Photo: FCO Flickr page
CULTURE | BUSINESS | PUBLIC AFFAIRS
HAGUE AND MAMMADYAROV FIRM UP THE RELATIONSHIP Also in this issue: Mammadyarov meets Azerbaijan APPG members in London Minister for Europe Lidington welcomes TAP decision EU Commissioner Füle approves €19.5m agreement A new concept of primary education Obama stresses support for peaceful Nagorno-Karabakh resolution www.teas.eu
09 / 2013
www.teas.eu September 2013
Welcome to the TEAS Magazine The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) is a UK-registered pan-European organisation dedicated to raising awareness of Azerbaijan and fostering closer economic, political and cultural links between that country and the nations of Europe. As well as promoting the positive aspects of Azerbaijan, TEAS also highlights the plight of the 875,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within the country. These people are unable to return to their homes and lands because of the illegal occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions by Armenia’s armed forces – in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions. TEAS has three main facets to its operations: • Culture – TEAS raises awareness of Azerbaijan’s rich and vibrant culture to a worldwide audience by organising cultural events and operating as a networking centre. • Business – TEAS supports its membership of European and Azerbaijani businesses. It provides a platform for organisations to establish links and strengthen their existing business relationships via a programme of networking opportunities across the regions. • Public Affairs – TEAS works to increase awareness about Azerbaijan amongst key opinionformers, key decision-makers and other political, academic and civil society stakeholders. In pursuit of its objectives TEAS: • Organises meetings with interested parties, opinion-formers and decision-makers • Arranges roundtables, seminars, lectures and conferences • Publishes pamphlets, reports, bulletins, books and films • Facilitates fact-finding trips by politicians and business people.
TEAS is always bringing the latest news, views and interviews from Azerbaijan. Sign up to our mailing-list to receive the latest information straight to your inbox: www.teas.eu
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Membership and Sponsorship
TEAS offers a range of corporate and individual membership packages, providing such benefits as advertising, trade missions, networking, business sector advice and hotel discounts. TEAS also offers numerous sponsorship opportunities throughout the year for its events and conferences. To find out more, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Events For full details of all TEAS events, go to www.teas.eu/upcoming-events 1 October Conservative Party Conference TEAS Jazz Reception Alexandria A, The Midland, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS Main speaker: Christopher Pincher MP 21.30–23.00. Free admission (conference pass required) Refreshments served. Enquiries to email@example.com This sophisticated jazz reception will feature Sabina Rakcheyeva and the Deco Ensemble. Azerbaijani violinist Sabina has been resident in London for several years, having previously studied and resided in Brussels and New York, where she was the first Azerbaijani to graduate from the Juilliard School. To date, she has performed in more than 40 countries around the world. The CD UnVeiled was her “excellent debut album” – Songlines magazine – and she is also Cultural Advisor to TEAS. Sabina and the London-based Deco Ensemble will perform a vibrant mix of standards, tangos and their own compositions. 5 November TEAS Business Forum London No.4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ 08.30–17.00. Free admission. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org The flagship TEAS Business Forum will bring together investors, policy-makers, bankers, journalists, analysts, NGO representatives and government executives for an extensive programme and will serve to: • • • •
Outline the opportunities and risks when undertaking business and trade in Azerbaijan Provide updates on Azerbaijan’s investment climate and investors’ concerns Discuss recommendations for new policies and governance practices to further promote investments in and by international and domestic businesses Raise awareness of the non-oil growth sectors in the country to assist with the development of economic diversification.
Featuring many industry experts, topics will include agribusiness, large-scale infrastructure projects, energy issues in the region, and the ICT sector.
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Politics and News
Hague and Mammadyarov pledge non-oil sector collaboration
Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, met William Hague, UK Foreign Minister, in London, during which he stressed that his nation is interested in developing co-operation with the UK in the non-energy sector. They discussed some of the issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council, for which Azerbaijan will assume the Presidency in October.
Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS
From the TEAS Director
This month, Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, visited the UK. He met William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, and delivered a landmark speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He also met members of the Azerbaijan All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), and had one-to-one meetings with other leading politicians, such as the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP. I was honoured to attend some of those meetings. Next month Azerbaijan assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council, having been voted in as a non-permanent member last year. This move symbolises Azerbaijan’s rise from being a satrap of various empires to its current position as a regional player with global reach. Azerbaijan is not just about energy wealth – it is also a beacon of religious freedom – and an example of how a small country can play a significant role in regional and global affairs. With the confirmation that the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is to be built, the pipedream of the Southern Energy Corridor is about to become a reality. The choice of TAP over Nabucco was about backing a project that could be built in a short timescale at reasonable cost. All the indications are, however, that once the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) has been built, Nabucco West could still happen. But TEAS – and this magazine – is not just about energy and high politics. Like a former UK Prime Minister, we also believe in ‘education education, education’. The European Azerbaijan School (EAS) in Baku – founded by TEAS – is thriving and expanding, and we were delighted to be able to organise a Primary Education Conference in Qabala. This coincided with the news that the school had been accepted into membership of the influential European Council of International Schools (ECIS). When eventually the oil and gas run out, it will be the generation receiving primary education now that will secure the country’s future.
