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Cooperation with the organizations, which have a strong say on the world`s political scene, is of great benefit for Azerbaijan

Interview with  Deputy chairman of the State Committee for Work with Diaspora Valeh Hajiyev

Q: The State Committee for Work with Diaspora ahs recently celebrated its 12th anniversary. To what extend did the committee fulfilled the tasks set?

A: The idea of the establishment of a special state body that will provide strengthening of national unity among Azerbaijanis loving abroad, having system-based work with them, became topical after national leader Heydar Aliyev`s returning to power in 1993.

The President of Republic of Azerbaijan had issued a Decree «On establishment of State Committee on Diaspora Affairs». The establishment of the State Committee on Diaspora affairs allowed consolidating efforts for realization of our national interests and coordinating the activities of Azerbaijani Diaspora in elimination of current problems in this field.

Although young, our diaspora is much more developed than diasporas in other countries. Dring these years the composition of our diaspora has changed qualitatively. If several years ago our diaspora consisted of the people who just moved to Europe and were facing difficulties and challenges in adapting to new life, now the Azerbaijani diaspora is the new generation, which plays an immense role in promoting the country. 

I would like to emphasize two high-profile events that were organized by the state Committee in partnership with the Nizami Ganjavi International Center and the Club de Madrid. As you know the Club de Madrid includes influential political leaders from different countries. Cooperation with the organizations, which have a strong say on the world`s political scene, is of great benefit for Azerbaijan.

Q: We would like you to highlight the committee`s work to promote Azerbaijan`s truths worldwide.

A: Ensuring international recognition of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and raising the international community`s awareness of Azerbaijan`s realities are among key objectives of the State Committee for Work with Diaspora. We are working on a constant basis to promote the atrocities committed by the Armenian against Azerbaijani civilians during the KArabakh war, particularly the Khojaly Genocide, and the Armenians` ethnic cleansing policy on an international level. The committee maintains close cooperation with our diasporas abroad. This has resulted in an increase in the number of the countries and international organizations that recognized the Khojaly genocide. Twelve American states have already adopted resolutions calling the tragedy in Khojaly the genocide. Last year thanks to efforts of the Azerbaijani diaspora a petition on Khojaly was placed on the White house website, and it was signed by 125,000 people in a short period of time. I would also like to note the role of Justice for Khojaly campaign initiated by vice president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva.

Q: What about the cooperation of the Azerbaijani diaspora with Turkic-speaking diaspora organizations?

A: Developing relations with Turkic-speaking countries has always been among key priorities for the Azerbaijani government. As a result of this Baku has hosted several meetings and summits of Turkic-speaking countries.

Last year the capital of Azerbaijan hosted the summit of heads of diaspora organizations of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States. A joint strategy was adopted with the aim of joint activities of Turkish, Azerbaijani, Kazakh and Kyrgyz diasporas.

We receive constant support from Turkic-speaking diasporas in raising the international community`s awareness of the truth about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Khojaly Genocide. We have already started creating coordination centers of diasporas of Turkic-speaking countries. We plan to open first centers in Berlin, Paris and Washington.

Q: Solving problems of Azerbaijanis in Georgia is one of the key priorities for the State Committee. What is being done on this front?

A: The government of Azerbaijan and eh State Committee for Work with Diaspora attach particular importance to solving the problems of Azerbaijanis living in Georgia. But these problems have a long history as many of them were inherited from eth Soviet Union. So their solution is not an easy task. These problems cannot be solved in one or just two years. But we believe that these problems will be settles as soon as possible thanks to our close cooperation with the Georgian government.

In 2007 we launched a very important project aimed at supporting the integration of Azerbaijanis living in Georgia into local society. We opened Georgian language courses for our fellow countrymen. As a result, in 2010-2011 some 350 out of 458 Azerbaijanis who entered Georgian universities were visitors to the courses. Currently there are more than 1600 Azerbaijani students in higher educational institutions in Georgia.

Q: What are further priorities and objectives for the committee?

A: The Azerbaijani diaspora has entered a new stage of its development. Many of the provisions of the World Azerbaijanis Solidarity Charter, which as adopted in 2008, are still topical and important for us. For example, the application of advanced technologies in promoting Azerbaijan`s realities, speeding up the integration of Azerbaijanis abroad, developing cooperation with foreign diasporas, promoting the ideas of the Turkic world, etc.

In his speech at the third Congress of World Azerbaijanis, President Ilham Aliyev laid out the future priorities and tasks of the Azerbaijani diaspora.