The 25th anniversary of the restoration of Azerbaijan’s independence was celebrated in Los Angeles on October 19, 2016 with a well-attended reception.
Hosted by Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, the reception was attended by representatives of the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Los Angeles City and County; Consuls General and Honorary Consuls of various countries, professors of California universities, mass media representatives, as well as members of Azerbaijani, Turkish, Jewish, Korean, Vietnamese and Iranian communities.
The event started with the national anthems of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the United States. Speaking afterwards, 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,” 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.”
Then the floor was given to the Deputy Director of the DHS Center of the White House Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships Dr Jannah Scott. Appointed to this position by President Barack Obama in 2009, Dr Scott has played a crucial role in interfaith dialogue and cooperation across the nation. In her remarks, Dr Scott said that she was highly impressed by what she learned about Azerbaijan’s exemplary model of interfaith tolerance, harmony and positive multiculturalism. She noted that in these difficult times moderate and secular majority-Muslim nations like Azerbaijan deserve more attention, and one could also learn from their experiences of building solid bridges between various faith communities.
Certificates of recognition celebrating Azerbaijan’s independence were presented at the event on behalf of the boards of supervisors of the Los Angeles County and Orange County. The celebration continued with the performance of Azerbaijani songs by talented musicians, followed by a reception that included meals from Azerbaijani national cuisine.
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