Photo Credit: Nati Shohat / Flash 90
A street in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, October 13, 2019.

Fuad Muradov, Chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Diaspora Committee, this week met with Israeli officials and members of Azerbaijani olim living in Israel. On a week in which the coalition government has been engaged in a battle for political survival, Muradov managed to meet with Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Agriculture Minister Oded Forer (both from Israel Beiteinu), Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope) and several prominent members of the Knesset.

According to a press release put out by the Azerbaijani government, the meetings focused on Azeri olim in Israel, Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation, and investment opportunities for Israelis in Azerbaijan, and potential projects for the two countries. The Azeri official stressed the positive relations of the olim from Azerbaijan with their native country, and their impact on the way Israelis view Azerbaijan.

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Nachman Shai, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, told JewishPress.com that his meeting with Muradov strengthened Israel’s relationship with Azerbaijan via the olim from his country, adding: “We talked at length about the relationship between the two countries in various fields. The professional team of Azerbaijan presented their activities and projects concerning their citizens in the diaspora and the professional team at the ministry of the Diaspora presented the initiatives that we are doing in various fields. The special friendship between our countries runs deeper than the economy, agriculture, and tourism. It is based on common values and faith in strengthening our two nations. I look forward to continuing our joint work in the future.”

Azerbaijan’s Tourism Attaché Jamilya Talibzadeh, who also met with Chairman Muradov, told JewishPress.com: “He was really interested in our activities, challenges, and success as a compatriot. His valuable feedback and advice were very beneficial.” (Azerbaijan does not maintain an embassy in Israel, but there is an Israeli mission in Baku.)

Last Sunday, Chairman Muradov spoke in Rishon LeTzion at an event marking the 55th anniversary of Aziz, the main Azerbaijani Diaspora organization in Israel. He awarded medals to Rabbi Shmuel Simantov, Alexander Agranovsky, Professor Mikhail Agarunov, and other prominent Azeri Jews for their contribution to the development of the Azeri community in Israel.

Muradov spoke about his country’s new strategy defined at the 5th Congress of World Azerbaijanis in Shusha on the recommendations of President Ilham Aliyev, promoting the cultural and political unity of Azerbaijanis living abroad as a strategic goal of the Azerbaijani state, with the main goal of working to clear Armenian minefields from the war zone along those two countries’ border, and reconstruction in post-war Karabakh.

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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."