A crowd of over 125 students and members of the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) community welcomed U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Azerbaijan Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymanov to the university campus on Oct. 10. The congressman and the ambassador spent the morning answering questions and providing information about the partnership between the U.S. and Azerbaijan.
“Our mission at UIW is to prepare graduates who understand the complexities of our global world and our responsibilities as citizens. The ambassador gave us a fascinating picture of what we have in common with the citizens of Azerbaijan,” said UIW Provost Dr. Kathi Light.
Azerbaijan is a contiguous transcontinental presidential republic in the Caucasus region, situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The country is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Georgia to the northwest, Russia to the north, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and holds the distinction as the first Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic; it was also the first Muslim-majority country to have operas, theaters and modern universities. The country was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 but proclaimed its independence in 1991, before the official dissolution of the USSR.
Azerbaijan has become a leading ally and strategic partner to the United States over the years and is one of the fastest growing economies in its region. They were one of the countries to provide aid to the U.S. directly following the devastating events of 9/11, assisting with matters of international security. The two countries have developed a steadfast relationship through the opening of Caspian energy sources for development. Making significant contributions to the energy security of Europe, Turkey and Israel, Azerbaijan has materialized as a fundamental player in global energy security.
“Given San Antonio’s role as a rapidly growing city with an unlimited export potential, there is vast opportunity to strengthen South Texas’ relationship with Azerbaijan,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This visit was a great opportunity for students at UIW to learn more about a vital and growing part of the world.”
In October 2011, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev appointed Suleymanov as Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the U.S. Prior to that, Suleymanov served as the nation’s first consul general to Los Angeles and the Western States leading the team that established Azerbaijani’s diplomatic presence on the West Coast. He has served as senior counselor at the Foreign Relations Department, Office of the President in Baku, Azerbaijan, and as press officer of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington D.C.