My home is in Armenia-Felix Aiyev

Everyone in Etchmiadzin has heard about Felix Aliyev. Those who know him say he’s a wonderful person with a big heart and has willpower. Almost all the citizens know where he lives, and most of them have tried the tasty Armenian gata that his wife makes.

Felix Aliyev is Azerbaijani by nationality, lives in Etchmiadzin and works at the kindergarten in Geghakert village. Today, he has more than 40 students. The local teens say the coach has become their second parent and teaches them to go for greatness, but never lose their human values. Aliyev has made many achievements in sports. The honorable athlete has trained 33 sport masters, two of which are international masters. Honorable master of sports Yuri Sargsyan, who became world champion and set a world record in 1982 and 1983, is one of Aliyev’s students. Aliyev assures that he will still train world champions since he’s a fighter and loves to overcome obstacles.

“If my students left me, I would leave as well. But they supported me. Their love and respect gave me the strength and helped me live and create. My last name already says a lot about my belonging. Yes, I don’t hide it, but at the same time, I confess that Armenia is my home, my family, the story of my life. I’m connected to this land forever,” said Aliyev in an interview with “ArmenPress”.

Felix Aliyev’s father, Askar Aliyev came to Armenia in the 1930s, settled in Etchmiadzin and got married to an Armenian woman by the name of Yepraskya Danielyan. “My father played the clarinet very well. Everyone in Etchmiadzin knew Master Aliyev. He entertained everyone at Armenian wedding ceremonies,” says Felix.

Felix Aliyev’s wife, Mrs. Julia, is also Armenian. She remembers when Felix confessed his love and proposed to marry her and added, ��?But I’m Azeri, Julia’. “I told him nationality doesn’t matter to me. The important thing is for the person to be a human being.”

Throughout the decades, the couple have always loved and cared for each other. Julia says they have never fought or disputed and have lived in peace and harmony. “I have taken pride in my husband’s achievements,” says Julia, showing her husband’s medals, diplomas, books and magazines that are the silent eyewitnesses of Felix’s past.

The events of Sumgait and Baku shocked the Aliyevs. Julia says at the time, her husband and father-in-law were ashamed of looking in people’s eyes because it was as if they were to blame for the brutality against their compatriots. “Felix would cry out loud,” said Felix’s wife, lowering her head. Aliyev doesn’t want to talk about the inter-ethnic conflicts and massacres. “I don’t want to get into big politics. I’m an average person, and my belief is in human values,” says Felix, adding that there is neither a Koran nor Bible at his home.

Aliyev remembers how in the late 80s and early 90s his students would wait outside for a couple of hours until classes ended and would be escorted home at the end of the day. “At the time, our countries were on bad terms. People hated each other, but the Armenians didn’t hate me. Of course, they would look at me differently since I was Azerbaijani. There was a war on the border, but at the same time, they saw how many Armenian friends I had and that my students were devoted to me. That seemed to make them hate me less. They didn’t hurt me. They would look at me differently during the war, but didn’t say anything. It was because of my students’ love,” says Aliyev and expresses gratitude for the dedication.

Aliyev has friends in Baku, but stopped being friends with them after the war. Aliyev has never thought of going back to Baku. Felix says he has a home, job and family in the world’s most ancient Christian city.

During the tournaments in Podolsk in 1990, the coach met with Azerbaijani athletes. “They didn’t believe that I was living in Armenia without changing my last name. When they saw my last name in my passport, they were shocked,” says Felix, laughing.

“Friends and enemies can’t be friends and enemies forever. Armenians and the Azerbaijani have to be able to live together. They are destined to live side-by-side. It’s impossible to change history and your neighbors. There shouldn’t be any more bloodshed. We have to understand that war can’t lead to anything good,” says Aliyev.

Aliyev doesn’t know the formula for achieving peace, but is certain that there will come a day when nations that are doomed to be neighbors will forget their hatred and will live in peace.

Hasmik Harutyunyan

Photo by Medialab

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