Azerbaijani-US conference held in Washington - PHOTOS

Fri 27 April 2012 09:19 GMT | 14:19 Local Time

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Conference entitled 'US-Azerbaijan Relations: Vision for Future' dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic relations was held in Washington on April 26.

Making a keynote speech at the conference former secretary of state of Oklahoma Susan Savage underlined the significance of the event, APA reports.

Chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament’s committee on international and interparliamentary relations Samad Seyidov said US and Azerbaijan are not only partners, but also real friends, added that one of the major objectives of the conference is to develop the friendship.

Senator from the state of Mississippi Roger Wicker underlined the strategic importance of the partnership in international security, including energy security and spoke about Azerbaijan’s contribution to the global energy security.

Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov expressed his gratitude to the public and political figures of the US for attending the conference. He said much was been achieved within 20 years.

Congressman from Tennessee Steve Cohen spoke about the importance of the region, where Azerbaijan is situated, and said in this complicated region Azerbaijan has become an important ally of the US.

Congressman from Louisiana Bill Cassidy paid special attention to the energy security and underlined Azerbaijan’s geostrategic importance in this sphere.

The film describing the history of the US-Azerbaijan diplomatic relations, Azerbaijan’s struggle for independence and the difficulties it faced during this period, recent economic achievements of the country was screened at the conference.

The conference was continued in the sessions.

Joshua Walker, Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, moderated at the first session “Two Decades of US-Azerbaijan Partnership: Lessons from the 20 Years of Working Together”. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin, who represented the US administration at the session, said much attention is given in Azerbaijan to the economic achievements and democratic reforms, he spoke about the achievements gained in the bilateral relations within 20 years and said there are great expectations from the future cooperation.

Ross Wilson, Director of Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council, reminded about the US humanitarian programs carried out during his diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan. He spoke about the Azerbaijan’s support of the United States after September 11 terrorists attacks and underlined the importance of this support in the period of complicated international relations.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, former Azerbaijani Ambassador to US Hafiz Pashayev spoke about the problems of the first period of US-Azerbaijan diplomatic relations and said he always believed that the bilateral relations would reach its high level. Pashayev said Azerbaijan-US relations turned into the relationship between the allies and reduced the influence of US Armenian lobby.

Director of US National Security Council and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Merkel mentioned Section 907, which overshadows the US-Azerbaijan relations, and said in that period when the Section 907 was approved, the US Congressmen had poor information about the region where Azerbaijan is located. Merkel also urged to increase effectiveness of the OSCE Minsk Group in the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and to accelerate the solution process.

Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at the Heritage Foundation, said Azerbaijan achieved magnificent successes in the past 20 years and tripled its GDP. He called it unbelievable achievement. Cohen appreciated Azerbaijan’s participation in Iraq and Afghanistan operations and said US support of Azerbaijan in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is very important. Cohen called Azerbaijan as the important country of the region and urged US to increase attention to this country underlining that other powers also have serious interests in the region.

US Congressman Gregory Meeks (New York) said one needs to visit Azerbaijan to understand the reasons of its achievements. Congressman from Arizona Trent Franks widely spoke about the US-Azerbaijan security cooperation. Congressman Greg Harper from Mississippi spoke about the similarities between Azerbaijan and the state he represents in the US Congress. He focused attention on energy projects.

Then speakers answered the questions of the conference participants.

BP Senior Director for International Affairs Greg Saunders addressed the conference within the Session II entitled “Key Aspects of US-Azerbaijan Partnership: Energy Security in Caspian Basin”. He spoke about the energy policy of Azerbaijan and said this policy was based on oil factor some years ago, but today production and export of natural gas is on agenda. He said Azerbaijan played an important role in exploration, production and export of natural gas under the current complicated international political conditions.

Research Professor of National Security Affairs Stephen Blank said that Azerbaijan was located in a difficult geopolitical region and it was important to attach attention to the country’s security. He said there was no security in Europe without security of Caucasus. “Azerbaijan is an important ally for the United States. US need Azerbaijan in the sphere of energy security as mush as Azerbaijan needs US support in protection of its security”.

SOCAR vise president Elshad Nasirov said Azerbaijan had an important place in the modern energy security system and he touched upon recent successful energy projects and prospects of energy security cooperation with the European Union.

