BAKU, Azerbaijan—An American Jewish Committee (AJC) leadership delegation recently concluded a three-day visit to Azerbaijan’s capital, the fifth in a series of visits since 2008 alone.
The trip was highlighted by a 75-minute private meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
While in Baku, the group, led by AJC Executive Director David Harris, also met with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Chairman of the State Committee on Diaspora Affairs Nazim Ibrahimov for private dinners, and with Senior Adviser to the President Vahid Aliyev; Deputy Foreign Minister Hafiz Pashayev; the Vice President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR); and the Israeli, U.S., and German ambassadors to Azerbaijan.
Among the principal topics discussed were U.S.-Azerbaijani bilateral relationship, ties between Azerbaijan and Israel, and the energy sector.
“Our message is clear and consistent: Azerbaijan is an important strategic partner for the United States and the West, as well as a valued fiend of Israel and the Jewish people. In an increasingly turbulent world, Azerbaijan’s contributions to regional stability, energy security, counter-terrorism operations, and religious tolerance are all things to be valued,” said Harris, who received the “Dostlug” Order of Friendship, Azerbaijan’s highest honor, in 2012. “We will continue to advocate for increased engagement by the West with Baku for these and other compelling reasons,” added Harris.
During the visit, the AJC delegation also visited two synagogues and met with the local Jewish community leadership.
Moreover, the trip included a visit to a local university in Baku, where Harris spoke to students and faculty members about public diplomacy and the changing nature of advocacy in the 21st century, and the global Jewish agenda.