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Serbia: Bloggers Discuss Plans to Erect Monument to Late Azeri President

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Eastern & Central Europe, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Arts & Culture, Economics & Business, Governance, International Relations, Politics

One of Belgrade's nicest parks, the Tasmajdan Park, has recently got renovated – thanks, partially, to a donation of 2 million euros by the Azerbaijani government. The news that has been stirring controversy these past few weeks among Serbian bloggers and on-line community is the condition for this gift from Azerbaijan: in return for the generous donation, Belgrade will erect a monument to Heydar Aliyev [1], the former president of Azerbaijan, in the park.

The story [2] of Heydar Aliyev's controversial rule [3] has caused some bloggers to ask the question of whether the donation was worth putting up a statue to someone like him.

Vlada Dulovic of Living in Belgrade blog writes [4] [en]:

…putting no less than a 3m tall statue of a single person who died just a few years ago would in any case be highly questionable. And what a person that was!
Until his death in 2003 Aliyev ruled his oil-rich republic for more then 30 years, first as a communist and then as the first democratic president, but with little change in his strong-arm attitude. He left his office to his son Ilham who praises his fathers and his own rule by donations with a catch in poor countries, such as Romania, where recently Bucharest accepted the same arrangement.

Blogger Mahlat also refers to Aliyev's rule as the “worst kind of a dictatorship” and adds [5] [sr]:

But, none of this really matters, because [Jovan Krkobabić [6], deputy PM in charge of social affairs] stated that we “shouldn't behave like police officers and investigate what's been done in the past. Because we don't have time for such things…” – in other words – never mind the dictatorship, it's two million euros, for god's sake, and that “all this will serve the city and the citizens well.”

Nebojša Krivokuća on his blog wonders [7] [sr] why almost nobody in the media mentions anything from Aliyev's biography – and concludes:

Two million euros obviously allow a significant degree of freedom to the donor.
So now – if among the rich folks we find some with a more twisted sense of humour or different views on things – there could soon be another one who would offer to renovate part of [Kalemegdan [8]], for example, with the condition of putting up a statue of Stalin! We hail to him, occasionally, from time to time anyway. And perhaps there would be someone even richer, who would offer to redecorate the [Ušće [9]] park, with the condition of putting up a 30-meter monument to, ok, let's not say Hitler, he already has [a room in a Belgrade hotel named after him [10]], but let's say Kim Jong Ill would do – his rule is far enough from us geographically that it doesn't really matter how he ruled, right?