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AZERBAIJAN WELCOMES 2012 – A YEAR OF OPPORTUNITY Also in this issue: Azerbaijan takes its UN Security Council seat US Ambassador Bryza reaches the end of his tenure French Co-Chairmanship of OSCE Minsk Group called into question New OSCE Chair Ireland promises to resolve protracted conflicts Poet Shahriar remembered in London Two young Azerbaijani artists explain their work
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TEAS EVENTS 3 February Mugham concert by Gochag Askarov and his Ensemble The Front Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX. 19.00hrs. Admission Free. As part of the World Routes on the Road evening of ‘World Music’, organised by BBC Radio 3, TEAS is pleased to support this concert by Gochag Askarov and his Ensemble. Having performed to wide acclaim at the WOMAD Festivals in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, vocalist Gochag has cut several CDs and appeared in the awardwinning film The Mystical Music of Mugham Comes to Montana, produced by TEAS. He is renowned as one of the foremost living exponents of classical mugham, with a voice of unmatched purity and passion. Please note that the evening of free events begins at 17.30hrs. If you have enquiries, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 6 February Book launch: The Armenian Question in the Caucasus St. James’s Hotel and Club, 7–8 Park Place, St. James’s, London, SW1A 1LS 19.30hrs. Admission Free. Recently published by TEAS, The Armenian Question in the Caucasus: Russian Archive Documents and Publications, incorporates three authoritative volumes of facsimile documents from the Russian State Historical Archive, St. Petersburg, and the Russian State Military History Archive, Moscow. These invaluable historical documents, many of which are being published for the first time, chart the systematic migration of Armenians to the Caucasus and their subsequent protection during the time of the Russian Empire. Acclaimed scholar Professor Tadeusz Swietochowski, Monmouth University, USA, will contextualise the books. Refreshments and copies of The Armenian Question will be available, free of charge. To attend, please e-mail: email@example.com.
Security Council seat The UN Security Council (UNSC) held its first working session for 2012–13 on 3 January, attended by five new non-permanent members, including Azerbaijan, all of which were elected during the General Assembly in October 2011. Each non-permanent member sits for a two-year period. Agshin Mehdiyev, Azerbaijani Permanent Representative to the UN, told ITAR-TASS that: “Azerbaijan plans to be actively involved in all processes taking place at the UNSC, in developing and making decisions, and participating in committees and working groups.” Reiterating that Azerbaijan is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the Non-Aligned Movement, Mehdiyev stated that: “Azerbaijan has its position on many issues of the UNSC agenda. If this coincides with those of other countries at some point, then it is great. If not, then we have our principles and we are not going to disavow these.” Mehdiyev revealed that Baku would insist on the necessity of upholding the UNSC resolutions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. He expressed the hope that: “Azerbaijan’s increased authority in the international arena and its membership to the UNSC will play a positive role in resolving the conflict.”
children below the age of five years have died of hunger in the country during the past three months. Abdulrahman AlSheikh, Director, ADT, explained: “The major problem in Somalia is drought, which has caused the crops to fail. The money will be used to construct wells to facilitate the sourcing of drinking water; supply food; and provide mobile medical equipment.” Yasmin Mohamed, Project Manager, ADT, continued: “In Somalia, a third of the children are affected by malnutrition. ADT is deliberately focusing on those areas in which aid has not previously been distributed.” The UN has already declared five areas in Somalia to be famine zones, being attributable to the worst drought in the region in over 60 years, compounded by the ongoing Civil War. According to the UN, 640,000 children are acutely malnourished in Somalia, whilst 3.2m people require medical assistance. To date, the TEAS contribution has been used for the ADT Food Distribution Project, which has provided 1500 refugees with rice, flour and cooking oil, whereas the ADT Free Medical Teams Project has benefited 1023 people, providing a range of drugs, including antibiotics, anti-malaria and anti-diarrhoea tablets. In addition, various shelters have been constructed.
Lord Laird, Chairman, TEAS Advisory Board, seen during the recent TEAS Banking Conference One of the Somali beneficiaries of the ADT Food Distribution Project
TEAS provides Somali aid
In September 2011, TEAS donated £100,000 to the African Development Trust (ADT) to help tackle the Somali famine. The ADT is a UK-based organisation that distributes food and medical supplies, in addition to constructing water treatment plants. As prolonged drought and famine continues to ravage Somalia, over 29,000
Lord Laird delineates strong Azerbaijani–UK connections
In an interview with News.az, Lord Laird, a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and Chairman, Advisory Board, TEAS, has characterised the longstanding relationship between Azerbaijan and the UK. He commented: “The UK is the greatest overseas investing nation in Azerbaijan. It is mainly interested in purchasing oil and gas. But we’re interested in all types of
business, whether building, farming, or heavy engineering manufacturing.” He continued: “The greater the amount of cultural interchange between UK and Azerbaijanis, the better. In the long-term, I would hope that Azerbaijan could take its deserved place in the EU. I think that would be extremely good for us and extremely good for Azerbaijan. In the long-term, we would like Azerbaijan, as we want Turkey, or at least I do, in the European economic unit.”
Azerbaijan–NATO IPAP reaches third stage Azerbaijan has agreed with NATO on the third stage of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), to be implemented during 2012–13. This covers politics, security, defence and military topics; public information and civil emergency planning; information security, science and environment; and administrative resources and legal issues. IPAPs are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO. Developed on a two-year basis, they are designed to coalesce the various co-operation mechanisms through which a partner country interacts with NATO.
NEWS IN BRIEF TEAS develops education for all TEAS has opened two educational facilities in Azerbaijan, aimed at enhancing the knowledge base of the new generation. In excess of 100 students are attending the school in Baku, whereas the educational resource in Sumgait has 65 children in attendance. Here, the education is specifically aimed at developing the talent of gifted children from underprivileged families, who must pass an examination to attend. The emphasis is on scientific and technical subjects, in addition to the English language. Azerbaijani–US WMD nonproliferation protocols signed Azerbaijan and the US have ratified a protocol on amendments to the agreement on preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and on defence measures. Khalaf Khalafov, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister and Matthew Bryza, outgoing US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, signed the agreement.
Politics & News
Azerbaijan takes its UN
between Baku and Ankara in late October to open the Southern Corridor for natural gas deliveries to Europe.
