Tahsin Gemil: Romania recognizes territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and doesn't accept Nagorno-Karabakh's occupation - INTERVIEW

This is my grief, too,

Romania officially considers Nagorno-Karabakh as a territory of Azerbaijan

Bucharest. 15 September REPORT.AZ/ Report News Agency presents an interview of Romania's first ambassador to Azerbaijan in 1998-2003, Professor at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca Tahsin Gemil to East European bureau of the agency:  

- Romania was one of the first countries recognizing Azerbaijan's state independence after its restoration on December 11, 1991. In 1998, Romania had opened its embassy to Azerbaijan and You had served as the first ambassador of the state to our country. Despite the passage of 18 years, how do You remember those days?

- The idea of opening the embassy to Azerbaijan was put forward by then-Romanian president Emil Constantinescu. His aides called me and stated that Romanian president will pay an official visit to Azerbaijan. They asked my participation in the composition of the Romanian delegation. Even they said that Emil Constantinescu intends my visit to Azerbaijan as a first Ambassador of Romania. At that time, I worked as a professor at the Ovidius University  in Constanța. However, in September 1998, I got an invitation from the Ankara University, Turkey. The contract had already been signed. I have accepted the proposal of the President of Romania, after consulting with my family. Emil Constantinescu presented me to the President during the official visit to Azerbaijan.

The question is that after Emil Constantinescu's coming to power, Romania began to show interest in the development of relations with the countries of South Caucasus, Central Asia. He appointed visits to the three South Caucasus states at the same time, but the first Romanian Embassy was opened to Azerbaijan. This was the result of Romania's interest in the region. Of course, there were difficulties during the first years as the diplomats, working at the embassy spoke neither Azerbaijani nor Russian languages. Even I had no a service car. We opened our embassy at that time's 'Azərbaycan' hotel. Our headquarters also located in that hotel. I had many friends in Azerbaijan. Despite the difficulties faced in those years, we successfully completed our work.

- You had served as the Ambassador of Romania to Azerbaijan in 1998-2003. After Azerbaijan, You was appointed as an ambassador to Turkmenistan. What is Tahsin Gemil currently engaged in?

- My diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan had ended in December 2003. In September 2004, I was appointed an ambassador to Turkmenistan and served there for 3 years. After completion of the mission, I returned to the university, where I've worked earlier. Today, I'm a professor at Babeș-Bolyai University, one of the Romania's well-known and oldest universities. The university, which had been established in 1581 in Cluj-Napoca, has 21 faculties, over 2 000 teaching staff and 50 000 students. In 2009, I have formed the Institute of Turkology and Central Asian Studies at Babeș-Bolyai University. Currently, the institute is operating successfully. We have published books about Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani language is also taught. As well, I have studied history and culture of Azerbaijan to the students of higher education institutions during three years. Alongside with Turkey, our institute also promotes Azerbaijan in Romania. We publish a magazine about our activity and the works are underway on release of the third number. We have organized conferences both in Cluj and Baku together with the Institute of Oriental Studies named after Z.Bunyadov of the ANAS. 

- Are the students interested to learn Azerbaijani?

Of course, in Cluj there some students who are interested to study language, culture and history of Azerbaijan. it is necessary to support them, to prepare specialists for Azerbaijan. Because in the future they will help the relations of the two countries to improve further. I think the students should be sent to Azerbaijan in order to be educated as a researcher of Azerbaijan. Mutual visits should be organized. For this purpose, we should cooperate with Azerbaijani government. Unfortunately, we do not have mutual cooperation yet. I'm here doing all the work entrusted to me and show an initiative. Every year a weekly "Cluj Days" festival is held. There are 16 state cultural centers in University and delegations from these countries visits the cultural centers. They demonstrate their films, peform the plays, represent their culture and folk in the framework of "Cluj Days". Unfortunately, we do not have Azerbaijani national costumes to do so. We are doing this work, but the government should also show us the necessary support.

- In recent years, we see that relations with eastern countries in Romania's foreign policy are in a secondary plan. Current government is kind of inclined to the West. In fact, there is a cold attitude in relations with Azerbaijan. What do you think, what is the reason?

- Yes, cold attitude is felt. Is the current government more pro-European than Emil Constantinescu was? No. It was the time of the pro-European president when I was appointed ambassador to Azerbaijan. A country may incline to Europe, but should also keep good relationship with other countries. Firstly, this cold attitude appeared against Russia at the time of Traian Băsescu, and is still going on. At the same time, besides Russia they have included post-Soviet countries in this list. For me, it does not make a sense. At the time of presidents Emil Constantinescu and Ion Iliescu, Azerbaijan was the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Russia was the Russian Federation. They were independent states. They shall not be deemed as the same countries. Central Asia countries as well. As far as I know, the current government consider them all as the same state. Their attention has been directed only to the West. If you are an independent state, you need to build good relations with all states.

- You are sufficiently informed about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a diplomat worked in Azerbaijan. Which contributions can Romania give to resolution of the conflict as a Contact Point Embassy of NATO in Azerbaijan? Generally, is the Romanian community are informed enough about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

- I have detailed information about Nagorno-karabakh conflict. This is both your and my grief and I share it. At that time, I told my close friends that this problem cannot be solved without will of Russia. When Russia wants, then Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be solved. Otherwise, the conflict will not be settled. Romania recognizes territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. That's to say, official Bucharest does not accept the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. Romania cannot do anything more. Romania's policy covers not only Nagorno-Karabakh conflict but also other frozen conflicts. They are conflicts in Georgia, Moldova, Crimea. What are the frozen conflicts? Made bombs, and whenever you want it may explode. Who manages the bomb – Moscow. This is my personal opinion. As to the Romanian community is enough informed about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, they have information about the problem. But most of them are not interested in the conflict, because Transnistria conflict is more necessary for them. They remember the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict when talking about frozen conflicts.

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