British Foundation for Study of Azerbaijan and Caucasus presented in London
London hosted the official presentation of the British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus (www.bfsac.org.uk), established on September 27, 2016, where the British and Azerbaijani public was told about the directions of activity of the new academic structure.
The Foundation will support academic projects in the field of Caucasian studies in order to ensure their duration, success, viability and access to the international level.
The active directions of the Foundation were declared at the presentation.
The event was attended by influential members of academic circles of the United Kingdom, representatives of British Government and Parliament, British Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy for Azerbaijan Baroness Emma Nicholson, Lord Malcolm Bruce, Lord Michael German and other outstanding figures.
Rector of the Baku branch of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the head of the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center at the University of Oxford, head of the British Foundation for Study of Azerbaijan and Caucasus, Co-chair of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society, Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, speaking at the event, stressed that for the first time since the republic regained its independence, the Azerbaijani scientists have received an opportunity for an academic dialogue at the level of the best University in the UK. The Professor said the future of the British-Azerbaijani scientific ties will continue to grow. “The most important thing is that our work will not turn into a project with short term or insignificant effect. We believe that the Foundation, which we have created and presented, will support our research projects,” she said.
Nargiz Pashayeva noted that academic ties in the modern world are the most robust and stable. “The world is changing, there are all sorts of mutually exclusive events on the dally basis, but science brings people together, gives them a common platform, as mankind always tries to keep the good and fight the negative. The great achievement of the United Kingdom is that many cultures have found their second home here. A lot of ancient Azerbaijani manuscripts and historical books about Azerbaijan are kept at the University of Oxford,” the head of the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center noted.
Professor Nargiz Pashayeva stressed the role of Azerbaijan in formalizing the democratic values in East, as well as in contributing to the world cultural heritage. The Professor highlighted Azerbaijans history saying the first parliamentary republic, first University was established in Azerbaijan. Head of the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center noted Azerbaijan granted equal rights for all citizens.
Professor of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford Edmund Herzig stressed the importance of deep studying of Azerbaijan and Caucasus in British academic circles.
Founder of the British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus on British side, Lord Malcolm Bruce said tolerance environment in Azerbaijan should be a model to several countries.
Head of the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center of Azerbaijan and Caucasian Studies at the University of Oxford on British side, member of the Board of Trustees of the British Foundation for Study of Azerbaijan and Caucasus, Professor Robert Hoyland pointed to the uniqueness of the Nizami Ganjavi Centre and the presented Foundation. “This institution is the first structure of its kind, exploring not only the current stage of the Azerbaijani culture, but also its history in general. It will contribute to the development of the British-Azerbaijani relations. This cooperation project will open more wide and deep historical ties between our countries,” he expects.
“The Oxford Center of Nizami Ganjavi is aimed at continuation of studying the history of Azerbaijan, including through excavation. Now we are digging in Barda, which was the capital of Caucasian Albania in the late period of the Roman Empire. We attract students to study the history and culture of Azerbaijan and its surrounding areas. I am sure that in the future there will be very fruitful and positive relations between our two countries, and I hope that today we made another step towards it,” Robert Hoyland added.
Member of the House of Lords, the Council of Europe rapporteur on Azerbaijan in 2003-2006, the member of the Board of Trustees of the British Foundation for Study of Azerbaijan and Caucasus, Malcolm Bruce, stressed that it is an honor for him – to participate in the creation of the Foundation. “Its main objective is the cultural exchange between the UK, Azerbaijan and the Caucasus as a whole. The Foundation sees its mission as uniting people, studying the history of this stunning region, which is not yet well researched in the UK, as well as its culture, music, literature and poetry. The Foundation will maintain a fundamental exchange of ideas in the field of history, culture and archaeology between the scientific communities of the two countries,” he said.
“I have been engaged in cooperation with Azerbaijan for 15 years, and I firmly believe that it is a country with a very clear identity. I especially like that Azerbaijan is a secular Muslim country. I was able to communicate with people from different layers of the Azerbaijani society, and they are really proud of their tolerance, freedom from prejudice and respect for other religions. We want people to understand the history and culture of Azerbaijan, around which there are so many problems and conflicts, and, therefore, our Foundation is based on a combination of people, ideas, cultures, histories and values that we share,” the Lord Bruce said.
Lord Michael German stressed the importance of establishment and the activity of the British Foundation for Study of Azerbaijan and Caucasus. He said Azerbaijan is a unique place which united East, West, North and South and which gave significant contribution to mankind, as well as its culture and heritage.
President of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) Akif Alizade stressed the activity of Professor Nargiz Pashayeva in promoting Azerbaijans national values in Great Britain and Europe. “A huge role in this was played by a corresponding member of our Academy, Professor Nargiz Pashayeva and Professor at the University of Oxford Robert Hoyland, who founded the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center and the British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. Today, these structures are a good window into the European Science and culture for Azerbaijani scientists,” the president of ANAS pointed out.
He called organization of the joint work of the Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center and the British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus a significant event. “This tandem will be a breakthrough of Azerbaijani science and culture into the European zone, and then, probably, all over the world. We believe that it is very important in terms of promoting achievements of the humanities and poetry,” he said.
Director of the National Museum of History, Academician Naila Valikhanli emphasized the significance of establishment of cultural bridges between Azerbaijan and Great Britain and expansion of the scientific activity between the museums of both countries.
Dean of the Baku Theology Faculty, Academician Vasim Mammadaliyev said Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center of Azerbaijan and Caucasian Studies at the University of Oxford is the first scientific body which studies Azerbaijan in the Great Britain.
The event featured a concert program with the participation of young violinist Elvin Ganiyev and Azerbaijans People Artist Alim Gasimov.
The British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus (BFSAC) is the first organization in the UK created with the aim of bringing together all existing educational and cultural projects related to Azerbaijan and the wider Caucasus region. Since Azerbaijan’s independence in1990, the main cooperation between the UK and Azerbaijan has been in the energy sector and trade; the two fields that are heavily focused on promoting the business interests of the two countries. While this is useful, the BFSAC highlight the rich and varied culture and history of Azerbaijan to the UK public, which has had limited exposure to the Caucasus region.
BFSAC began this process by forming the Nizami Ganjavi Programme at Oxford University which aims at exploring the languages and cultures of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. In addition, the Anglo-Azerbaijani society, the longest serving organization working to foster friendship between the two countries, has initiated a number of small projects to promote educational and cultural activities and to encourage exchange of ideas and people between the UK and Azerbaijan.
The aim of the BFSAC is to substantially increase the number and scope of these projects and to create new research and cultural opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about this part of the world.