The Algemeiner: Azerbaijan enjoys strong ties with US, Israel
Baku, Azerbaijan, Mar. 30
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
Over the past two and a half decades, the Caucasus nation of Azerbaijan has become a close ally of Israel and the US, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov said in an interview with the Jewish Algemeiner newspaper published in the US.
“We have always positioned ourselves as a country which promotes dialogue and understanding between different cultures,” he said. “We want to see the world as a cooperative place where it doesn’t matter what your background is, but rather matters what you do.”
“We have a 2,500-year-old Jewish community in Azerbaijan,” Suleymanov noted. “Jewish people have always been part of Azerbaijan’s society. There is also a very strong Azerbaijani Jewish community in Israel. When Azerbaijan became independent (with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991), Israel was among the very first countries to recognize it.”
“Azerbaijan does provide over 40 percent of Israel’s oil, its single largest supplier,” he said. “Azerbaijan also purchases some equipment from Israel, by the way not limited to security equipment. But that’s not the whole story.”
“There are very strong economic, technological, medical, educational, agricultural, tourism and security ties,” he added. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”
“We see Israel as a pragmatic partner and a good friend,” he said. “I respect the Israeli view that it needs to have more friends among Muslim nations. And Azerbaijan is a very good friend of Israel among the Muslim nations.”
He added that the Jews living in Azerbaijan are very well integrated into the country’s society.
“Several visiting rabbis have told me that it’s safer to walk in Baku with a kippah (a small hat or head covering) on than in many places in Europe,” Suleymanov said.
Speaking about Azerbaijan’s relations with the US, Suleymanov noted that the two countries enjoy strong ties.
Azerbaijani-US relations are very strategic in some areas, such as counter-terrorism and defense issues, he said.
“About 40 percent of military cargo which goes to and from Afghanistan overflies Azerbaijan,” he added.
“Over the past several years, I think the relationship [between the US and Azerbaijan] continued to be good, but it got a little bit stale, because we saw some less-than-pragmatic and unrealistic approaches towards the region by the US,” Suleymanov noted. “So we’re hopeful the new administration will build on the good background and develop it further.”