USA, New York / corr Trend A.Gara / On 21 May, the chairman of the State Committee of Azerbaijanis Living in Foreign Countries - Nazim Ibrahimov and the Ambassador of Israel to Baku - Arthur Lenk attended a talk in New York, organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization.
In his speech, Mr Ibrahimov emphasized the long history of coexistence between Azerbaijanis and Jews and the high tolerance in Azerbaijan. "Jews have been living in Azerbaijan for 2,500 years and anti-Semitism has never existed as a phenomenon in our country," he said. He mentioned that even during the days when anti-Semitism was rampant in the Soviet Union, the Jews in Azerbaijan did not encounter any problems. Today there are 16,000 Jews in Azerbaijan with seven registered Jewish organizations and many synagogues, cultural centres and schools.
Mr Ibrahimov also called to attention the close cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan. " Israel was one of the first states that recognized Azerbaijan's independence. Today we have very close relationships with Jewish organizations around the world. Recently I was in Israel and participated in a meeting aimed at creating an association of Jews who emigrated from Azerbaijan. These people constitute the basis of human contacts between our countries," he said.
Ambassador Lenk stated that relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan is the best response to those who argue about the clash of civilizations. " Azerbaijan as a secular and tolerant country, where our people are comfortable both in terms of living in and immigrating from, it is a model country that we would like to have elsewhere in the Muslim world," he said.
Ambassador Lenk also emphasized that the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel is multidimensional and based on mutual interests. According to him, the Jewish community in Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani Jews in Israel constitute a human bridge between the two countries. " Azerbaijan is very important for Israel's energy security; currently 16 % of Israel's oil is exported form Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan and Israel also have common security interests. Azerbaijan is very sensitive to many issues we have with Iran. Israel's economic interests in Azerbaijan are not limited to energy. Israel's overall exports to Azerbaijan have increased by 400% from 2005 onwards and Israeli companies are taking part in large Azerbaijani projects," Ambassador Lenk said. He also stated that Israel is willing to support Azerbaijan's WTO membership application. "There is room for improvement in relations between Azerbaijan and Israel and I hope that the positive trend in this regards will continue," he concluded.