Stunning images bring Azerbaijan closer to the Council of Europe

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The 'Azerbaijan Through the Lens' exhibition has opened at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to mark the inaugural Azerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The event was organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).

The three speakers at the opening

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, speaks at the opening

As this has been organised during the Azerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the exhibition makes a great contribution towards demonstrating our common values.

To mark the inaugural Azerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the soul of Azerbaijan was brought to the heart of Europe on 30 September when members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) from 47 countries, Council of Europe staff, Ambassadors and diplomats based in Strasbourg attended the opening of the 'Azerbaijan Through the Lens' exhibition. Organised by the Brussels office of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), this took place in front of the Council of Europe Hemicycle. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the PACE Session, thereby attracting maximum exposure for Azerbaijan – a new member of the European family of nations.

The exhibition showcased 100 photographs of contemporary Azerbaijani people, culture, landscapes and architecture. Previously presented in London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul and Bratislava, these images were selected from submissions by photographers based in Azerbaijan and across the world.

Samad Seyidov, Head of the Azerbaijani Delegation to PACE and recently re-elected as PACE Vice-President, said: “This is a vision of Azerbaijan taken by those who go to the country to see and understand it. On behalf of the Azerbaijani delegation, I would like to express my gratitude to TEAS, as it has done an excellent job in bringing these images to the Council of Europe. We need this type of exhibition today, as serves to promote understanding. The photos in this exhibition show the real Azerbaijan and its values. As this has been organised during the Azerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the exhibition makes a great contribution towards demonstrating our common values.

“If those in the Council of Europe do not understand the culture and have an accurate vision of the country, it is impossible to implement these values. Only with this understanding can we become closer to each other. I think this exhibition will bring both Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe closer together.”

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS responded: “It is our pleasure to bring the culture of Azerbaijan to the countries of Europe. We think this exhibition encapsulates the beauty of Azerbaijan and the friendliness of its people. It is a fantastic country on the fringes of Europe, but it looks to Europe for guidance and support.

“The photographs were selected from 750 submissions received for a TEAS-run competition. The judges were renowned royal photographer Henry Dallal and Caroline Metcalfe, Photographic Director, 'Condé Naste Traveller'. The first prize went to Asim Talib for his photograph of 'Old Men'. This is a poignant monochrome picture, taken 29 years ago, showing elders in Kelbajar, which is now one of the seven regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that has remained under illegal Armenian military occupation for over 20 years. It is very fitting that this photograph is displayed here. One day, we hope that the photographer and all of us will be able to return to that region, and that the internally displaced persons (IDPs) will be able to return to their lands.”

The exhibition followed the recent visit to Azerbaijan by Anne Brasseur, President, PACE, in the wake of the worst upsurge in violence between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces for 20 years on the ‘contact line’ between Azerbaijan and the occupied territories. The previous day, after the opening of the PACE Session, she spoke to journalists, saying: “I was in Azerbaijan last week. Seizing the opportunity, I re-emphasised the necessity for the establishment of contact between the delegations of both countries at a Parliamentary level. This has now turned out to be something very complicated or almost impossible. For us to continue our work, both sides have to negotiate with each other.”

Azerbaijan Through the Lens (Strasbourg)
29 September–3 October
Hemicycle, Palais de l’Europe,
Council of Europe,
F–67075 Strasbourg, France

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