Pages 22-25

Young people educated abroad have always been highly respected in Azerbaijan. As a rule they have been seen as leaders of the community and have played a major role in education and social awareness in the country.

Today the United Kingdom is a popular destination for Azerbaijani students. According to unofficial information, every year dozens of young people go to the United Kingdom for further education. At the same time our students are keen on raising Azerbaijan’s profile in Britain and have formed organisations for this purpose. The Azerbaijan Society in London was founded in 2004 to bring together Azerbaijani students and the Azerbaijani Youth Club was founded in 2005. Also in 2005 the Azerbaijan-UK Alumni Association was set up in Baku.

The Azerbaijan Society in London, established on the initiative of LSE student Tale Heydarov in October 2004, aims to involve Azerbaijani students in promoting Azerbaijan in Britain. The society has already carried out some significant projects. One of its first events was an Azerbaijani Evening at the end of 2004. Guests at the event, who were mainly British people, sampled Azerbaijani cuisine and heard performances by famous Azerbaijani musicians. The event was of great interest, as Azerbaijan, situated at the junction of East and West, is still a closed world for Europe and the event was held in one of the world’s most multinational cities, London.

One of the main aims of the Azerbaijan Society in London is to support the formation of an objective opinion in the British community on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Mountainous Karabagh and the problem of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The society held an event in February 2005 at the LSE, dedicated to the Khojali Genocide. The ceremony was attended by about 120 guests who included Members of Parliament, representatives of the embassies of the USA, Germany, France, Russia, and Turkey, scientists, media representatives, experts and students. Edinburgh University Professor Gholam Reza Tebrizi made a speech on acts of terror and occupation by Armenians in Azerbaijan. American journalist Thomas Goltz spoke about the events he witnessed in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The ambassador of Azerbaijan to the UK, Rafael Ibrahimov, showed satellite photographs of new Armenian settlements in the occupied areas and illegal military bases. At the end of the event a 20-minute film was shown about refugees and the Khojali Genocide and booklets on the Khojali Genocide were distributed to the guests. This was the largest event on the Khojali Genocide to be held in the British capital and succeeded in presenting the truth about the problem to the participants.

The society has now held two annual celebrations of the Azerbaijani national holiday, Novruz, together with the Azerbaijani community in Britain. This has helped to foster relations between Azerbaijani students and our compatriots there.

The society also aims to boost the exchange of information and to develop friendship between Azerbaijan and Great Britain. An obvious example of this is this Visions of Azerbaijan and Britain magazine which is published jointly by the society and the Anglo-Azerbaijani Youth Society.

The Azerbaijan Society in London has links with Azerbaijani organizations in Britain and also with the Azerbaijani diaspora in other European countries. Two of its priorities are raising Azerbaijan’s profile in Europe and strengthening solidarity among Azerbaijanis. At the VIII Assembly World Azerbaijanis Congress in Stockholm last year the chairman of the society, Tale Heydarov, was elected a Board member of this organization. Tale Heydarov proposed to the assembly that a Forum of Azerbaijani Young People in Europe be held in order to unite the efforts of young Azerbaijanis on European integration. The assembly supported the idea and preparations for the forum are already under way.

NEW WEB SITE ABOUT KARABAGH

The Azerbaijani Society in London presented a new web site about Karabagh - www.karabagh.co.uk - at a ceremony in Brussels to mark the anniversary of the Khojali Genocide on 26 February 2006, held by the World Azerbaijani Congress. In his interview to our journal the chairman of the society, Tale Heydarov, said that the site reflects the history of Karabagh from ancient times till today according to foreign sources.

"The site will tackle the most current problems of Karabagh in a factual way. In a word, this site aims to give information about Karabagh from foreign sources, which is what makes it different from other sites. I hope that the site will serve to form an objective opinion about Karabagh in the international community," Tale Heydarov said.