The WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Azerbaijan to the US State US department dating from September 18, 2009, which analyses different Diaspora organizations of Azeris living abroad. The US diplomatic cable identifies two main Azeri Diaspora organizations in the United States. The US Azeri Network (USAN), which is described as a progovernment organization and the Azerbaijani Americans for Democracy (AZAD) which is described as an organization lobbying for democracy and human rights issues. Below is the full report:
“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 000743
SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/CARC, S/GPI, S/P E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2019
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PHUM, PREL, SMIG, AJ
SUBJECT: AZERBAIJAN’S DIASPORA SMALL, NOT POLITCALLY ACTIVE
REF: STATE 86401
Classified By: Political-Economic Counselor Robert Garverick, Reasons 1 .4 b and d.
1. (C) Summary: Azerbaijan’s diaspora of permanent migrs is small, although there are possibly 2 million labor migrants in Russia and Turkey. The diaspora has not been active in affairs in Azerbaijan or in the United States, but two new groups have recently formed: one pro-government and one pro-democracy. End Summary.
2. (C) In response to reftel, post provides the following answers.
A) To what extent are diasporans from your host country an identifiable community? Are there existing diaspora networks, organizations or online communities available as platforms for outreach?
— Azerbaijanis living abroad are poorly organized and cannot truly be described as an identifiable community. The largest group, estimated at about two million, lives in Russia, but these are largely temporary labor migrants rather than permanent migrs. There are also large numbers of labor migrants in Turkey. There are few Azerbaijanis in the U.S., largely students or other temporary workers. There are, however, a larger number of ethnic Azeris from Iran in America, although anecdotal evidence indicates that they identify more as Iranians than Azerbaijanis. There are two Azerbaijani-American organizations that have formed recently: U.S. Azeri Network (USAN) is pro-government and Azerbaijani-Americans for Democracy (AZAD) has begun lobbying for more USG attention to the Azerbaijani government’s failings on democracy and human rights.
B) What is the nature of the connection of the diaspora community to the host country? Examples include kinship networks; educational or other institutional ties; financial support as from remittances; and direct participation in community or country affairs and civil society.
— Remittances from family members in Russia and Turkey play a large role in supporting families in Azerbaijan, particularly families outside Baku where there are fewer economic opportunities. There seem to be few educational or other institutional ties.
C) To what extent has your host country or government activated its diaspora communities for humanitarian relief? How would you characterize the level of response? If outreach is relatively recent, do you foresee opportunities to maintain diaspora community involvement in country over the long term?
— The government has just begun to reach out to its small diaspora, largely as a way to counter the much larger Armenian diaspora in the United States and Europe. This work is almost entirely centered on lobbying foreign governments to change their positions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. While some of its messaging may have humanitarian rhetoric, it is not trying to raise money for humanitarian assistance.
D) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in long-term investment in country, for example micro enterprise development, job creation, entrepreneurship, and institutional capacity building? What is post’s assessment of the future potential for long-term and sustained engagement of the diaspora community in such efforts?
— Post sees no evidence of diaspora long-term investment in the country. Given the small size of the diaspora, there is not a large potential for this type of work.
E) To what extent is the diaspora community working toward scientific, engineering, medical and educational institution building? How might diasporans with backgrounds in these fields or otherwise affiliated with the Academy, or professional and technical societies, become engaged in science diplomacy programs?
— Post sees no evidence that the diaspora is involved in science diplomacy.
F) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in conflict resolution and peace building? Do you see future potential to translate diaspora community participation in these processes into other priorities governing the bilateral (and/or regional) relationship?
— As explained above in sections A and C, the government has just begun to reach out to its American diaspora community through the U.S. Azeris Network (www.usazeris.org), which also works closely with the Turkish Coalition of America. This organization periodically calls on its members to email their government representatives to change U.S. policies regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, or Armenia/Azerbaijan balance in general. While not exactly “peace-building,” the organization does call for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The organization also campaigns against any recognition on a state or federal level of the Armenian “genocide.”
G) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in meeting the health, education and welfare needs of indigenous peoples?
— Post is not aware of any such activity.
H) To what extent is the diaspora community engaged in democracy promotion, electoral reform and civil society development? Are there key milestones in your host country or host government’s development that would create opportunities for such engagement in the future?
— As mentioned in section A, a group called Azerbaijani-Americans for Democracy (AZAD) has begun lobbying for more USG attention to the Azerbaijani government’s failings on democracy and human rights. This group has recently been active in lobbying for the freedom of jailed youth bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, including organizing a protest in front of Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Washington. The group previously sponsored protests against changes to Azerbaijan’s constitution.
I) How would you characterize the level of concern and attention given to diaspora communities by your host government? If applicable, please describe the host government’s organization and strategy dedicated to relationship-building with its diaspora communities. For example, host governments may have established promotion offices to encourage diasporans’ return, bringing with them know-how and financial resources.
— There is an Azerbaijani government State Committee on Work with the Diaspora, but this Committee is not very prominent or active. Azerbaijan recently opened a Consulate in Los Angeles, and its first Consul Elin Suleymanov has been highly active in organizing Azerbaijani-Americans into a community. It also supports the U.S.-Azeri Network. None of these organizations seem to be involved in encouraging diasporans to return to the country, but rather to advocate for Azerbaijan’s interests with their host government.
J) If post has undertaken programs to reach out proactively to diaspora community members, please share the circumstances that prompted the outreach effort, how outreach was conducted or programmed, personal impressions from the experience, and benefits from the outreach effort.
— Given the small size of the diaspora community, post had not conducted any programmatic outreach to them.
K) If post has received unsolicited requests from the diaspora community, please share the nature the requests, the considerations post took into account in formulating respective responses, and the outcomes of interaction.
— Post has not received any unsolicited requests from the diaspora community.
L) To what extent has post designed or participated in public diplomacy programs customized to diaspora community needs and interests? Does post anticipate taking advantage of such BAKU 00000743 003 OF 003 opportunities in the future?
— Post has not participated in any public diplomacy programs for the diaspora community. Post does not anticipate any such programs in the near future.
M) In planning future programs and anticipating requests for assistance from diaspora community actors, what types of knowledge management tools and information materials would be most helpful to action officers at post? If the Department were to develop a reach-back program to academics in the field of diaspora community engagement, what are post’s preferences for accessing such a mechanism?
— Post does not have any such requests.
Finally, posts are asked to include a point of contact for their respective submissions for S/GPI and S/P’s future reference and follow-up.
— The point of contact for diaspora questions is Political Officer Joanna Ganson who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org LU”