Azerbaijan reaching out and becoming an integral part in world community

Mon 03 October 2011 12:32 GMT | 17:32 Local Time

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Tomris Azeri

by Tomris Azeri, President of Azerbaijan Society of America.

It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the declaration of independence of Azerbaijan. Members of the Azerbaijan Society of America cannot help but remember when they all first heard the news in 1991 - the news report that they had been hoping to hear all their lives - as they lived and worked as citizens of the United States. On October 18, 1991, the Independent Republic of Azerbaijan was officially restored by declaration of the Azerbaijan National Assembly.

Memories for that moment will never fade away. There we were, Azerbaijani-Americans physically sitting in our American homes, yet spiritually joined with Azerbaijan and its people as we shared an unspeakable common joy. This was a joy we will never forget as long as we live - the joy of an Independent Azerbaijan.

That news of independence brought with it so many wonderful memories that can never be forgotten.   We remember seeing, for the very first time, the flag of the nation of Azerbaijan being raised in front of the United Nations in New York. We were there, crying and hugging each other with joy. Seeing the flag of our homeland raised in freedom means much more than just a beautiful piece of cloth high in the sky.

The flag of Azerbaijan represents hope and determination; our pride and fortitude; our strength and perseverance; and our love and aspirations.

Established in 1957 by the descendants of the founding fathers of the first Azerbaijani Republic, the Azerbaijan Society of America has been the first and only organization that represented the Azerbaijani voice in America when our country was behind the Iron Curtain. It was the first organization to build an Azerbaijani House in the U.S. and the first to raise the Azerbaijani tri-colored flag, representing the spirit of freedom of our people in America, even when that flag was banned in Soviet Azerbaijan. Since 1957, the Azerbaijan Society of America has contributed in many ways to increase the public's knowledge of Azerbaijan, its culture, history and identity. 

These activities occurred for a full 34 years before the restoration of Azerbaijan's independence in 1991. We are all grateful to America for giving us the freedom to continue to keep Azerbaijan alive in the hearts and souls of the Diaspora while we waited for independence in our homeland.

When the Azerbaijan Society of America was established in 1957, the dream of a free and independent Azerbaijan was just that a dream. A dream which we all hoped could some day become a reality. At the same time we held fast to that dream, Azerbaijani Americans also embraced the American dream and grew to love their adopted homeland, worked hard to raise their families, worked hard to prosper, and always cherished their freedom.

Today, it is easy to see a deep and undisputable strength of pride of nationality among the citizens of Azerbaijan. After having been subjected for so long to Soviet rule, the freedom which created an independent Azerbaijan in 1991 was exhilarating to all Azerbaijanis.

This national pride has not diminished with time. It continues to grow increasingly strong and the sweet smell of freedom and confidence in the future makes Azerbaijanis look forward to an era of increasing prosperity and enlightenment.

As Azerbaijani-Americans, we are witnessing so many positive things that independent Azerbaijan has achieved in just 20 years. We are witnessing the growth and prosperity of independent Azerbaijan, and its elevation to the position of a key regional player in a region spanning from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. Azerbaijan is reaching out and becoming an integral part in the world community. We are witnessing that Azerbaijan's abundant natural resources are constructively being tapped, this is increasing exports and attracting foreign investors and the Gross Domestic Product growth is rapidly rising. We are proud of the continuing importance Azerbaijan puts on the education, unity, and involvement of its young people.

We are also proud to be Americans, and proud of what America has achieved in its 235 years of independence. We look forward to a future filled with hope and optimism and the promise of continued positive and growing relations between our two countries.




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