2022: Year of the Azerbaijani Diaspora

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AZERI OBSERVER EDITORIAL STAFF

As we see off the year 2022, we can look back on a number of memorable events in the diaspora activities of Azerbaijan. Undoubtedly, the most important of them is the Fifth Congress of World Azerbaijanis, held in Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. At the suggestion of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, this meeting was called the Victory Congress. It was also the first congress of Azerbaijanis of the world, not just in Shusha but in Karabakh altogether.

This article will provide information about the international conference organized by the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, the activities of diaspora organizations related to the provocations committed by Armenia on the state border with Azerbaijan from September 12 to 14, and events held around the world related to November 8 – Victory Day.

On June 14, ADA University and the State Committee organized a roundtable discussion titled “Post-conflict development in the South Caucasus.” The event, which was moderated by Fariz Ismailzada, Director of the Institute for Development and Diplomacy and Vice-Rector of ADA University, was attended by representatives of government agencies and over 20 foreign experts representing various thinktanks, universities, and media from the USA, Germany, Great Britain, Brazil, France, Israel, Italy, Türkiye, Ukraine, Georgia, and Greece, as well as Azerbaijani specialists.

Hikmat Hajiyev – Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan and Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration – told the roundtable participants about Azerbaijan’s leading role in the South Caucasus and its participation in large-scale energy projects and its work demining the lands liberated from Armenian occupation by the country’s glorious army under the leadership of the victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev. Mr. Hajiyev gave detailed information on the restoration and construction work carried out in these areas, the return of internally displaced persons to their homeland, and other measures taken by the state. Mr. Hajiyev linked the recent increase in the number of international events held in Baku to the country’s growing prestige.

The Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, Fuad Muradov, highlighted the works carried out to inform the international community by order of President Ilham Aliyev, including the organization of visits for historians and journalists to the territories liberated from occupation to see firsthand the acts of vandalism committed by Armenia against Azerbaijani cultural heritage. The Chairman also discussed the activities of the Azerbaijani diaspora meant to inform the world community about the restoration and construction work being carried out at the liberated territories in the post-conflict period at the expense of the state, as well as touching on the Committee’s relations with international organizations.

Emin Huseynov, Special Representative of the Azerbaijani President in the territories liberated from occupation, which are part of the Karabakh economic region (except for the Shusha region), gave detailed information on the development prospects and resources available in Karabakh, the creation of a knowledge-based economy for the acceleration of socio-economic development, the introduction of new strategies in the development of Karabakh, and the preference for digital strategies.

During the hearings, it was emphasized that foreign experts play an important role in the development of the South Caucasus region and in restoration work in Karabakh, which they can support by objectively delivering the facts about Azerbaijan to the international community.

In addition to the international conference, an important aspect of the activities of the diaspora is the delivery of information to the world community about the facts of the Armenian aggression toward Azerbaijan; the world needs to know that units of the Armenian Armed Forces provoked a provocation on the state border with Azerbaijan from September 12 to 14, 2022. The martyrdom of 80 servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces as a result of the provocation caused indignation among Azerbaijani compatriots.

A statement representing Azerbaijanis of the world, addressed to the international community in relation to the September 12 provocation of Armenia, states with regret that this is not the first time that Armenia has responded with provocation during Azerbaijan-initiated peace processes between the two countries: “We, members of the Azerbaijani community living and acting in different countries, firmly state that these steps by Armenia are completely contrary to the ongoing process of normalization and peace. When large-scale restoration and construction work is being carried out in the liberated territories of our Motherland, the aggression of Armenia is additional clear evidence that this process is being hindered in every possible way. We once again appeal to international organizations and leading institutions and demand that the world community take practical steps at the level of international law so that such situations do not happen again, as well as hoping the world will step up efforts to invite the Armenian side to put an end to ideas of revanchism.”

Azerbaijani diaspora organizations held protests to demonstrate this sentiment to the leadership of Armenia, holding gatherings in leading European capitals and cities in response to the September provocation on the state border. In total, diaspora activists sent 70 appeals and statements to the social and political circles and government officials of the countries in which they live, with 143 appeals sent by diaspora organizations.