During the meeting, Mr Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijan and the UK would continue their energy co-operation, and added there are tremendous opportunities to further enhance co-operation across many areas, such as tourism and education. Regarding the ongoing Azerbaijani–Armenian peace process, Mr Mammadyarov said that in order to achieve a solution, Armenian armed forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and
the seven surrounding districts, and work has to begin on drafting a comprehensive peace agreement. Mr Hague praised Azerbaijan’s increased role in energy issues, and expressed gratitude for Baku’s contribution and support to the NATO ISAF operations in Afghanistan by supplying troops and permitting 40 per cent of nonlethal supplies to cross Azerbaijani territory. He stated his support for further enhancement of bilateral relations and the work of the OSCE Minsk Group in brokering peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Mr Hague also congratulated his Azerbaijani counterpart on the forthcoming hosting of the inaugural European Games in 2015, and stated that the UK, which successfully hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, was ready to share its relevant experience.
Mammadyarov meets UK MPs
During a working visit to the UK, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met members of the Azerbaijan APPG, for which TEAS provides secretariat support. Conservative MP Christopher Pincher, Chairman of the Azerbaijan APPG and member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, chaired the meeting. Other MPs in attendance were Angus MacNeil, an SNP member, and David Burrowes, a Conservative MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Environment Secretary. Peers in attendance were the Conservative Lord Flight, and Lord Addington, former Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords. The meeting was held under the Chatham House rule, meaning that all comments were unattributable. However, topics raised included UK investment in Azerbaijan, energy security, anti-corruption measures, religious freedom, Azerbaijan’s forthcoming Presidency of the UN Security Council, and the ongoing Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over NagornoKarabakh. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Mammadyarov praised the current state of UK–Azerbaijani collaboration
Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, receives a gift from Christopher Pincher MP, Chairman, APPG, together with Lord Addington (left); H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK (far right); and Lord Flight
and the important role of energy co-operation in enhancing overall bilateral relations, and said there was the potential to strengthen cooperation through non-oil sector development. He also explained that Azerbaijan is developing its regional co-operation with Turkey and Georgia, calling the Baku–Tbilisi– Kars railway project “the next contribution” towards sustainable regional development, complementing the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) and Baku–Tbilisi–Erzurum (BTE) oil and gas pipelines. Mr Mammadyarov said that the development of relations with neighbouring countries and strong co-operation with the EU rank amongst the main Azerbaijani foreign policy priorities.
Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS The meeting covered current and future areas of co-operation
Politics and News
David Lidington MP, UK Minister for Europe, has warmly welcomed the TAP agreement (Photo: FCO)
UK Minister for Europe applauds TAP initiative
Speaking in the House of Commons, David Lidington MP, UK Minister for Europe, publicly welcomed the news that the BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium is to bring Caspian gas to the heart of Europe via the proposed Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). Responding to questioning by Christopher Pincher MP, Chairman, Azerbaijan APPG, he said: “I recently spoke with our new Ambassador to Azerbaijan who will be going out to Baku in the next few days. We warmly welcome the announcement of this BP-led consortium, which is a further development of an already extensive relationship between our two countries.”
The comments follow the decision on 30 June by the BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) to construct TAP, which will bring Caspian gas from the European border of Turkey to Italy. It is estimated that TAP will carry up to 20bn m3 of gas per year after 2019, providing diversity of supply away from Russian sources, and ensuring energy security for Europe.
EU Commissioner Füle welcomes Shahin
Presidents of Turkic-
Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister of Economic Development, and Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy have met in Brussels. Mr Füle said: “We are at a critical moment of our relations: this year offers an opportunity for both the EU and Azerbaijan. I emphasised the high ambitions which the EU retains for the development of our relations, as well as our continued readiness to give concrete support to core reforms, such as those of public finance, education, regional development and justice, building on the excellent co-operation already achieved in the energy sector.”
Mustafayev at a “critical moment of our relations” speaking states meet
The meeting culminated with the signing of a €19.5m (£16.4m) Financing Agreement to launch the Framework Programme in support of EU–Azerbaijani Agreements. Mr Füle added: “The launch of this substantial programme demonstrates the EU’s longterm commitment to support modernisation and reform in Azerbaijan, and to ensure the effective implementation of the commitments
undertaken in our agreements, including the Association Agreement we are currently negotiating, as well as sectoral agreements on mobility and other specific issues.”
Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister of Economic Development (left) and EU Commissioner Füle sign the Financing Agreement (Photo: European Commission)
Politics First carries Azerbaijan feature in its flagship issue
Politics First, one of the leading specialist UK political magazines, has carried an extended TEAS-sponsored feature article on Azerbaijan in its September issue. Copies are distributed to all MPs and delegates attending the three main UK political party conferences. The article emphasises the close relationship between the UK and Azerbaijan, pointing out that British companies – led by BP – have been at the forefront of Azerbaijan’s economic miracle over the last 20 years. September 2013
The article also maintains that ‘the future is bright’ for further development of these relations. As evidence of the ongoing and dynamic connection between the two countries, the Politics First article carries a map of TAP, which will carry Azerbaijani gas directly to Western Europe. Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS said: “Politics First is sent to every MP and is purchased by a wide range of politicians and stakeholders. This feature spells out in words, figures and pictures
The Presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey – Ilham Aliyev, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Almazbek Atambayev and Abdullah Gül – attended a meeting of the Co-operation Council of Turkic-Speaking States (CCTS) in Qabala. During the meeting, they stressed their support for the involvement of the private sector in the relevant CCTS Working Groups, and called for support by the Turkic Business Council to facilitate economic cooperation between the member states. The Heads of State welcomed the recent decision by the CCTS Transport Ministers to sign a Joint Co-operation Protocol on the Development of Transport and a Memorandum of Understanding on Sister Seaport Relations and Co-operation between the ports of Aktau, Baku and Samsun. They collectively outlined their support for the Central/East-West Corridor connecting Central Asia to Europe, via the Caspian and Marmara seas, through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the most important element of which is the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) railway. They welcomed the establishment of the CCTS Working Group on Customs, aimed at developing co-operation amongst the member countries. They also agreed to undertake joint consultations on security issues. The Istanbul-headquartered CCTS was established in 2009 to make a contribution to peace and stability in Eurasia.
how far Azerbaijan has come in 20 years. It also underlines the closeness of the relationship between two nations with great histories and bright futures.” www.teas.eu
Politics and News
US General: “Azerbaijan is a close friend of the US”
Colonel-General Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, has received Major-General Myles Lynn Deering, Commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, according to the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. ColonelGeneral Abiyev initially praised the ongoing relationship between the two countries, the Oklahoma National Guard and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. However, he commented on the obstacles caused by the continuing existence
H.E. Irfan Siddiq, new UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan, passes his credentials to Azerbaijani President Aliyev (Photo: Azerbaijani Presidential Administration)
New UK Ambassador arrives in Baku According to the British Embassy in Baku, H.E. Irfan Siddiq, the new UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has arrived in Baku. After presenting his credentials to Azerbaijani President Aliyev, he delivered a video message, saying: “I’m very excited to be taking on this role. Azerbaijan is an important and dynamic country. It is also a country with which Britain has strong and deep links. I’m keen to further develop these links and take the relationship to a new level.”
NEWS FROM BRUSSELS During his recent visit to Moscow, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan surprised European diplomats and politicians by
After their recent meeting, Armenian President Sargsyan and Russian President Putin gave a joint press conference
Ambassador Siddiq joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1998, and since that time has gained a wide range of overseas experience in India, Egypt, the US, Syria and Iraq. He has also served as Private Secretary to the UK Foreign Secretary, working with both Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett. Ambassador Siddiq replaces Peter Bateman, who retired from the FCO in March 2013.
Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defence, met Colonel-General Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, during a visit to the Pentagon in August (Photo: US Department of Defence)
of Section 907 of the US Freedom Support Act, which prohibits any direct US assistance to the Azerbaijani government, although all US Presidents have waived this since 2001. Major-General Deering replied that Azerbaijan remains a close friend of the US and is rapidly evolving into a country of strategic significance. He also acknowledged the role of Azerbaijan in supplying forces for the NATO-led ISAF coalition peacekeeping mission in Azerbaijan and for permitting the transit of around 40 per cent of non-lethal supplies for the ISAF mission.
indicating his country’s willingness to join the Eurasian Union – a trade and political body led by the Russian Federation. This is a move that is incompatible with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the EU is preparing with Yerevan. Armenia has made a U-turn, despite having made negotiations with the EU regarding Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreements (DCFTA). This jeopardises any constructive pact with the EU, and has come at a time where all political minds had expected a decisive outcome at the Vilnius Summit in November. Indeed, if Armenia becomes a full member of the Eurasian Union, it cannot simultaneously sign a pact with the EU. Roman Huna, Head, TEAS Belgium, commented: “The Armenian decision to enter the Eurasian Union will definitely have an impact on the relationship between the country and the EU. One can say that Azerbaijan is the only country in the
South Caucasus that has made its attitude towards the EU clear from the outset. Rather then making an embarrassing U-turn in its policy, Azerbaijan sits in a comfortable position, and will continue to approach the EU in a constructive manner, as has been the case in previous years.” TEAS is following these developments very closely. Indeed, the Vilnius Summit in November is extremely important regarding the future of EU–Azerbaijani relations, as it will see agreements being made regarding the co-operation framework for the European Neighbourhood Policy. This is surely a disappointment for the EU negotiators, and mainly for Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. Disappointingly, only a few weeks before the start of the Vilnius Summit, Armenia has given this signal to European policymakers.
Report – Primary Education Conference
Qabala conference tackles Azerbaijani primary education challenges Teachers and educational experts from Azerbaijan and around the world converged on Qabala in August for a landmark conference entitled 2013 Primary Education: New Visions, Experiences and Perspectives. The threeday event explored contemporary theories of education and the impact of new technology. Specific topics included the importance of collaboration between teachers, parents and children, a new textbook strategy, and effective teacher mentoring. The conference at the Qafqaz Resort Hotel on 23–25 August was organised by the European Azerbaijan School (EAS) in Baku. Founded by TEAS two years ago, the school now has around 200 students, over 40 teachers and provides both primary and secondary education. During the conference, it was announced that EAS had been elected as a member of the European Council of
International Schools (ECIS), one of the world’s leading educational organisations, dedicated to spreading ideas and experience in the educational sector.
