Heydar Aliyev is 90 years old

Heydar Aliyev is 90 years old

I would like to commemorate Heydar Aliyev on the 90th anniversary of his birth.

Let me first start by emphasizing the importance he attached to the Latin alphabet.

The Latin alphabet was of immeasurable value to the people of the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Anatolia, who had lived with the Arabic letters for many years. Likewise, the Latin alphabet was of great significance to those who had lived together with the Cyrillic alphabet in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans.

However, the alphabet was also of crucial importance in promoting cooperation among these societies, which share the same language and believe that they are from the same origin. It was possible for people to communicate with the same letters even if they were not standing side by side or hearing each other’s voices.

Additionally, the alphabet’s importance was significant with regards to catching up with the civilization and modernity that existed in the West.

The Great Atatürk, who had grasped the importance of this value of measurement, had abolished the Arabic alphabet that we call the old script on Aug. 9, 1928.

After 73 years, on Aug. 1, 2001, the transition to the Latin alphabet under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev did not just bring Azerbaijan closer to the West, but it also enabled brand new relations to be formed between Baku and Ankara, as well as Baku and the whole Turkic world.

Having mentioned Heydar Aliyev’s great alphabet decision, I would like to add that especially in Eurasia and the Caucasus, he was the leader who guaranteed stability and the peaceful conclusion of the events ongoing in the region.

This great man of cause also possessed a character that reflected humanity, brotherhood and, above all, the stable horizons of partnership in Azerbaijan-Turkey relations, achieved through the realization of Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. This great service, labeled as the “treaty of the century,” was a very important gain not only from an economic aspect, but also with respect to permanent peace and sustainable stability in the Caucasus.

In 1998, we convinced Heydar Aliyev to give a conference for the Marmara Group Foundation and ensured his honoring us through the great efforts of Ambassador Mehmet Ali Nevruzoğlu.

He honored us at that conference.

That day, over five hundred distinguished personalities gathered in the hall of the Hilton Hotel and felt the impact of by Heydar Aliyev. This affection was mutual. With a magical touch reflecting the beautiful atmosphere at the end of his speech, he declared: “Make me a member of this Foundation too.”

Following this wonderful wish from the President of Azerbaijan, the Marmara Group Foundation’s administration unanimously reached a decision and declared His Excellency the Honorary President of the Marmara Group Foundation.

After the acceptance of the Honorary Presidency by the President of Azerbaijan, the Executive Council of the Marmara Group Foundation annually visited His Excellency in his Office and presented the year’s activities for his consideration. With these visits, which have been repeated every year, informing His Excellency about the Marmara Group Foundation’s activities helped engender a sense of responsibility that grew out of His Excellency’s trust.

All of the chairs in the Gülistan Palace were full. The year was 2000.

As part of the celebration of the 1,200th anniversary of all the Turkic world, Dede Korkut was being commemorated in an environment of abundance in Baku.

World-renowned professors were there, famous Turkologists were there, distinguished journalists and diplomats were there, and above all the presidents of the Turkic world were there. The Turkic world - with its leaders from Akayev to Kerimov, from Demirel to Aliyev - was commemorating Dede Korkut.

The presidents who took the floor to speak about Dede Korkut all mentioned Demirel, and not one failed to praise him. Heydar Aliyev took the floor as the last speaker. Aliyev drew a meaningful line from Dede Korkut to our time. After offering nice words to Demirel, who was on the eve of a presidential election, he invited Demirel to take the stage next to him. After continuing to praise Demirel, now on stage, he said: “Honorable president, dear brother, I commanded the Azerbaijan Parliament and we made you a citizen of Azerbaijan. Now I present you your ID, and this is your passport! Now you are a citizen of Azerbaijan, too.’’

In a very emotional scene, Süleyman Demirel replied to Aliyev: “Until today, I always addressed you as my brother. Since I am a citizen, from now on I will fulfill my citizenship duty and address you as my president.”

We can see the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline project as an example of the strength of the social and cultural solidarity that exists between Turkey and Azerbaijan, which has been further solidified in the economic realm. It is a product of the bond between Heydar Aliyev, Süleyman Demirel, and Eduard Shevardnadze. This bond of strength was Aliyev’s great dream. When Aliyev said in 1998 that the valves in Ceyhan would be opened in 2005, no one really believed him. The persistent attitude and devoted actions of Heydar Aliyev, who firmly believed in this project, allowed us to reach this achievement.

This great project, which had never even been dreamt of, is known as the greatest monument that Heydar Aliyev left us.

Heydar Aliyev was a leader who was in love with his wife, passionate with his children, compassionate with his daughter-in-law, and loving with his grandchildren.

I have heard words expressing his affection for his wife myself. During Stalin’s despotic era, after Stalin had his fiancé’s father followed, Aliyev said “No” to his bride-to-be’s proposal of “separation” for the sake of Aliyev’s future, and prolonged the engagement and waited until Stalin’s death. After the death of Stalin he married his fiancé. During this marriage, emotional and affectionate days came and went, but with the untimely loss of his wife, Aliyev buried those memories in his heart and maintained a link between his life in the past and the present with glorious memories of his beloved wife. These are my thoughts.

On the 90th anniversary of his birth, if Heydar Aliyev still preserves his vitality not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the Caucasus, it is the result of his consistent policies.

*Akkan Suver is the President of Marmara Group Foundation.