French politician, Minister of Justice from May 18, 2007 to June 23, 2009. She is the first Arab in the French government.
Rachida Dati: ”Your country did not disappoint anyone! It offered Europe and the rest of the world a unique and unforgettable experience of great competitions and stunning opening and closing ceremonies. These games will now inspire all other major international competitions!”
Rachida Dati: ”We regard Azerbaijan’s diplomacy as an example, and the conduct of the intercultural dialogue to maintain security meets the interests of the whole world”.
SOURCES AND PRESS
Rachida Dati: ”France has a lot to learn from Azerbaijan on multiculturalism”
“Multiculturalism plays an unifying role in Azerbaijan. On the contrary, in Europe it plays a separating role”. According to APA, it was stated by Rachida Dati, the member of the European Parliament, the Mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, at a press conference in Baku.
She said that multiculturalism causes discord in France: ”Everybody in France likes teaching. But from this point of view, the whole Europe, as well as France has a lot to learn from Azerbaijan.”
Dati also spoke about the new President of France while answering journalists’ questions: ”Regardless of the president’s change or whoever French presidents were, the relations between Azerbaijan and France have always been very good ones, and they will be further developed”.
Rachida Dati: “Azerbaijan is an example for the whole Muslim world”
Day.Az interviews Rachida Dati , the member of the European Parliament, the Mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris.
– Some say that Islam and democracy can’t coexist. What do you think about future of Azerbaijan as a country which accepted secular model of development?
Azerbaijan is an example for the whole Muslim world. Some 94% of Azerbaijanis are Muslims and practice their religion in an open and free manner, and in a way which is respectful towards women’s rights.
We often hear concerns about the “islamization” of some countries, but in the meantime all too often we forget to support those countries like Azerbaijan in which Islam is practiced peacefully.
Beyond the well-known tolerance of the Azerbaijani people, the Azerbaijan model is the result of a true political will. I know that President Aliyev and Her Excellency Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva are greatly committed and determined to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. I was very honoured to speak on that matter in Baku last October.
-Azerbaijan accepted European integration as a priority of its foreign policy. Meanwhile there are some powers in Europe that try to introduce the EU as a “Christian club”, we see it at the Turkish example. How would you comment on that opinion and may Azerbaijan face the same problem?
Europe cannot be reduced to a “Christian club”. Beyond the cultural ties which can unite Europeans today, Europe is above all a political project grounded in common values and aspirations, which we share with some of our neighbours and allies like Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is a country with which the European Union is building ever closer relations, in particular within what we call the “Eastern Partnership”. I wish to commend President Ilham Aliyev’s determination in strengthening our relations. It is a commitment that I share.
-There is still a lack of information about Azerbaijan in Europe. Azerbaijan is not known at all or known only as an oil and gas country. In some cases info-war against Azerbaijan also plays its negative role. What should be done to make perception of Azerbaijan broader?
I believe the situation is changing. More and more people in Europe know Azerbaijan and have a positive perception of your country. Unfortunately, you are right to say that there is still too much disinformation, too many caricatures against your country.
But awareness is rising. I say it very often to the people I meet: Azerbaijan cannot be reduced to a “pipeline”! It is a country with a great culture, rich of its diversity, with an open and tolerant society, whose leaders want nothing less than a peaceful and honest dialogue with its international partners.
I wish to pay tribute to the important work done by Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva and the whole Heydar Aliyev Foundation in promoting your country and your culture abroad. I am very proud to have welcomed, in the Paris district where I am Mayor, the Azerbaijani cultural centre, inaugurated a few months ago by President Aliyev and Mrs. Aliyeva. We have to further develop these types of important initiatives, to enhance the dialogue between Azerbaijan and France, as well as Azerbaijan and Europe.
-What do you think about future of the Azerbaijan-France bilateral relations?
Relations between both our countries have always been very good and it must remain that way. France was the second country to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991. Paris was also President Ilham Aliyev’s first bilateral visit abroad as Head of State. Trade between our countries has been increasing over the last few years, and cultural exchanges have taken the same path. The exhibition “Plaisirs de France” organized in Baku last spring was a success, and Azerbaijan has been one of the main patrons for the new wing of the Louvre Museum in Paris celebrating arts of Islam. Strengthening the cooperation between France and Azerbaijan is both a necessity and a duty.
