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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Elin Suleymanov

Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat  Elin Sulaymanov Consul general of Azerbaijan
Gordon Bates
Ginny Polin / Arizona Daily Wildcat Elin Sulaymanov Consul general of Azerbaijan

The Arizona Daily Wildcat sat down with Elin Suleymanov, consul general of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Suleymanov gave a lecture to students, faculty and staff as a part of International Education Week on Wednesday. Azerbaijan is a Muslim nation bordered by Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran.

What brings you to Arizona and the UA?

“”The consulate (of Azerbaijan) in Los Angeles is responsible for 13 western states in the United States, and one of them is Arizona … That’s why we came here: to meet people, to talk. It’s been a very interesting and pleasant visit. I spoke at the Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix and ASU, and now it was very good to meet the students here. I heard a lot about this university. This is my first time in Tucson. The landscape is actually very similar to Azerbaijan, the mountains, the colors.””

What do you do as consul general?

“”I think the most important is outreach: political, economical and cultural. We organize cultural events. We speak a lot about our region at the universities. You know, Azerbaijan has yet to become a household name in the United States, so part of what we do is basically introduce it. And basically trying to initiate a conversation … At least to provoke some interest in what I think is a region of significance, of great strategic importance.””

What level of knowledge do you think the American public has about Azerbaijan?

“”It varies. Much better now than it used to be. When I first came to the United States in 1992, and went to school in Toledo, Ohio, Azerbaijan was only one year old as an independent state, so basically no one knew what it was. Now, because the relationship between the United States and Azerbaijan has been developing quite rapidly and because of all the regional affairs, many more people know … It’s been improving fairly rapidly. I mean, everyone knows what it is or has heard of it, but our goal is to take it a little bit farther than name recognition.””

How would you characterize relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan?

“”We believe that they are a strategic partnership, and we would like to see them as a strategic partnership. And that has been often reinforced. You know that our troops are in Afghanistan and we have fought alongside U.S. troops in Iraq. Azerbaijan was one of the first nations to offer its support after 9/11. It’s a very close relationship. I think we can never be too complacent. We need to work more to make it happen … America has no ambassador in Azerbaijan for over a year, and that is not a healthy situation.””

Is the relationship between the U.S. and Azerbaijan affected by the U.S.’s relationships with other Muslim nations?

“”Not in a direct sense … If we think someone’s policy complies with international law and serves our nation’s interests, whether they are Muslims, or Christians or Jews it doesn’t matter. So that’s why Azerbaijan supported the U.S. operation in Iraq. We thought it was a reasonable attempt to provide long-term stability in the region. And that’s why we support the NATO effort in Afghanistan … Where we actually have a concern is that the U.S. is not showing enough effort on bringing about a peaceful settlement to Armenia (the two nations are in conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region) … We believe the U.S. can do more and should do more in pressuring Armenia to help us find a solution to the conflict.””

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