USAN PRESS RELEASE

October 3, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: contact[AT]usazeris.org

 

USAN concludes its two-day high-level 2008 conference, concert and festival in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) has concluded its annual high-level conference at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. on October 1-2, 2008. The conference, entitled “Energy Security and Diaspora in the Development of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Strategic Allied Relations”, aimed to, and succeeded in, achieving several important goals, such as explaining the crucial position of Azerbaijan as the
source and transit for Caspian Basin riches, promoting the U.S.-Azerbaijan strategic allied ties, and educate the Azerbaijani-Americans, the U.S. policy and decision makers, and the general American public about the issues and opportunities facing the Azerbaijani-Americans as well as the state of Azerbaijan, a strategic U.S. ally.

Due to the recent events in the entire Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey energy corridor, and renewed confidence of Armenia that it can indefinitely hold Azerbaijani lands under its illegal military occupation, the issue of energy security as well as the role of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region as the whole are at the forefront of world news. At the same time, the Azerbaijani-American community is developing in both political and economic sense, and sees itself as an important actor in promoting the U.S.-Azerbaijan strategic allied relations, as well as the U.S. bridge into the greater Turkic world. These two major subjects, energy security and the Azerbaijani-American community, were the basis of USAN’s two-day conference.

The USAN high-level conference was purposely held just one month before the national elections on November 4, to bring the diaspora leaders and activists together, energize the base, raise the political aspirations and profile of the approximately 400,000-strong Azerbaijani-American community. It was essentially the first time that the maximum number of Azerbaijani-American diaspora leaders got together in one place and discussed all the outstanding issues and worked on a common strategy. The USAN conference attendees came from across the nation (USAN has members in 33 states) as well as from Canada and Mexico.

By October 1, the USAN has received warm welcoming letters for its conference from Gov. Tim Kaine (Governor of Virginia), Senator John Warner (R-VA), Congressman Rob Whitman (R-VA), Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Delegate David Englin and Delegate Jimmie Massie of the Virginia House of Delegates (Parliament), as well as letters from many current and past U.S. government officials and advisors to the presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, which were distributed and read at the conference.

Despite originally planning to hold a one-day conference, it soon became evident that a two-day conference must be held instead, and even that was not enough, due to the extremely high interest. The RSVP as well as speakers list constantly grew over the limit. The number of speakers taking part in the USAN conference ended up being over 70.

Another main difference was that the USAN conference and its speakers not only analyzed past events or discussed present-day, but gave
recommendations for the future. More importantly, under the auspices of the USAN, the Azerbaijani-American diaspora leaders and activists were able to adopt a first-ever general statement on the U.S.-Azerbaijan strategic relations and the role of the diaspora, which was passed by a voice and hand vote, thus representing the views of the overwhelming majority of the dozens of organizations and their leaders from across the United States, as well as Canada (see Appendix I for the “Statement by the Azerbaijani American Diaspora”).

According to the feedback from the USAN conference speakers and attendees, the most impressive part about the groundbreaking conference was not just its very organization and format, but the quality of the speakers and their presentations and speeches, as well
as the way the Azerbaijani-American diaspora presented itself, as a politically active, fairly experienced and established group of people
working together to define itself even sharper, as well as educate the wider public about its issues.

The conference was followed by a spectacular concert, “Dance and music stars from the ancient land of Azerbaijan”, involving major dance and music stars from Azerbaijan, performing at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. The performance included
Azerbaijani fast-paced solo and collective dances, deep meditation folk music called mugham, samples of opera and pop music, as well as
jazz compositions. Such a large-scale showcase of Azerbaijani culture and heritage at a major venue was made possible through the efforts
and sponsorship of Azerbaijan’s Diaspora Committee, whose main goal is to promote Azerbaijani heritage abroad, and strengthen the links
between the worldwide Azerbaijani Diaspora. The USAN also expresses its gratitude to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Washington D.C. for its
role in strengthening diaspora links, as well as sponsoring a reception in beautiful Georgetown Waterfront on October 2 after the closing of the conference. Additionally, USAN is thankful to the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN in New York, the Consulate-General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Mexico and the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C., as well as to many other individuals and organizations for their assistance in spreading the word about, and attendance of, the USAN conference and concert.

