Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Lankaran and Monterey: What does it mean to be a ‘sister city’?

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I don’t really understand what it means to be a Sister City, but that’s apparently what Lənkəran and Monterey, California are now. Wikipedia tells me that sister cities form agreements “in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.” However, it doesn’t really go into what that practically means. Ideally, yeah, cultural and commercial ties sound great, but I would love to see the first delegation from Monterey arrive here at Lənkəran International Airport (really, it exists) to get a look at their new sister city. I am, regardless, a strong proponent of the idea that increasing ties to the outside world for Azerbaijan is almost always a good thing, at least in this direction. I’m assuming that these ties aren’t ways to smuggle the best pomegranate in the world to Monterey.

It does seem like they had a nice way to celebrate this newfound relationship in Monterey, inviting an Azerbaijani artist from Delaware to display some of his artwork:

The paintings of green mountains, lush meadows and tranquil lakes and rivers hanging in Colton Hall this weekend evoke the landscapes of California. But these works by Yavar Rzayev actually depict the artist’s native Azerbaijan, a country between Russia and Iran that is the home of Lankaran, Monterey’s newest sister city.

The art exhibit forges another tie between Monterey and the land of this sister city halfway around the world, which share similarities in environment and culture. The inspiration to connect the cities arose from a friendship between Monterey councilwoman Nancy Selfridge and Shafag Mehraliyeva, the wife of a Naval Postgraduate School student from Azerbaijan. Selfridge said Mehraliyeva kept drawing parallels between Lankaran and Monterey: Lankaran hosts a military presence, and has a large fishing industry due to its location on the Caspian sea.

And in other ‘Sister City’ news, it looks like Baku’s Nasimi District, a section of the city that includes the most touristy sections, has recently twinned with San Diego:

The Nasimi district in Baku and Switzer Highland in San Diego, California were declared twin regions for the first time in history on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of restoration of Azerbaijan’s independence.

The event was conducted in the San Diego city council on the 20th anniversary of restoration of Azerbaijan’s independence. Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Todd Gloria announced a special declaration, signed by members of the council, the Azerbaijani Consulate General in Los Angeles told Trend on Wednesday.

San Diego should be jealous that they missed out on pairing up with Lənkəran. Again, I still have no idea what this actually means. Maybe someone can enlighten me on the tangible benefits of Sister City-hood?


Written by Aaron

October 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm

One Response

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  1. I think the residents of North Park, San Diego may have the answer to your question Aaron:

    “A group from the Switzer Highland neighborhood, a section of about 150 homes, started working on the unique relationship (between their neighbourhood and the Nizami district of Baku) about three years ago and has obtained the assistance of the Citizens Diplomacy Council.

    To explain the Sister Neighborhood relationship, the Switzer Highland people are having a private reception on Nov. 4 for Consul General Elin Suleymanov of Azerbaijan’s Los Angeles office. It will be at Café 21 in University Heights, owned by Alex and Lela Javadov, who are originally from Baku.

    “It’s been an incredible journey, this funky neighborhood learning about international relations,” says Martin Kruming, a Switzer Highland resident who teaches media law and ethics at San Diego State. “There are all kinds of cultural and economic possibilities.”

    One of the first efforts of the Sister Neighborhood relationship will be a tree planting — one at McKinley Elementary School and one in Baku.

    “As far as we can tell, there is no Sister Neighborhood partnerships like this in the world,” says Kruming.
    But the relationship with Baku is probably only the beginning for the enterprising people of Switzer Highland. “We’ll maybe go to New Zealand for the next one,” says Kruming.

    Its funky neighbourhoods learning about international relations!


    October 25, 2011 at 2:46 am

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