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- Mr. Mariaschin, in late June B’nai B’rith President Gary Saltzman and you visited Azerbaijan and met with Prime Minister Artur Rasizada. What was the purpose of your delegation's visit to Azerbaijan?
- We visited Baku to engage officials of the government in discussions about regional issues and to discuss bi-lateral relations between Azerbaijan and the United States and Azerbaijan and Israel. As an American-based organization with members in many countries, including Israel, we have a strong interest in promoting good relations with Azerbaijan, which not only is strategically located, but also has a rich, two-millennia history of Jewish life.
- What did you agree on with the Azerbaijani side? In which directions does B’nai B’rith plan to develop relations with Azerbaijan?
- We all agree that stability, in an era of chaos in the Middle East and beyond, is a vital objective shared by both sides. International terrorism is a threat to us all, and all of us need to cooperate closely to defeat it. Beyond that, we’ll be looking for ways to promote people-to-people contact by following up with other missions to Azerbaijan. We had an excellent opportunity on this trip to meet and engage with the Jewish community, and it would be beneficial for more people from our community to have the same experience.
- Azerbaijan attaches great importance to cooperation with Israel. How do you assess the Azerbaijani-Israeli relations today?
- We, too, attach great importance to the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel. There are so many areas of cooperation which exist now, and more than could be opened in the future. That one can fly between Tel Aviv and Baku so easily is an excellent example of a portal that is being utilized for tourism and trade—two important pillars of good bi-lateral relations. The opening of an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel would surely help to take relations to an even higher level.
- The international organization B’nai B’rith pays much attention to combating the manifestation of anti-Semitism. Is the level of anti-Semitism decreasing or growing in the world?
- Since our founding in 1843—going on 175 years ago—B’nai B’rith has been in the forefront of combating anti-Semitism globally. Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been a serious spike in anti-Semitic incidents. Europe has been one locus for this, but not the only one. To fight this effectively, we look to friends of the Jewish people and of Israel, like Azerbaijan, to confront manifestations of anti-Semitism at the United Nations, on the internet and in our own midst.
- As you know, Armenia occupied Azerbaijani territories - Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 surrounding regions. A few days ago, Armenians shelled Azerbaijani civilian objects, which resulted in the death of innocent people, including a 2-year-old girl. How do you see the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and how much is the US interested in settling this conflict?
- Violence is unacceptable and never justified. We hope the conflict can be resolved peacefully through negotiations between the two governments and that perhaps the new administration in the U.S. could play a constructive role in this, with an eye to a successful outcome. Azerbaijan is a country of tremendous strategic value and one that plays an important part in the Jewish world. The region has great potential and would only benefit from a peaceful resolution of this conflict.