After eight years in Mexico, Azerbaijani Ambassador Ilgar Mukhtarov and his wife Nargiz Rahimkhanova will be heading back to Baku later this week (after a brief stopover in Philadelphia to visit their son, who is studying there), but before leaving, they offered a typical Azeri-style farewell barbeque for close friends at their embassy Friday afternoon.
The informal luncheon included a selection of grilled lamb and chicken, all personally prepared by the short-order cook-of-the-day, Mukhtarov himself, as well as a stirring performance of traditional mariachi music led by Ukrainian Ambassador Ruslán Spirin, who belted out a series of Mexican “sones” worthy of the Vargas de Tecalitlán.
During the lunch, Mukhtarov’s colleagues congratulated him on his unrivaled efforts to not only promote awareness of Azerbaijan in Mexico, but also to help foster bilateral trade, culture exchange, tourism and academic interchange.
Mukhtarov, who first opened the Azerbaijani Embassy in Mexico in November 2009, likewise sponsored numerous commercial, economic, cultural and journalistic visits to Baku.
Currently, combined binational trade amounts to about $20 million annually.
During his stay here, Mukhtarov’s government also sponsored the 2012 renovation and reforestation of a 1.7-hectare section of Chapultepec Park across the street from the Modern Art Museum and the Tamayo Museum, and the restoration of the Plaza Tlaxcoaque in the Centro Histórico to the tune of $10 million.
The new swathe of Chapultepec, dubbed the Azerbaijan-Mexico Friendship Park and officially inaugurated by Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov, who flew in especially for the occasion, was intended as a show of solidary and alliance between the two nations.
The renovation of the Plaza Tlaxcoaque was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the 1992 Khojaly Massacre of ethnic Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian forces, a tragic act of genocide that was recognized and condemned by the Mexican Senate in 2011.
Between Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, 1992, more than 600 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians from the town of Khojaly were killed by ethnic Armenian forces.
The atrocity was later condemned by Human Rights Watch and other international observers, but to date, Armenia refuses to acknowledge the massacre and continues to occupy parts of Azerbaijan despite ongoing pressure from the United Nations and other global organizations.
“One of my main objectives as ambassador to Mexico and, concurrently, six other Latin American countries, was to gain official recognition of the Khojaly Massacre as an act of genocide,” Mukhtarov said.
“I am pleased to say that I have accomplished that mission in six of the seven countries to which I am currently accredited.”