The Occupied Goygol of My Childhood

The picturesque lake of Goygol has been closed to the public for 10 years so that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev can spend two or three days a year there.

Every time I see Goygol in social media, in our old family photos, or in videos made for some old ethnic songs, I get an odd feeling. I think it is probably the same feeling the Garabaghi people have whenever they see their motherland in videos. We get these strange feelings because, for almost 10 years, those places have not belonged to us. Just as if it were occupied by an enemy, Goygol, a picturesque lake located in northwestern Azerbaijan, is separated from us by military checkpoints. I will explain the reasons later, but first I would like to share my memories and tell you what bothers me.

When I was a child, we used to live only 40 kilometers away from Goygol, so each time our family had guests from other regions we would take them there. We enjoyed Goygol so much that we used to visit it a couple of times a year, even in the winter. The lake completely freezes over, and it is a magical sight to behold. Those who have seen Goygol in person would understand. Whenever religious people describe paradise in the afterlife, I always imagine this lake.

Goygol is not alone and there are six other lakes in a row, like smaller parts of a bigger picture, if you climb higher. The last one is Maralgöl and all of them are connected by the Aghsu river. It appears that the goal of the earthquake that happened in Ganja eight centuries ago was to create a paradise there. Even as I share these memories, it is upsetting that I cannot visit there now, but I feel even worse knowing that there are Azeris who have not been there even once.

How can you not visit a place that is national patrimony, a national park, a reserve?! Why wouldn’t you show this place to a tourist, who keeps telling you about the beauty of the lakes of Sweden?

When I lived in the United States, there was a lake a bit smaller than Goygol not far from our house. I used to go there often. When I saw how much Americans enjoyed that lake, it made me sad that my people could not see our own paradise, which is much more beautiful than the one in America. Our paradise is a lake right inside the forest on Mount Kapaz.

The reason we cannot visit it today is very simple, but mind-boggling. Many of you may already know about the situation, but I have to write about it anyway so that it becomes written history. Even if we keep quiet, the history should not keep calm, and it will not.

No, Goygol was not occupied by Armenians, nor is it dangerous to go there. Rather, Mr. President’s estate is located there. The picturesque sight is closed so that President Ilham Aliyev can go there for two or three days a year.

When I was in the United States, I sometimes wanted to approach the local people and tell them that we have a lake that is way more beautiful than this one, but, just because our president has a house there, we haven’t been able to visit it for ten years. I never actually do it as I fear that they would think I am mad and laugh at me, because in any normal country a sane person would not believe this.

Below is a picture of Mr. President’s estate at Goygol. See it and sigh. Also, don’t think that someone took it when he or she went there as a tourist. Rather, it was taken by a conscientious laborer who works there and sent it to the Azeri people as if asking: “How can you bear this with a clear conscience?”

In the end, dear leaders, is it worth it not to let millions of people visit that beautiful place for 10 years for the sake of a three or four-day visit? You want to develop tourism. Isn’t it to those places we need to take tourists visiting Azerbaijan for the first time? Does a European who grew up among two-thousand-year-old walls and rocks really need our whitened, burning, artificial, foam-plastic-covered buildings?

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Meydan TV’s editorial policy.

Ana səhifəOp-edThe Occupied Goygol of My Childhood