25th Anniversary of Azerbaijan’s Independence marked in San Diego, California
The 25th anniversary of the restoration of Azerbaijan’s independence was celebrated on October 26, 2016 in San Diego, California. Held by Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, the 5th anniversary of the sister neighborhood partnership, which was established between San Diego’s Switzer Highland Neighborhood and the Nasimi District of Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, was also marked at the event.
The event started with the national anthems of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the United States. Addressing the audience, Azerbaijan’s Consul General in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev highlighted the tumultuous history of Azerbaijan in the 20th century, especially the fact that within one century the people of Azerbaijan achieved its freedom and independence twice – first in 1918, establishing the first secular democracy in the Muslim world, and then in 1991, gaining freedom from the Soviet Union. Speaking of the huge political and economic hardships faced by the young Republic in the early 1990s, the Consul General mentioned that Azerbaijan was on the brink of fragmentation. “Only the election of Azerbaijan’s National Leader Heydar Aliyev to the presidency saved Azerbaijan from potential collapse,” the diplomat said. “Thanks to the titanic efforts by Heydar Aliyev, the stability was restored, crucial oil contracts signed, important economic reforms launched and smart foreign policy pursued, which all paved the way for the tremendous transformation of the country into a political and economic powerhouse it is today,” Aghayev continued.
Highlighting the achievements of Azerbaijan during the 25 years of its independence, the Consul General mentioned that “under the visionary leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has become today the region’s largest economy, a rapidly modernizing country and an island of stability in an otherwise unstable region.” Noting Azerbaijan’s long-standing traditions of interfaith harmony and tolerance, Aghayev said: “Azerbaijan has been able to establish an exemplary environment where Muslims, Christians, Jews and representatives of other faiths continue to live together in peace, dignity and mutual respect.”
Speaking of the last 5 years of the Baku-San Diego partnership, the Consul General mentioned many efforts undertaken by the Consulate General to develop this relationship and make it even stronger. In this regard, Aghayev highlighted the major cultural programs held in San Diego, especially the successful performance of Azerbaijan’s “Seven Beauties” ballet in 2014 to a crowd of 3,000 San Diegans, as well as many concerts and events that allowed the city residents to have a better understanding of Azerbaijan’s culture, music, traditions and values. The Consul General expressed his hope that over the next five years these relations would become even more robust through mutual efforts.
Speaking afterwards, the Head of the Executive Authority of the Nasimi District Mr Asif Asgarov stressed the importance of the Baku-San Diego partnership for the strengthening of the friendship between the peoples of Azerbaijan and the United States. Noting the mutual willingness to boost this partnership with new initiatives and projects, he invited the friends of Azerbaijan in San Diego to get closely involved in these endeavors.
The member of Azerbaijan’s Parliament Dr Asim Mollazade and the President of Azerbaijan’s Mountainous Jewish Community Mr Milikh Yevdayev stressed the significance of the strong friendship and partnership between the two cities and countries. Speaking of Azerbaijan’s long-standing and well-entrenched traditions of interfaith tolerance and harmony, they noted the importance of this Azerbaijani model as a great example for many other countries.
In his remarks, the member of the California State Assembly Mr Rocky Chavez emphasized the strategic role Azerbaijan has been playing in its region and the achievements it has made as a free and independent nation over the last 25 years. Presenting a member resolution of the California State Assembly on Azerbaijan’s Independence Day, the Assemblymember called Azerbaijan “a strong friend and ally of the United States” and stressed the importance of further expanding this partnership and friendship.
The Chairman of San Diego Port Commission Mr Marshall Merrifield expressed his satisfaction with meeting earlier in the day with the Azerbaijani visiting delegation and emphasized the need for further solidifying this partnership through bilateral exchanges and visits.
At the event, Consul General Nasimi Aghayev announced the establishment of the San Diego-Baku Friendship Association and gave the floor to the chairman of the Association Mr Martin Kruming, who, he noted, has played a tremendous role from the very beginning in establishing this partnership between the two cities and constantly pushing it forward. Informing the audience about the history of San Diego-Baku relationship, Mr Kruming expressed his hope that through the joint projects this relationship will get stronger and stronger over the next 5 years.
Proclamations and certificates of recognition were received by the Consulate General from U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis, San Diego County Board of Supervisors and California State Senators Marty Block and Joel Anderson. The documents stress the strategic importance of Azerbaijan and U.S.-Azerbaijan friendship.