Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the opportunity to study in the United States became a dream come true for many Azerbaijani youth, Fariz Ismailzade, Founder of US-educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association said, Trend reports.
“The United States symbolized everything that the Soviet Union was not - democratic, prosperous, and with its core foundation based on the rule of law. Scholarships awarded by the U.S. State Department to youth across Azerbaijan empowered many lives and lifted many of them from poverty. US-educated alumni came back to their homes to contribute to the development of Azerbaijan with the U.S. as their model,” Ismailzade said.
Today, Ismailzade noted, more than 2500 alumni look to America as their second home and work towards deeper cooperation between Azerbaijan and the U.S.
“Yet, trust in fairness and justice has been shaken by recent attitudes of some U.S. policy makers and media outlets towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which once again erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Several members of the U.S. Congress have openly supported Armenia, despite the fact that four U.N. resolutions call for the liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories from Armenian military forces. In addition, the Washington Post, Reuters and the New York Times continue to publish articles by some ethnic Armenians with no mention of the four U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said.
Ismailzade said the current chairman of the US-educated alumni association Nail Akhundzade has written a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for a fair and balanced approach to the conflict and its resolution.
“The U.S. has been serving as one of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group, alongside with France and Russia, tasked to mediate between the warring sides to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Most recently, Secretary Pompeo hosted the ministers of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia to broker a cease-fire agreement. And Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that sadly more than 5000 persons have been killed from both sides since the conflict escalated on September 27,” Ismailzade said.
Ismailzade added that many of the US-educated alumni point to the excellent partnership between Azerbaijan and US in the fields of oil and gas production, security cooperation, anti-terrorist activities, and development of transport corridors across the Caucasus.
“Indeed, Azerbaijan was one of the first countries in the world to render assistance to the US after the 9/11 terror attacks and sent its peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to help American soldiers. American oil companies have been working in Azerbaijan since 1994 and have helped develop Azerbaijan’s economy. Azerbaijan also works with the US in the field of border protection and the prevention of trafficking of drugs, weapons of mass destruction and illegal migration. The latter is a serious issue since Azerbaijan borders both Iran and Russia,” he said.
According to Gunel Hasanova, deputy chair of the alumni association who studied in Texas, "it is very surprising for us American educated alumni to see this biased approach by some American congressmen and media outlets, I trust that the U.S. will support Azerbaijan, which has been a reliable partner for more than 26 years”.
Ismayilzade went on to add that sadly,some US congressmen such as Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have decided to put American values of fair play, and even national security interest, in jeopardy by accepting campaign contributions from Armenians living in the U.S.
"This support from some in the U.S. Congress continues as Armenia’s military has been using Russian SCUD and Smerch missiles to attack civilians in Azerbaijani towns of Ganja and Barda,” Ismailzade said.
“Unfortunately, even calls by the American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan that has issued a statement supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and calling for the implementation of UN resolutions has fallen on deaf ears within Washington. Even some American companies, which work actively in Azerbaijani market have taken pro-Armenian position. The aforementioned notwithstanding, many of the US-educated alumni keep in touch with their host families in the US and urge them to contact their elected officials and local media outlets to express support for Azerbaijan and call for a more balanced coverage of the conflict,” Ismailzade added.
Jamilya Aliyeva, alumnus of the Undergraduate Exchange Program in Iowa, who works for ADA University in Baku says that “the US has always been a symbol of democracy for me. While we understand the inner workings of how Washington operates, nonetheless, we are heartbroken to see the influence of lobby groups and diaspora money on American foreign policy. The U.S. should put its national interests above the interests of narrowly focused ethnic groups.”
ADA University is one of the leading universities in Azerbaijan and has signed double-degree programs with George Washington University. For its part, ADA has contacted several American universities to seek support for a more fair coverage of the Karabakh conflict.
“The appeal from US-educated Azerbaijanis to Secretary Pompeo and members of the U.S. Congress highlights the pain and sorrow that we have experienced due to Armenian occupation of our homeland. What we hope for from Washington today is enlightened diplomacy, an emphasis on fairness that drew many of us Azerbaijani to choose this “exceptional country” for our education,” Ismailzade pointed out.
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