European Jewish Press agency has issued an article highlighting multicultural environment in Azerbaijan. Written by Yossi Lempkowicz, who visited Azerbaijan on January 28-31, the articles hail the development of Azerbaijan-Israel relations, and conditions created for the Jewish community in the country.
The article says: "The Azerbaijani-Israeli strategic partnership relation encompasses many different areas, like energy, security, defense, agriculture, trade but it is also mostly characterized by the human factor, with a vibrant Jewish community in Azerbaijan, Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan told EJP in Baku, the country's capital, located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, a city which mixes modernity and tradition. The Jewish community of Azerbaijan, with around 30,000 people, is viewed today as an example in the world how in a secular country with a majority Muslim Shia population, which borders Iran in its southern part, all faith communities, including Judaism, live in perfect harmony and mutual respect. 10,000 Jews live in the capital where there are 2 synagogues, 2 Jewish schools, one college and 3 kindergartens.”
“There are 7 synagogues in the country, including two in Baku and three in Quba, an old city in the north east of the country, also dubbed the ''Jerusalem of the Caucasus'', where an entire Jewish population, known as Mountains Jews, lives, the sole example in the world of a Jewish city outside Israel. Moreover, a new Jewish Museum is being built with government financial support in Quba.”
''With our friends in Israel we had a very open discussion. This is not an issue for us. Our view is not different from the mainstream view of Israel's society and Israel's government. We have no problem with importing such products in Azerbaijan, replies Hikmat Hajyev, when asked about his country's position on the labeling question, as he argues that people in the settlements are working to get salaries. If you stop importing their products, they will lose their jobs,' he says. According to him, the two-state solution ''is the only guarantee for sustainable peace in this part of the world and for the security and safety of the Israeli people.''
"We are witnessing regular unfair criticism and attacks in the European Parliament against Azerbaijan, deplores Bahar Muradova, Vice President of the Milli Majlis, the country's 125-member parliament, and chairperson of the Human Rights committee. Herself a refugee from one of the 7 occupied districts, she deplores the difference of attitude of the EU. 'This is very disappointing because we attach a lot of importance to our relationship with the EU,' she said. As a result of an ''offensive'' resolution of the EU parliament last September on the so-called ''violation of human rights'' in Azerbaijan, Baku suspended its participation in the Euronest parliamentary assembly, a forum in the framework of EU's Eastern Partnership grouping members of national parliaments from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.”
The article says: “In her conversation with EJP, Muradova was proud to say that "Azerbaijan is the only country where there is no anti-Semitism'', contrary to what is happening in several countries of Europe. Moreover, despite the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh, there are 30,000 Armenians living peacefully in Azerbaijan, she explained. "Isn't this tolerance and respect of human rights?,'' the MP asked. Turning to the successful integration of one million refugees from Nagorno Karabakh region, she believes the EU, which is increasingly coping with the migrant crisis, has to learn from Azerbaijan's experience.”
“Azay Guliev, a member of the Azerbaijani parliament who also chairs the Council of State Support to NGOs explained that his country has proposed and initiated a strategic partnership with the EU based on close cooperation.
''Our multiculturalism should be developed as an example for the rest of the world at a time when anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are the main threats to our common home, says Azay Guliyev. ''Wasn't Azerbaijan the first country to give voting rights to women in 1918, even before the US did so?'' he asks to counter his country's critics.”