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News.Az interviews Adil Baguirov


News.Az interviews Adil Baguirov, director general of the US Azeris Network (USAN).

Azerbaijan and the United States mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, over which Washington held a series of successful events. How can you assess the current level of bilateral ties given the assessments voiced by the US side at these events?

Indeed, the U.S.-Azerbaijan Convention on April 25-26 and series of related events, that were co-organized by the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) along with other leading organizations such as TCAE, CSI and JHU, was truly a great success. There were some 60 members of Congress (Senate and House of Representatives), Governors, Mayors, State Secretaries, State Senators and Assembly members. Also in attendance were Congressional staff members, business and NGO leaders, and many others - some 600 people in total.

It is rare even for much larger diasporas and communities to have as successful, important and impactful events - for example, the much larger Armenian community, which is actually a lobby unlike us, that has a longer track record of organization and enjoys multi-million dollar sponsorship never had anything close to our event. The bilateral relations between the two nations are actually deepening and progressing, despite the fact that the radical Armenian lobby led by Dashnaks tried to hurt them by blocking the appointment of Ambassador Bryza earlier this year.

They obviously failed - the relations with the Congress, with USTDA, with US State Department, Pentagon, as well as academic circles, NGO community and trade and business circles have been blossoming. And soon a U.S. Ambassador will be appointment no matter their propaganda, lobbying and objections.

The Armenian diaspora is going to arrange different demarches to the visit of President of Azerbaijan I.Aliyev to New York. Do you think that their provocations may find response in the US public?

Of course not. Firstly, the radical Armenian community, led by Dashnaks, cannot gather many people, overwhelming majority of Armenians ignore them and disagree with them. I remember radical Armenian lobby gathering to "protest" president Heydar Aliyev in the late 1990s in Washington DC in front of the Willard Hotel - they got just barely 20 people. In 2004 they similarly "protested" president Ikham Aliyev at Columbia University - their two representatives tried to spoil the event, but, of course, failed. Similarly, this past February, in order to muddy the Khojaly Massacre commemoration, the radical Armenian Dashnak community tried to "protest" in front of the embassy of Azerbaijan - they got just 25 people, including children and a priest, whilst the Azerbaijani-American community got twice as many people to do a counter-protest in the same place at the same time - thus spoiling radical Armenian lobby's agenda.

Thus, this time, once again, they will try to do their usual tricks, but it will be once again ignored by the public at large. Why would American people side with the radical Armenian lobby? After all, it is Armenian criminal groups, that have ties with Armenian President Sargsyan's older brother, that created a name for themselves - every 6 months or so, the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies arrest yet another Armenian gang. Even Armenian Consulate General in Los Angeles has been implicated in fraud and criminal activity.

It is Armenia that traded weapons and nuclear technologies with Iran - thus having its individuals and firms sanctioned by the U.S. State Department, with threats of more sanctions coming from the U.S. Government. And it was Armenian weapons sales to Iran that resulted in the death of Matthew Straughter, a U.S. soldier in Iraq, and wounding of three other U.S. Soldiers.

Not to mention that it was Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan that drowned peaceful Armenian civilians in blood in March 2008, when he ordered that Armenian police and troops kill 10 innocent Armenian protesters on the streets of Yerevan. This was the deadliest-ever post-election crackdown anywhere in the former USSR. So if the Armenian community genuinely cares about Armenia and its citizens, and wants a better life for them, they should save its energy to protest the Armenian president, the Armenian embassy, and the Armenian UN representation. And of course they should apologize for the Khojaly Massacre.

Azerbaijan takes over its post of the chairman in the UN Security Council. What are your expectations for this month of the country’s chairmanship in this structure?

Azerbaijan will be chairing the UN Security Council twice. In the first round, Azerbaijan should show its leadership on Syria and Iran, to contribute to the abiding by the UN SC resolutions there. It should also be more involved in maritime issues, ranging from combating piracy to energy exploration and delimitation of the seabeds into national sectors. And of course it should call the attention to the four UN SC resolution from 1993 that are dealing with the Karabakh occupation by Armenia, and the UN General Assembly agenda item from 2004 on the occupation of Karabakh. I am sure that many of these items will be tackled by the Azerbaijani diplomats, although there could be also many others. At any rate, this was a great success of the Azerbaijani diplomacy, and just the fact that Azerbajian is only the second FSU state, not counting Russia, to have risen to this level, speaks volumes.

How could you assess Morningstar’s candidacy nominated by President Obama for the position of the US envoy to Azerbaijan?

Today, I cannot think of a better, more able, more knowledgeable candidate than Ambassador Morningstar, who is an expert on three issues - on energy, as a long-time special envoy in both Clinton and Obama Administrations on the Caspian and Eurasian energy, on humanitarian and refugee issues, as a USAID coordinator to the former Soviet Union, and on the European issues and integration, as a former U.S. Ambassador to the EU. The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) supports his nomination and will encourage the Azerbaijani-Americans to let their opinions known to the Senate.