TODAY.AZ / Voice of Diaspora

Head of Azerbaijani diaspora in Sweden: Local Armenians threaten Azerbaijani diaspora

18 December 2009 [17:18] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Abdullah Amir Hashimi, head of Azerbaijani diaspora organization “Karabakh” in Stockholm, Sweden.
How many Azerbaijanis live in Sweden today?

It is hard to say exact number of Azerbaijanis living in Sweden. Some time ago it was proposed to launch a project in this regard, but it was not realized for certain reasons. It is difficult to find out exact number of Azerbaijan because all Azerbaijanis who have migrated from Iran are registered as Iranian citizens and their national identity is not indicated.

Number of migrants from Iran total 100,000 with 35,000-40,000 being Azerbaijanis. The number of migrants from Azerbaijan is about 1,000. They have migrated for the last 7 to 8 years.  

Are Azerbaijanis in Sweden active?

Azerbaijanis have 37 organizations in Sweden with 19 of them being member of Federation of Azerbaijanis in Sweden. We do out best to develop the Diaspora and unite Azerbaijanis in Sweden.

We jointly organize certain events. For example, we combine our efforts when we mark a historical date of our state and also to convey the whole truth about them to the Swedish population.

I am confident that we need to develop a unified strategy.

How many Armenians live in Sweden?

About 7,000-8,000. The Federation of Armenians in Sweden includes 14 diaspora organizations. Armenian church is especially active. Majority of Armenians live in Stockholm, Västerås, Södertälje and Uppsalade, and, admittedly, they have some weight in the state and municipal authorities.

Supported by diaspora organizations of other nationalities in Sweden, they fight against Azerbaijani and Turkish organizations. The Swedish parliament has two MPs of Armenian origin. Swedish Social Democratic Party, which is the strongest in the country, at its lastest meeting on Oct. 29 this year decided to recognize the so-called Armenian "genocide". Together with the Turkish Diaspora, we will do everything possible to prevent the Swedish parliament from taking this decision while the Armenian Diaspora is doing everything possible to get it passed.

Do you know cases of clash between Azerbaijani and Armenian Diaspora organizations in Sweden?

Sweden is home to 8 million people 1 million of which are migrants. Migrants enjoy the same rights as the indigenous people. They create cultural organizations, develop close ties with their historic homeland and have an access to education in their native language. It is strictly banned to carry out any policy of discrimination in any area and at any level. It may entail a very serious court decision. So, there are no open clashes between national organizations in Sweden.

This does not mean that we do not fight the Armenian Diaspora. Moreover, we are regularly threatened by local Armenians ranging from simple forms of threats by telephone. Many local Armenians - representatives of the Dashnaksutun Party - try to put pressure on us in various ways. During our meetings we share with each other experiences to confront them.

What was reaction of local Azerbaijanis and Armenians to signing of the Turkey and Armenia protocols?

To put it mildly, our diaspora organizations were surprised at signing of the protocols. It was widely debated both by Azerbaijanis and Turkish people in Sweden. We have discussed it with the Turkish Diaspora. We believe our peoples share many common roots, history and problems. Opposition to Armenians is one of them. I think we must always act together in this matter.

That is why we opposed the signing. We appealed to the Turkish Embassy in Sweden and sent a letter of protest. Turkish Minister Egemen Bagish and Turkey’s representative to Council of Europe Volkan Bozkirin visited Sweden on  Nov. 13.We met with them and asked how Turkey, which has always stated that the border with Armenia will not open until Armenia liberates Azerbaijan’s occupied lands, can establish ties with Armenia? Bagish's answer was diplomatic and not different from those that usually high-rank officials say.

H. Hamidov

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