The Washington Times has published an article by Azerbaijani Ambassador to the USA Elin Suleymanov, in which he highlights the 20 January massacre
In .the article headlined “From tragedy to independence”, the Ambassador says: “Twenty-five years ago today, while then-President George H.W. Bush was delivering his State of the Union message before a joint session of Congress in Washington, Soviet troops attacked unarmed civilian protesters in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, killing some 147 people and wounding hundreds of others. The Soviet effort to crush the growing Azerbaijani pro-independence movement culminated in the largest massacre in a generation, it but failed miserably, hastened the end of the USSR, and led directly to our formal declaration of independence two years later.
“The events of 1990 helped crystallize key elements of the Azerbaijani social and political identity. Today two of those elements, namely a strong, unquestionable commitment to its independence and the inclusive nature of its tolerant society, remain at the core of Azerbaijan’s strategic importance. Despite a history of imperial domination, the people of Azerbaijan persevered, sacrificed and ultimately won the freedom and independent future they sought. In fact, Azerbaijan was the first nation of the Soviet Empire or Eastern Europe to become free of any foreign military presence on its soil.”
Mr Suleymanov says: “Independence has given Azerbaijan the ability to act in the best interest of our own people without outside interference. Azerbaijan’s strengths today include energy security, a growing economy, modern infrastructure and a remarkable degree of stability. Independence has allowed us to pursue and achieve our peoples’ centuries long dream of a prosperous and successful nation. This is no small accomplishment anywhere, but especially in the complicated geopolitical neighborhood in which we are located.”
“Azerbaijan is today a reliable international partner. History has shown that unstable nations with compromised sovereignty pose the greatest threat to peace and security while stable, prosperous societies committed to the fundamentals of international law both promote peace and establish the basis for continued democratic reforms. A stable, prosperous Azerbaijan is good for its people, for the strategically important region in which it finds itself, and for its international partners.”
“For a quarter-century, every Jan. 20 citizens of Azerbaijan of all persuasions bring red carnations to the memorial of the tragedy. It is, however, a truly independent, successful and diverse Azerbaijan that is the best tribute to the sacrifice of those who died on the streets of Baku at the hands of a collapsing Soviet regime,” says the article.