By Harut Sassounian,
The Consul General of Azerbaijan, Nasimi Aghayev, departed from Los Angeles at the end of August to become his country’s new Ambassador to Germany. Aghayev left behind a trail of deception. I hope the German government keeps a close watch on this questionable Azeri “diplomat.”
Let us start with the most recent scandal. Last week, Aghayev proudly posted on Twitter and Facebook a certificate bearing the signatures of four out of five Los Angeles County Supervisors, expressing their appreciation for his service as the Consul General of Azerbaijan.
The first hint was that something was amiss was when it was noticed that the name of the fifth L.A. Country Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, was not on the certificate. Such documents are usually signed by all five Supervisors, which is diplomatic protocol. There must have been a particular reason why Supervisor Kuehl’s signature was missing. When the Armenian National Committee of America — Western Region (ANCA) asked Supervisor Kuehl’s staff why her signature was not on the certificate, they said that they had asked the L.A. County Protocol’s Office not to add her signature. It turns out that the other four Supervisors had also not given their permission to add their names to the certificate.
Shortly after Aghayev posted the certificate on Twitter and on his Facebook page, each of the four Supervisors — Holly Mitchell, Hilda Solis, Kathryn Barger, and Janice Hahn told the ANCA through separate Tweets that their signatures “were mistakenly added to the certificate without their authorization.”
The four Supervisors attached to their Tweets the letter of apology issued by Lourdes Saab, Chief of Protocol of LA County Supervisors. The letter was sent to all four Supervisors. Here is an excerpt from one such letter: “The County of Los Angeles Office of Protocol mistakenly added Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s signature to a scroll presented to the Consul General of Azerbaijan last week and would like to publicly note this error.”
After I contacted Brenda Duran, Deputy Executive Officer, Los Angeles County Executive Office, asking her to clarify the status of the certificate issued to Azerbaijan’s Consul General by mistake, she replied in writing: “The County of Los Angeles’ Office of the Protocol (Office) apologizes for any confusion. The Supervisors’ signatures were applied in error. Accordingly, the Office is declaring that the unauthorized scroll is void and should be taken down from any social media or any other platform. Because the County of Los Angeles is not bound by an unauthorized and erroneous action taken by an office in excess of that office’s authority, no one should rely on the subject scroll as any kind of declaration by the County of Los Angeles.”
Nevertheless, the certificate wrongly issued to Azerbaijan’s Consul General is still posted on his Twitter and Facebook page, falsely claiming that he was honored by the L.A. County Supervisors. That certificate is null and void and publicizing such an erroneously issued certificate is dishonest. Instead of being embarrassed, Aghayev lashed back at the ANCA for bringing this mistaken certificate to the attention of the Supervisors.
No one should be surprised that this is not the first time that Azerbaijan’s Consul General is involved in such scandalous and dishonest behavior. There are four other examples. I wrote an article last October, revealing that Azerbaijan’s Consul General publicized a proclamation issued and later canceled by the Mayor of San Diego. The Mayor apologized, rescinded his proclamation the following day and pledged not to issue proclamations on Azerbaijan in the future. Similarly, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued on February 2021 and later cancelled a proclamation to commemorate the so-called “Khojali Day.” The Mayor rescinded his proclamation two weeks later and apologized to the Armenian community.
The same scenario was repeated in Portland, Maine. Mayor Kathleen Snyder initially issued a proclamation on February 17, 2021 to commemorate “Khojaly Remembrance Day.” However, on April 1, 2021, the Mayor wrote: “I have decided to rescind the Mayoral Proclamation…. I once again apologize for the pain and harm that the issuance of this proclamation has caused.”
Finally, the City of Torrance, California, issued a proclamation on October 15, 2021 to celebrate “Azerbaijan Day.” Later that day, Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey stated that the City “issued a proclamation in error. On past occasions, the City has proclaimed Azerbaijan National Day in the City of Torrance on the effective date. In light of recent events in the associated region, the City has respectfully requested that the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles remove the proclamation from all media.”
Nevertheless, the rescinded proclamations of San Diego and Torrance remain on Consul General Aghayev’s Facebook page.
Amazingly, such an incompetent and dishonest Consul General is elevated to become Ambassador to Germany, instead of being fired. Given Aghayev’s repeated undiplomatic behavior in Los Angeles, Pres. Aliyev could not have made a worse choice in promoting him to the rank of Ambassador.