20 June, Wednesday

Movie touched me and I was crying - The delegation of Sweden - VIDEO


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The head of the “Make a Change” civil society organization in Sweden, Christian Nordenström, representative of the tourism sector of Sweden and the owner of the “Butikstrender” Magazine Niklas Werner, the head of the “Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia” organization, Siavosh Derakhti, as well as the head of the World Azerbaijanis National Union, and former Chairman of the Congress of World Azerbaijanis Javad Derakhti visited the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) office within the framework of their visit to Azerbaijan. They shared their impressions with Eurasia Diary.

Christian Nordenström - The head of the “Make a Change” civil society organization in Sweden

This is my first time in Azerbaijan and I was invited by my partner and my very good friend Siavosh Derakhti. Before I traveled here I didn't know so much about Azerbaijan. Many of the things that we read about and know are the bad things in the history. What many people don't know for example my home country it's that we have a history here in Azerbaijan as well. Everyone knows Alfred Nobel and he was one of the first person that found the oil here. After a few days here I realized that it's very important for me to get people to be more aware of this fantastic country.
Since 2011 I've been working in the travel industry. I worked in Dubai for quite a few years and when I first moved there it was a big challenge to explain to the Scandinavian people that wasn't aware about Dubai. In the middle of the desert can you do that and so on. 
Before I landed here my opinion was pretty much the same. I think a lot of people misunderstand this country because it has so many beautiful things to offer. We have been here for a week and we have met a lot of important people that told us many things about the history, the situation of the conflict. I have seen with my own eyes what the country has to offer. I mean in the morning you can play golf and you can go up to Shahdagh and you can ski. It's like in the Europe, in the South of Europe in the Alps. So I'm very impressed and I'm very happy to be here.
I mean the main reason that we're here is that we are setting up a company as a travel group. This company will mainly focus on the travel industry. Every meeting we have had here they have common subjects or a similar problem I should say. It is that we don't know how to reach the European market. 
All the travelers that go here are from GCC, from Russia, from Iran, but there are a lot of countries that still aren't aware of the possibilities here. The tourists, the investments and everything is very positive and very good.  
This is the number one destination 2018 and so what we're doing here is not just bringing tourists here. What we also would like to do is to get people to be more aware, to improve their knowledge about the country and tell them what they can do here in Azerbaijan. 
Of course, I was aware of the conflict but unfortunately I will say not as much as I would like to. Just before this interview I saw a very emotional video from the conflict zone. When I back home I will run a foundation as well that worked with kids its name is “Make a Change”. It touched me very much deeply and I was crying because it's very hard to watch the situation and I think it's very important to show the world in any way possible how we can make them more aware of the situation.
Niklas Werner - Representative of the tourism sector of Sweden and the owner of the “Butikstrender” Magazine
Unfortunately I didn't know much about Azerbaijan because you don't know much about it in Europe. There are not so many articles to be found about it.
I've had five days here, wonderful days with the very constructive meetings and I got to see much of the city of Baku and what a fantastic place it is. I had no idea before, but now I do. 
We are here mainly to set up a new travel company both in tourism and the business tourism or business trips. I really look forward to do business here. I didn't know that much about this conflict because as I said it's not very big out there. I think we need to push the agenda and really take out this conflict which people get the more awareness of it.
One good way I think is tthis that I own a magazine which is focus more on food. I've been in quite a few countries and wrote about the foods, countryside and the production on the magazine and this is what I could do with Azerbaijan to show. But I think we need to get more editorials in all the magazines about the conflict because people in general don't know about this conflict. If I don't know about it I don't think many people know about it more than me.

Siavosh Derakhti - The head of the “Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia” organization

I was born and raised in Sweden but my roots are from Azerbaijan. This is my motherland and before I came here I tried to invite my friends to tell them to come to see Azerbaijan. In Europe, in the rest of the world they don't know so much about Azerbaijan. But when people don't know about your country you get sad, you get angry, you get disappointed. For me it was very important to show the world that Azerbaijan is more than oil. 
It's more independent than it was in the Soviet. So I want to show them the good things, the positive things about Azerbaijan. I want to show them that we have very beautiful modern buildings and we hold big events. I want to show that this is a land of fire. So, what I did? I invited my friends, my partners to come to Azerbaijan and to see what happened in this beautiful country. I invited a delegation because I believe in people when they see something with their own eyes they get to understand the rests of the history. We want to bring investors, big companies and we want to focus on the tourism business.
As for your question regarding the European MP’s illegal visit to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, I would say, you cannot go to another country and don't respect the rules so you have to respect the rules. I can just add and say that it's very disappointed that he went to these occupied areas and it's very important to invite him and talk about this situation because I'm familiar with this man, he's much respected man 
We have responsibility to talk about the issue and do something about the situation. First of all they have to understand the history. Even in UN they say this is occupied territory. We have to talk more about a situation.
Ayaz Mirzayev

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