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Karabakh horses perform before the British Queen

In the grand finale to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, held on the grounds of Windsor Castle, a team of 15 Azerbaijani Karabakh horses and the famed Fikrat Amirov Azerbaijan State Song and Dance Ensemble performed in front of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. The whole extravaganza on 11-15 May 2016 had been laid on to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. On behalf of the Azerbaijani delegation, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II has been presented with the gift of a painting by Sakit Mammadov, an Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s participation at the Royal Windsor Horse Show at a high standard was co-organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) and the Azerbaijan Equestrian Federation (ARAF), and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan. This included the transportation of the dancers, horses and riders to Windsor, and construction of an Azerbaijani Cultural Pavilion, which hosted live music and dance events. Transportation of horses to the UK took two months. Many hundreds of Britons and overseas visitors were for the first time exposed to the vibrancy and beauty of Azerbaijani culture, cuisine and hospitality.

The 15 Karabakh horses, whose performances had entranced the crowds throughout the pageant, clearly made an impression on the Queen. As a renowned horse-lover, and an acknowledged expert in all matters equestrian, she was clearly appreciative of the beauty of the horses and the consummate skills of the riders.

Attending as a guest of TEAS Lord Kilclooney, Vice-Chairman, Azerbaijan All-Party Parliamentary Group, put the whole event in context. He said: “I've been to Azerbaijan several times and travelled all over the country, seeing the beauty and varied landscapes that this wonderful nation offers.

“However, as it is under Armenian occupation, one region I have never been able to travel to is Nagorno-Karabakh – acknowledged as the artistic and cultural soul of Azerbaijan. It was therefore particularly meaningful for me to see the Karabakh Horses for the first time last night. Unfortunately, this was not in Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but here in the UK, where 15 of these beautiful creatures are taking part in the Royal Windsor Horse Show to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. It was a wonderful performance accompanied by a talented Azerbaijani dance troupe. I hope that, one day, I'll be able to see the same performance in Nagorno-Karabakh itself.”

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, commented: "This week's events represented another significant milestone in the ever-strengthening relations between Azerbaijan and the UK, and highlighted the ability of TEAS to bring varied cultures together in areas of shared interest by initiating the participation of Karabakh horses at the RWHS.

At a time when the Armenian Armed Forces keep constantly firing at the Azerbaijani civil population from the Nagorno Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts of Azerbijan, which are currently occupied by Armenia, it is both pleasant and useful to remind the world of Azerbaijan's rich cultural heritage. A love of horses has always been the sign of a civilised society, and we look forward to ensuring that Azerbaijan is able to participate in future similar events.

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