Of 30 ethnic Azerbaijanis that have put forward their candidacy for the Georgian parliamentary elections that will take place on October 8, only one of them is a woman. Samira Ismayilova is running for Bolnisi district.
She agreed to an interview with Azadliq Radio.
Meydan TV presents this interview in English for the enjoyment of our readers below.
I am from Bolnisi region, and it’s been 8 years that I’ve been active in societal - political life. I graduated from Georgia’s Technical University, and I continued my education in London, where I studied political science and foreign languages. I also studied in Hungary and Austria.
Samira Khanim, it is said that in Georgia, Azerbaijani women are not active in politics. How do you assess this statement?
It’s not only women that are not active in the political life of this country - it’s Azerbaijanis in general. Since 2008 I’ve been active in NGOs and have even created my own. I have worked in the Ministry of Education, and in the Georgian parliament as an expert as well. I was an advisor to Mikhail Saakashvili during his presidency on ethnic minority questions. And in such a fashion I began my involvement in politics. This is not my first time running for parliament.
Does the fact that you have put forward your candidacy as part of majority rule mean that you have little faith in the ability of the party to win?
No, it’s the other way around. I have great faith that our party will be victorious this time. I think we will win a majority of seats in the parliament. This faith is created in me by the support I have seen from our voters and from the different activities and meetings we have had.
If you are elected, what problems will you try and solve in the region?
In reality, the problem of unemployment is not a local one - it’s a national one. The main task standing in front of us is the creation of jobs. Aside from this, we would like to solve problems in the fields of education and in the judiciary. While in government, we made a certain number of mistakes. We will try to fix these mistakes when re-elected. Four years of being the opposition has taught us a number of lessons.
What problems and issues do your voters bring up at your meetings and other activities?
Many of them are every - day problems. Lack of infrastructure, water and irrigation problems. People see that rules and laws that were set in place in Saakashvili’s time are now being broken and destroyed. People that live in this region have started to see this as dangerous; they are worried about the return of criminal elements and bribe - taking to society.
How would you assess the likelihood of your being elected?
My opponent from the ruling party is the region’s executive authority, and he does not have a good reputation nor support. I don’t consider my other opponents very powerful either. In my opinion, the chances are high of my being elected and I believe that this time around, Azerbaijanis will be very active in the election process.
What problems have you encountered in the process of distributing information, posters and pamphlets as an opposition candidate?
My posters are often torn down. They try to make difficulties for me at meetings and other gatherings. I receive threatening messages. But none of this scares us, and we’re not going to turn away from our path. We will be successful in defending the voters’ voices.
In Georgian villages, how do they assess Azerbaijani candidates?
Rather well. One thing we’ve seen is that even though we might be ethnically different, we are citizens of the same country, and we must build our future together.