Azerbaijan has always positioned itself as a country which promotes dialogue and understanding between different cultures, said Ambassador Elin Suleymanov, who spoke to International Policy Digest.
International Policy Digest, an independent foreign policy website, has published an article highlighting the relations between Azerbaijan and Israel.
The article by Noah Ross entitled "The Land of Fire and the Land of Milk and Honey" features an interview by Suleymanov and stresses that Azerbaijan and Israel, are two geopolitically diverse economies with similar civil identities.
"Two bastions of investment opportunity and havens of religious freedom, inclusiveness and expression. Two strategic partners who since their independence declarations have shared a surprisingly rich history of understanding and cooperation.
Two democratic nations serving as beaming hopes amidst regions suffering from recurring destabilization, threatening within their very borders or just beyond them. Their locations place them at a perpetual cross-roads," reads the article.
The author notes that beyond existing trade ties in the fields of technology, defense, national security, medicine, information and communications, agriculture and energy (e.g. Azerbaijan provides over 40% of Israel’s oil, the latter’s single largest supplier), it is their ambitions for sustainable development that is truly impressive because they are strikingly similar yet wholly unique.
Ambassador Elin Suleymanov, who spoke to International Policy Digest, said that the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel actually preceded formal statehood for either one.
"We have a 2,500-year-old Jewish community in Azerbaijan, with both Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Jewish people have always been part of Azerbaijan’s society. There is also a very strong Azerbaijani Jewish community in Israel. Haifa is now a sister city of Baku, our capital, and there are direct flights between Tel Aviv and Baku. When Azerbaijan became independent again (with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991), Israel was among the very first countries to recognize it. So there are very strong ties. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship," the author cites Suleymanov as saying.
In December 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Baku, where he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and authorized a series of initiatives to enhance trade relations in the bilateral relationship. In doing so, Netanyahu noted that while “…the world sees so much intolerance, so much darkness, here is an example of what relations can be and should be between Muslims and Jews everywhere.”
“Azerbaijan has always positioned ourselves as a country which promotes dialogue and understanding between different cultures,” continued Ambassador Suleymanov. “We want to see the world as a cooperative place where it doesn’t matter what your background is, but rather what you do.”
The author adds that at times, peace in the Middle East, much like reconciliation within Nagorno-Karabakh, seems too daunting a geopolitical challenge; diplomatic observers and accredited journalists report as much from the front lines.
"However, the international community must not waver, tire or stop facilitating the negotiations that can effectively end these ongoing conflicts within our lifetimes.
And so while challenges linger, there is potential in partnership; the bond between the Land of Fire and the Land of Milk and Honey has never been stronger and may play a role in ending the conflicts in order to further their respective and shared development ambitions."
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