Franco-Turkish relations sink to a new low
Politics & News
The vote in the French National Assembly that makes it a crime to deny that the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 constituted ‘genocide’, punishable with a year of imprisonment and a maximum fine of €45,000 (£37,237), has seriously impacted the Franco-Turkish relationship. The law awaits final ratification by the French Senate in the coming months. Following the move, Ogtay Asadov, Speaker, Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) stated that he would appeal to the French Senate, asking them to reject the bill. He also asked Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to denounce the bill which, with Azerbaijan and Turkey, comprise the Turkic-Speaking Countries Parliamentary Assembly (TÜRKPA). The move marks the culmination of a decade-long debate. In 2001, the French parliament passed a bill recognising the 1915 killings as constituting ‘genocide’, since when there have been several attempts to penalise denial of this. In 2006, although the National Assembly passed a bill, the French Senate blocked this with assistance from Nicolas Sarkozy, who was Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine at the time. However, in 2007, the year of his Presidential election, Sarkozy promised to adopt the document by the end of his term. Moreover, with the French economy in trouble, escalating unemployment and popularity at 34 per cent, just four months before an election, Sarkozky is desperate to improve his ratings and requires votes from nearly a million Franco-Armenian citizens. President Abdullah Gül subsequently requested the immediate withdrawal of French membership from the OSCE Minsk Group, of which it is a Co-Chair. This is tasked with mediating a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. These comments were reiterated by Allahshükür Hummat Pashazadeh, Grand Mufti of the Caucasus, who stated: “Adoption of this decision calls into question the fate of peaceful settlement processes across the Caucasus, which are of vital importance. This decision by France, an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, harms its international authority, and deprives us of confidence in its fair position.”
Bryza returns from Baku H.E. Matthew Bryza, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has been returned to Washington, following the decision of the US Senate to enter recess without voting on his appointment. Bryza’s departure from Baku comes a year after US President Barack Obama bypassed the Senate and
More than 30 policy experts and former US government officials sent a letter to Congress earlier in December, urging members to keep Bryza in Baku, whom they called “an exemplary ambassador.” Until a new US Ambassador to Azerbaijan is nominated and confirmed, Adam Sterling, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Azerbaijan, will fill the post. H.E. Matthew Bryza gives his final press conference as US Ambassador to Azerbaijan
temporarily installed him in the post in a recess appointment, flouting the attempts of two Democratic Senators – Barbara Boxer (California) and Robert Menendez (New Jersey) – to block his confirmation. However, the appointment was only valid for the current session of Congress and, to stay in Baku, Bryza needed the confirmation of the Senate, which went into recess before Christmas. Wellqualified for the role, Bryza has more than 25 years’ experience as a US diplomat and was one of the most visible US officials in the Caucasus region during George W. Bush’s administration, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary-of-State for European and Eurasian affairs. He is also a former US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. To mark the end of his appointment, Bryza met Azerbaijani President Aliyev on 27 December and held a press conference the following day, during which he reflected on his brief tenure. He commented that, under his leadership: “The US has done good work in establishing a strategic partnership and friendship between itself and Azerbaijan” and had “deepened their co-operation” over Afghanistan. He continued: “Over one-third of all of the non-lethal equipment – fuel, clothing, and food – that is used by US soldiers in Afghanistan, travels through Baku, either on the ground or through the port of Baku, in addition to what flies over. So Azerbaijan has emerged as a crucially important transportation route for supporting operations in Afghanistan, and that is now becoming a very important commercial asset for Azerbaijan.” Bryza said that Baku and Washington had: “Energised an enormous range of co-operative programmes” between the two countries’ militaries, including improved security in the Caspian Sea and the development of the Azerbaijani coastguard. He went on to comment that Azerbaijan has witnessed an “incredibly successful year” in its energy sector, highlighted by the signing of an agreement
Switzerland requests historical investigation of Armenian claims
Micheline Calmy-Rey, Swiss Foreign Minister, and President, Swiss Federation, has urged Turkish and Armenian historians to investigate the mass killing of Armenians in 1915. In her keynote speech at the Fourth Annual Ambassadors’ Conference in Ankara, she recommended that academics from both sides should investigate the Armenian allegations. Calmy-Rey continued: “The historians would then contribute to discussions with their findings.” She went on to explain that Swiss laws do not acknowledge any incident as constituting ‘genocide’, unlike France. Calmy-Rey recalled that Switzerland had mediated between Turkey and Armenia from 2007–09 in an attempt to establish diplomatic relations, open their borders, and establish sub-committees to investigate the 1915 events. In another session, Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Foreign Minister, replied that Turkey is ready to confront its history, stated that this should be handled objectively, referring to tragic losses on both sides during World War I. He urged that historians should discuss Turkish-Armenian history in an intellectual environment with open archives. He also commented that resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would unblock the normalisation process between Turkey and Armenia, resulting in enduring peace.
Micheline Calmy-Rey, seen during a meeting with Azerbaijani President Aliyev, has requested a non-emotive investigation into the mass killing of Armenians in 1915
Yak. The evening culminated with the première of a new video by tenor Farhad Nishat entitled Azerbaijan Odlar Yurdu (Azerbaijan, Land of Fire), for which he composed the music, arranged by Firudin Allahverdi (http://bit.ly/xn4dJA). A film of highlights from the evening may be viewed at http://bit.ly/AzBxNO.
On the road again
This new portrait of writer and politician Magsud Ibrahimbeyov by leading Azerbaijani artist Tahir Salakhov was centrepiece of the Gabala exhibition
The Second Gabala International Art Exhibition, entitled Art! Life! Earth!, has taken place at the Qafqaz Resort Hotel. This was jointly organised by the Cultural Fund of Azerbaijan and the Seoul-Baku (SEBA) Azerbaijani-Korean Cultural Exchange Association. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ruhangiz Heydarova, Head, SEBA Azerbaijani-Korean Cultural Exchange Association, commented that the 2011 exhibition featured works from more painters and sculptors than during the previous edition in 2010. She also acknowledged that these represented a greater range of countries, indicating increased interest by the artistic community in the exhibition, Azerbaijan and its art. The ceremony was also attended by Elmir Bayramov, a representative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation; the renowned artist Tahir Salakhov, People’s Artist of the former Soviet Union, Azerbaijan and Russia; and Li Chi Ha, the South Korean Ambassador to Azerbaijan, amongst many others. The two-day exhibition featured works by 116 artists and sculptors from Austria, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, Ukraine and the USA.
