Heydar Aliyev’s leadership lessons continue to inspire leaders around the world

Heydar Aliyev’s leadership lessons continue to inspire leaders around the world

An outstanding statesman and national leader of the Azerbaijani people, Heydar Aliyev was born 101 years ago on May 10. Aliyev left a significant trace in the history of not only Azerbaijan but also many other countries. His contribution to political and cultural life of Russia is also significant.

His human qualities are known not only in the Turkic world, but also in Russia

Firstly, I would like to emphasize Heydar Aliyev is an important personality with his human qualities. Of course, all Türkiye and Turkic world knows his human qualities. But as a scientist and historian living in Russia, I can state that not only Turkic world and Türkiye knows about his qualities. They are also recognized in Russia.

It is known that Heydar Aliyev supported many Soviet artists, musicians and sportsmen. For example, recently a film about chess player Anatoly Karpov was shot. This film has no relation to Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanis did not finance this film. This film was a pure Russian film – no theme of nor producers from Azerbaijan involved. But in this film Russian cinematographers show how Heydar Aliyev helped Karpov. Aliyev even sent Karpov from Baku black caviar to help win the competition.

Or another Russian TV series about Muslim Magomayev. This was a very popular serial in Russia. Heydar Aliyev is shown here as a friend of artist, painter, musician too. He helped artists, musicians with all his strength. This is not our propaganda. These series are not produced by Türkiye or Azerbaijan. It is Russians who show Heydar Aliyev’s human qualities in such a way.

And Garry Kasparov is another chess player. I watched his interview. He is a Baku-Armenian. During the USSR, he himself tells how Aliyev helped him. When even Moscow did not, Heydar Aliyev supported this chess player. This is Kasparov’s testimony. He didn’t refuse to help him because he was Armenian. On the contrary, as Kasparov says in the Soviet Union when Moscow did not support him, Aliyev did everything to make him win in competitions, provided all conditions for him. This shows his readiness to support talent, regardless of nationality. It shows his wide angle and aspiration for humanity, which inspire many still today.

They are not only films and TV series, but they are also the memory of the Soviet society. This is the memory of the Russian elite about Heydar Aliyev.

If Aliyev was in Gorbachev’s place

Of course, not only his human qualities were valuable. He was a great statesman. This is also not only my assessment. I have heard this many times in Russia and I heard it not on the street, but from Russian elite, from important Russian statesmen. They say that if Aliyev had been in place of Gorbachev, the USSR would not have collapsed. All these people attach very great importance to Heydar Aliyev’s qualities as a statesman.

But Heydar Aliyev did not remain only in the past, in history. He left us a lot of tasks. A very big experience and heritage. He was not only valuable in the past and in history. He is very important today and in the future. I want to emphasize three important points in this framework.

The role of Aliyev state tradition

Firstly, ensuring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Of course, Azerbaijan secured its territorial integrity precisely thanks to the legacy of Heydar Aliyev. Firstly, his notion of “one nation – two states”. And his legacy of Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation and thanks to this legacy Azerbaijan was able to defeat Armenia within a short period of time and on the other hand his regional-centric foreign policy, which is also Heydar Aliyev’s legacy, also played a very important role in Azerbaijan’s victory. Azerbaijan attracted Russia to its side, isolated Armenia and thanks to this legacy the Ankara-Baku-Moscow axis was created. It played a very important role in the victory. This heritage was the main advantage of Ilham Aliyev, because Heydar Aliyev was a real statesman with great experience and Ilham Aliyev was his successor. And because of this Ilham Aliyev became a great winner and Heydar Aliyev’s legacy is more powerful than the most formidable tank or missiles or drones. This was the most important force of Azerbaijan in the war. Heydar Aliyev passed this tradition to his successor – the tradition of statehood.

Heydar Aliyev, an outstanding leader and statesman, showed himself as a man of broad outlook and deep understanding of international politics. His abilities as a strategist and diplomat had a significant impact on the formation of Azerbaijan’s modern image, as well as on the strengthening of its international ties, especially with Türkiye and Russia. Heydar Aliyev’s strategy of strengthening territorial integrity and stability in the region through multi-vector co-operation helped the country gain respect and significance in the international arena.

Aliyev’s role in regional peace

And the second point is to ensure security peace and economic development in the South Caucasus. This is also Heydar Aliyev’s legacy. Our co-operation and his concept of “one nation, two states”, they are not only beneficial for Türkiye and Azerbaijan, but also important for the whole region. This concept has not only helped Azerbaijan to ensure its territorial integrity. It also ensures peace, regional integration, regional economic projects like Zangezur corridor and other projects. All this comes from this notion, from the reasonable foreign policy of Heydar Aliyev. The 3+3 platform is also a product of Heydar Aliyev’s state thinking, his state mind.

For a fairer world

Thirdly, not only to develop Azerbaijan, not only to ensure regional peace, but also to ensure justice all over the world. This is also Heydar Aliyev’s legacy. Ilham Aliyev often spoke out against neocolonialism of the West, France. He often spoke for the interests of African nations and countries. Alivey not only opposed the aggression of the West towards Azerbaijan, but also refused the aggression of the West in Africa. So, this is also the heritage, the tradition of Heydar Aliyev’s statehood. He passed this tradition, this notion, to his son and his successor. And thanks to this, Azerbaijan plays a role not only in securing its interests, but plays a role in creating a new world, a just world. The struggle against neocolonialism is also Heydar Aliyev’s heritage.

Thus, Heydar Aliyev left behind not only political but also moral and ethical legacy, which continues to inspire and motivate new generations to strive for justice, peace and co-operation in the international arena.

Mehmet Perinçek

Historian and political scientist (Türkiye)

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May 2024