Darlene Fisher, an education expert and EAS consultant from Australia, explained that contemporary techniques for primary teaching should prepare children for lifelong learning, giving them the confidence to debate. This means there should be less one-way teaching based on standardised texts and a reduced requirement for silence. More active, handson learning should be encouraged, with attention being paid to individual needs. She said that education should be based around developing the ability to think. Yuliya Nayda, an education expert from Ukraine, analysed the International Stepby-Step Approach (ISSA) as an alternative to the prevalent ‘one size fits all’ concept. Implemented across 28 countries since 2002, ISSA focuses on the principle that all children have the right to an education that is commensurate with their abilities. She said that children should be encouraged to make choices about the subjects they study, made to feel a success, and that teachers and children should establish an interactive relationship, with teachers analysing themselves to ensure they are working for the good of the children. According to Amalya Sezgin, EAS principal, technology is making children more visuallyoriented, and contemporary children require constant stimulation, with teaching models taking this into account. Some Azerbaijani primary school teachers spoke positively about the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in handson learning, particularly the use of interactive white boards, such as SMART Boards or Mimio technology. EAS now uses SMART Boards in almost every classroom. Canadian educationalist Colleen MacDonell looked at interactive storytelling techniques, focusing on dialogic reading, which she explained enables very young children – maybe with no or few words – to become readers, following stories through pictures. She emphasised that it is initially important to find a book that the children actually like, and then let them take over and become the story-teller, using the pictures as a point of discussion and, in due course, inspiring them to read.
Teachers participating in one of the interactive sessions
Filiz Gönenli, primary school principal at Enka Schools in Turkey, explained the importance of teacher mentoring in improving primary teaching standards. There are two types of coaching – peer coaching with an existing, trusted, peer that can provide guidance
and with whom the new teacher can march together on the path to success, and instructional coaches, who provide guidance on teaching techniques. Both the peer coach and mentee should always be regarded as equals, and teachers must understand how and why strategies need to be changed. Elmina Kazimzade, programmes director at the Azerbaijani Centre for Innovations in Education, outlined the new textbook strategy for Azerbaijan, which permits schools to be free in the selection of their own textbooks, and enables parents to play a role in book selection. Ordinary teachers need to be represented in book commissioning and selection, rather than Education Ministry employees, and this process needs to be completely impartial. Quality control is allimportant, and a long-term creative team to undertake textbook writing, illustration and production should be established, with teachers, authors, illustrators and printers collaborating very early in the process, so that the best-quality, most effective textbooks are published. The final day was dominated by an interactive session run by Janna Grinevich, an education expert from Ukraine, who demonstrated some of the classroom activities that she has applied over the past 20 years, aimed at helping children learn to collaborate via the development of social skills. Each child is encouraged to make their opinions and voices heard, and they realise their views count. Darlene Fisher gave the final presentation of the conference, focusing on the Primary Years Programme (PYP), developed to help children collaborate and become part of a strong society. This was formulated by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), and helps students explore six transdisciplinary themes – who we are, where we are in place and time, forms of expression, how we organise ourselves, how the world works, and how we share the planet. Summing up, Ragsana Mammadova, TEAS, remarked that, despite the international nature of the event, all participants had found a common language, and hoped that awareness of these concepts would have a multiplier effect in the classroom. Asif Jahangirov, Honoured Teacher of Azerbaijan, commented that the conference had been extremely useful and would spearhead change in Azerbaijani education. He then placed emphasis on the teachers present who would be responsible for transforming these concepts into reality, for the good of children in Azerbaijan and abroad. For more information on EAS, go to www.eas.az
Personalities – Nicolas Iljine
Remembering the past glories of Baku
Nicolas Iljine is Vice-President for International Development, GCAM Group, a consultancy practice involved in museum constructions, acquisitions, programming and management, together with art investment. His background is in public relations, and from 1971–94 he worked at Lufthansa German Airlines, latterly as Worldwide General Manager for Public Affairs. From 1994–2008, Nicolas worked for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in Europe and the Middle East in the fields of corporate development and public affairs. Nicolas is a board member for the Kandinsky Prize for Contemporary Russian Art, and in September 2006 received an Order of Friendship from President Vladimir Putin.