The Azerbaijani community living in New York City, USA, picketed in front of the UN Headquarters. Azerbaijani diaspora organizations operating in the UK picketed in front of the Armenian Embassy in London. The Azerbaijani community in the Kingdom of the Netherlands held a permitted demonstration in front of the Armenian Embassy in The Hague. The Azerbaijani community held a picket in front of the Swedish parliament on Mynttorget Square in Stockholm.

The participants of these actions protested the large-scale provocation by the Armenian Armed Forces on the state border of Azerbaijan, called attention to the destruction of country’s cultural heritage, the burial of mines in Azerbaijani territory, and the fate of the missing Azerbaijanis, as well as drawing the attention of political circles to the factors hindering peace in the region.

The signs held by picketers read “Armenia attacks, Azerbaijan defends its borders!”, “Armenia says no to peace, chooses war!”, “Azerbaijan demands justice!”, “Armenia, stop mining!”, “Mines kill civilians!”, and “Mining of Azerbaijani lands is a war crime!”, among other slogans. Calls were made to end the occupation policy and establish peace in the region. It was emphasized that all responsibility for the latest provocation, as well as the numerous resulting casualties on both sides, lies with the military-political leadership of Armenia.

In front of the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, an exhibition-action was organized to reflect on the destruction of the cultural heritage of Western Azerbaijan. The event took place within the action titled Creating Intercultural Dialogue, organized by the association known as Justice and Law without Borders (Justice et Droits Sans Frontieres). The main goal was to draw the attention of the French public and international organizations to the Armenians’ deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of Western Azerbaijanis, particularly in densely populated areas of Yerevan, including the Tepebashi region. The exposition includes the Irevan Fortress, the Sardarabad Fortress, the Sardar Palace, the Salim Caravanserai, the Urud monumental complex, the Tepebashi quarter, the grave of Ashuk Alesgar, the Abbas Mirza Mosque, the Sardar Mosque, the Rajab Pasha Mosque, the Novruzali Bey Mosque, the Haji Jafar Bek Mosque, the Tepebashi Mosque, and photo materials of other monuments. Residents of Paris interested in the exhibition received detailed information about the deliberately destroyed pieces of Western Azerbaijan cultural heritage. The Al-Jazeera TV channel showed a report about the exhibition-action.

An exhibition-action in front of the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris

An exhibition dedicated to the problem of anti-personnel mines in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan and the people missing during the Karabakh War was held in front of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in Geneva. During the exhibition-action organized by the International Institute for Rights and Development (IRDG), posters were seen with slogans such as “Armenia, inform us about the missing Azerbaijanis!”, “Armenia continues to commit war crimes and does not provide maps of mined territories,” “Intensive mining of territories liberated from occupation poses a serious threat to the life, health, and safety of people,” “Every mine explosion in the territories liberated from occupation is another crime of Armenia!”, “For 30 years, Armenia has mined most of the previously occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Therefore, clearing these territories of mines is our main task today!”, “People continue to die from an unknown number of mines laid by Armenian troops in the liberated areas!”, and “Stop the aggression of Armenia!”

An exhibition in front of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in Geneva

The Azerbaijani community living in Europe held peaceful protests near the French Senate on November 15 and the French National Assembly on November 28 in response to the discussion of the anti-Azerbaijani resolution. During these actions, Azerbaijani compatriots held photos depicting the massacres committed by the Armed Forces of Armenia against Azerbaijanis and the Khojaly genocide (including photos of mercilessly killed peaceful Azerbaijani women and children), as well as displaying posters with slogans such as “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”, “We demand justice!”, “NO to terrorism!”, “The National Assembly must be fair!”, “Stop hypocrisy!”, “France must be neutral to establish peace in the South Caucasus!”, “Stop Armenian terrorism!”, “Do not follow the Armenian lies!”, “Stop double standards!”, and “Do not support the aggressor country!” Noting that the draft resolution is unfair and does not reflect reality, the compatriots assessed the infamous document as part of a biased campaign against Azerbaijan by the Armenian lobby and its patrons. Emphasizing that such lobbies protect only the interests of Armenians, the Azerbaijani activists strongly condemned and rejected such prejudice. Recalling the importance of France’s neutrality in establishing a lasting peace in the South Caucasus, the activists noted that such an ill-conceived step would have serious consequences and could rekindle conflict in the region.

The Azerbaijani community living in Europe holds peaceful protests near the French Senate on November 15 and the French National Assembly on November 28.

For the second year, November 8 ­–the anniversary of Azerbaijan’s historic Victory in the Patriotic War – is solemnly celebrated by diaspora organizations. In 2022, via the support of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, more than a hundred events related to Victory Day were held in different countries. These events served to promote the historic victory Azerbaijan achieved in the 44-day Patriotic War and to inform the international community about the realities of Azerbaijan.

The presentation of the Shusha Victory Project took place before the State Committee. The project, prepared jointly with support from the Fund for Support to Azerbaijani Diaspora and the Shusha City State Reserve and implemented in the country’s cultural capital, was presented to the participants of the event, which was attended by officials, MPs, and intellectuals.

It was reported that the project was implemented during the “Year of Shusha.” On the occasion of Victory Day, works by the brilliant Azerbaijani composers Uzeyir Hajibeyli, Vasif Adigozalov, and a number of national musical compositions were skillfully performed by Imamyar Hasanov, musical director of the World Music Festival in San Francisco. Mr. Hasanov, a master known amongst prominent US universities for giving master-classes there, thus promoted Azerbaijani music and musical instrument of kamancha abroad. In his speech, Imamiyar Hasanov said that, as an Azerbaijani musician living abroad, he has always felt the support of the Azerbaijani State and thanked President Ilham Aliyev.

Fuad Muradov thanked the relevant state institutions and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for the constant support of the projects implemented by the State Committee related to the “Year of Shusha” and on the occasion of Victory Day. He said that the Azerbaijanis of the world will always support the Motherland and the Supreme Commander.

In 2022, via the support of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, more than a hundred events related to Victory Day were held in different countries.

The solemn event took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The event was attended by the State Committee Chairman Fuad Muradov, staff members of the Azerbaijani Embassy to Estonia, Estonian officials, representatives of the local community, as well as the Azerbaijani and Turkish communities. Soloist of the Estonian Ballet Theater Olga Zaitseva and violinist Mari Liis Uibo performed works by Azerbaijani and Estonian composers and also presented a disc of music performed by Estonian and Azerbaijani musicians.

The concert was organized by the Fund for Support to Azerbaijani Diaspora, the Azerbaijani Embassy to Poland, and the Polish National Philharmonic in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. The event was attended by Fuad Muradov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Poland Nargiz Gurbanova, staff members of the Turkish Embassy to this country, the Polish public and political figures, Jewish communities, and representatives of the local community. The concert program included works by Azerbaijani and Polish composers with the participation of the Sinfonia Varsovia; the orchestra was conducted by maestro Ayyub Guliyev. An exhibition depicting the Victory was organized at the entrance to the concert hall, which culminated in the presentation of a CD prepared by the Polish recording company Orphee Classics.

Warsaw, Poland

The solemn concert program was presented in the Great Hall of the International Mozarteum Foundation located in Salzburg, Austria, one of the world centers of classical music and the birthplace of the genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The event, organized by the Azerbaijani Embassy in Austria, was attended by Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Diaspora Fuad Muradov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Austria Rovshan Sadigbeyli, representatives of the consulates operating in Salzburg, government representatives, and members of the local community and the Azerbaijani community. The Salzburg Symphony Orchestra was conducted by People’s Artist of Azerbaijan and Honored Art Worker, Professor Yalchin Adigozalov, who presented a concert program consisting of works by Azerbaijani and Austrian composers.

The solemn concert program was presented in the Great Hall of the International Mozarteum Foundation located in Salzburg, Austria.

A concert dedicated to peace took place in Paris. The event was organized by the Azerbaijani Embassy to France and the Permanent Mission to UNESCO and was attended by members of the French Parliament, representatives of socio-political, scientific, and cultural circles, representatives of the diplomatic corps, and members of the Azerbaijani diaspora. Famous singer (and representative of Azerbaijan at Eurovision) Elnur Huseynov performed at the concert.

An event dedicated to Victory Day was held also at the Azerbaijan House in Munich, Germany.