By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijani Center of Houston in the United States held an official reception on November 9 on the occasion of National Flag Day, Azertag news agency reported.
National Flag Day is a public holiday held in Azerbaijan to honor the state flag.
U.S. congressmen, diplomats from different countries, and Azerbaijanis representatives attended the event.
Among the dignitaries attending the event were U.S. congressmen Al Green and Steve Stockman, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis, State Senator and President of New Mexico Mary K. Papen, Texas state congressmen Sylvester Turner, Jessica Farrar, Alma Allen, and Joe Deshotel, the acting Consul General of Turkey, the Consuls of Greece, Croatia, and Italy in Houston, and the delegation of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic led by Vice-President Khalik Mammadov.
The evening program was opened by Director of Azerbaijan Center and President of Houston-Baku Sister City Association (HBSCA) Irada Akhundova, who welcomed and thanked the guests for honoring Azerbaijani Flag day by their attendance.
Speaking at the event, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov expressed gratitude to all the participants on behalf of Azerbaijan's government, and gave the audience an account of the history of Azerbaijan's flag and the significance the occasion bears for the Azerbaijani statehood.
Azerbaijan celebrated National Flag Day for the fourth time on November 9.
The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, the first-ever democratic republic in the Orient, which functioned in 1918-1920, adopted the current Azerbaijani tricolor as the national flag of the Democratic Republic on November 9, 1918.
However, the flag was condemned to oblivion when Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union. After gaining independence on October 18, 1991, this symbol of sovereignty began fluttering again as the national flag of the independent Azerbaijan.
Members of the U.S. Congress Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, and Steve Stockman spoke to the audience about the strategic alliance between the United States and Azerbaijan, and congratulated the Azerbaijani community on the occasion of National Flag Day.
The congressmen pointed to Azerbaijan's political prestige and the rapid economic growth it has achieved in the last decade, and congratulated Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for his re-election on October 9, 2013.
Suleymanov and the head of Azerbaijan Center Akhundova were then presented with certificates of recognition and the flags flown over the United States Capitol in memory of the Azerbaijani Center and in honor of National Flag of Azerbaijan.
The event featured Azerbaijani food and music. The reception was co-organized by Azerbaijan Center of Houston and the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan.
Suleymanov and SOCAR representatives also met Houston's Mayor Annise D. Parker.
Suleymanov congratulated the Mayor on her re-election, and praised her attention to the Azerbaijani-American relations.
He said that Houston, home to a growing Azerbaijani community, is considered the capital of Azerbaijani culture in U.S.
SOCAR vice-president Mammadov praised Annise D. Parker`s assistance in developing relations between Baku and Houston, sister cities since 1976.
Houston's Mayor hailed the Azerbaijani delegation`s interest in the city, and thanked the president of the Houston-Baku Sister City Association Akhundova for her role in the development of bilateral relations.
After the United States of America recognised the independence of Azerbaijan in 1991, diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in February 1992. In March 1992, the United States, one of the most important strategic partners of Azerbaijan, opened its embassy in Baku. At present, Azerbaijan-U.S. relations are rapidly developing.