In the 1930s, the Soviets destroyed the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Baku, the largest Orthodox place of worship in the Caucasus
Coming from a Russian background, Nicolas has been involved with cultural exchange between Russia and the west for nearly 40 years. He has edited several books on art history. Most recently, he has edited Memories of Baku, a fascinating publication encapsulating the spirit of the Azerbaijani capital during the first oil boom of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Comprising a series of essays, illustrated by postcards and ephemera from the period, the book recalls a time before the Bolshevik revolution, when Baku was the most cosmopolitan and developed city in the region. TEAS spoke to Nicolas at home in Frankfurt-am-Main to find out more:
Please describe the book Memories of Baku? In 150pp., I tried to strike a balance between illustrative material and five essays by five leading authors, aimed at the non-academic English-speaking world. Why was Baku so important on an international level in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? With the discovery of oil in the late 19th century, Baku was transformed from being a sleepy port town into a major industrial hub
speaking world, yet is deserving of a simple spotlight on its rich history and culture. The book is notable for its use of postcards, posters and other ephemera from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Why did you decide to include these? I tried to focus on the period ending in the mid-1920s, prior to the decades of Soviet rule. The period described in my book was formative in the emergence of a rich culture and architecture. I used postcards and original A 19th century oil well fire
attracting foreign investors. International oil companies provided the infrastructure for oil exploration and transport, and also built magnificent homes and public buildings. The rapid increase in Baku’s population, and the rich cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, provided the backdrop for a budding metropolis. For example, Azerbaijan, which is the largest country in the Caucasus, was the first Muslimmajority entity to construct a western-style opera house and theatres, demonstrating its cultural diversity and tolerance. What prompted you to publish the book at this time? There is a lack of English-language literature for the interested public, and it is my conviction that Baku is a fascinating city that is comparatively unknown outside the Russian-
photographs dating back to 1887, but had to reduce the incorporation of contemporary documents and newspapers to make the book more readily acceptable to the general public. These items are from your own collection. Where did you obtain them? Are they on display anywhere? All the postcards are from my private collection, collected during my many trips to Baku during 2007–11. Some of the photos are from a private collection in Moscow, and other illustrations are drawn from archives in Baku and the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg. None are on permanent display. What did Professor Tadeusz Swietochowski bring to the book? Professor Swietochowski, who has been based
in the US for many years, is a renowned and distinguished scholar on Azerbaijan. His essay places Baku in the context of the development of the entire Caucasus region. How do you feel Baku and the remainder of Azerbaijan would have developed if the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic had continued and the country had not become part of the Soviet Union in 1920? It would have had a rapid and independent economic development without the Soviet Union, drawing on its natural resources, especially oil and gas. However, during Soviet times, great progress was made in education, and the interaction with Soviet institutions and academia had positive effects. Furthermore, the use of the Russian language was a catalyst for broadening the perspective of this distant part of the world. What are your thoughts on the development of Baku since regaining its independence in 1991? Baku has experienced a very positive phenomenal and rapid development since Azerbaijan regained its independence. International recognition and expanding business possibilities made it the most important country in the Caucasus region. How is the book being distributed and marketed? Marquand Books in Seattle and DAP, its international distributor, at http://bit.ly/ memoriesofbakuartbook will ensure the international availability of the book this summer through bookstores. It will also be sold through Amazon at http://bit.ly/memoriesofbaku. The UK launch of Memories of Baku will be held on 26 September at Baku Restaurant, 165 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9QB at 17.30hrs, during an event sponsored by SFERIQ, in partnership with the Azerbaijani Embassy to the UK and the British–American Business Council. Please register for free tickets at http://bit.ly/bakumemorieslaunch.
Personalities – Darlene Fisher Darlene Fisher – bringing Azerbaijani education into the 21 st century
The European Azerbaijan School (EAS), founded by TEAS in Baku, is one of the recent Azerbaijani educational success stories. Established in September 2011, it initially offered secondary education, and a primary department was opened a year later. The major objective of the school is to generally raise the quality of Azerbaijani education so that students are equipped with the requisite skills to find high-level positions in Azerbaijan and elsewhere. EAS is in the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO)-approved school.
Experienced educationalist Darlene Fisher is bringing some established teaching concepts to Baku
How did you initially become involved in EAS? What is your role there? A couple of years ago, some TEAS employees came to Istanbul to see me when I was Director at Enka Schools. As there were so many similarities between the EAS project and Enka, which permits local students to study for an internationallyrecognised qualification, there was much for us to discuss. They asked if I could support them, but I replied that this would be impossible, as I was fully employed. However, I explained that eventually I intended to take study leave for a couple of years, and that I would be happy to be a consultant to EAS at this time. I visit the school every couple of months for a few days. I am also a consultant for the IBO and the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), so I focus on developing educational programmes. Which concepts are being applied at EAS that set it apart from other schools? EAS is determined that the school should be a model of educational change. The directors want to provide quality education that is of an international standard and be a leading example of what is possible in Azerbaijani schools. The purpose of education is being reconsidered, and the directors are aware of the requirements for a 21 st century school. They know that learning is no longer based on rote, but instead is about learning how to learn. This fundamental concept sets it apart from many of the local schools. This concept has been applied in many western countries to a greater or lesser extent for at least 20 years. Those educated at EAS will be provided with potential strengths in the unpredictable future world where they will become adults. EAS will provide students with both skills and knowledge. In short, it is preparing children for jobs that don’t currently exist, using technology that doesn’t exist. It is pointless to prepare children for specific roles in the contemporary world.
Darlene Fisher, Consultant to EAS, has been the architect of many of these developments. Born in Australia, she has taught in many countries across five continents, latterly spending six years as Director of Enka Schools in Istanbul. London resident Darlene took time out of her busy schedule to speak to TEAS about her current and future work at the school.
