“Armenian viewpoints dominated information about Azerbaijan in California for a long time�

“Armenian viewpoints dominated information about Azerbaijan in California for a long time�
# 19 February 2007 12:09 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijani Consul-General to Los Angeles Elin Suleymanov has been interviewed by APA’s US bureau.

-California is one of the most difficult areas for Azerbaijani diplomats to work. What are primary challenges for our Consulate since an establishment of the Consulate on November 2005?
- The time difference between Baku and Los Angeles is 12 hours and our
Consulate is the farthest diplomatic mission from Azerbaijan today.
Naturally, that adds certain challenges to our work. Azerbaijan is still
relatively little known on America’s West Coast, so, indeed, there is a
lot to be done. The Consulate General began operating in late May of
2006 and our main objectives include promoting Azerbaijan and our
country’s achievements, helping to deepen the strong friendship between
Azerbaijanis and Americans and working with our citizens in our consular
district. As you know, our Consulate is responsible not only for
California but for 13 Western states of America.
Of course, California is home to a very numerous Armenian community -
L.A. is the largest Armenian town outside Armenia. Therefore, for a long
time, Armenian viewpoints dominated information about our region in
California. One of our goals is also to present our side of the story,
so Californians learn about both Armenia’s aggression and about
successful development of Azerbaijan.
- Since establishing of Consulate of Azerbaijan Republic what
have changed in accepting and recognizing Azerbaijan by the local
political and economical elite of the state?

- It might be too early to speak about significant changes in
California. At the same time, overall reception for Azerbaijan has been
positive here. This is only natural, Azerbaijan is rapidly growing
economy, a reliable friend of the United States and a great example of
religious tolerance and multilateralism. This all is appreciated by
Americans, and Californians are no exception. There is growing interest
in Azerbaijan’s economy and culture.
President Ilham Aliyev’s successful visit to Washington, DC in April of
the last year was a major milestone in U.S.-Azerbaijani relations
overall and it certainly helped to raise Azerbaijan’s profile on the
West Coast as well.
Minister Ali Abbasov’s visit last year to the Silicon Valley also
increased interest in the potential of developing new technologies in
We continue to meet people and tell them about Azerbaijan. And the more
people learn about Azerbaijan, about what it represnts, the more friends
we have.
- I know that the visits of representatives of so called
“Nagorno-Karabakh Republic� take place here from time to time. Last time
it was at the end of 2006 when “officials� of “NKR� again appeared in
LA. Can we say that they are still successful in misleading local
communities and inhabitants with “the independence movement� and
“self-determination rights� tricks?

- First, let me point out that separatist leaders visit US as private
citizens. Their main goal is to request more financial support from
Armenian Diaspora. Last year, our consulate sent a letter to organizers
of their event and, if I am not mistaken, some local Azerbaijanis took
part in the meeting. While separatists may continue their propaganda,
the realities of the region are hard to hide and more people learn about
what actually happened every day. I think that even Armenian diaspora is
getting tired of radicalism and counter-productive approaches. If
Armenians in Armenia and those, who currently reside on our occupied
territories, are really interested in ensuring prosperous and secure
future for their children, they need to show some will for an agreement
with Azerbaijan. Otherwise, misleading even members of their own
diaspora forever would become impossible.
- Do you feel that there are certain Diasporas and minority groups in
the state who wish to collaborate and assist us in reaching our
political goals or may support our position regarding different issues
in legislative and executive bodies of the state?

- Azerbaijan is open to working with all our friends. Here, in
California, we are happy to work with everyone, who has an interest in
Azerbaijan. This is not only political, Azerbaijanis share much in
culture with other nations and this too brings people together.
Of course, Turkish and Jewish communities have traditionally been
friendly to Azerbaijan and appreciated its role in our challenging
region. But again, Azerbaijan’s appeal is a universal one, and we
shouldn’t be surprised that other groups may be interested in learning
more about our country.
Finally, I also believe that Armenian Diaspora can help Armenia by
encouraging it to find common understanding with its neighbors rather
than by encouraging radicalism. Doing so would change its role from
being an obstacle into becoming a positive contributor to the entire
region’s future.
- In California we have three Azeri diaspora unities, more than in any
other states of the U.S. Do you satisfy with their activities of disseminating Azeri culture and realities of our countries? Would you like to see them more active in political area?

- Azerbaijani community is becoming increasingly active in California.
This is positive news. In October last year, the first Azerbaijani-American Youth Forum took place in Los Angeles and a new group - the Azerbaijani-American Council - has emerged in California, joining the existing ones.
The best thing the Azerbaijani-Americans can do for Azerbaijan is to be
more active in their communities, get involved in civic initiatives as
well as to participate more actively in and be represented in local
political processes, in short to become outspoken, active American
citizens. I think, even with growing activism of the Azerbaijani
American community and all of Californian-Azerbaijani groups holding
more cultural and social events, there is still a long way to fully
realize the enormous potential of the Azerbaijani-American community.
- On January 30, 2007 four Congressmen presented so called Armenian genocide resolution to the Congress which already created a tension in Ankara. How we may help our Turkish allies here to prevent an adoption of mentioned resolution?
- Unfortunately, this issue once again has become a subject of
politically motivated debate rather than a thorough and unbiased
historic research. Our goal should not be preventing anything but rather
simply to tell the truth. And the truth is that, while Armenians claim
the unproven so-called ’genocide’ almost a hundred years ago, Armenian
radicals committed terrible atrocities on the occupied territories in
Azerbaijan, such as the massacre of Khojaly 15-years ago.
We should point out to anyone, who is so concerned with suffering in the
past, that Khojaly happened recently enough with overwhelming proof and
live witnesses. And why are those so keen on their own version of
histroy, so indifferent to the tragedy of one million displaced
Azerbaijanis suffering every present day. This should make honest people think. /APA/