Oklahoma and Azerbaijan Celebrate 20 Years of Partnership with Ambassador’s Visit

Oklahoma State is celebrating a 20-year partnership with the country of Azerbaijan.

From boots on the ground to the roar of black hawks in the skies of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma National Guard gave vital lessons to Azerbaijani soldiers last week.

“What we really focused on was making sure we had the same understanding of the importance of stabilizing someone as soon as possible,” said Major Carl Beyer, assistant state surgeon at the Oklahoma National Guard.

The country of 10 million people is about a 14-hour flight from Oklahoma. The Central Asian country was part of the Soviet Union and later became an official state partner of Oklahoma through a State Department program in 2002.

“We were among the last troops to leave Kabul International Airport,” said Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States Khazar Ibrahim. “Our cooperation with (the) Oklahoma National Guard has helped us in this direction because our peacekeeping battalion receives a lot of support.”

Governor Kevin Stitt said he wants to take the military partnership launched two decades ago and expand it to include educational and economic partnerships.

“They’re investing in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “We have companies that are here with the relationships that we have established. They come to invest in Oklahoma companies.

The Ambassador also visited Oklahoma State University as an educational exchange program prepares to launch this fall.

“Yesterday I was at Oklahoma State University and I met (head wrestling coach) John Smith. Coach Smith, who is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time,” Ibrahim said.

From the battlefield and beyond, Stitt said those relationships have only boosted Oklahoma’s global profile.

“People-to-person contact is very important,” Ibrahim said. “As the governor said, he wants to bring the world to Oklahoma and Azerbaijan wants to be part of it.”