AZERI OBSERVER EDITORIAL STAFF
The year of 2020 can be perceived as a turning point for the Azerbaijani diaspora. At the beginning of the year, the Azerbaijani diaspora demonstrated great unity, solidarity and humanism to support their compatriots, who found themselves in a difficult situation due to the sudden coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. This solidarity was later strengthened during the Armenian provocation in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan, reaching its highpoint in the Patriotic War for the freedom of the country’s lands. During the 44-day military operation (September 27–November 9), Azerbaijani compatriots abroad, regardless of their political views, thoughts, country of residence or place of work, demonstrated national unity and with all their might supported Azerbaijan and army. They sent clothing and humanitarian aid to the army, wounded soldiers, families of fallen heroes, civilians living in the frontline areas, victims of the war, and also showed great organization and self-sacrifice, bringing their true vocation to the world. The Second Karabakh War manifested their ability to unite and be as one. Regardless of their political thinking, vision and place of residence, everyone spoke with one voice on the Armenian aggression. This national unity also played a significant role in the great victory of Azerbaijan and thus, together with the people and the state, the diaspora entered a new stage.
This great victory of Azerbaijan is being analyzed at the highest level of the political and military elite; as well as related think-tanks on a regional and global scope. One can ascertain numerous factors that made this victory possible, but perhaps one of the most crucial is the strong unity manifested by the Azerbaijani people. In recent years, one of the factors has been the improved coordination of the Azerbaijani diaspora, the correct information on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – which was the most important issue from a national point of view – and, most importantly, the unrequited love and unconditional service of Azerbaijanis around the world to their Motherland.
So, the role of the Azerbaijani diaspora in achieving this victory deserves a separate study. For 44 punishing days, it never relented in the information warfare struggle. During the Patriotic War, unprecedented coordination and cooperation with the Azerbaijani state was displayed by the country’s diaspora. Encouraged by the determination and the strong will of Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, to fight the aggressor on all fronts, the Azerbaijani diaspora immediately mobilized its forces for the liberation of the occupied territories.
The Azerbaijani nation appreciates the victories of the Azerbaijani Army in the Patriotic War and highly values the contribution of the Azerbaijani diaspora to this just cause. This is obvious from the many hundreds of congratulations and gratitude from Azerbaijani compatriots around the world, addressed to the Azerbaijani President on the occasion of this historic victory.
From September 27 to November 30, various diaspora organizations and activists from 51 countries joined the process of bringing the real truth of Azerbaijan to the world. 228 rallies were held in 38 countries, 330 statements (appeals) were published in 23 languages by various diaspora organizations and activists in 51 countries. Petitions have been submitted to parliaments from more than 50 countries, members of the European Parliament, PACE, and leading international organizations. 4,700 letters by 11 Coordinating Councils operating in different countries, containing detailed information about provocations, occupation policy, and the aggressive activities of Armenia, were all sent to world leaders, representatives of international media, influential international organizations, parliaments and prominent public figures of different countries.
The Azerbaijani diaspora organized roundtables, gatherings, press conferences, car rallies, exhibited posters and advertisements in the city centers, met with state and government representatives, local politicians – including Members of Parliaments – to present the true realities of Armenian aggression. They also volunteered as doctors to support the Azerbaijani army on the frontline. It was the first time the Azerbaijani diaspora organized such a colossal fundraising event. As a result of these activities, 1,941 news articles were published in 47 languages in 70 countries, 224 events were held in 38 countries and 336 news reports were broadcast in 7,418 local sources.
It was a great surprise for the Armenian diaspora to witness the obvious success to such an extent, therefore instigated them to assault Azerbaijanis abroad. In the emerged situation the State Committee on Work with Diaspora (The Committee) appealed to representatives of the Azerbaijani diaspora not to use unofficial, indeterminate, biased information on social networks or electronic media. It called on every Azerbaijani compatriot to actively inform the world community of Armenia’s provocative actions, as well as Azerbaijan’s fair position, to correctly inform the public of the countries of their residence, to take an active part in disseminating accurate information about the developments on the front.
The Patriotic War also mobilized the Azerbaijani youth around the world. Representatives of Azerbaijani Diaspora Youth (ADY), living in different regions of the world, addressed numerous appeals to state bodies, officials and international organizations of the countries of their residence, thus taking an active part in the information war. In particular, they manifested great activism to prevent anti-Azerbaijani posts on social networks, prevented the spread of false information, as well as supported posts that defend Azerbaijan’s just position.
