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The late Professor Akif Guliyev among the recipients of the 2020 award for the promotion of the good name of the Czech Republic abroad

The most pleasant of the instructions I received from Prague this year was the one asking me to tell the renowned Azerbaijani biochemist, Professor Akif Guliyev, that he will receive one of the awards for the promotion of the good name of the Czech Republic abroad from our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tomáš Petříček.

I immediately grasped what honour Professor Guliyev felt, both for himself and his country, when I informed him he will be the first Azerbaijani citizen to recieve the Gratias Agit Award. What I could not have imagined was that it was the last of my numerous conversations with this exceptional man who did more than anyone else for the promotion of my country in Azerbaijan. He suddenly passed away on 19 July 2020.

In 1967/68, Akif Guliyev spent a part of his Ph.D. studies at the Charles University in Prague. That academic year stood at the beginning of a long-lasting cooperation with Czech colleagues in the field of research as well as exchange of more than 200 students and academic personnel between the Faculty of Science of the Charles University and the Faculty of Biology of the Baku State University. As the Head of its Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Akif Guliyev was responsible for the first relevant agreement between both universities in 1972. After a break due to the collapse of the USSR and the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s, Professor Guliyev, in his position of a Dean, managed to reinvigorate the cooperation by signing a memorandum between both faculties in 2010 – a major stepping stone towards the signature of a still effective agreement between the biggest Azerbaijani and the biggest Czech university 4 years later. He was constantly helpful to me and my predecessors in the position of the Czech Ambassador as we have been working on the deepening of friendly and mutually beneficial relations between my country and Azerbaijan.

The awarding ceremony which was supposed to take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague in October 2020 was cancelled due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Second Karabakh War was raging at the territory of Azerbaijan in those days, claiming thousands of human lives. I therefore decided to hand the prize intended for Akif müəllim to his daughters Naila and Nargiz a bit later. My subsequent conversation with them, as well as the information about the next joint expedition planned by the zoologists from the Baku State and Charles Universities, reassured me that the friendship Akif helped to establish will endure in the face of adversity.

Milan Ekert, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Azerbaijan

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Sborník Gratias Agit-2020 10 MB PDF (Adobe Acrobat document) Oct 9, 2020

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Gratias Agit 2020 - Baku