According to the Ministry’s Art Department, the new criteria for awarding culture-related titles will be objective and based on merit.
Honorary awards are usually given to remarkable artists whose work has contributed to the formation of Azerbaijani cultural identity. The winner of the prize is chosen through a discretionary decree signed by president Ilham Aliyev, followed by ceremony in which a badge is given to the artist.
Deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Culture Fazil Mustafa drew attention to the new rules, claiming that nothing has changed from the old regulation. He believes honorary titles are often given because of political conjecture and not because of the outstanding value of one’s work to the country.
“[the rules for awarding honorary titles] has very distressing consequences and a negative impact on the development of art.”Fazil Mustafa, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Culture
In his view, the Ministry of Culture should change completely the selection standards of the award. The deputy adds that cultural policy in Azerbaijan still bears many traces of its Soviet past, including the award of honorary titles to citizens based on unclear criteria rather than in an open competition.
72-years old singer Ali Miraliyev shares the same opinion. He thinks honorary titles are given by those who have power to those who profit from it in someway. Instead, he believes that artists who are actually popular with the Azerbaijani people should be awarded.
“Personally, I do not need a title, I need a presidential pension.”Ali Miraliyev, singer
On the other hand, award-winner Faig Sujaddinov believes the prize should not be eliminated, stating that an honorary title is a great inspiration for an artist. He received the title of “People’s Artist” by a decree signed by President Ilham Aliyev on 16 October this year. Together with him, more than ten other “Honored Artists”, “People’s Artists” and “Honored Cultural Workers” titles were awarded, without any further explanation of selection processes.