At least 500 guests gathered on May 18 at Washington’s Four Seasons Hotel to mark Azerbaijan’s Independence Day, Armed Forces Day, and 30 years of US-Azerbaijan diplomatic relations.
The Embassy of Azerbaijan hosted the celebration, which featured a speech by the country’s new ambassador, Khazar Ibrahim.
“It’s not a coincidence that in 1999, our national leader, Heydar Aliyev, instead of going to a glitzy reception, he decided to go to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. There, he talked to 4,000 midshipmen because they spoke exactly the same language of values,” Ibrahim said. “Therefore today is not only 30 years of Azerbaijan-US diplomatic relations, it’s also 30 years of shared values.”
Dereck Hogan, principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, said Washington is working with Baku on national security, energy, economic, and human rights issues.
“Our cooperation on energy diversification is a great example of how our relationship is now bearing fruit at a critical moment in history,” Hogan said. “Azerbaijan energy resources —including the natural gas transported by the southern gas corridor to Europe — are key to helping secure, diversify and stabilize European and global markets.”
Celeste A. Wallander, US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, spoke on bilateral cooperation in defense and security, while Brig. Gen. Jon M. Harrison talked about the Oklahoma-Azerbaijan National Guard partnership.
Musicians Emin and Leyla Afrasiyab performed both national anthems, and guests also enjoyed a show by ballet dancer Maryam Najafzada of the Lasley Center and the Synetic Theater.
Chefs Mirmovsum Dadashov and Jeyran Asgarova flew in from Baku to prepare food for the event. After the official ceremony, the guests danced to live music by the Shur Trio instrumental group.