Shahriar’s poetic genius remembered
In its final event of 2011, Azerbaijan House brought the warmth of the Azerbaijani poet Shahriar (born Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Behjat-Tabrizi) (1906–88) to a capacity audience in Shoreditch, London, during an evening celebrating his life and work. In his opening address, Dr Ali Atalar, Chairman, Azerbaijan House, stated: “Shahriar was the
Dr Atalar introduced the evening, devoted to the poetic genius of Shahriar
first significant Azerbaijani poet to write in the Azerbaijani language in Iran. He wrote his first poems at the age of seven years in Farsi, and started writing in Azerbaijani two years later. Throughout his life, he wrote in both languages, and appreciation of his work surmounts all national boundaries.” He continued: “His most famous poem is Heydar-Babaya Salam, written in 1952, named after the mountain on which he spent his childhood. Regardless of the language, his sincerity is evident, using simple words and slang to ensure the sentiments are widely understood. All his poetry is very accessible, and reading it remains an earth-shattering experience. Many poems refer to his childhood, and provide a portrait of a time that is now long past. Shahriar was also an excellent player of the setar, a Persian stringed instrument, and many of his poems have been set to music.” The evening continued with passionate contributions from the academics Dr Yashar Khatibi, Farida Panahova and Dr Sahand Baghmesheli, all of which commented on Shahriar’s life and work in considerable detail. Following this, an historic recording of Shahriar’s voice, with tar obligato, was played to the audience. They then had chance to reflect on his words whilst listening to the Azerbaijani duo of Nazrin Rashidova (violin) and Ayyan Salahova (piano), who performed arrangements of the impassioned Nocturne from the Legend of Love Ballet by Arif Melikov and the dramatic Aisha’s Dance from Kara Karayev’s Seven Beauties Ballet. The evening continued with a setting of part of Heydar-Babaya Salam, sung by Babek Bakhtavar to his own saz accompaniment, followed by the Turkish folk song Yar
As part of the World Routes on the Road evening of ‘World Music’, organised by BBC Radio 3, TEAS is pleased to support a concert by Gochag Askarov and his Ensemble on 6 February at 19.00hrs at The Front Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX. Having performed to wide acclaim at the WOMAD Festivals in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, vocalist Gochag has cut several CDs and appeared in the TEAS-produced awardwinning film The Mystical Music of Mugham Comes to Montana. He is renowned as one of the foremost living exponents of classical mugham, with a voice of unmatched purity and passion. The event will be filmed by AzTV.
Jazzman Gazarov to play in UK
The Azerbaijani concert and jazz pianist David Gazarov is to make his second appearance at the Southport Jazz on a Winter’s Weekend Festival in Merseyside on 4 February. This comes in the wake of a barnstorming set at the 2011 festival, which prompted Peter Vacher to write in Jazzwise magazine that: “Further brilliance ensued during David Gazarov’s imperious set. His keyboard mastery, inexhaustible creativity and driving swing made this onlooker think of Oscar Peterson.” Having been resident in Munich since 1991, David has performed with numerous visiting stars, including Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone), Buddy de Franco (clarinet), and Roberta Gambarini (vocal). At Southport, he will play alongside Mark Taylor (drums) and Andrew Cleyndert (bass). To listen to his music, go to www.davidgazarov.com.
The phenomenal technique of David Gazarov has been compared to that of Oscar Peterson
International art exhibition in Gabala
Culture Günay Mirzayeva’s innovative compositions have been performed during several recent Italian festivals
Mirzayeva’s melodies resonate in Italy Following her graduation from Stuttgart University, the 26-year-old Azerbaijani composer Günay Mirzayeva has now moved to Rome, where she is reading composition at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, whilst simultaneously studying under the renowned composer Dr Wolfgang Rihm at Karlsruhe Conservatory. Her latest works indicate that she is continuing to develop her own style, which synthesises Azerbaijani mugham with the European avant-garde.
Azerbaijani piano concerto CD launched
UK-based classical label Naxos has launched a new CD entitled Azerbaijani Piano Concertos, recorded in Cadogan Hall, London, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dmitry Yablonsky. The disc opens with the three-movement Concerto for Piano and Orchestra after Arabian Themes by Fikret Amirov (1922– 84). Written in 1957, in collaboration with pianist-composer Elmira Nazirova (b.1928), this is an enjoyable pastiche of exotic Eastern melodies served up in Western concerto form. The solo piano is performed with spirited aplomb by leading pianist, composer and educator Farhad Badalbeyli.
The final two selections are by Badalbeyli, beginning with The Sea, for piano and orchestra (1977), featuring swelling romantic melodies, wavelet pianistic embellishments and a curious, unresolved ending of ‘tides out’ harp arpeggios. Shusha (2003) is a brief vocalise, featuring soprano Joan Rogers, portraying the composer’s ancestral home city in the Armenianoccupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The composer doubles as soloist on both pieces. This outstanding CD is available online at http://bit.ly/sGWxrA.
London to host exhibition on Baku Photo : P hill ips de Pu r y & Co .
During October–November 2011, several of her compositions were performed across Italy. Tesadülfer (Coincidences), a piece for violin, was premièred by Marco Fusi at the Teatro del Verme, Milan, being later performed at the Germi Music Festival in the Nuovo Colosseo Theatre in Rome. Following this, Mugham Impulses 2, for solo guitar, was performed at the Cluster Festival, Lucca, by Finnish guitarist Patrik Kleemola. In addition, her piece Inkongruenz, for clarinet and piano, was performed by the Pomus Ensemble del Pomeriggi Musicali da Milano during the Rive Gauche Festival, Turin.
This is followed by the Fourth Piano Concerto by Vasif Adigezalov (1935– 2006), composed in 1994. It opens with a couple of memorable ideas that undergo an animated development, terminating in a magnificent march tune and recapitulation. The following Andante builds to a thundering crescendo, but ends in peaceful rusticity, whilst the final Allegro features boisterously percussive passages and keyboard fireworks that are reminiscent of Prokofiev. The piece concludes with a demanding cadenza and a final shower of virtuosic sparks, demonstrating the remarkable abilities of soloist Murad Adigezalzade. The work of Tofig Guliyev (1917–2000), the Baku-born composer, pianist and conductor, is represented by Gaytagi, a dance for piano and orchestra. At just under four minutes, this is a catchy kinetic number.
The exhibition will include Wave by Faig Ahmed (plastic and handmade carpet)
From 17– 29 January, an exhibition entitled Fly to Baku: Contemporary Art from Azerbaijan, will take place at the auction house of Phillips de Pury & Company, Howick Place, London, SW1P 1BB. Simon de Pury, Head, Phillips de Pury & Company, commented: “In Summer 2011, I visited Baku for the first time with my wife. We were struck by the vibrant art scene and the quality and originality of the artists we visited, which led us to put together this groundbreaking show.”
Curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, the exhibition will comprise works from 21 Azerbaijani artists, including Tora Aghabayova, whose inaugural London exhibition Oil and Dreams, held in February 2011, was promoted by TEAS. To find out more, go to http://bit.ly/AwPtTS.
Eurovision excitement mounts
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism has reported that it will train around 150 guides for tourists attending the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 on 26 May in Baku. Only certified, professional guides will be permitted to guide tourists arriving in the city for the event. A Ministry spokesman reported: “If 30–40,000 guests arrive for Eurovision, as expected, 100–150 guides will be at their service. Excursions will be organised for groups of tourists to see the cave paintings in Gobustan; the historic settlement in Gala; and the Zoroastrian temple (Ateshgah) in Surakhani, together with other places of interest, both preceding and following the contest.” Meanwhile, the Ministry has revealed that it is to spend $1bn (£646,550) on preparations for the event, claiming that around 500 hotels are currently ready to receive Eurovision visitors. Work is also currently underway to construct the venue – the Baku Crystal Hall on National Flag Square. Zaur Mamedov, Deputy Chairperson, Baku Crystal Hall Concert Complex, commented: “The venue will be located near the National Flag Square on the cape that is washed by the Caspian Sea. The concert complex will hold about 25,000 spectators. It will be unique in design and beauty, reflecting the glories of the city.”
Azerbaijani theatre opened in New York
An Azerbaijani theatre has been established in New York, according to the Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Diaspora. The theatre, established under the auspices of the Azerbaijan Association of New York and performed by its members, opened its curtains with a performance of the 1851 comedy The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and the Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah by Mirza Fatali Akhundov, the founder of Azerbaijani dramaturgy, whose birth bicentenary was celebrated last year. The director was Firudin Maharramov, General Director, Sumgait State Musical Drama Theatre and Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan. The play will now tour Washington D.C., Huston and other US cities.
understanding and ergo appreciation. Of course, having referential knowledge serves to enhance understanding, but can also ‘corrupt’ interpretation of the work. Therefore, I believe that my art speaks to viewers individually, and I leave them to interpret its true meaning, together with appreciating it in their own subjective manner.
The impact of abstract expressionism is evident in many of Nigar’s works
Nigar Aliyeva ranks amongst the brightest rising stars of Azerbaijani art. Powerfully distilling a range of influences, from native African art to the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock, this 26-year-old visionary is just becoming recognised in the international arena. TEAS spoke to Nigar to find out more: Your work was recently exhibited at an event in Spain to celebrate the 20th anniversary of regaining Azerbaijani independence. What was the reaction to your work? This was the first time that my work had been internationally exhibited amongst those of many talented artists. The reaction and response of the public was both humbling and gratifying. It was truly touching to see that your work can speak to people and can cause them to reflect on your creations. On this note, I would like to once again thank the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Spain for their help and support. Where have your works been exhibited, to date? I was most fortunate to have my work exhibited in both Barcelona and Madrid in May 2011. Currently, my work is being exhibited at the Milli Inciler private gallery in Baku. I am also working on several projects, both in Azerbaijan and internationally. Hopefully, my work will be presented in both Baku and Istanbul in January, and in Vienna the following month. When was your artistic talent discovered? What were your first subjects? From watercolour paintings in elementary school to pottery in high school, art has been my passion since early childhood. However, I did not have chance to truly focus on expressing and developing my
Nigar’s art embraces both figurative and abstract concepts
artistic talent and work until recently. Early last year, I started working with Tatyana Kesar, member of the Azerbaijan Artists’ Union and Honoured Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan, who helped nurture my talent and develop my skills. Where did you study? Was the emphasis on Socialist Realism, or were you permitted complete expressive freedom? I have not received a formal artistic education, except for my work with Tatyana Kesar. In the near future, I am hoping to apply to Central Saint Martins University of Art and Design, London, to pursue a degree in Fine Arts. Which artists and teachers were the main influences on your work? I feel inspired by both my culture and surroundings. However, there are those such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet, Sakit Mammadov, Ross Bleckner and Tatyana Kesar, who have had a profound influence on my work, and whose artworks serve as inspiration.
Do music and literature have any impact on your work? Music is a key element in my artwork. I always play some music whilst I am painting, and listen to classical music, alternative rock or Brazilian melodies. I find these forms of music to be most inspirational and soothing. In terms of literature, I refer to my favourite writers for inspiration, such as Oscar Wilde, Honoré de Balzac, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Have you ever worked in other media, such as sculpture? I frequently use mixed media in my paintings. Many of my oil paintings incorporate ceramic figurines that I make by hand and are subsequently attached to the canvas. How do you see your work evolving in the future? My work evolves with every stroke, and with every new painting. It is constantly evolving and constantly maturing, as I evolve and mature as an artist. I like to live my life day by day and to the fullest extent; to enjoy every minute and what it has to offer. I like to be surprised by what the future holds. That is how I treat my artwork, which is known to me today and is a new discovery tomorrow.
What are the main themes in your art? In my work I try to express my inner world, in context with my surroundings. Frequently, I paint natural scenes and images from everyday life using abstract forms. Over the years, you have steadily drifted towards abstraction. What was the catalyst behind this? Do you feel that the elements in your art require explanation to ensure complete appreciation? I find that abstraction provides me with complete expressive freedom. The beauty of art is that its meaning and essence remain in the eyes of the beholder, being solely left to the viewer’s subjective interpretation. Art is not a science where background information is required for
Myriad influences are evident in Nigar’s paintings
Nigar Aliyeva – abstraction and ethnicity
Naile Zulfuqarova – talented and forthright
Bakuvian Naile Zulfuqarova is amongst the most promising young voices in Azerbaijani art. Living in London for the past year, she has an unique approach towards symbolism, social realism and culture. Also working as a children’s illustrator, Naile’s first UK exhibition took place at the Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, London, last year to wide acclaim. Since then, she has continued to be outstandingly prolific, whilst also working at the Caspian Khazri Azerbaijani School in London. TEAS spoke to Naile to find out more regarding her latest work and future directions: Last year, you organised your first London exhibition at the Rich Mix Gallery in Bethnal Green. What kind of response did your work receive? I am delighted to report that I received excellent, positive, feedback from all visitors and press in attendance. At what age was your artistic talent initially recognised? What were your first subjects? My artistic talent was first recognised when I was very young, and I have felt like an artist since my birth. My earliest work comprised portraits of the various people who surrounded me. You initially studied at the Azerbaijan State University of the Arts from 1998. Coming seven years after the regaining Azerbaijani independence, did the emphasis remain on Socialist Realism, or did you have absolute freedom of expression? I initially studied painting, in which I hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, and have never sought to express political ideas. I solely painted for art’s sake at this time. Several years later, I painted some artworks regarding the impact of war on children, although my objectives were humanistic and apolitical. Did any professors or other artists particularly inspire you at this time? I greatly admire Amedeo Modigliani, the Italian painter and figurative artist, who was renowned for his modernistic paintings and sculptures, characterised by mask-like faces and elongation of form. I am also impressed by the work of Paul Cézanne, the post-
Naile’s unsettling Oglum (My Son] poses questions about the psychological impact of war on children
impressionist, who applied planes of colour and small brushstrokes to achieve complex fields, being a direct expression of his subjective reality and an abstraction from observed nature. Are you inspired by music, poetry or other art-forms? Whilst drawing and painting, I am particularly inspired by the varied moods of classical music. Your artwork falls between the figurative and the abstract. What factors determine the eventual style adopted for each work? This is really determined by my subjective response to the topic of each artwork and my imaginative response to the content. I don’t like to discuss the meanings of my artwork to any great extent – I like to witness the reaction to my work on the face of the attendees and assess their feelings. Your works are also very brightly coloured. Are you trying to capture the radiance of Azerbaijani carpets in your works? Were the works of Marc Chagall any influence on your style?
