Heritage and Progress: The Evolution of Azerbaijani Diaspora

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AZERI OBSERVER EDITORIAL STAFF

The end of 2023 was notable for several significant occurrences related to the Azerbaijan diaspora. As in previous years, the Azerbaijani diaspora has displayed remarkable activity in the past year, showcasing exemplary unity and organizational efficiency. Diaspora organizations are etched in golden letters in the annals of Azerbaijani history and have steadfastly persisted in their significant pursuits. Such endeavors encompass the comprehensive dissemination of information about Azerbaijan to the global community, widespread promotion of both material and moral heritage, and facilitation of the civil adaptation and integration of Azerbaijani expatriates into the societies of their respective host countries, as well as the advancement of lobbying efforts and other pertinent initiatives.

Year of Heydar Aliyev
The focus of diaspora organizations during the year was also part of 2023 being declared the “Year of Heydar Aliyev” in Azerbaijan by order of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. In several countries worldwide, solemn tributes marked the anniversary of the national leader of the Azerbaijani people. With the support of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, Azerbaijani diaspora organizations located in nations around the world have orchestrated over 200 events in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the revered leader Heydar Aliyev.
An event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the esteemed leader Heydar Aliyev was realized through the collaborative efforts of the Yale Club and the American-Azerbaijani Society operating in New York City, USA. At the meeting, Chairman of the American-Azerbaijani Society Tomris Azeri, Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the UN Yashar Aliyev, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora Elshad Aliyev, and Consul of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington Vugar Gurbanov highlighted the historical significance of Heydar Aliyev’s endeavors and contributions, which hold paramount importance in the Azerbaijani people’s pursuit of independence. The artistic part of the evening featured performances by Jeffrey Verbock (president of the American Mugham Society and researcher of Azerbaijani Mugham and kamancha), Nargiz Aliyarova (famous pianist and founder of the Society for National Music and Global Culture in New York), and Kamilla Mamedova (professor at the University of Hartford). During the event, a commemorative monument was unveiled, generously donated by Emin Guliyev, an Azerbaijani artist-sculptor residing in New York, in honor of the national leader’s centennial anniversary.


An event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the National leader Heydar Aliyev was realized through the collaborative efforts of the Yale Club of the New York City and the American-Azerbaijani Society operating in New York on November 8, 2023.

An event with the theme “National Leader Heydar Aliyev: The Path to Victory” was held at the International House of the famous Columbia University in New York. During the event organized by the Azerbaijan-American Youth Federation, a screening of the documentary film was presented in homage to the national leader Heydar Aliyev. In the artistic part of the event, the concert program of Azerbaijani classical music was presented by artists living in New York: Nargiz Aliyarova (laureate of international competitions, honored artist, and pianist of Azerbaijan) and Agil Huseynov (diaspora activist). As part of the event, the Azerbaijani Embassy in the United States organized a photo exhibition reflecting the official visits of Heydar Aliyev to the United States.
Another anniversary event in the United States took place at the Sancar Turkish Cultural Center located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Organized by the Azerbaijan Friendship Organization, the event was attended by the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States Khazar Ibrahim, world-famous scientist and Nobel Prize laureate Aziz Sancar and his wife, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Turkish Embassy in Washington Fatih Ozturk, and representatives of the local community, as well as Turkish, Pakistani, and Jewish communities. In the artistic part of the event, Mugham and other Azerbaijani songs were performed by vocal artist Almakhanym Ahmedli, who was invited from Azerbaijan. The songs and the dances were presented by the choir and dance group Bakı-Tabriz-İstanbul, operating under the Azerbaijan Friendship Organization.


Sancar Turkish Cultural Center located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina hosted an event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev on October 24, 2023.

A gala concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev was held in the Dome Hall of the Tauride Palace, located in St. Petersburg. The event was jointly organized by the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in St. Petersburg and the administration of the Tauride Palace. During the event, a concert program consisting of classical works by Azerbaijani, Russian, and foreign composers was presented by the State Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Region under the direction of People’s Artist of Azerbaijan, famous conductor Yalchin Adygozalov. The works were performed by Honored Artists of Azerbaijan: Elnara Mamedova, Regina Rustamova, and Magerram Huseynov and Hamid Abdulov, soloists of the Mariinsky Theater.

An event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev, the founder of the modern Azerbaijani state, was held at the famous Chelsea Old Town Hall, located in London. This event organized by the Society of British Azerbaijanis featured a video recording of the great leader’s visit to London, the views expressed in his speeches at the First Congress of World Azerbaijanis, as well as a documentary film by the Azerbaijani Diaspora Support Fund dedicated to the national leader. Afterwards, a concert program was performed by students of the Karabakh school and People’s Artist Gulyanag Mammadova.
In the city of Bishkek, the Kyrgyz State National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after A. Maldybaev held a gala concert titled “Friendship,” which was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev and a revered statesman within the Turkic world. The concert was organized with the support of the National Commission for State Language and Language Policy under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic. During the concert, the Oino Orchestra, led by People’s Artist of Kyrgyzstan Ernis Asanaliev, performed works by outstanding Azerbaijani and Kyrgyz composers Gara Garayev, Fikret Amirov, Tofik Guliyev, Muslim Magomayev, Kali Moldobasanov, and Aksubay Atabayev. Folk dances were performed by ensembles of the two countries, Shattik and Iveria.
As part of the Year of Heydar Aliyev, the second Forum of Azerbaijani Doctors in Germany was convened at the Azerbaijan Cultural Center in Berlin. The gathering witnessed the participation of representatives from the State Committee on Work with Diaspora, the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Germany, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population, the State Agency for Compulsory Health Insurance, the Association for the Management of Medical Territorial Units (TABIB), as well as medical specialists and guests from approximately 70 cities across Germany. It should be noted that the First Forum of Azerbaijani Doctors in Germany was organized on May 5, 2022, in Cologne with the support of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora.


As part of the Year of Heydar Aliyev, the second Forum of Azerbaijani Doctors in Germany was convened at the Azerbaijan Cultural Center in Berlin on November 18, 2023.

A ceremonial event was convened in Vienna, the capital of Austria, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev and the centennial commemoration of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. The event was attended by the Ambassadors of Azerbaijan and Turkey to Austria, Rovshan Sadigbeyli and Ozan Jeyhun, as well as Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Diaspora Elshad Aliyev. The proceedings unfolded with the solemn singing of the national anthems of the three nations. The artistic segment featured a concert program comprised of compositions by Azerbaijani, Turkish, and European composers. Captivating performances were delivered by renowned Azerbaijani artist, conductor, composer, and pianist Turan Manafzade, alongside Ayan Mammadli, a laureate of national and international piano competitions and a student at the Anton Bruckner Conservatory of Austria.

New Measures for Structuring and Coordination
In 2023, the State Committee orchestrated a series of events with the primary objectives of coordinating Azerbaijanis residing in foreign nations, facilitating their integration into the respective societies, promoting the engagement of compatriots in social and political spheres, fostering stronger connections with their historical homeland, and supporting genuine cooperative relationships among diaspora organizations. Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora Fuad Muradov held meetings with the Azerbaijani community living in Prague (Czech Republic), Berlin and Magdeburg (Germany), and Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). In delivering a comprehensive report on the committee’s undertakings during meetings related to the Year of Heydar Aliyev, the chairman underscored the significance of safeguarding Azerbaijani ideology and national identity. In this context, he recalled President Ilham Aliyev’s recommendations to Azerbaijani compatriots residing abroad during the V Congress of World Azerbaijanis. The sessions, characterized by the comprehensive exchange of ideas, concluded with responses to queries from participants.


Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora Fuad Muradov

As part of his visit to Germany, Fuad Muradov participated in the inaugural ceremony of the Heydar Aliyev World Boxing Committee, the Diaspora Boxing League gym, and the Native Language school in Magdeburg. He expressed gratitude to all compatriots who contributed to the opening and creation of the House of Azerbaijan in Magdeburg, which consists of a new gym and the school. The chairman also expressed gratitude to public figures who have always been friendly to the Azerbaijani people: the author of the book on the Khojaly genocide, Dr. Rolf Kunsch, and a member of the Magdeburg City Council, Bernd Heynemann. The guests watched the athletes training in the boxing gym and the first lesson of the Native Language school.
Simultaneously, a tour was given of Xari Bulbul, the newly established office of the Azerbaijani weekend school at the House of Culture of Azerbaijan, located in Berlin. Sevda Badaliuri, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Alliance of Azerbaijanis in Germany and the head of the Xari Bulbul, provided in-depth details regarding the school’s activities. The committee chairman observed the ongoing educational activities, during which schoolchildren responded to the guest’s inquiries about Azerbaijan. Additionally, the students presented Azerbaijani songs and poems centered around the theme of patriotism. On behalf of the committee, the school received a donation comprising Azerbaijani language textbooks, assorted school supplies, Azerbaijani flags, publications extolling the country, and commemorative souvenirs.
The fifth assembly of government agencies and leaders of organizations overseeing diaspora affairs within the member states of the Organization of Turkic States (OTT) convened in Bishkek. At the event, the Chairman of the State Committee, Fuad Muradov, proposed the idea of convening a gathering in Nakhchivan in the upcoming year to commemorate the 15th anniversary of OTT’s establishment. The event would bring together government agencies and leaders of organizations overseeing diaspora matters in member countries. Additionally, he proposed the establishment of a unified database for OTT diaspora scholars. The Strategy for Joint Actions of the Turkish Diaspora for 2022-2026 was discussed, and the proposals of the Azerbaijani delegation were welcomed. In the context of the third OTT Diaspora Institutional Experience Exchange Program, scheduled to take place in Nakhchivan in 2024, a resolution was reached to hold a meeting of governmental institutions and leaders of organizations overseeing diaspora affairs among the member states. This gathering will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of Turkic States.

Fostering the Promotion of National and Cultural Heritage
One of the primary objectives of Azerbaijan’s diaspora policy involves the advancement of the country’s national and cultural heritage. A significant stride in this endeavor transpired with the presentation of two music collections to music enthusiasts in Japan, featuring the scores of the ballets Seven Beauties and Don Quixote by the eminent Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev. The composer’s name and his works are presented on the covers of the books in the Japanese, English, and Azerbaijani languages. In addition, the preface to the books, written in Japanese and English, was contributed by the composer’s son, Faraj Garayev.
An international conference titled “The Heritage of Qizilbash in Azerbaijan: In the Footsteps of History” was held in Baku. The event was conducted with collaborative support from the Azerbaijani Diaspora Support Fund and the Qizilbash World Heritage Council and was organized as part of the activities within Azerbaijan in observance of the Year of Heydar Aliyev. The opening ceremony of the conference was attended by representatives of the Qizilbash World Heritage Council from Pakistan, Turkey, the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Singapore, and Afghanistan, as well as deputies of the National Assembly, researchers of the Qizilbash heritage from Azerbaijan and Turkey, representatives of various government agencies and non-governmental organizations, and representatives of international organizations.
As part of the conference, the guests visited the Heydar Aliyev Center and Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan. Along the way, guests witnessed acts of vandalism committed by Armenian usurpers in Karabakh during the 30-year occupation, as well as large-scale construction and restoration work carried out in the post-war period. They were informed about the restoration and construction work being carried out in Shusha and large-scale events being held in the cultural capital.


The Qizilbash World Heritage Council’s members from all over the world visit Shusha on November 28, 2023.

Solidarity and support for President Aliyev
On the occasion of December 31st, the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and New Year, the State Committee for Work with Diaspora organized a video conference with the theme “Let’s Unite, Let’s Be United!” Approximately 700 compatriots from 77 countries, alongside representatives of the Turkish diaspora and nations friendly to Azerbaijan, participated in the virtual conference. Committee Chairman Fuad Muradov extended congratulations to the compatriots, marking the historical achievement of the complete restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, in addition to commemorating the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and the New Year. Noting the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for February 7, 2024, Muradov urged Azerbaijani citizens residing abroad to actively engage in the voting process. During their addresses, diaspora activists underscored President Ilham Aliyev’s role in reinstating the honor and pride of the Azerbaijani people. They expressed unequivocal support for President Ilham Aliyev in the upcoming presidential elections. Furthermore, they pledged to intensify efforts to elevate the global standing of the Motherland, safeguard national interests, and fortify the diaspora’s initiatives. As a token of appreciation, 42 compatriots from 24 countries were honored with the Republic of Azerbaijan’s For Service in Diaspora Activity medal at the event.