Photos of the USAN conference along with letters from elected officials, are posted below this press release. Photos from the USAN concert, Turkish Festival and from two receptions, can be viewed here.

The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) (www.USAzeris.org <http://www.usazeris.org/> ), is a registered non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian genuine grassroots advocacy and voter education network that is facilitating political activism and efforts by the Azerbaijani-Americans and other Turkic-Americans and their associations, organizations, councils, conferences, and other formal, semi-formal and informal groups, on federal, state and local levels. USAN is the first nationwide grassroots organization uniting Azerbaijani-Americans, being created by the grassroots, for the grassroots.

# # #

If you would like more information, please visit http://www.USAzeris.org or email us at contact[AT]usazeris.org

USAN PR#1-10-2008

 

APPENDIX I

October 2, 2008
Washington, D.C.

Statement by the Azerbaijani American Diaspora

As the members of the Azerbaijani-American Community committed to
peace, prosperity, harmony and sharing of the same democratic values
in the development and strengthening of bilateral relations between
the United States and Azerbaijan, we note with great satisfaction that
all the members of the Azerbaijani-American Diaspora are able to
freely express opinions and ideas, and come to a unified position;

In light of this, we recognize the need to set our agenda for the next
year and the years to come in order to be able to work more
effectively with the next U.S. Administration and Congress, thus
creating better understanding of the aspirations of Azeri Americans by
the U.S. executive and legislative branches. One of the key
aspirations is the liberation of all occupied Azerbaijani lands
through the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on
the basis of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. We believe that one
of our most important objectives is to educate the American policy-
and lawmakers to assist in enhancement of the bilateral ties between
Azerbaijan and the United States;

We support the long term strategic allied relations between the United
States and Azerbaijan and we fully encourage the development of
bilateral cooperation between the United States and Azerbaijan in a
variety of areas ranging from energy security to trade and investment,
cultural and educational exchanges, humanitarian and charitable links,
social and political relations. We also encourage U.S.-assisted
modernization efforts undertaken in Azerbaijan, and more extensive
targeted technical aid;

We support the unity of Azerbaijani-American organizations towards a
common goal of furthering the influence of ethnic Azerbaijanis and
other Turkic peoples in the U.S. public and political life.

This statement was approved by the overwhelming majority voice and
hand vote on the second day of October, year two thousand and eight,
in the capital of the United States of America, the City of
Washington, District of Columbia.

 

APPENDIX II

Letters from elected officials to the conference participants:

Gov. Tim Kaine (Governor of Virginia)

Senator John Warner (R-VA)

Congressman Rob Whitman (R-VA)

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Delegate David Englin (Virginia House of Delegates)

Delegate Jimmie Massie (Virginia House of Delegates)

 

APPENDIX III

Photos from the conference (for photos of the concert and festival go here):

Panel I on Day 2 of the conference

Registration desk with USAN activists

Panel III on Day 2

Panel II on Day 2

Panel III on Day 1 on energy security

A U.S. Marine Captain recollecting his service with Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Iraq, at the Haditha Dam and other locations

Collective photo taken at the end of the conference


Another shot of the final photo


Panel I on Day 1 on the strategic allied relations between US-Azerbaijan


Energy security session on Day 1


Special guest of the USAN conference and the main speaker of the energy security panel, Dr. Elshad Nassirov, VP of SOCAR in charge of marketing and investments


Panel IV on Day 1 emphasizing the contribution of the Azerbaijani-Americans in the U.S.


Ceremony of the 2008 USAN Leadership Award and 2008 USAN Extraordinary Achievement Award, presented to Dr. John Vafai, and Prof. Tadeusz Swietochowski, respectively, by the members of the USAN Board of Directors