Friday, November 18, 2005

One World Film Festival

This year was the 8th time that One World Film Festival was held in The Czech Republic. The festival shows Human Rights Films from any corner of the world and anyone can submit a movie. Unfortunately I did not have a chance to visit this year´s festival.

This Wednesday our TV showed one of the movies that got an award during this film festival. It was called Zdroj / The Source. Unfortunately the other TV channel was just showing the final football match between Czech Rep. and Norway (to qualify for the World Champs), so I think only a minority of people actually saw the documentary.

I am really sad I got to see the movie only now and not in the spring before my trip to Caucasus. It was about Azerbaijan and the oil. Very disturbing movie. Though not too surprising for me any longer. It showed how desperate lifes do the oil workers have. How insignificant salaries they get, it is about their "houses" that are built straight in the oil fields, about their cows that eat grass next to an oil spills, cows that are bred for milk and cheese!

The movie talks about an Azeri State Oil Company, as well as BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) oil pipeline that is built by several international oil companies (with BP in charge) and the people that had owned some land which was later selected as the one where the pipeline was to be lead. The pipeline is nearly done in Azerbaijan, there are last parts to be finished close to the Georgian borders (the mountainous area).

I was really confused. The movie showed (and I believe it) that some local authorities had falsified documents of the land owners, had claimed it does not belong to the farmers and thus did not pay them for the land (money that the BTC promised to give the farmers; I guess the money ended up in the pockets of the local authorities). Imagine poor people, poor farmers whose only wealth is the little land they have and suddenly they have nothing. And there is no authorities, no power to which they can turn to for a help.

The corruption is huge, the want for money and power great, the compassion with locals none and that is why around 70% of Azeri people live in poverty. A country that owes huge oil reserves... a country that will most likely join Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan etc. in their faith. A country which could have become if properly managed well developed with great living standards for its inhabitants.

That makes me so damn mad, seing how some people are low, greedy and without principles. People who have the money, the position and the power to make the change for all the others and who only choose to make more money, get higher position, more power and to make more people more desperate and needy. What a prospect for life of all of us.



Blogger elvir Salmanov said...

hi marta,(i hope did not type wrong). i am Elvir. was searching 'lezgi' in google and came to your blog. it's really nice. i surferd it and it seems that you have been to azerbaijan these times. and to nabran also. why i am talking about all this stuff is cuz i'm from nabra and my natioanlity is lezgi. i mean i was born in nabran and i can speak lezgi, as it's my native lang. i looked at the photos of nabran, and some of them were places where i grew up. for example the old boat, i mean the destroyed one is 400meters from our home. when did you visit nabran. according to the boat it was 2005 summer or sth(a year before boat was better:) in which street did you stay? may be the same with my. it's really interesting to meet one on the net who have lived where you grew up. my msn is can u pls add me, i would glad to talk to you.

12:31 AM, November 20, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

Hi Elvir, that is incredible coincidence. Though a lot of people go to Nabran :o). On the other hand, when I wrote about Xinaliq I got a comment from someone from Xinaliq!! Imagine that :o)).

In Nabran, we lived in a private house, close to one restaurant, but I just cannot recall the name. It had this little waterfall running by, they were renting few rooms as well. :o)

3:47 PM, November 20, 2005  
Anonymous Faik said...

Hi Mart'a,

Actually, the poverty percentage has been gradually shrinking in the last five years and according to the latest figures is around 40%. Of course, this number depends on how poverty is defined; certainly the situation is horrible, but it's no where near what it is in Nigeria. Additionally, the problems Azerbaijan faces are the same for the majority of the former Soviet republics (save for the Baltic States). Although it is too early to tell, Azerbaijan could also follow the paths of other oil rich states such as UAE and Kuwait...who after decades of struggles enjoy high levels of living standards today. If Azerbaijan moves in the right direction, it will take many many years to enforce the rule of law and eradicate some of the major issues such as corruption (or at least significantly lower).

Anyway, the honesty in your posts is greatly appreciated, and I've enjoyed reading your blog.


9:13 PM, November 20, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

Hi Faik,

thank you for your comment. I very much agree with you but you see, you are my type of person. Positive and optimistic. Of course Azerbaijan could end up better, they do have the possibilities. But they do not use them! I had great opportunities to meet up with EBRD, ADB, GTZ etc. representatives, with UNDP, SPPRED secretariat, as well as with the average people, or the ones who rule the economy and I am afraid all that convinced me, that Azerbaijan did not take the right track for the bright future. They are way back with the new law establishments and enforcements and there is no will to make the changes happen among the government representatives (you probably tracked a little the recent Azeri parliament elections which is an excellent example of how things work there).

But gosh, I would so want for the changes to happen. Not only in Azerbaijan but in all the other countries too, for the sake of the people and all of us on that point, as we cannot live happily if the other part of the world is suffering.

We will see though :o). Thank you for your appreciation. I try to be fair and put down things that really matter, hopefully as truthfully as possible.


10:51 PM, November 20, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

Actually anytime someone mentioned some statistical number about Azerbaijan, he also mentioned that it is not certain how correct the number is. The statistical yearbook published by the Statistical Committee shows numbers that definitely do not reflect the country´s overall picture.

10:58 PM, November 20, 2005  
Anonymous Faik said...

Indeed statistical information is rarely reliable in any 3rd world country, especially in any of the former soviet republics. You have to remember that in Azerbaijan, like its Soviet neighbors, corruption is built into the society, and consequently into those who rule it. As an example, Georgia had a revolution, and yet the social and economic situation is not that much different from two years ago. Whatever happens, it will be a gradual process, and it will take at least a decade to see what direction the country actually took. This is pretty much true for all the Caucus countries, as all are not currently in recession.

In regards to the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, since there is absolutely no way the ruling regime would ever share power, what happened (and is currently unfolding) was probably the best scenario short of a revolution. It was a vast improvement from any of the previous elections ever held in Azerbaijan, and was due to pressure put on by Europe/Us. Clearly though the elections were not truly clean, and sadly, as we have seen, the west cares only for the short term stability or until the oil fields are exhausted...which is why the criticism of the Azeri government has cooled. Now, a slow evolution to democracy is the only hope.

Anyway, just wondering, will you be visiting Azerbaijan or the region ever again...or was this it?

Thanks for reading,

6:13 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

I do not really know. I am now back to my studies but my visas are still valid :P.

I usally decide at the last possible moment and very unexpectadly... so if I say, no I will never come back, then I will most likely be there next spring :o)).

Are you from Azerbaijan?


1:21 AM, November 26, 2005  

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