Which facilities are offered by EAS? EAS provides the best facilities in Azerbaijan, and classrooms are equipped with data projectors and Smart Boards. This serves to create an environment where technology is readily incorporated and becomes second nature to the students. The students have access to numerous computer laboratories, and in the future may benefit from a 1:1 laptop programme or other techniques aimed at bringing technology further into the classroom. EAS also has the latest facilities for music, drama and sports. These support students in their development of socialisation skills. The Smart Boards are like ordinary White Boards, to which the computer can be linked. Anything on the computer screen – including web pages – can be seen on the Smart Board, but the teacher can annotate this by hand. What needs to be done to raise educational standards? It is necessary to focus on reviewing the curriculum and its content so this becomes more skills- and concept-based than solely focusing on content. Much time needs to be invested in developing the teacher’s skills. Teachers need to be made aware of how to engage students in enquiry-based learning, so they discover what they need to learn, rather than being told what they need to learn. Such engagement and enquiry helps them learn properly, assists them with knowledge retention, and makes the subjects more meaningful. EAS has also become a member of ECIS, which is an international organisation helping schools develop their programmes. It provides a great deal of support, and organises conferences. The fact that EAS sends teachers to such conferences means that they create connections with international schools. This enables them to effectively develop, as they can discuss the use of the Primary Years Programme
(PYP) in schools at various stages of development. They can also witness the implementation of PYP programmes in schools across the world. Do such innovative educational concepts present issues for teachers who attended training college under the Soviet system? The directors of EAS are aware that it’s impossible to drag teachers in and tell them to do something differently, particularly as this new style is the reverse of what they were taught in college. Teachers must understand why such a different procedure is being implemented, and the effect of this on their teaching techniques. They must be supported in implementing these changes. Teachers undergoing such a transition need a great deal of ongoing support – you can’t just give them a two-day workshop and tell them to immediately adopt a completely new teaching technique. In fact, you are asking them to think differently and relate to their students in an alternative manner. You are asking them to present information in very different ways. Students must also be encouraged to question teachers about what they are learning.
Small classes enable individual attention from teachers and interactive learning
Personalities – Darlene Fisher A dynamic country that wants to compete and have a place in the world of the future needs workers possessing the skills to deal with the unknown in a creative manner. If students are only taught how to memorise, on an international level they will experience a great deal of competition from such countries as India, where there is also an emphasis on rote learning. Students who are good at regurgitating information are also going to be against computers that can deal with a lot of information in a more efficient manner than humans. The valuable skills for the future are going to be creative. People are developing ideas that have nothing to do with content, but are more to do with the way concepts and knowledge can be combined and worked, which constitutes a very different skills set. If students are solely learning how to remember facts, they are going to be seriously restricted in respect of their future employment opportunities. This also limits the skills that the country has to sell overseas.
There is an emphasis on learning how to learn to ensure the success of students in an uncertain future world
school is very young, and it is possible to put the appropriate structures in place so that teachers are more easily able to gain their PYP accreditation. As the school evolves into a PYP institution over the next two years or so, teachers will be sent for training, and there will be ongoing support. The teachers also hold their own workshops to analyse what they are teaching and how the new approaches can be implemented. They organise professional development workshops amongst themselves inside the schools on a regular basis, and undertake a professional development programme, run by the Head of Recruitment and Training. Do you primarily employ younger teachers at EAS? We have a good combination of experienced and newly-qualified teachers. It is necessary to employ some people who have been in classrooms for a long time, and are interested in transforming their skills towards a more international structure and style, and there are others who are very young and eager to learn.
Did you confront some of the same issues affecting EAS at Enka Schools in Turkey? It was a new school, and aimed to be the best in Turkey, providing international-quality education for Turkish children, based on IBO programmes, enabling them to develop the requisite skills to attend overseas universities. Two-thirds of the teachers were from Turkey and trained in the Turkish system, which is based on rote learning, but they have taken the change of approach on board. In total, 60 per cent of the children go on to study at overseas universities. How quickly will education transform in Azerbaijan? There will be significant changes in the next five to ten years, which are supported by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education. This is persuading the principals and teachers that it’s time to change, explaining why and how the teaching methods are different. It’s wonderful to see the school leading the way and taking on the challenges. It’s easy to be a private school that is just applying existing concepts more successfully than elsewhere, but rewarding to offer an internationallyrecognised form of education.
