The new Greece ambassador to Azerbaijan Nicolaos D. Kanellos came to office in 2017. As a writer and an artist, mister Kanellos told us about his creative vision on Azerbaijan-Greece relationship. Philosophy was case, as the most important component of Greek and Oriental culture. Conversation started from invitation to drink Greek coffee: «Θέλετε κάτι για να πιείτε; Ελληνικό καφέ;»
Mister Nikolaos, please, tell me about your life and your career.
The first, I will tell you that I was born in a small Greek city of Larissa. My parents were incredible and great persons. However, they didn’t get any education. And I am the first diplomat in the history of Greece, whose parents didn’t finish even the primary school. I recall, as I worked much on myself and read at the kitchen table during my study in the university. I launched my career, as a journalist. I wrote for a newspaper and placed articles about football matches, interviewed football players. When I entered the university, everything changed. I got engaged in music and I happened even to play in a rock band.
The second, whoever manages the past, he manages the future. And whoever manages the present, he manages only the past. We may go to school, to university, however in reality we perceive something only from life experience.
The third, it is art. Some 20 years ago I wrote an article about significance of art. At that time I seemed that artists and poets have nothing to propose to this world. However, I understood at later stage that art is an inalienable part of education. And I started writing and drawing. One should spend time for issues, which are of importance. That is what really characterizes me.
When did you arrive to Azerbaijan for the first time? And what was your initial impression?
My first visit to Azerbaijan was in September, 2017. High level of architecture development amazed me. Certainly, I got the impression of Baku being a very modern city. That was the first feature, attracting my attention. My friend told to me: «When you are in Baku, you will be able drawing nothing, but oil. You will see no flowers». In contrary, I did not notice any oil. The second feature, striking my eyes, was flowers. And people. The Acropolis was constructed for conveying of message to people. It is a symbol, which symbolizes power and simplicity. The same thing I discovered here, that is, power and simplicity of people.
Please, tell me about relations between Greece and Azerbaijan.
Undoubtedly, relations between Greece and Azerbaijan are evolving rapidly. And that is the way it has to be, we should adhere to natural rhythm, with aim to achieve development. I would characterize this point, as a relay race.
What do you think, how well do residents of our country are familiar with culture of Greece, and how well does BSU with its department of Greek studies contribute in this issue?
The first, I am pleased to inform you that additionally to Greek department of BSU, we are planning to establish a department of the Greek language at the University of Foreign Languages. We are negotiating this issue with mister Kamal Abdullayev. The second, a teacher, which trained students previously, arrived again from Greece. And the third, education in my diplomacy is a main lever for development. It is not just introduction of culture, but education just well. These are different matters. Education is identification of a human being. Certainly, the Greek philosophy and mythology are known all over the world, including Azerbaijan. We also wish to increase traffic of Greek tourists to Azerbaijan. I seem that the Greek history and culture are well-introduced issues in Azerbaijan.
I am going to present my second political novel, issued by the publishing house «ΙΑΝΟΣ» in Athens, on the 3rd of October. Many representatives of the Greek intelligence will attend it. And this is an excellent opportunity to tell about Azerbaijan and culture of the country.
Despite of distinctive features, many people think that Greek and Azerbaijani people are similar to each other. What is your idea about this?
I have speculated much about it. One may think, what may connect the Caucasian people with Greeks? However, there is a definite link between our people, though the culture is rather different. We realize and perceive this. As I see it, understanding is a second step at education of human being. First, a person studies and then he starts understanding and realizing. Unless you understand a researched subject, how would you stride your way forward?
You have recently come to office. How do you plan promoting the Greek culture?
During my country trips, while speaking to Azerbaijani students, I would like to provide them insight into the Greek culture. That is, to further it by means of literature, music, painting etc.
What do people of Greece know about our country? Are there are any stereotypes, connected with Azerbaijan?
Certainly, Greek people are familiar with the Azerbaijan culture. Stereotypes exist, like about any other nation and this is inevitable. However, stereotypes are formed quite on another ground, on ground, which is frequently has no any relation to culture and history of the country. Repeatedly, let us return to education issue. It induces people visiting museums, reading books, learning a matter with aim to get the truth. Truth is a light. And it will help people getting rid of stereotypic thinking.
Text by Inara Alibeyova