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Elchin Shikhlinski: "There are few people in Azerbaijan, who are determined not to take any bribes"

22 July 2008 [10:41] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Elchin Shikhlinski, chairman of Azerbaijan's Journalists Union and editor-in-chief of Zerkalo newspaper.
- How do you assess the current state of Azerbaijani journalism?

- Certainly, Azerbaijani journalism today is in a poor state. But it is an axiom that Azerbaijani journalism is a reflection of the state of our whole society and problems of media representatives are integral part of the problems of the whole society. Thus, it is naive to hope that problems of Azerbaijani journalist will be settled more quickly that the problems of our society.

The most correct characteristic of the discussed issue is the saying that happiness is impossible for social happiness. In other words, it is necessary to fight for social happiness and welfare to hope for happiness in any sphere of our life, in this case in the sphere of journalism.

- But isn't it a responsibility of such journalism organization, as Council of Press and Union of Journalists to work to improve the welfare of local media representatives?

- The charter of the Council for Press contains nothing of the kind and the charter of the Journalists Union have only definite hints on these issues. For example, there is a complicated problem with ensuring journalists with their own flats. But this issue requires high wages to local journalists. Though, only flats will not settle all problems of local journalism.

- How adequate is the average salary of local reporters to the work, they hold for democratization of the society, considering their fulfilling of the functions of the last hope of the society for fair settlement of any conflict situation?

- Certainly, our journalists' salary is not adequate to the huge work, they conducing in covering all problems of our present day reality, defining their causes and searching ways out of them. The said problem is especially deteriorating in the light of the recent significant price hike on all products and services in Azerbaijan. This is the reality, though sad.

- What should local journalists do? Take bribes?

- Certainly, not. But improvement of the Azerbaijani residents' living conditions, including of local journalists, requires real market economy. No progress is possible without national bourgeoisie and middle class.

Certainly, large sums are circulating in Azerbaijan. But, unfortunately, an ordinary Azerbaijani is not able to feel the results of this circulation of oil dollars in the plan of significant improvement of their living conditions.

- Let's imagine the following situation: a journalist, who has gained a reputation of an honest, unbiassed talented media representative for his work and civil position, has a number of financial problems. How can he escape taking bribes in case there is a customer who can ensure good life and settlement of all problems in exchange for his talent and principality, for ability to close eyes on "definite shortcomings"?

- I remember that one of our teachers, who was always famous with his honesty and incorruptibility, was obliged to take a bribe once. But unable to withstand this disgrace, he committed suicide in several days. I have told about this case as a bright illustration of how every person is building a set of values for himself and deciding how to act in any situation. But no one is right to point him what is right and what is wrong.

I can only say that there are few people in Azerbaijan who are determined not to take bribes.

For example, I know a number of talented and principal people, who left Zerkalo for any other, well-paid spheres, or another mass medias, where they could do nothing, getting higher salary than in our newspaper.

- Have you ever taken bribes?

- I do not know why, but I have never been offered and I never thought of offering bribes. For example, when I worked in the Ministry of Enlightenment, they thought that I do not need money as my father is a famous writer. In period of my journalism activity, no one offerred me bribes, as well.

Perhaps, this is connected with a person's image in the society. Perhaps, no one wants to hear anything new about themselves from me, in case he makes such an offer to me.


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