The News
Sunday 21 of July 2024

Azeri Diplomat Hosts National Day Reception

The Azerbaijan flag,photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia
The Azerbaijan flag,photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia
The first democratic republic in the Eastern World was established in 1918


Azerbaijani Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mehriban Samadova and her husband Elkhart Aliyev hosted a diplomatic reception at the Club Naval on Wednesday, May 24, to mark the 97th anniversary of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) — the first secular parliamentary democracy in the Muslim World.

Azerbaijani Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mehriban Samadova and her husband Elkhart Aliyev with their daughter Jeyla. Photo: The News/Thérèse Margolis 

“The first democratic republic in the Eastern World was established in 1918,” Samadova said at the start of the reception, which included a lavish sit-down buffet of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine.

“This was an important and historic event for the people of Azerbaijan, who gained the independence and freedom they had dreamed of for centuries.”

Samadova pointed out that the new republic provided both civil and political rights for all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity, religion, social status or gender, thus making Azerbaijan one of the first five countries in the world to implement universal suffrage.

“Soon after, Azerbaijan’s government agencies and public institutions were put in place and national symbols were adopted,” Samadova said.

Bangladeshi Ambassador Supradip Chakma, left, with Georgian Ambassador Zurab Eristavi. Photo: The News/Thérèse Margolis 

“Democratic development was underway, and women were given the right to vote and be elected as public servants.”

Also, she noted, the first opera and first university in the Eastern World were founded in Azerbaijan in that period.

But two years later, the Caucasian country’s hard-fought freedom was crushed by a Bolshevik military invasion and Azerbaijan became part of the USSR under the name of the Socialist Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.

“As a result of that conflict, we lost 20 percent of our internationally recognized territories to Armenian occupation,” Samadova said, adding that the war also created nearly a million Azeri refugees and displaced people.

Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a tenuous armistice in 1994, but sporadic armed flare-ups on both sides continue to this day.

“The ceasefire was in vain because more than 20 years of diplomatic negotiations have rendered no positive results (toward a lasting peace) due to Armenia’s steadfast negative position,” Samadova said.

But Samadova said that despite ongoing tensions with Yerevan, dramatic reforms were carried out in Azerbaijan.

“The principles of a market economy began to dominate,” she said.

“It was at that time that Azerbaijan attracted large investments, all of which helped fuel the growth of the economy, which has doubled its GDP threefold in the last 10 years.”

Samadova also said that the incidence of poverty in his country dropped from 45 percent to 5 percent during the same period.

Today, she said, Azerbaijan is a key player in global energy production and distribution.

“Here in Latin America, our commitment has been particularly productive, as the growing presence and activity in the region has been exponential in recent years,” Samadova said.

She pointed out that the Baku’s first embassy in the region opened in Mexico in 2008, and since that time Azerbaijan has opened embassies in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Cuba, Chile and Peru.

Samadova said that her chancellery is working closely with the recently opened Mexican Embassy in Baku to develop new areas for increased cooperation and exchange.

“This represents a significant step in the growth and expansion of our successful bilateral relations,” she said.

Samadova concluded her speech by saying that Azerbaijan today plays an active role in regional politics and is the corridor for important gas pipelines and the resurgence of the silk route with the new railway project.

She also said that her country is a vital part of Europe, as evidenced by its hosting of the first-ever European Games in 2015 and its hosting of the Formula 1 European Grand Prix this year.

“The democratic process associated with national policies continues to evolve,” Samadova said.

“All freedoms are protected and fully guaranteed in Azerbaijan. The open and tolerant secular state is one of the most valuable assets of the modern Azerbaijan, as well as its multicultural expressions and peace among all religious and ethnic factions.”