I draw in my own individual style – however, something or someone may inspire me, although I may be unable to specify exactly what this is. My sole objective is to draw what I feel, and it is possible to interpret my mood from the pictures. Some of your works are clearly full of personal imagery, whereas others have a more immediate appeal. To what extent do you feel this imagery needs to be understood before the viewer can enjoy the works? I would like viewers to simultaneously understand and enjoy my artworks. If they comprehend their meaning, they will appreciate them to a greater extent. Other artworks are also full of menace, such as Oglum (My Son), Togrul and Gun Is Not a Toy, all of which depict a child brandishing a pistol. What are the meanings of these paintings? These pictures concern the impact of war on children. I just wanted to show that adults were raising children to accept guns. We give them toy guns to prepare them for war.
In other works, such as that of the veiled woman smoking a cigarette, the effect is disquieting in an implicit way. What was the stimulus behind this painting? In fact, I merely wished to portray the ordinary life of a woman.
What working methods do you adopt? Do you sketch on the canvas first, or work freehand? Do you always use oil-paints, or have you experimented with other materials? If the image is unclear in my mind, I initially sketch on the canvas first. However, if the image is clear, I paint directly without this preliminary stage. I use both oil and acrylic paints. You have also worked as a children’s book illustrator. Which titles have you worked on, to date? How does this work differ to your paintings? I illustrate children’s storybooks and textbooks. I gain a great deal of satisfaction from this job, and am delighted to create pictures for children. However, my paintings are in a totally different style to my illustrations. You have only lived in the UK for a few months. How is your new environment affecting your artistic approach? I would very much like to continue my career in London, as this enables me to experience varied and interesting environments, resulting in the creation of imaginative new artworks. Furthermore, there is a great potential audience for my work.
Naile’s moving evocation of the Khojaly Massacre in 1992
How is your art evolving and developing? Do you expect to organise further exhibitions in London? I am working very hard at present, and am concentrating on developing my artistic talent. I would greatly appreciate the chance to organise a new solo exhibition in London, and am seeking private or corporate sponsorship to facilitate this. It is very expensive to organise exhibitions in London, and difficult to attract
The Gun is Not a Toy recalls the horror of African child soldiers
sponsorship, but I don’t want to give up. I believe in my artistic background and myself, and would be delighted if a solo exhibition of this kind could be held in the very near future.
For more information, please visit www.wix. com/nailezulfuqarova/naile-zulfuqarova.
remain an essential tool in obtaining resolution, and noted the importance of regular visits to the occupied territories by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. He continued: “Unfortunately, our hopes for the Kazan meeting in June between the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia proved ineffective. But we must be optimistic that there will be progress in the negotiations.”
This landmark publication provides valuable evidence regarding Armenian migration to the Caucasus
The roots of the Armenian Question
The systematic migration to the Caucasus and protection of Armenians under the Tsarist Russian Empire is generally recognised as the genus of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. However, much of the documentary evidence behind this policy has remained enshrined in secrecy and stored in Russian archives throughout the Tsarist and Soviet periods. However, TEAS has now accessed many previously unpublished documents from the Russian State Historical Archive, St. Petersburg, and the Russian State Military History Archive, Moscow and published these in a triple-volume set of books entitled The Armenian Question in the Caucasus: Russian Archive Documents and Publications. Comprising facsimile texts, with English commentaries, these invaluable books serve to substantiate the Azerbaijani position from an historical perspective. The UK launch of The Armenian Question will take place on 6 February at St. James’s Hotel and Club, 7–8 Park Place, St. James’s, London, SW1A 1LS at 19.30 hrs. This will comprise a short presentation by renowned Caucasus expert Professor Tadeusz Swietochowski, Monmouth University, USA, who will outline the importance of the texts. Following this, free copies of the books will be available, together with refreshments. To register your attendance, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ireland pledges to resolve conflicts as OSCE Chair
As Chair of the OSCE during 2012, Ireland has pledged to address protracted conflicts, and strengthen co-operation between the 56 OSCE States, amongst other objectives, according to Irish Deputy Prime Minister
Eamon Gilmore, OSCE Chairperson-inOffice, has recognised the importance of resolving protracted conflicts
Eamon Gilmore, OSCE Chairperson-inOffice. He continued: “The world is facing unprecedented security challenges, and the multilateral co-operation made possible by the OSCE is now needed more than ever. Ireland is committed to upholding core OSCE values, promoting peace, security and respect for human rights and the rule of law in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian region. “Ireland will seek to build on this momentum through the supporting existing processes, including the OSCE Minsk Group, regarding the NagornoKarabakh conflict. We will draw on our own experience of conflict resolution in the context of the Northern Ireland peace process to advance these processes and facilitate engagement by all parties.” Pádraig Murphy, former Irish Ambassador to Moscow, will be the Co-Chair of the Geneva talks as the OSCE Special Representative for the South Caucasus. He acknowledged: “Ireland’s chairmanship faces a lot of challenges.” His brief will include the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents to meet in early 2012
In his final press conference as French OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, Bernard Fassier has revealed that Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian President Sargsyan will meet to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the beginning of 2012. He recalled that the meeting had been requested during the OSCE Ministerial Council in December last year, and stated: “We urge the parties to continue negotiations in order to achieve results.” He explained that the negotiation process remains complex, as it is challenging to obtain the consent of the conflicting parties to any of the mediators’ proposals. Fassier underscored that the Basic Principles
During a farewell visit to the region, Fassier met Azerbaijani President Aliyev; Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister; and Allahshükür Hummat Pashazadeh, Grand Mufti of the Caucasus.
