Are diaspora organizations interested in the direct working with provincial parliaments and governments in Canada?
Naturally, the Federal parliament and the government of Canada are settling many issues. At the same time, regional parliaments and governments in this country have sufficient powers to settle a number of questions. In particular, the Foreign Ministry reports to federal government, while the spheres of education and health, including universities and schools, as well as hospitals report to regional governments. As for economy, a significant part of this sphere is controlled by regional governments. The federal government regulates only the monetary policy in the country.
Regional provinces are almost considered independent with their prime ministers and parliaments. Regional legislative bodies adopt laws that are implemented by the governments of the provinces.
Is it possible to attain the adoption of the issues directly responding to Azerbaijan’s interests, in particular, recognition of the Khojaly genocide in these parliaments?
Certainly, there is such an opportunity. Though, I would like to note that Azerbaijan is not so well known in Canada as a country. Azerbaijan gained independence just 20 years ago. Earlier, Azerbaijan was known as part of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Canadians started to get more information about Azerbaijan since the establishment of the Azerbaijani embassy in Ottawa 4-5 years ago. The diplomatic mission of Azerbaijan headed by Ambassador Farid Shafiyev has done much for Canadians to learn more about Azerbaijan. I have also contributed to informing Canadians, especially Ontario residents and politicians, about Azerbaijan. However, huge work is to be done in this direction. In this respect, the Azerbaijani state has a special responsibility to develop cooperation with Canada. Naturally, significant work has been held, for example, on May 30 we raised the Azerbaijani flag in the Ontario parliament. On the same day I spoke at the Ontario parliament regarding the problems of Azerbaijan. This work is aimed to provide wider information about Azerbaijan in Canada.
Is the Azerbaijani diaspora in Canada active?
There are organizations of Azerbaijani diaspora. On the whole, the Azerbaijani diaspora in Canada can be divided into two parts. The first part of Azerbaijani immigrants in Canada includes those who arrived in the country after Azerbaijan gained state independence. This category of immigrants includes 25,000-30,000 people. The second part of Azerbaijani migrants includes Iranian Azerbaijanis who arrived in Canada after the Islamic revolution in Iran. This category of Azerbaijani migrants accounts for 50,000-60,000 people in Ontario. Thus, about 80,000 Azerbaijanis live in Ontario.
Does the Azerbaijani diaspora in Canada have real opportunities of active participation in the sociopolitical life of the country?
The Ojaq society involving immigrants from both North and South Azerbaijan was created in Canadian Toronto 20 years ago. Huge work, including cultural events, has been held since that time. This work still continues. Though, there is a need to hold a greater work in this direction. This activeness of the diaspora is fruitful. For example, the speaker of the Ontario parliament received representative of the Azerbaijani embassy in Canada.
How does the Armenian diaspora in Canada organize its activity?
The Armenian diaspora is strong though their number is not so high, for example, there are about 30,000 Armenians in Ontario. But they have been living there for already 70-80 years. Therefore, the Armenian diaspora has wider opportunities. Ontario has an Armenian community that has held a huge work within that period. Naturally, they are very active.
Does the Azerbaijani diaspora hold any work to neutralize the activity of the Armenian diaspora aimed at the propaganda of “1915 genocide”?
The Azerbaijani diaspora will have to work much in this direction. At the same time, this work should be held not only among politicians but also among the population. It should be noted that this work is held by the Azerbaijani embassy in Canada and the Azerbaijani diaspora must also join the implementation of this task.
Is any work conducted for cooperation between the parliaments of Azerbaijan and Canada?
There is an interparliamentary Azerbaijan-Cana group of friendship. The mutual visits of parliamentarians are conducted and this may play a fruitful role in establishing partner relations between the parliaments of the two countries.
Which interests of Azerbaijan and Canada may play a role in strengthening relations between the two countries?
The cooperation between Azerbaijan and Canada may be established in most spheres. Both Azerbaijan and Canada, including Ontario have great opportunities for mutual cooperation. Meanwhile, it should be taken into account that there are 13 million people in Ontario whose annual budget reaches $130 bn. Automobile construction is developed in Ontario. A greater part of US cars are produced in this sphere. Therefore, there is a great potential in the development of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Canada including with Ontario.