Odette-BazilBy Odette Bazil

Traditionally, before every New Year, the British Government publishes a list of the names of people to be honoured for their contribution to the welfare and good of Britain and for their exceptional personal achievements in various fields, and many British Armenians have been bestowed with that great honour; but the “Honours List” I am referring to in this article has not been published by the British Government, nor does it refer to positive achievements for the good of anyone: it has been issued by the Azerbaijani Government – not to honour or appreciate – but to single-out with hatred each and everyone who is “black listed” and labelled “persona non grata” in Azerbaijan.

I have the great honour to be included in that list and – although I am NOT a journalist – to be described as such!

I have also the great honour of having my name listed alongside the names of very important and universally acclaimed and respected persons, placing all of us 335 lucky individuals named in that List in very good company indeed!

The Azerbaijani “Honours List” includes – globally – people from all walks of life and – professionally – as different as journalists, politicians, artists, writers, scholars, historians, academicians, benefactors, TV presenters, opera singers, diplomats.. etc… from countries as far as Japan or Argentina and.. even as close as…. Turkey, affirming that Azerbaijan has enemies all over the world.

What is the common factor that links all of us 335 fortunate people together in this public declaration of animosity and discrimination?

Does an opera singer become a fierce and dangerous enemy of Azerbaijan if invited to sing in Karabakh?

Does a parliamentarian who is visiting Karabakh to discuss peaceful means of solving – diplomatically and NOT militarily – the thorny issues created by the Azerbaijani aggression of Karabakh and the ensuing war become an enemy of the Azeri State?

What is the criteria that can help anyone to receive the honourable accolade of being included in that List?

I personally believe that instead of listing us 335 people as enemies, the Azeri Government should invite each one of us to Baku, treat us with the same “oil and caviar diplomacy” used in their everyday dealings with dignitaries and strategically important people, show us courtesy and consideration and try to put forward their own views and arguments, logically, patiently, rationally and truthfully.

Although I do not read Azerbaijani, but the pictures published helped me realise that there are two very important names missing from that list of enemies of Azerbaijan: the two names of Ramil Safarov and President Ilham Aliyev. For these two individuals have and are harming Azerbaijan far more than an opera singer or a benefactor could ever do!!!!

By killing savagely in his sleep an innocent Armenian man purely because of that man’s ethnicity and by being returned to Azerbaijan to receive praise, honours and gifts, the Azeri Ramil Safarov proved to the world that crime and murder are accepted, are rewarded, are encouraged and are the NORM in Azerbaijan. Ramil Safarov must hold a place of distinction in the Azeri “Honours List” because by his criminal action he did more damage to Azerbaijan’s image in the world, than could all of us 335 nominees ever do, together.

Maybe I should place President Ilham Aliyev’s name higher than that of Ramil Safarov’s in that list, for it was the President who bought Safarov’s freedom with its “oil, dollars and caviar diplomacy” and it was the President who showed to the international community at large that murder is accepted, rewarded and encouraged in Azerbaijan.

And now, nearing election time in Azerbaijan and President Aliyev seeking a third term in office, what would serve his purpose better than another aggression of Karabakh, a new war to keep the people of Azerbaijan busy and engrossed with the spoils of war and, while suffering and bleeding, attempting to save their families and just to survive, they will be made powerless and unable to hold or rally any opposition to the President!

By taking his people to war, by creating the opportunity for everyone in the world to think that maybe all Azeris are (like Ramil Safarov) potential criminals – although I do not believe that – President Ilham Aliyev deserves the highest honour and place in the List published by the Azeri Government.

I am pleased and grateful that the Armenian and Karabakh Governments are using their Media (TV, newspapers, Radio and Diaspora Media ) to publicise and encourage visits to Armenia and Karabakh by internationally famed dignitaries, scholars, journalists, politicians.. etc… and, by doing so, are creating a list of well-wishers and friends of Armenia and Karabakh .

May both lists: “Friends of Armenia and Karabakh” and “Enemies of Azerbaijan” grow every day, include thousands more names, gather momentum and when published again (maybe next year!) show to the world the difference of culture that exists between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The list published by the Azerbaijan Government can be accessed here

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