Azerbaijan President Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva met rehoused IDP families in Agjabadi
New IDP residence opened in Agjabadi On 24 December, his 50th birthday, Azerbaijani President Aliyev visited a new block of residential buildings, constructed to house internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in the Agjabadi region. Ali Hasanov, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister, who also serves as Chief of the State Committee for Work with Refugees and IDPs, explained that refugee camps have now been closed in the region, and that the new development comprises ten five-storey residential buildings, housing around 560 people. According to Hasanov, 70 settlements have now been built for refugees and IDPs across the country. During the past seven years, Azerbaijani President Aliyev has signed 27 orders and decrees aimed at improving the conditions of these casualties of the conflict.
MEPs visit Agdam
During their trip to Azerbaijan, Dominique Riquet and Philippe Boulland, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), visited the Agdam region. The MEPs met Zulfu Gasimov, Deputy Head, Agdam Region, who briefed them on the problems of IDPs and refugees. The MEPs expressed regret over the lack of success by the OSCE Minsk Group, and went on to view a film entitled Caucasian Hiroshima, featuring views of Agdam before and after the occupation by Armenia. During a press conference, they stressed the need for immediate, peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Ali Hasanov, Head, Social and Political Department, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, commented on the apathy of the international community
Hasanov condemns ‘indifference’ of international community
deny that the killing of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman troops should be regarded as ‘genocide’. The letter reiterated Azerbaijani concerns over the bill, which was passed by the French Assembly in December, and awaits ratification by the French Senate.
In an interview to AzerTAc, Ali Hasanov, Head, Social and Political Department, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, remonstrated: “The main reason that the ArmenianAzerbaijani conflict over NagornoKarabakh has lasted more than 20 years is the indifference of the international community to Armenia’s destructive position. Nevertheless, we will try to eliminate the double standards and indifferent attitude to the international legal norms at every opportunity.”
Ali Hasanov, Head, Social and Political Department, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, added fuel to an ongoing debate in Azerbaijan as to whether or not France can continue as an honest broker. He subsequently commented that France’s mediating role in would be discussed at the next OSCE Minsk Group meeting. Meanwhile, Turkish President Gül has urged France to withdraw from the OSCE Minsk Group if the bill becomes law.
He continued: “One of the main reasons that Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement has been delayed is attributable to the insipid position and double standards of the UN. For example, NATO and the leading countries fulfilled the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) resolution on Libya within one day. But they do not solve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which has continued for many years.” Hasanov stated that, as a member of the UNSC, Azerbaijan would regularly include this issue on the agenda.
Elman Abdullayev, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry commented that, as France is one of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, it is regrettable to note that the judgement by some French MPs has been affected by pressure from the Armenian diaspora. He said that if France is to take a principled approach to certain issues, it should also consider the Khojaly Massacre, during which Armenian and Soviet troops killed 613 Azerbaijani civilians in 1992.
Azerbaijan casts doubt over French OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship
Members of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) have warned, in a letter to the French Senate, that France may cast a shadow over its neutrality regarding its Co-Chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group by making it a crime to
The decision attracted condemnation from across the Azerbaijani political spectrum, with Asim Mollazade MP, Head, Democratic Reforms Party, commenting: “France has totally lost its reputation by endorsing this bill.” He explained that Azerbaijan should work to replace France with the EU as a mediator in the OSCE Minsk Group, which may break the stalemate in the conflict. Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, expressed concern over the move. She
Condemnation of occupation in Presidential address
In his speech to mark the Day of Azerbaijani Solidarity on 31 December and New Year’s Day, Azerbaijani President Aliyev commented: “The most troubling challenge for Azerbaijan is the unresolved status of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan is stepping up its efforts in all countries, especially in recent times. As you know, resolution of this issue is not solely dependent on us. “Unfortunately, Armenia’s unconstructive stance, its hypocrisy during negotiations, and the practical defiance of talks, has dealt a serious blow to the process. The world community and the countries directly dealing with the issue are shying away from naming the party responsible for disrupting the talks. This year, the OSCE Minsk Group CoChairs have repeatedly indicated that the ongoing status quo is unacceptable. We support these statements, but these should be followed by specific decisions, which have not been taken.” President Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan would continue its diplomatic and political efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict: “We have a principled stance in the negotiations. NagornoKarabakh is native and historical Azerbaijani land. The international community and the UN recognise and support Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The international community views Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. The conflict must be resolved precisely on these principles. The territorial integrity of our country must be restored. The occupying forces must withdraw from all our occupied territories. We will never tolerate a second Armenian state on Azerbaijani lands.”
commented: “I believe that the final adoption of these legal amendments would raise serious concerns with regard to international standards of freedom of expression. Furthermore, it could set a precedent internationally for politically construed, ad-hoc criminalisation of public debates. This criminalisation of debates on history’s true course, even of obviously false and offensive statements about a nation’s tragic moments, is not conducive to a better understanding among people, communities and authorities of OSCE States.” Mijatovic went on to stress her support for defeat of the bill in the French Senate.
Ratings agency raises Azerbaijani assessment
Standard & Poor’s, the international ratings agency, has increased Azerbaijan’s long-term rating in foreign and local currencies from ‘stable’ to ‘BBB–’. According to its report, this assessment is attributable to the increase in oil revenues from overseas, together with their effective management, thereby elevating the country to the position of an internal and external net creditor. The agency also commented on the implementation of a strong fiscal policy by Azerbaijan. Standard & Poor’s stated that this assessment is indicative of the international financial community’s confidence in the country and favourable conditions, enabling international companies to enter the Azerbaijani financial markets.
Reinhard Mitschek remains optimistic regarding prospects for the selection of Nabucco by the Shah Deniz consortium
Nabucco remains a strong player, says Mitschek
Reinhard Mitschek, Managing Director, Nabucco Gas Pipeline International, has commented that he remains optimistic about the making of a speedy decision by the consortium developing the Shah Deniz 2 gas condensate field regarding pipeline selection. In an interview with UPI, he commented: “We are optimistic that the partners in the Shah Deniz consortium will take a decision as soon as possible.” He commented that the Nabucco pipeline would be ready, whenever gas from the Shah Deniz 2 field is available. Mitschek explained that the chances of the Nabucco project being chosen by the Shah Deniz consortium remain high. He commented: “We have a very competitive offer for a scalable Nabucco project, with the prospective for growth.” Mitschek went on to explain that the legal framework for the project remains based on the ratified
intergovernmental agreement and the project support agreement, and is thus the logical solution for suppliers and shippers. If selected, gas from the Shah Deniz 2 field will be the predominant source for the Nabucco project. It is estimated that the Shah Deniz 2 project will supply 10bn m3 (bcm) of natural gas to Europe per annum. Mitschek commented that agreements are also being finalised with various potential supply countries, including Iraq and Turkmenistan, in order to meet its annual capacity of 30bcm.