-The EU and France in particular are quite often criticized for “insufficient active role” in the Karabakh settlement. Are there any differences in position of the EU and France on the issue, and what kind of role may Europeans play in the peace process?
France has a strategic position with regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh situation. As one of the three members of the Minsk group, France has a particular responsibility. But Europe cannot remain inactive.
Ever since the Lisbon treaty came into force three years ago, Europe has the necessary tools to be able to speak with one voice. I regret that Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has not been more clearly committed on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. I am aware of the great suffering this situation is for the whole Azerbaijani people. Europe cannot remain inaudible any longer. It is urgent for Europe to get involved in a clear and efficient manner.
Nathalie Gule and Ex-Minister of Justice Rachida Dati- Big Fans of Azerbaijan’s Black Caviar
“Restoration of various monuments of architecture in France, according to popular belief, is an element of the propaganda offensive deployed in France by Azerbaijan” the article on the website of the American organization Eurasianet reports.
It is noted that, in fact, this campaign is aimed to deserve the sympathy of France and to repulse the negative reputation of Baku in the field of observance of human rights.
“France, being one of the biggest powers of the European Union, is a natural target for such a campaign, being also the fifth largest investor in Azerbaijan and investing mainly in the energy sector of the republic. Taking into consideration, the representatives of Armenian Diaspora residing in France, it also serves as an important channel for diplomatic influence for the old rival of Baku, Armenia”, the publication states.
The author of the article recalls that Baku’s campaign in the cultural and artistic sphere dates back to 2007, when the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, led by the first lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, allocated an unnamed sum for the restoration of the “works of art” of the Palace of Versailles. Two years later, the Foundation donated 40 thousand euros for the restoration of three stained glass windows of one of the gems of Gothic architecture – the cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg in the north-east of the country. “Then a million euros (over $ 1.34 million) was donated to the Louvre, and a rich mobile art exhibition was organized, replenishing a series of public initiatives. The expenses are aimed at strengthening the image of tolerance, in particular (in relation to church projects)”, the article says.
It is also stated that the government of Azerbaijan, the population of which is predominantly Shia Muslims, allocated part of the money for the restoration of the Church of San Patern of the 10th-11th centuries in Normandy in the west of France.
Eurasianet stresses that Azerbaijan has a number of prominent supporters in France, including Senator Natalie Gule, who spoke in favor of Azerbaijan’s contradictory entry to the Council of Europe in 2001.
“A number of objects and organizations from the constituency of Gule in France became the recipients of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation grants. In addition to the restoration of the Church of San Patern, the foundation takes part in the restoration work in another church in the village of Reveillon with a population of 363 inhabitants. In addition, the fund helps to organize dance and jazz festivals in the towns of Aigle and Argentan. According to the senator, the total amount of the fund’s donations was 150 thousand euros, “the article says.
Another big fan of Baku, as the website writes, is Rachida Dati, formerly Minister of Justice under President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, and now a member of the European Parliament and the Mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris. Like Gule, Dati calls Azerbaijan as one of the models of tolerance. The author of the article recalls that Ilham Aliyev and his wife have opened the Azerbaijani cultural center with an area of 3 thousand square meters with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in the presence of Rachida Dati.
The publication notes that on the territory of Azerbaijan itself, a campaign in the field of culture and art launched in France, coupled with the promotion of the image of tolerance, has been criticized by many political observers. “This is a squandering of public funds, which is exclusively aimed at creating a positive image of the Aliyev regime”, resents the director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Baku Leyla Yunus, while speaking about the expenditures of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in France.
“Baku as a whole rejects criticism of its reputation in the field of human rights on the part of international organizations and outside observers as inappropriate. Yet the flow of criticism continues unabated, in particular, to the restrictions imposed by Baku and the persecution of conservative Muslims, free media and political critics of the authorities. But often no one hears these complaints abroad. It is worth noting that seven of the eleven delegates of France in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted on January 23 against the resolution calling on Azerbaijan to “promptly resolve” the issue with the cases of allegedly existing political prisoners in the country”, Eurasianet states.