Washington, DC, Thursday afternoon, April 26, 2012, as if Baku Boulevard has been relocated to the Penssylvania Avenue roadside of the Willard Hotel, Azerbaijani Ministers, Members of Parliament and SOCAR executives are sitting in the chairs of the hotel’s terrace cafe. They appear in deep and serious conversation, drinking tea and smoking an occasional cigarette. In a couple of hours it will be show time for Baku.
The one-and-a-half day program described in the glossy information package that was provided upon check-in, lists the details for the receptions, lunches, dinners and the cultural entertainment to be presented in the beautiful halls of the Willard Hotel. Another folder gives biographies of the speakers, a breathtaking list of heavyweights.
There is a close-packed program, an opening speech by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and special sessions dedicated to important and serious matters. Dignitaries listed include Senators, Ministers, Governors, State Representatives, Diplomats, Members of Parliament, Leaders of Azerbaijani’s Religious Communities, Professors and Oil Company Executives. In front of colorful promotional exhibits that display the names of sponsoring organizations, words of wisdom are spoken and visions for the future are shared. Certain words can be repeatedly heard throughout the speeches…“Young Democracy”, “US Friendship”, “Diplomatic Relations”, “Geopolitical Importance”, “World Energy Security”, “Strategic Oil Routes”, “Example for Religious Tolerance”, “Ancient History” , “Silk Road” and “Culture”.
Articles reporting what has been said have already been published. Indeed, an impressive message was delivered in Washington, one that illustrated and confirmed the importance of Azerbaijan’s role in the world’s politics and economy and the diversification of the portfolio of bilateral relations. Of course, content matters, but perhaps even more, the actual opportunity to connect deserves to be highlighted here. Bridges were built as VIP’s of the two nations connected, face to face. There seemed to be a buzz in the air. People mixed during the receptions, lunch and dinner and even during the dances Azeri style. In the lobby of lobbies, in the ballrooms or on the street, ideas were exchanged and partnerships and friendships were forged and momentum was built to move forward. Not all conventions are created equal, not all events offer a program with such an energetic, lively and positive atmosphere. As if a Silk Road caravan sarai was brought to Washington. Typical Azerbaijan, generous hosting, full of decorum, never a dull moment.
Well done, kudos to the sponsors and the organizers, this was the biggest event for Azerbaijan in the U.S. so far. Within a very short time they pulled together and delivered two Amazing Days. Watch this space, Azerbaijan knows how to make big things happen.