Aleks Shapiro Suliman: Azerbaijan’s sons are ready to represent and defend its national interests in Israel with dignity

Aleks Shapiro Suliman: Azerbaijan’s sons are ready to represent and defend its national interests in Israel with dignity
# 10 May 2007 13:28 (UTC +04:00)
Aleks Shapiro was born in Azerbaijan in 1963. He is a graduate of law faculty of Moscow Industry Institute. He hold different positions at the USSR Culture Ministry. He was special delegate of this Ministry to Israel.

-What is the aim of establishing Israel-Azerbaijan International Association (AZIZ)?
- People who were born in Azerbaijan still have nostalgic feelings for the place where they started their life, received education, began to work and spent the best years. The graves of our colleagues, neighbors, and friends are still in Azerbaijan. The idea of establishment of a common organization of Israeli Azerbaijanis has for a long time been on the agenda. Azerbaijanis had organizations in the towns of Haifa, Netaniya, Akko, Beer-Shiva and Rishan-le–Sion but they were not united for different reasons. There was no coordination centre, organizational and material resources. Azerbaijan faced ethnic separatism, even from the first days of its rebirth it had to face war with Armenia. The result was occupation of 20 percent of its territories and country crisis with one million refuges and IDPs. In this situation, Azerbaijan was not in power to establish relations with Israeli diasporas. But today meny things have changed for the better. Azerbaijan achieved stability, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan strategic oil pipeline is operating, which gave impetus to development of Azerbaijan’s economy. Azerbaijan is on the way to become the inseparable part of international society, and a State Committee was established for this purpose. Undoubtedly Iosif Shagal’s success in the elections for Knesset has played crucial role in the establishing of our Association. Iosif Shagal, chief of the Azerbaijan-Israel interparliamentary Friendship Group has used his opportunities to establish the International Association which unites all Israelis of Azerbaijani lineage. The Constitute Conference was held on April 12 and the meeting with participation of more than 600 delegates and guests from Azerbaijan, US, Russia , Turkey, Switzerland , members of communities in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan was also attended by Israeli MPs. Israel has not witnessed such meeting of any community yet.
- What are the real steps and future plans of the Association?
- We have many projects. We want to implement these projects and assist peoples immigrated from Azerbaijan. Delegation of officials is to leave for Azerbaijan to open Tourism Representation. Then Israel will open Azerbaijan Tourism Representation. We intend to make a web-site and publish newspaper of the Association. Moreover, we plan to found Council of Azerbaijani and Israeli entrepreneurs and businessmen. This body is to be in charge of all joint projects.
- What is your assessment of the prospects of Azerbaijan-Israeli relations?
- I think Azerbaijani Embassy to Israel is to open soon. But Consulate, Trade and Tourism representations may be established before. As in other countries of the world Azerbaijan will be represented in Israel fully. I would like to stress Israel–Azerbaijan Association’s role again. I say with confidence that Azerbaijan has its address in Israel, its worthy sons are ready to represent Azerbaijan’s national interests with dignity. One of our projects is to celebrate the Republic Day of Azerbaijan in Israel. For the first time in Israel – in the Knesset we will celebrate the anniversary of first democratic republic in the East which was established in Azerbaijan on May 28, 1918. Israel-Azerbaijan association is responsible for all organizing works. I would like to extend my gratitude to Azeri Press Agency and its Israel bureau for supporting the Association from the first days. /APA/