4G on the horizon
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT) has revealed that is collaborating with mobile operators to launch a 4G service for mobile customers. It stated that the infrastructure is currently being implemented, and one of the GSM operators (Azercell Telekom) has already appealed to the State Commission for Radio Frequencies to obtain the frequency spectrum necessary to deploy these services. The 4G service is based upon Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, which permits a wider range of internet services to be offered, including the viewing of films and the downloading of memory-heavy content. The 4G technology enables data to be transmitted at speeds greater than 100 megabytes per second (mbps), which is ten times greater than in a 3G network.
Turkish–Azerbaijani gas pipeline agreement signed
On 26 December, Taner Yildiz, Turkish Energy Minister, and Natiq Aliyev, his Azerbaijani counterpart, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, thereby establishing a consortium that will build a pipeline to ship natural gas, via Anatolia, from the Shah Deniz natural gas field to Europe. According to the Turkish Energy Ministry, The State Oil Company of the
Taner Yildiz, Turkish Energy Minister, was one of the signatories for the historic agreement
Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR); Botas Boru Hatlari Ile Petrol Tasima, Turkey’s stateowned pipeline operator; and Turkiye Petrolleri, the Turkish oil firm, will be the founding members of the organisation. Yildiz stated that the Trans-Anatolia pipeline would be completed by 2017, when Shah Deniz 2 will come on stream. When quizzed by the Anatolia News Agency, he explained that it remains too early to estimate a total project cost. However, SOCAR has estimated a total construction cost of £6bn. It is thought that the pipeline could be potentially linked to Nabucco.
All Azerbaijani regions to receive broadband by 2015
Aztelekom, a subsidiary of the Azerbaijani ICT Ministry has stated that all Azerbaijani regions will have access to broadband internet by 2015 as part of its Broadband Internet Concept. A spokesman commented: “We will lay fibre-optic cables across all regions of the country. In order to reach the most remote regions, we will offer preferential terms to private internet providers.” Q-Telecom and Orbit Telecom have recently been established to provide broadband internet services in Ganja, Jalilabad and other regions.
NEWS IN BRIEF 2011 – a productive year for the energy sector Matthew Bryza, outgoing US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has explained that the Southern Gas Corridor will be important for the South Caucasus and across Europe. He also commented that 2011 had been an incredibly productive year for the energy sector. Bryza stated: “The issue was to help Turkish and Azerbaijani companies to come together and reach an agreement regarding the transportation of Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe.” He also commented that 2012 would see a high level of investment in this sector. Wi-Fi access to expand for Eurovision The Azerbaijani ICT Ministry has instructed internet service providers (ISPs) to expand the internet network capacity during the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku. ISPs will offer fixed and wireless internet services at the contest venue, providing internet access for 4,000 users.
Meeting of the Council on Cosmic Issues
The second meeting of the Council on Cosmic Issues has been held at the Azerbaijan National Aviation Academy, attended by Arif Pashayev, Chairman, Council of Cosmic Issues; Ali Abbasov, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT); and Rashad Nabiyev, Chairman, Azerkosmos, amongst others. The meeting included a series of lectures regarding the forthcoming launch of AzerSat-1, the first Azerbaijani telecommunications satellite; the development of an above-ground satellite management centre; and personnel training. The council also focused on the launch of a low-orbit sounding satellite system in Azerbaijan. The Council for Space Affairs was created in order to study scientific and technical achievements; to gain advanced experience in the space sector; and to realise state policy in this sphere, whilst preparing proposals for future development of the telecommunications industry.
Fast food on the Bakuvian menu Villa Enterprises multi-concept has announced introduction of Azerbaijan.
Management, the global restaurant franchisor, the grand opening and two of its brands to
Chris Fox, Vice-President of International Development, Villa Enterprises, commented: “It’s a great honour to announce our expansion into Azerbaijan, and we’re so excited to have the opportunity to debut these QSR concepts, coming on the heels of our expansion into Dubai and Kuwait last month.”
Azerbaijan creates ITled zones
Azerbaijan has begun creating Regional Innovation Zones (RIZ), according to Ali Abbasov, Azerbaijani ICT Minister. “RIZ, where various incentives will be applied, will encourage investments by foreign companies, together with local enterprises, which will lead to a significant increase in the production of IT products. Items designed for export will be produced within RIZ from local and imported raw materials, and semifinished products will be completed.” Abbasov commented that negotiations regarding the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway Project (TASIM) were at an advanced level. Major telecommunications companies in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Russia and Turkey are discussing two routes – the main southern route will traverse China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Eastern Europe and Germany, whereas the reserve northern route will cross China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Germany. The participating countries will meet in Budapest in March 2012.
Bakuvians will now be able to enjoy Italian-American cuisine
EBRD provides $750m loan for Azerbaijani transport project
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has signed a sovereign loan agreement with the Azerbaijani Transport Ministry to provide up to $750m (£485.3m) for a major transportation project. The agreement was signed by Ziya Mammadov, Azerbaijani Transport Minister; Samir Sharifov, Azerbaijani Finance Minister; and Olivier Descamps, Managing Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, EBRD. He commented: “EBRD funding for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of key regional roads will facilitate access to remote areas of Azerbaijan, and promote more diverse and sustainable economic development across the country.” The EBRD loan comprises part of the overall road sector upgrade and expansion programme currently being funded by the Azerbaijani government, using budgetary funds, in addition to loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The new loan will be used to finance the reconstruction of the Mingachevir– Bahramtapa Road. The modernisation of this 156km stretch will improve transportation links for around 500,000 people living in this rural area, providing access to the main international highway that runs between Baku and the Georgian border.
