Eastern Europe Bureau of Report presents an interview with Oleksandr Mamay, the Mayor of Ukraine’s Poltava city.
– How do you assess the current level of relations between the regions of Azerbaijan and Ukraine? Which sectors need deepening cooperation?
– You know, as the mayor of a small regional center, but nevertheless, probably the best in Ukraine, I am not much involved in global politics because my position includes engaging in the activities of the city. But observing from the outside, I would like everyone, both Armenian and Azerbaijani, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian peoples, to live in friendship. It is difficult to do it in today’s world. As a Ukrainian, unfortunately, I observed how hostilities were waged between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As a result of the war, Azerbaijan liberated its ancestral territories. But I don’t want to go deep into politics. My position is that all peoples should live in peace. However each nation should have its territory, which is enshrined in the constitution and law, and no one has the right to claim this territory, since this territory is primordial. I have Azerbaijani friends – young guys, they are athletes and live in Poltava. I support them. We have been friends for years, decades, and I make friends with their parents. And these people were born in Ukraine; they are citizens of Ukraine, but pure-blooded Azerbaijanis. And it even happens that I see Azerbaijanis and Armenians born in Poltava are friends, and they don’t talk about politics. Imagine, their parents do not communicate with each other, but the children are friends. This is how a generation changes.
– Does Poltava plan to sign a twinning agreement with Azerbaijani cities? As we have heard, the city you govern intends to get twinned with one of the cities of Azerbaijan liberated from occupation last year. Is this true, and if so, with which city?
– It’s true. Of course, if you have a chance to twin with an Azerbaijani city, everyone would wish to make friends with Baku. We understand it perfectly. Of course, we would be happy to start our cooperation, our friendship. With great pleasure, we would have a sister city in Azerbaijan. Undoubtedly, if there is a liberated city with a population of 30,000 to 50,000, we will gladly twin with it. Just as we are friends with the Georgian city of Borjomi today and have been friends for decades. Our delegations make mutual visits. And if such an honor falls out, I personally would visit a liberated town of Azerbaijan with great pleasure.
– Will you have an offer?
– Yes, there will be an offer. I will give ask my press service, and we will work out a proposal, choose a city, consider it, and send an official proposal to the head of this city.
– Ukraine is on the brink of reforms. Does your city take part in them?
– Today, the most significant reform is to attract as much investment to the city as possible. Undoubtedly, the most crucial investment now is to somehow revise the city’s tax revenues to do so that there is less corruption. It is most important. It’s a pity, but it (corruption) exists here, whether we like it or not. If there is no corruption, there will be investments, which is the most critical reform.
– How do you see the role of different ethnicities, including Azerbaijanis, in the implementation of reforms in general and in the development of the urban economy in particular?
– First of all, probably, it is the faith, culture. There is also a mosque in our city, and I support it. And it’s nice that there are people, who are not only from the south, from the Middle East, but a lot of Azerbaijanis. Therefore, it still seems to me that if we do not go into politics, then probably culture and the Islamic faith are what we should pay attention to and never interfere in life.