Elin Suleymanov: Azerbaijani Diaspora should be more active in political life of the US

Elin Suleymanov: Azerbaijani Diaspora should be more active in political life of the US
# 07 September 2007 10:47 (UTC +04:00)
- How many Azerbaijanis live in the western coast of the US? Do all of them have US citizenship?
- There is no statistics on the number of Azerbaijanis living in that region, so it is difficult to say something about it. People are regularly registered in the US, but Azerbaijanis are very passive in this process. On the other hand, very few Azerbaijanis introduce themselves as Azeris during population census. The great mass of Azerbaijanis has concentrated in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. Azerbaijanis have three organizations in California – North California Cultural Center, Azerbaijan Council of America and Azerbaijani Hearth. Besides, a lot of Azerbaijanis from South Azerbaijan are living in this State. The majority of them consider themselves Iranian, not Azerbaijani. We are not against it or voice separatist ideas, but they would rather support us on cultural issues, or the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Not all the Azerbaijanis living in the US have the country’s citizenship, the majority of them live in the US through Green Card.
- Do the Azeris living in Los Angeles have any problems? Do they have problems with Armenians?
- The existing problems are mainly of technical character. Our citizens sometimes need to change passports, and this is a very long process. Of course, these are problems that can be solved, but they need some nerves. As regards Armenians, there are many of them in California. There are cities where the majority of its people are Armenians. Our Diaspora can not withstand them – our Diaspora is young and weakly represented in political circles. Armenians are sufficiently represented in the local authorities and state bodies. I think that the representatives of our Diaspora should be more active in the political life of the US, and even in the issues that are not directly connected with Azerbaijan – they should be active in humanitarian, ecological actions. We want our Diaspora to support us more. By the way, unlike Armenia we do not need financial support, what we need is only solidarity.
- Do you conflict with Armenian Diaspora? What about the relations with Turkish Diaspora?
- I would not call these conflicts. One of such events occurred on May 28. That day is marked as a Republic day both in Azerbaijan and Armenia. U.S. marks this day as Commemoration Day. Northern California Culture Center of Azerbaijanis was established that day. Armenians protested against the event of Azerbaijan, instead of marking their own or U.S. holiday. The momentum that surprised me much was that Armenians’ territorial claims to Nakhchivan prevailed in the posters they raised. Such problems should worry Armenian Diaspora at the same time. As to Turkish Diaspora, I want to say that we have close relations with this community as well as Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles. They are actively participating in the events we organize and we are also participating events they organize. We always supported each other. Moreover, we have good relations with Jewish community.
- Are any economic or cultural events held in Los Angeles regarding Azerbaijan?
- Of course. Economic Development Ministry of Azerbaijan has recently held a business forum in Los Angeles. Fund of Friends of Azerbaijani Culture organized a meeting with writer, publicist, political scientist Thomas Golts. Karen Koblich, who visited Azerbaijan, will organize a carpet exhibition in Los Angeles on September 8. We also intend to send Azerbaijani musicians to that event.
- The famous Silicon Valley is situated in the western coast of the U.S. Do the organizations functioning there want to cooperate with Azerbaijan?
- Yes. I want especially underline the activity of Azerbaijani Communication and Information Technologies Minister Ali Abbasov. He visited California twice, had meetings in San Hose and Los Angeles and negotiated with CISCO, HP, Intell, Microsoft. I regard that these negotiations will pave a way to a fruitful cooperation.
- Is local media interested in Azerbaijan?
- Of course, they are interested in Azerbaijan. I have been many times interviewed by local radios, my interview was also published in “Ontario” newspaper. Journalists are mainly interested in Azerbaijan’s relations with Iran and Russia, Gabala radar station, cooperation with Israel, Islam in Azerbaijan and some other issues. /APA/