On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov and Mrs. Suleymanov welcomed many AAFSW members and other guests to the Meridian House in Washington, DC for the presentation of the 2018 Heydar Aliyev Award to the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, 13th and 21st US Secretary of Defense.
In Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev is considered to be the “Father of the Azeri nation.” Heydar Aliyev became the President of Azerbaijan in 1993. He then began to carefully design a political system with heavy reliance on family and clan members as well as oil revenues. Every city and town in Azerbaijan has a street named after him, including one of the central avenues of capital Baku. According to official information, there are 60 museums and centers of Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan. Annually, since 2000, a festival is held in Baku in honor of Heydar Aliyev, called Gül bayramı, which translates to “Flower Feast.” It starts on May 10 and lasts a few days. Traditionally, it is held in Heydar Aliyev Park, in front of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan where unique flowers from around the world are gathered.
The Heydar Aliyev Award was presented to former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during the event dedicated to the 95th birthday anniversary of Heydar Aliyev. Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US, Elin Suleymanov, delivered a speech at the event: “Tonight, we celebrate Heydar Aliyev’s 95th birthday and 100 years of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Azerbaijan’s founding father Heydar Aliyev laid the foundation for the strong U.S. and Azerbaijan relations. The Heydar Aliyev Award this year honors the contributions of Donald Rumsfeld in fostering peace and stability throughout Central Asia. Today, there is an incredible bond between the United States and Azerbaijan. Donald Rumsfeld has done an incredible job bringing the region together and has helped so many gain a better understanding of Azerbaijan and the entire region of Central Asia.”
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD