Greetings from the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Washington, DC. In this edition of the News Digest, you will find stories about Azerbaijan’s Republic Day celebrations, the 3rd World Forum on International Dialogue hosted in Baku and the country’s important role in European energy security. To learn more about the Embassy’s activities, please remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Azerbaijan celebrates Republic Day
The Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan celebrated the country’s Republic Day at the Andrew W. Mellon auditorium in Washington, DC on May 27 with nearly 1,000 in attendance. Please visit our Facebook to view photos from the event.
President Barack Obama joined in honoring Republic Day by writing a letter to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, saying, “Dear Mr. President, I offer you and the people of Azerbaijan my sincerest congratulations on Republic Day this May 28. As you celebrate the founding of the world`s first Muslim-majority secular democracy in 1918, know that the United States is committed to working with Azerbaijan as it builds on that legacy to create a more prosperous, more democratic future for all Azerbaijanis.”
Secretary of State John Kerry also issued a statement, ending with “On this day of celebration, I send best wishes to all Azerbaijanis.”
Others also joined in Azerbaijan’s celebrations, including the states of Virginia and Louisiana. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe officially recognized May 28 as Azerbaijani National Day, while the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana held an event recognizing Republic Day with several politicians in attendance, including Lieutenant Governor Elbert Lee Guillory.
Azerbaijan hosts 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue
The 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, a biennial event organized in partnership with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was held over two days in Baku, Azerbaijan. With the theme of “Culture and Sustainable Development in the Post-2015 Agenda,” thought and religious leaders gathered to find solutions to conflicts and problems, and discuss relationships between different cultures and religions. At the opening ceremony on May 18, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said, “We recognize the deepening interdependence of the world – our responsibility is to make this a source of strength… This is why UNESCO is working to include culture in the post-2015 development agenda.”
Mammadyarov: Azerbaijan will continue to support NATO, Afghanistan
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, in address to fellow foreign ministers of states that contribute to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, noted that Azerbaijan donated €1 million to the Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund in 2012 and will donate €2 million to the fund by late 2017. He also stressed the importance of regional transport infrastructure, saying that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway can help link Afghanistan to Europe.
EaP Summit declaration hails Azerbaijan's role in energy security
The 4th Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit ended in Riga with the adoption of a declaration that applauded Azerbaijan’s role in ensuring energy security. The declaration acknowledged Azerbaijan’s particular role with the Southern Gas Corridor and the ongoing work to expand the South Caucasus Pipeline, as well as the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
EU Council President Donald Tusk and President Aliyev also spoke over the phone on May 21 about Azerbaijani-EU bilateral relations. A statement from Mr. Tusk said that they “reconfirmed the mutual strong commitment…to continue developing EU-Azerbaijan relations.” The EaP countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
SOCAR: Southern Gas Corridor here to stay
Vitaliy Baylarbayov, deputy vice president of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), commented on the Southern Gas Corridor: “The project has been prepared over many years. The final investment decision was taken in December 2013, and the gas supply contracts that were signed are also very long-term, up to 25 years. In recent years, no one has been able to agree on such long-term contracts, neither Russia, nor Norway, nor suppliers from North Africa. We succeeded because we were able to convince our European partners that Azerbaijan is a partner to be trusted.”
President Aliyev: Education is best guarantee against terrorism, extremism
At the opening ceremony for the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku on May 18, President Aliyev emphasized the importance of education in modern society. He also said that education is the best guarantee against terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism. Speaking of Azerbaijan’s cultural diversity, he added, “Orthodox and catholic churches, synagogues, Zoroastrian temples - all of that is part of our cultural heritage and we're proud of that.”
Rachida Dati: Azerbaijan can be example for religious, ethnic relations
Rachida Dati, a Member of the European Parliament and Mayor of Paris’ 7th arrondissement, said in a panel at the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue that “Azerbaijan is a powerful state playing a key role in intercultural dialogue. Azerbaijan can be an example to the world in terms of relations between religions and ethnic groups.” Noting that Azerbaijan’s literacy rate is 95 percent, she added, “Azerbaijan’s development is quite impressive. We’re proud to be familiarized with Azerbaijani culture.”
Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, President Aliyev meet in Baku
Office of the President of Azerbaijan
Rabbi Marc Schneier, chairman of the US-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, met with President Aliyev on May 18 during the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. During the conversation, the sides noted that the latter forum contributes to the important preservation of the world’s traditions of multiculturalism, and stressed its significance in terms of bringing cultures closer to each other. Mr. Schneier said that the Foundation is interested in expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Bar Mitzvah in Baku
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein recently traveled to Azerbaijan to speak at the 6th International Conference on Multiculturalism at Baku Slavic University. The rabbi wrote about his trip, saying, “Azerbaijan is a developing country in the Caucuses on the Caspian Sea, rich in oil and agricultural resources, and committed to building a secular Muslim society tolerant of minorities. They enjoy good diplomatic and trade relations with Israel and America. Yes, Israel and America.”
Embassy hosts event honoring Heydar Aliyev
The Embassy on May 9 hosted an event in honor of late President Heydar Aliyev, who ruled the country from 1993 to 2003. Please click here to view photos from the event.
Embassy pens letter to the editor in the New York Times
The New York Times
Mammad Talibov, political and legal counselor of the Embassy of Azerbaijan, submitted a letter to the travel editor on May 14 describing displacement in Azerbaijan. An excerpt: “In ‘A Warm Welcome in the Caucasus Mountains’ (Frugal Traveler, April 8), the author doesn’t tell the full and tragic story of the illegal occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the displacement of nearly one million Azerbaijani citizens… Azerbaijan continues to work toward a peaceful resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict so that displaced persons and tourists alike may return to this beautiful land.”
Massacre of the Innocents: Paying tribute to powerless victims
The second portion of renowned photojournalist Reza’s two-part series on Azerbaijan, “‘Massacre of the Innocents’ pays tribute to the powerless victims of the geopolitical chessboard in this part of the world,” showing the aftermath of the 1992 Khojaly massacre. The first portion, “Elegance of Fire,” portrayed the country’s cultural identity and how it continues to evolve. On the photo above, Reza writes, “the Karabakh Memorial in Sheki [shows] a statue of a man who fell to his knees after several gunshots to the heart.”
Baku 2015 venues to be fully accessible for spectators with disabilities
The inaugural Baku 2015 European Games announced that all venues for the upcoming European Games will be fully accessible for persons with disabilities or impairments. Accessibility has been a priority since the start of the development process for the Games’ 18 venues, from specific drop-off zones to teams specially trained in mobility assistance. Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “We have made it a top priority to accommodate the needs of our guests with disabilities. It is our belief that the needs of these visitors should simply be an extension of the same courtesies that we offer to all spectators.”
Flashmob, featuring umbrellas, for Baku 2015
A flashmob gathered in downtown Baku with umbrellas promoting the upcoming inaugural Baku 2015 European Games. Click here to see the video.
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