Darlene explained how EAS is setting the benchmark for primary education in Azerbaijan
You recently spoke at the 2013 Primary Education: New Visions, Experiences and Perspectives conference in Qabala about the changing emphasis towards a more interactive education, applying PYP concepts. What is EAS doing to implement these ideas? They’ve already started with teacher training, helping understand some of the concepts. Going forward, the students will be gauged through ongoing assessments, with teachers taking into account the students’ understanding throughout a unit of work, and not just at the end. When the assessment is made, it’s not solely based on content knowledge and skills, but on understanding. They need to show that they have understood the whole of a unit and not just small pieces of information. At the school, we are working on curriculum development so it aligns with the structure of the PYP schools. The
An interactive Smart Board in use in an EAS classroom
For more information on EAS, go to www.eas.az
Culture Mugham CD and
magazine – free for TEAS friends
The publisher of Songlines, the leading world music magazine, is offering friends of TEAS free copies of the July 2013 (No.93) issue, which focused on Azerbaijani mugham music (whilst stocks last). This includes a bonus sampler CD, featuring such leading Azerbaijani artists as the singers Alim Qasimov, Ferghana Qasimova, Gochag Askarov, and Nazaket Teymurova, and balaban soloist Shirzad Fataliyev, who featured in this year’s Khojaly Commemoration Concerts in both London and Paris. Azerbaijani pianist Saida Zulfugarova and Elvira Di Bona teamed up to bring glorious music to the Abruzzo National Park (Photo: Gianfranco Fortuna)
Music in the mountains
The Paris-based Azerbaijani classical pianist Saida Zulfugarova has given a remarkable open-air concert during the Voci dalla Montagna (Voices from the Mountains) festival amidst the beautiful surroundings of the Abruzzo National Park in Pescasseroli, Central Italy, attended by an audience of around 400 music-lovers. Performing duets alongside the Italian violinist Elvira Di Bona, who also directs the festival, the programme
comprised arrangements of Corelli’s Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo op. 5 no.7 and Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord No. 4 in D Minor; Brahms’ Violin Sonata No.3; and Saida’s solo performance of the vibrant traditional dance Gaytagi, in the version by the Azerbaijani composer Tofig Guliyev (1917–2000). For more information on the festival, go to www.pescasseroliew.it/ew/ voci-dalla-montagna-2013.html.
The offer is open to UK addresses only. To receive the issue, send a stamped and addressed C4 envelope with stamps to the value of £1.40 to: Songlines Publishing Ltd, PO Box 54209, London, W14 0WU.
Simplicity and speed in Kabira’s latest exhibition The London-based Azerbaijani artist Kabira Alieva has exhibited her latest collection at the Rossotrudnichestvo Mission in Kensington, London. Entitled Livened by a Nib, the exhibition – which ran for two weeks – focused on her pen-and-ink graphic works, which focus on everyday life and the themes of relationships, love, pain, joy, family, friendship, humour and art.
At the opening – attended by around 100 people – Alexander Kramarenko, Minister Counsellor of the Russian Embassy to the UK commented: “Kabira Alieva’s art is very interesting, touching and reminiscent of the aesthetic doctrine of Zen Buddhism and what Virginia Woolf said about art, with its
ability to render great truths, and that it does not need a lot of space – it needs just a few strokes of a pen or brush – and I think that is precisely what we can see on the walls here. Marcel Proust, in his In Search of Lost Time, commented that any change in the weather can radically change the world for us, and I think this is precisely what artists should do for us – change the world in which we live – and bring us closer to the truth.” The drawings also provided a backdrop to two performances of a one-woman play entitled To Forgive Oneself, written by Galina Lavrinenko, based on the poetry of Anna Akhmatova and starring Tatiana Lavrentieva. To see more of Kabira’s works, go to www. kabira-alieva.com.
Historic premiére Proms mugham performance Mugham has taken centre-stage at the BBC Proms – the UK’s leading series of classical concerts – for the first time. The performance, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, was organised by the BBC World Routes programme, which focuses on traditional music from around the world. It featured 18-year-old London resident Fidan Hajiyeva, who has been studying mugham for the past year under Gochag Askarov, both by skype and during two visits to Baku. Fidan, who comes from a musical family, was interviewed in TEAS Magazine for February and June 2013. September 2013
In his review for the Evening Standard, Simon Broughton, Editor, Songlines magazine wrote: “Master and pupil were on stage together last night. It’s a tall order to ask a novice to perform alongside an acknowledged master in a prestigious venue such as the Albert Hall – particularly in a genre such as mugham, which everyone recognises takes many years to master. “Hajiyeva was passionate and fearless, but it was Askarov who really displayed
Kabira’s work captures a sideways glance at everyday life
the glories of mugham. It’s a classical style of music, and poetic lyrics are sung with a small ensemble of instruments. There’s filigree interweaving of the vocal line with plucked tar, bowed kamancha and soft reedy balaban to create a richly textured music of dappled sunlight through leaves. “Askarov’s voice was sometimes soft but always magnificently controlled. He is a great singer of the world, and it’s fitting for the Proms to showcase him, as with Aruna Sairam from India a couple of years ago.” www.teas.eu
Azerbaijani classics brought to Eastern France
French composer Pierre Thillloy is a longstanding devotee of Azerbaijani music, and this led TEAS to select him as the composer for Khojaly 613, commemorating the victims of the Khojaly Massacre during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This was premiered in Paris in February this year at the TEAS Khojaly Commemoration Concert, closely followed by its performance at a similar concert in London.
The Château de Syam provided an intimate and unique setting for the festival
Mr Thilloy directs the annual Syam Festival, which takes place in a 19 th century château, and ensured that Azerbaijani music was
programmed across the 12 concerts. Listeners heard the First Book of Miniatures for String Quartet, by Khayyam Mirzazadeh (b.1935), performed by the Quatuor Chagall; the Ashiq Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano by Uzeyir Hajibeyov (1885–1948), played by the Liuba Ensemble; the Cello Sonata by Vasif Adigezalov (1935–2006) performed by Eliza Dignac; Oriental Miniatures by Samira Abbassova, played by pianist Catherine Forthomme; and The Offering and The Fiancée of the Sun for voice and piano, performed by Greta Komur (mezzo-soprano).