In the end, the questions of listeners were answered.

Professor of Islam and Head of Department of Intercultural Studies of Chicago University Scott Alexander, who opened the Session III entitled “Promoting Tolerance and Intercultural Dialogue: The Case of Azerbaijan”, said that ethnic and religious tolerance was always peculiar to Azerbaijani people. He introduced the heads of Azerbaijan’s main religious communities participated in the event.

Head of Azerbaijan’s Catholic community Vladimir Fekete spoke about the tolerance in the country and wished this important value, which is peculiar to the Azerbaijani people, to live forever and said that the Azerbaijani Catholics always wished peace and tranquility in their country.

Head of Azerbaijani Mountain Jews Community Milikh Yevdayev said that all Jewish people in the country were living under the tolerant conditions and developing their ethnic and religious cultures over the course of centuries.

Head of Azerbaijani Orthodox Eparchy Alexander Ishein said that all ethnic and religious communities in Azerbaijan were living in mutual understanding and tolerance. He called it as one of the greatest achievements of Azerbaijan.

Chairman of Caucasian Muslim Board Allahshukur Pashazade noted that Azerbaijan paid similar attention to all faiths. He noted that the number of praying houses of all confessions was increased in Azerbaijan after the collapse of the USSR and said that it was an example of humanitarian policy pursued in the country. Pashazade touched upon the importance of the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and said that all destroyed religious monuments situated in the occupied territories would be restored if the conflict was settled.

Svante Cornell, Research Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University, spoke about the ethnic tolerance in Azerbaijan and expressed satisfaction that the citizen concept was developed in the country rather that ethnic background.

Professor of Political Sciences at the University of Haifa Brenda Shaffer noted that Azerbaijan was a motherland of all people living there and noted that despite the losses in Karabakh war, Azerbaijan didn’t chose the way of violence and terrorism. She underlined the importance of international community’s attention to Azerbaijan’s problems. Shaffer noted that there are friendly relations between Azerbaijan and the US. She said that stopping the Congress’ assistance to the Armenian separatists would play a significant role.

Member of Azerbaijani Parliament, Head of Euro-Atlantic Center Asim Mollazadeh said Azerbaijan had many innovations based on tolerance. According to him, there are many talented people of various ethnic groups, who moved to Azerbaijan to pull through the ethnic intolerances in their countries, and reached great achievements in Azerbaijan. Mollazade spoke about the values of secular state in Azerbaijan and said that its foundation was laid by young Azerbaijanis, who got education in European and Russian universities early in the 20th century.

Then the questions of the participants were answered.

A working dinner was organized during the conference. Co-chair of U.S.-Azerbaijan Economic Partnership Commission, Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov made a keynote speech in the dinner and spoke about the development of the relations between the countries over the last 20 years, successes and tasks.

Sharifov said that the wide discussions were held and the memorandum of understanding on aviation sphere was signed within the 3rd meeting of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Economic Partnership Commission on April 18, 2012. He also underlined the importance of extension of the opportunities for the development of the relations and said that Section 907 of the US Freedom Support Act didn’t reflect spirit of the strategic relations and prevented the cooperation. At the same time, the minister underlined that allocation of humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabakh by the US Congress is not corresponding with the official stance of the US and it is important to consider the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh too.

Senator Kristen Gillibrand (New York) spoke about the significance of the relations with Azerbaijan and especially noted the energy cooperation and successful participation of Azerbaijan in the US-led anti-terrorist operations.

Chairwoman of U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen noted that Azerbaijan established first democratic republic in the Muslim East. Ros-Lehtinen also said that Azerbaijan is significant partner for the US and deepening of this partnership is corresponding with the national interests of the US. Ros-Lehtinen She said that she would do her best for the development of the US-Azerbaijan relations.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour spoke about the energy experience of Mississippi and said that Azerbaijan played a great role in the international energy security. Barbour recalled recent visit of Azerbaijani delegation to Mississippi.

Then Minister Sharifov, members of the US Congress Ros-Lehtinen and Jean Schmidt and Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov raised glasses to the friendship and partnership between the countries.


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Online broadcast of Azerbaijani-US conference

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