Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles hosted a meeting with influential members of the Korean American community on January 11, 2016. Held together with one of the leading Korean American organizations KCCD (Korean Churches for Community Development) under the motto “Promoting Interfaith Harmony”, the meeting was the first of its kind, and aimed at establishing mutually beneficial relationship with the growing Korean American community
Opening the event, Azerbaijan’s Consul General Nasimi Aghayev informed the guests about Azerbaijan’s tumultous history, and its steady development as an independent nation since 1991. Highlighting Azerbaijan’s long-standing traditions of tolerance, interfaith harmony and multiculturalism, the Consul General said: “The principle of interfaith harmony and tolerance is very important to us. In Azerbaijan, which is a secular nation with 95% Muslim population, it is possible for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to live together in peace, dignity, mutual respect and even admiration”. Aghayev also mentioned the unique Shia-Sunni Muslim harmony exisiting in Azerbaijan, which is even more relevant today considering the recent tragic developments in some other parts of the wider region. The diplomat highlighted the many projects undertaken by Azerbaijan both in the country and beyond to promote interfaith tolerance and understanding, from building and rebuilding mosques, churches and synagogues in Azerbaijan to financially supporting faith communities to the restoration of catacombs in Vatican by the country’s Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
Speaking of the strong partnership between Azerbaijan and the Republic of Korea, the Consul General said: “Korea is a very important partner for Azerbaijan. Currently, around forty Korean companies are operating in Azerbaijan, actively participating in large state and private projects. The cultural links between the Azerbaijani and Korean people are very strong. Our languages are members of the same language family (Altaic). So we consider Koreans to be our brothers and sisters.
In her remarks, Hyepin Im, KCCD President and CEO, noted: "I am very grateful to Consul General Nasimi Aghayev for this historic invitation and the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships between our communities. In light of current times, in which religious factions and wars as well as racial differences and conflicts are so prominent in our world, Azerbaijan is a shining example of leadership in promoting interfaith relationships, while investing its oil resources into building a modern country and its next generation and bringing the poverty rate from 49% to less than 5.5% in the last 15 years, as well as being a key partner in the economic and political stability in the region. Azerbaijan holds the key in many ways to peace in the world. I am so honored and impressed. It is a beginning of a wonderful friendship and we look forward to many opportunities to work together.
Speaking afterwards, KCCD Board Co-Chair Rev. John Jongdai Park was grateful to "see a country that has created a space for all religions." He spoke about the commonalities Azerbaijan and the Republic of Korea shared.
In his remarks, KCCD Board Co-Chair Rev. Woogie Kim said: "I feel like I came and found a hidden jewel that I never realized." He shared how Azerbaijan is known to Koreans, who are "very excited" in seeing future partnerships. He also emphasized how Azerbaijan can be a role model for Muslim countries, with its ability to be a "beacon of light of your faith." The meeting concluded with a question and answer session and lunch.
The famous Korean TV station TVK, which reaches over 26 million households, aired a report on the event. It can be watched here: https://youtu.be/qqul8er0cDY