doing it for almost 30 years.
Although at the moment I am not in Azerbaijan, I have not interupted my contact with my favourite Azerbaijani friends. I try to be aware of how they perceive what is happening in the country and abroad. When I read their thoughts about what is taking place now in Karabakh, I see the vast majority of them have succeeded to fulfill the legacy of their national leader Heydar Aliyev, who once said: "The pulse of man must beat simultaneously with the pulse of the Homeland."
It has been a long time since I met people loving so much their Homeland, and ones who come together in both joy and sorrow.
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