The world history teachers in a two-week training workshop at UCLA learned about Azerbaijan and its neighbors from the country's representative in Los Angeles. Consul General Elin Suleymanov also expressed concern about Russian military action in the Caucasus at the lunchtime talk.
ELIN SULEYMANOV, the consul general for Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, addressed a group of local world history schoolteachers over lunch at the UCLA Faculty Center on Friday, the final day of a two-week training workshop about historical and contemporary links between Europe and Asia.
Sponsored by four UCLA units—the Center for European and Eurasian Studies, the Asia Institute, the History-Geography Project, and the Anderson School's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER)—the teacher training workshop looked at various forms of trade on the ancient Silk Road, the Mongol expansion, and Asian experiences of colonization and industrialization, among other topics. Professors from UCLA and nearby colleges led discussions, and the teachers completed fresh lessons for the classroom. With funding from the UCLA Confucius Institute, the group took a July 30, 2008, field trip to the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena and to the Huntington's Chinese Garden in San Marino.
Huntington docent Marian Li leads L.A.-area teachers on a tour of the Chinese Garden. The garden is modeled on a 16th-century merchant's garden of the southern Suzhou province, long a center of silk production for Chinese and international markets. (Photo by Nick Menzies)
Suleymanov described the Republic of Azerbaijan's struggle "to survive and to succeed" on its side of the land-locked Caspian Sea in between Russia and Iran, both regional powers. The country emerged from the Soviet disintegration in 1991 and quickly sought investment from outside the region. The so-called "contract of the century" it signed in 1994 opened the way for development of Baku's oil fields and for the BTC pipeline that runs through Tbilisi, Georgia, to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
"It's much more than just a pipeline; it's a physical connection to the outside world."
Suleymanov said that Azerbaijan's next goal is to transport oil and gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, countries on the other side of the Caspian. In response to a question, he acknowledged the severity of pollution in the sea, which has no outlet.
The Aug. 8 luncheon fell one day after Russia sent troops into Georgia, a neighbor of Azerbaijan and another former member state of the Soviet Union in the Caucasus region, in a war over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
"The heart of the Silk Road is actually very inflamed today…," said Suleymanov, on a personal note near the end of his talk. "What Russia is doing is completely unacceptable. I sincerely hope that Georgians stand up and are able to defend themselves."