Diasporas and communities of various nations living in Azerbaijan clearly stated their solidarity with the people and state of Azerbaijan during the war. When the war broke out, the Committee held a meeting with leaders of communities living in Azerbaijan. The meeting was attended by the leaders of the Public Association of “Indian Association Azerbaijan”, the Georgian Community of Azerbaijan, the Ukrainian Congress of Azerbaijan, the Russian Community of Azerbaijan, the Public Association of “Polonia-Azerbaijani Polish Community”, the Pakistani diaspora, the Ahiska Turks living in Azerbaijan, the Union of World Ahiska Turks, the German-Azerbaijani Society, Jewish humanitarian organization ” Vaad L’Hatzolas Nidchei Yisrael” and the Public Association of “Support for the Development of Azerbaijan-Bulgaria Friendship”. At the event, community leaders and representatives signed a joint statement addressed to the UN, the Council of Europe and other international organizations, as well as all states that respect international law and norms. The statement called on various international organizations to influence Armenia to put an end to the provocations and for the immediate liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories, as well as to ensure that the Armenian government adheres to international law and norms. These leaders actively worked with their Azerbaijani communities and their compatriots all around the world.
The Azerbaijani diaspora demonstrated unprecedented efficiency in foreign media. They published articles, organized interviews, and wrote letters to the news agencies in order to contest the unfair attitude towards Azerbaijan. They displayed similar activity in social media, while others successfully convinced local journalists to defend the position of Azerbaijan. Regardless of the harsh assaults of the Armenian diaspora, some foreign journalists published articles, organized video conferences and were very active in social media to defend Azerbaijan’s position. In turn, the Committee organized interviews of Azerbaijani IDPs, experts, scientists, and high-level officials with the Azerbaijani diaspora, and prominent foreign journalists, who provided them with correct information.
The Committee instructed the Azerbaijani diaspora on how to better formulate Azerbaijan’s position and what to do to avoid Armenian provocations. In general, the Committee has been closely cooperating with its compatriots, including those working in foreign media.
In this just struggle of the Azerbaijani people, those who adhered to their friendly attitude towards Azerbaijan also made a valuable contribution to the victory. They were active in different areas, from sending letters to holding rallies in their countries. The Committee also held separate online meetings with Diaspora minister of Israel and the State Secretary of the Department for Romanians Abroad. Moreover, the chair of the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), Abdullah Eren, visited Azerbaijan in early November to show their support. On November 4, The YTB chair, along with the Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, Fuad Muradov, visited the city of Ganja and paid tribute to the local people (Editor’s note: As a result of Armenian missile attacks in Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Ganja – which is far away from the conflict zone – dozens of innocent civilians were killed and injured, including women and children.). Famous personalities who enjoy friendships with Azerbaijani diasporas around the world also stated their support. In particular, Turkic nations, Pakistanis, Jews, Georgians, Ukrainians, Russians and others supported Azerbaijan. Friends of Azerbaijan in the USA and Israel organized prayers in mosques, synagogues and churches to commemorate Azerbaijani victims of the Just War.
Although the war on the battlefield is over, the real war on the information warfare and diaspora front, is just beginning. Along with the victory achieved, the country needs to maintain this unity and the solidarity demonstrated by the Azerbaijani diaspora for 44 solid days, and work even more efficiently, to achieve great results. Today, Azerbaijan has come to the most difficult stage: it should promote and recognize its victory in the war, in diplomacy and in the international arena. For this reason, the Azerbaijani diaspora also bears a serious responsibility, regardless of where they live or work; each of the many Azerbaijani compatriots should spread the truth of what really happened to Azerbaijan, around the world. During this challenging time both the Committee and the Azerbaijani compatriots worked together side-by-side, and acquainted themselves with members of the diaspora who worked tirelessly in the war effort. It is therefore quite necessary to continue building this kind of cooperation in this area, correctly assessing the activities of the many compatriots in order to assist them as much as possible.
A new era in the history of the Azerbaijani diaspora has begun. The main issues during the initial stage of the activities of the victorious Azerbaijani diaspora are the tasks ahead, both for the development of Azerbaijan and for strengthening its positive image in the international ring. Of course, since now, diaspora’s activities will be more focused on the presentation of Azerbaijan’s tolerance. Therefore, the Azerbaijani diaspora should establish stronger relations with host countries’ society, especially with the media. It should develop and build relations with other nations’ diasporas based on rich historical traditions, strong friendship, brotherhood and mutual respect, as well as explore and identify alternative ways to assist local media and government agencies.
The Committee is planning to organize online and offline master classes by foreign commentators for Azerbaijani diaspora journalists and youth interested in improving professional journalism skills, thus helping them in spreading the good word of Azerbaijan.