MEMBERS of an ex-pat community working in the North Sea oil sector are working to tighten ties with Scotland amid Brexit fears.

Estimates suggest only 300 Azerbaijanis have made their home in Scotland, with most immigrating to work in the oil and gas industry.

Centred in Aberdeen with pockets in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the community includes many mixed marriages, but members say they fear Brexit threatens their future here in the face of a bleak economic outlook and pressure on visas.

Now efforts are under way to secure cultural and social connections in a bid to safeguard their lives in Scotland.

The newly formed Buta Azerbaijan Scotland Association, named after a textile design similar to Paisley pattern, held an event at Aberdeen University last night focused on how the energy sector has forged links between the two oil-rich nations.

More cultural events are planned in order to highlight the history and heritage of the former Soviet republic, which has a population approaching 10 million and which won independence from Moscow in 1991. Events include marking the Nowruz new year festival in March and Republic Day in May.

Commemorations are also planned for Black January, which marks the anniversary of a violent crackdown by Soviet authorities against the independence movement in 1990.

Fuad Alakbarov, vice-chair of Buta, said the organisation can be a “bridge” between the countries and cultures, telling The National: “There is lots of common ground, both sides benefit. We want to protect that ahead of Brexit.”

He went on: “The community is concerned about strict regulations on immigration. They are worried about visas, which create a lot of challenges to invite family members from Azerbaijan and other countries.

“Everyone is talking about it. People are scared about their jobs. I believe Brexit will negatively affect the Azerbaijani community because most are involved in the oil sector – Aberdeen is predicted to be the most economically affected by Brexit because of increasing industry costs.”

Nargiz Morrison, chairperson of Buta, said: “The Azerbaijani diaspora in Scotland is very active. We participate in many international and multicultural events as well as in a number of Scotland’s special celebrations. We are proud to be members of such diverse community.

“As an organisation, we are aiming to provide support and help to develop the Azerbaijani community in Scotland, celebrate our cultural heritage, and promote our language, history and culture. We also support Azerbaijani community members who made Scotland their new home to settle in this beautiful country.

“We are aiming to achieve all of the above through numerous events including celebrations of Azerbaijani and Scottish holidays, workshops and seminars covering historic and cultural events in both countries.”