US support for Azerbaijani ICT sector
Ali Abbasov, Azerbaijani ICT Minister, undertook a meeting with Rida Cabannila, member of the US House of Representatives, Hawaii State. The dialogue focused on current developments in the ICT sector, including the E-government programme, RIZ project, and the forthcoming launch of AzerSat-1. There was a bilateral exchange of experience in the ICT sector, and investment opportunities were also on the agenda. The Minister noted that, in recent years, Azerbaijani–US co-operation was particularly notable in the Azerbaijani ICT sector. He noted that the most influential US-based IT companies have branches in Azerbaijan, where they are actively participating in local projects. Abbasov highlighted the direct collaboration with the US-based Orbital Sciences company, explaining how US satellite experience had resulted in the evolution of AzerSat-1. Cabannila voiced her support for the strengthening of bilateral trade relations in the ICT sector and noted the involvement of representatives from governmental and non-governmental organisations, the private sector and scientific organisations.
P h o t o : O r b i t al S c i e n c e s
A CAD drawing of AzerSat-1, the first Azerbaijani communications satellite
The opening of the company’s duo of quick service restaurant (QSR) concepts – Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen and Bananas – augments Villa’s broad concept portfolio, which includes establishments in 38 US states and five other countries. Located on Stiglaliyya Street in Baku, the two Villa food concepts will be managed by TAP.
Catch Up: PwC Azerbaijan 14
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is one of the ‘Big Four’ professional services companies. It currently has offices in 757 cities in 154 countries, employing over 175,000 people. PwC Azerbaijan was profiled last year, but 2011 was a year of exciting initiatives, so TEAS caught up with Movlan Pashayev, Partner, Tax and Legal, PwC Azerbaijan, to learn more on the current state of play: What are the specialisations of PwC Azerbaijan? The areas of specialisation are Assurance, Advisory, and Tax and Legal services. Together with solutions in the areas of internal audit, risk management, business strategy, IT solutions, and human resources, these represent a complete set of business services. How has your company grown in the last year? The firm has made significant investments since 1995, and in these 17 years, it has developed exemplary levels of expertise and knowledge of industry and business understanding, providing the highest levels of client service and professional excellence. In the past few years, it has been continuously expanding and advancing its commitment to Azerbaijan to bring the world-class expertise and knowledge in helping local and international companies to succeed in these challenging economic times. Has PwC Azerbaijan entered any new markets or market sectors? The main spheres for PwC Azerbaijan remain Energy, Consumer and Industrial Products, Financial Services, Telecommunications and the Public Sector. The company is now contemplating several large-scale projects, some of which are unique for both the country and the region, such as establishing financial systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) concepts, internal control, improvement of banks’ risk management, and the maintenance of customer satisfaction. In June 2011, PwC Azerbaijan launched PwC’s Academy, a cutting-edge personnel training and development solution for the
local market. The Academy is an approved organisation, providing technical and soft skills training, making lifelong learning into a medium of individual professional and personal integration and development, located at the heart of the company, within its defined strategy. In PwC’s Academy, PwC endeavours to constantly realise best practice, setting value on quality, efficiency, innovation, and meeting customers’ requirements. How has PwC’s presence in Azerbaijan developed? PwC Azerbaijan has increased its number of professionals year on year, bringing the total number of people to more than 130. Not only has it strengthened its core service lines, such as assurance, advisory, and tax and legal, it has also brought in experts in areas such as the launching of ERPs, internal audit, and strategy consulting. Are you experiencing any competition from outside of Azerbaijan? PwC is proud that it is the largest professional services network in the world, measured by revenue and number of people. Its current and prospective clients measure it on the depth of relationships, the value it helps them create, the quality of its work, its staff, and the ability of its network to provide seamless service around the globe. PwC seeks to be unmatched in all these areas. In terms of regional presence, PwC Azerbaijan is the only ‘Big Four’ firm to have a fully integrated network, spanning Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and CIS countries. Do you have a presence in other countries in the region? PwC Azerbaijan belongs to the CEE region of the PwC Network. This division comprises around 7,000 people in 29 countries and 48 offices, who share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice. What are the aspirations of PwC in Azerbaijan in 2012? PwC Azerbaijan is committed to deploying its resources in order to retain its key clients and talents, helping emerging local companies to run efficiently and expand internationally. It also aims to sustain its position as a leading ‘one stop shop’ services firm in Azerbaijan. How do you view the business climate in Azerbaijan? The impact of the global economic downturn was considerably less severe in Azerbaijan than for other countries in the region. Although the hydrocarbon sector
Movlan Pashayev, Partner, Tax and Legal PwC Azerbaijan
will remain the main driver of growth in 2012, other key industries, such as manufacturing, telecommunications and hospitality will also demonstrate a positive trend, being ostensibly attributable to large government spending on infrastructural development. The business climate will remain moderate, and Azerbaijan will sustain its position as one of the fastestgrowing economies in the Caucasus and Central Asia region. Does PwC Azerbaijan provide training or operate apprenticeship schemes? The firm provides internal training for staff and external training to clients. PwC’s objective is to be viewed as an exciting company for which to work. At the inception of employees’ careers, the firm prepares employees to succeed by providing training, internship programmes and secondments within the PwC Global Network. Furthermore, PwC Azerbaijan experts share their knowledge with university students by regular teaching on business topics, making cutting-edge professional knowledge accessible, not only for business communities, but also for the talented youth of Azerbaijan. The firm organised more than 500 hours of free teaching in the past year, and its goal is to continue this social agenda in 2012 and beyond. How has TEAS benefited your company since you became a member? PwC Azerbaijan has been very pleased by its co-operation with TEAS, which has been very helpful in accessing the European business community. It has also promoted PwC Azerbaijan to TEAS members and kept staff updated on major business and social events. PwC Azerbaijan, The Landmark Office Plaza III, 12th Floor, 90A, Nizami Street, Baku, AZ1010, Azerbaijan Tel: +994 (12) 497 2515 Website: www.pwc.com/az
inner back page AZERBAIJAN: QUICK FACTS Official name: The Republic of Azerbaijan Capital: Baku Area: 86,600km2 Population: 9.1m Density: 104 inhab./km2 Urban population: 51.8 per cent Population of main cities, excluding suburbs: Baku (2,500,000); Gandja (300,000); Sumgait (270,000); Mingacevir (95,000) Religions: Shiite Muslims (65 per cent), Sunni Muslims (28 per cent), Orthodox Christians (5 per cent), Others (2 per cent) Principal exports: Oil, gas, aluminium, carpets Official language: Azerbaijani Business languages: English and Russian
Average annual exchange rate for US$1
Exchange rates as of 8.1.12: AZN1=US$1.27; US$1=AZN0.79; AZN1=£0.82; £1=AZN1.21; AZN1=€1.00; €1=AZN1.00
TEAS Corporate Members