By | Rachel Brooks
December 31, 2020
“File:Templo de fuego, Baku, Azerbaiyán, 2016-09-27, DD 34.jpg” by Diego Delso is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
In honor of World Azerbaijani Solidarity Day, special guest Thomas Amiral-Moody, the father of a British and Azerbaijani blended family.
Perhaps you would first like to introduce yourself and your family. Tell me a little bit more about how you came to be a blended Anglo-Azerbaijani family.
Thank you for inviting me to speak! Well as a family it is me, my wife Royala, and our 3 children (Esger – 8, Ellie – 6, and Osman 7 months).
Myself and Royala met whilst working together within the insurance industry in the UK and hit it off immediately. I fell in love with her and her culture very quickly and this was cemented when I first visited her family in Azerbaijan (about a week after the famous Eurovision win for Nigar and Eldar) and the hospitality, warmth, and welcoming nature shone through.
Tell me, please, some of your favorite things about your adopted culture. Did you experience culture shock with Azerbaijani culture, or was it something you took quite naturally to?
The same for your spouse.
My favorite things about my adopted culture are the warmth and welcoming nature that everyone meets you with, the beauty of the country itself, and passion of its people, and the food! I have so many fond memories of visits to Baku, it is a place like no other!
I think I took to it quite naturally; my wife likes to joke that I was born the wrong nationality!
My wife had lived in the UK for a few years before we met and already acclimatized to our culture, she had taken to it well and experienced our hospitality when she first moved here which helped her feel at home. She too took to it naturally.
Can your children understand the Azerbaijani language? How important is it you for your children to learn about both cultures? How are you introducing them to both?
My two eldest children can both understand Azerbaijani. We emphasize the importance of our children learning both cultures, they are surrounded by mine and only need to leave our house to experience British culture so we emphasize promoting the Azerbaijani culture to them.
We promote this culture in several ways, we ensure we celebrate all national holidays (e.g. Solidarity Day, Novruz), my wife speaks to them in Azerbaijani and they speak to their Aunts, Uncle and Nene Daily, we discuss what is happening in Azerbaijan and try to visit yearly and ensure that the cuisine and art/music is known and appreciated.
What is the reception you receive as a blended family in Great Britain and Azerbaijan respectively? Have your western neighbors been accepting of the blended family, or have you received a lot of negative attention? What about the Azerbaijani community?
Both cultures have been very accepting of us as a blended family, western neighbors embrace my wife (I think some prefer her to me) and try to take an interest in her culture when they speak to her. The Azerbaijani community has embraced me as if I was one of their own, they say that you are from where your wife is from, so I guess I truly am Azerbaijani by that logic!
What is your opinion of how the western world has treated Azerbaijani issues in general, and most recently the war in Karabakh? What would you like Britains, all English speaking nations, and Europeans to understand about Azerbaijan and the political issues that impact this nation?
I believe that the Western World has largely turned a blind eye to the issues in Azerbaijan, especially during the recent Karabakh War.
I would like the British, English Speaking nations, and Europeans to understand that Azerbaijan has provided such beauty and culture to the world, the people are passionate and were fighting to liberate Azerbaijani land, not to occupy a neighboring country. I hope that one day my brothers and sisters in Azerbaijan will be given more of a chance and supported in their struggles like they do for so many other nations.
The mere fact that in a time of a pandemic and war, Azerbaijan has still supported other countries and global COVID efforts and sent aid and money to others should be recognized, applauded, and reciprocated.
How do you think Great Britain can be an influence in the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan? Could Britain do more to represent an equal playing field between Armenia and Azerbaijan in terms of policy or press?
I don’t feel like Britain should get involved in the peace process as a country, we have a saying in the UK ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, it is my belief that if too many countries get involved with their own motives, it won’t help anybody.
Britain could do more to represent a level playing field, I got less biased news from RT that BBC, and using statements such as occupy to describe Azerbaijan liberating its own land can be misleading to a public who don’t fully know what is happening in Karabakh.