On May 2, 2011, we gathered to celebrate the seventy year anniversary of Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev. We gathered as faculty, students and staff of The Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. His family came. Some Cabinet members came. The First Lady of Azerbaijan came. It was a truly memorable event with important people, students, faculty, staff and family. They had all gathered to pay respect to a showcase of success in public service.
That night, for the first time in the past 18 years, I went on stage and spoke. I spoke about principles and values which define one's identity. I spoke about a public servant who had served his country with dignity, integrity and honor. A man whose life and identity has shaped the landscape around him. Joining that man in his journey of public service has changed my own life forever. He has shown me an incredibly meaningful path in life. A life worth of living.
Here, I share a video of that speech. Most importantly, I share words by Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to the US President. Dr. Brzezinski and Ambassador Pashayev were close friends. Zbigniew Brzezinski talks about aspirations, hopes, determination, being a devoted patriot, proud of being Azeri, pleased of being an independent Azeri. He says those early days were very special days. By all means they were.
Ambassador Pashayev not only possessed those qualities Dr. Brzezinski listed. He also managed to pass those qualities to everyone who has come in contact with him. Dr. Brzezinski concludes wishing him the best in "what I know will be a continuingly successful and important career in the service of your country, in the service of your people".
Once they asked Mir Jalal Pashayev which one of his works was his masterpiece. Mir Jalal said his masterpiece was his family. That night, I told everyone Ambassafor Pashayev's masterpiece was The Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA). On his behalf, I promised everyone we would build it into a university; not just any university, but a world-class university; that it would not be a private university, but a public one; that we would make sure it became the pride of that country; and that we would convert public's support into cultivating a kind of citizens who would never stop serving the public cause. Looking back now, we have kept every single word of our promise.
Below is an excerpt from Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski's speech and a video clip from that memorable evening.
"...Those are very special days. Azerbaijan was just beginning to have what it hasn't had in fact, namely, genuine political independence. And you were its emissary. You came to America to aquaint Americans, to aquaint me with your country, with your aspirations, with your hopes and with your determination. And all of these qualities characterized not only your people, not only your leaders, but you. I could immediately sense when I met you that you are a devoted patriot, proud to be Azeri, pleased to be an independent Azeri. And I can tell you quite honestly, that those sentiments are sentiments I not only fully understand, but thoroughly share. For various personal reasons involving me, which perhaps you know or you feel you can understand. So I really felt a kinship to you personally and to your country from the moment we met. And I do have to say that in the several years when you served here as Ambassador, you put Azerbaijan on the map. You made more and more Americans conscious of your country's history, of its geopolitical location, of its determination to be successful. And also last, but not least, of the importance to both of us, to America and to Azerbaijan, of the strategic relationship that was nurtured in those early years. And as you recall, I went to Baku as a special emissary of the President of the United States to meet with your President of the time, Heydar Aliyev and to discuss with him not only specifics pertaining to the pipeline that subsequently was built, but particularly, regarding the strategic partnership between the United States and Azerbaijan. So, in a sense, we were both there at the creation. At a very important early phase, which shaped the relationship and which you played such a preeminent important role. So, I congratulate you, I salute you, I send you greetings and best wishes for what I know will be a continuingly successful and important career in the service of your country, in the service of your people. All the best Hafiz. This is Zbig."
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