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Azerbaijan marks Khojaly massacre, national progress

The Azerbaijani Embassy in Seoul, together with Korea’s National Assembly and Korea Post, organized a conference on Feb. 14 to mark the silver jubilee of bilateral ties and the 25th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre.

The event at the National Assembly in Seoul comprised two-part exhibitions featuring photos and videos on the massacre that took place in the town of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on Feb. 25-26, 1992, as well as the last 25 years of Azerbaijan’s development and cooperation with Korea.

“On March 23, 1992, Azerbaijan and Korea signed a protocol on establishing our diplomatic relations in New York,” Azerbaijani Ambassador to Korea Ramzi Teymurov said in a speech. “It was a very difficult time for Azerbaijan as our young democracy needed the attention and support of the international community,” he added, referring to 1992 as “the year of sorrow, tragedy and occupation.”

(From left) Korea Post President Lee Kyung-sik, Rep. Hwang Young-cheul, Azeri Ambassador to Korea Ramzi Teymurov and Rep. Park In-sook. (Azerbaijan Embassy)
(From left) Korea Post President Lee Kyung-sik, Rep. Hwang Young-cheul, Azeri Ambassador to Korea Ramzi Teymurov and Rep. Park In-sook. (Azerbaijan Embassy)

During the savage event, at least 161 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians were killed by Armenian armed forces, reportedly working in step with the 366th Infantry Guards Regiment troops of the former USSR. The death toll claimed by Azerbaijani authorities is 613 civilians, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly, according to the embassy. Another 1,000 people were wounded and 1,275 were taken hostage with 150 people still missing.

In that year, Azerbaijan lost control of the city of Shusha as well as the districts of Lachin, Khojavand and Khojaly as a result of Armenia’s occupation, which claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced many more from their homes.

“However, Azerbaijan successfully rose from the invasion and managed to become one of the fastest growing economies in the region under the leadership of late President Haydar Aliyev (1923-2003), and with help of friends like the Republic of Korea,” the envoy said.

“Today Azerbaijan is dynamically developing in all fields, using our geostrategic location as a transport hub linking the East and West, energy and natural resources and rich culture and history.”

During the event, Rep. Park Byeung-seug, former vice speaker of the National Assembly, and Rep. Park In-sook spoke about the two countries’ common histories and shared pains, drawing on their experiences traveling to Azerbaijan. In a following presentation, Embassy Counsellor Vagif Jafarov expounded on the country’s history and achievements.

A short film, titled “Justice for Khojaly,” produced by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and translated into Korean by the Buta Student Organization with the embassy’s support, was screened. Several ambassadors and diplomats, Korean bureaucrats, scholars and journalists participated in the event.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)
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