The Cloth Peddler in the City of Angels and en-route to the City of Lights In its centenary year, the operetta The Cloth Peddler (Arshin Mal Alan), composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyov, father of Azerbaijani classical music, is being staged for new audiences in many western countries. In Los Angeles, it was performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, one of the world’s largest opera houses, in a performance attended by over 3000 people. Produced and recently adapted by the award-winning American producer Michael Schnack, the operetta was performed by some outstanding American opera singers, who sang in the original Azerbaijani (with projected English translations) and spoke in English, accompanied by a full orchestra of American musicians. The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) and the Consulate General
of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles were the sponsors.
Writing in The Huffington Post, Hoyt Hilsman was entranced: “What makes The Cloth Peddler extraordinary is not only the music of Hajibeyov, which is world-class, but the fact that the operetta was among the first ever composed and performed in the Muslim world. The story had many groundbreaking elements, including the struggle against outdated traditions and the fight for women’s rights, not to mention the revolutionary concept of romantic love.” A further performance of the operetta was also given in concert format in Paris on 17 September, organised by TURKSOY at the UNESCO headquarters, featuring opera singers from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
Neapolitan festival prize
The Azerbaijani/Russian documentary Nomads (Köç), directed by Rodion Ismayilov, has won the feature-length documentary award at the Faito Doc Festival in Naples, Italy. The competition focuses on new foreign independent films across several categories.
Nomads tells a story from Azerbaijani rural life
Piazzolla’s passion comes to Wellingborough www.teas.eu
Nomads was filmed during Summer 2010 in the Tovuz, Goygol and Dashkesan regions of Azerbaijan, and has already competed in over 20 international festivals. It tells the story of Azerbaijani shepherds who are moving a flock of sheep from one pasture to another over a six-day period. Their trip is wearisome and fraught with danger, and the people and animals become exhausted, leading to illness and death. To see an English-subtitled version of the entire film, go to http://bit.ly/kocnomads.
A musical remembrance of Lord Fraser
As many friends of Azerbaijan will be aware, Lord Peter Fraser of Carmyllie, Chairman of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society for 13 years, sadly passed away in June. In order to remember his contribution to the UK–Azerbaijani bilateral relationship and many years of public service, the Society will be holding an evening of music and words on 24 October at 18.30hrs at Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, London, SW10 1QH. Performers will include violinist Nazrin Rashidova and her FeMusa all-female string ensemble; Sabina Rakcheyeva, violinist, Juilliard graduate and Cultural Advisor, TEAS; the violin and piano duet of Gunel and Nigulia Mirzayeva; harpist Vera Khait; and Dr Sophie Sneddon, Scottish fiddle. If you are interested in attending, please contact Margaret Morris on email@example.com or 01376 573377 by 30 September.
Following their successful concert of music by the renowned Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla in London in June, Azerbaijani violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva and the Deco Ensemble are set to bring his spirit to The Castle, an arts centre in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, on 25 October at 13.00hrs. The concert will comprise some of Piazzolla’s most famous examples of ‘nuevo tango’ including The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Milonga del Angel. To find out more, and to hear the Deco Ensemble performing some works by Piazzolla, go to www.decoensemble.com. September 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict James Warlick, the new US Co-Chair for the OSCE Minsk Group, recently visited all sides in the Nagorno–Karabakh conflict (Photo: US State Dept.)
PACE Bureau condemns Armenian control of Sarsang Reservoir
A motion by the Presidential Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the potential impact of the Armenian policy on the Sarsang Reservoir in the Armenian-occupied Terter region of Azerbaijan has been approved during the PACE Bureau meeting in Dubrovka, Russia.
Obama demands South Caucasus peace restoration
James Warlick, the recently-appointed US Co-Chair for the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been tasked with brokering a negotiated settlement to the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, has been received in Baku by Azerbaijani President Aliyev and other senior officials. During the meeting, Mr Warlick conveyed a letter from US President Obama, who wrote: “I support your efforts to take advantage of the opportunities for direct dialogue with Armenia in the months ahead, and to avail yourself of the Co-Chairs’ time and expertise to move beyond the current impasse in negotiations. With the outlines of a compromise already well-established, now is the time for a renewed effort to bring peace to the region.”
sad. Though Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated its fair position on this conflict, we are witnessing an indifferent attitude. Azerbaijan did not invade anyone’s territory, and we are not going to give up an inch of land to anyone. There is only one way to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and that is withdrawal of the Armenian Armed Forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. We do not imagine other terms.” Subsequently speaking in Yerevan, Mr Warlick said: “The solution that has long been negotiated within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group is not easy to achieve. This is impossible without the political will of the leaders, concessions from all sides, and the understanding that it is in the interests of generations to come.”
Mr Warlick also met Colonel-General Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, who commented that the world community and the OSCE Minsk Group has failed to develop any effective initiatives for conflict resolution. Colonel-General Abiyev commented: “Instead, the invader and the aggrieved party are equalised, and this fact is very
Mr Warlick reminded the Armenian authorities that the principles of the Helsinki Final Act – non-use of force, territorial integrity and the right of peoples to self-determination – remain fundamental elements of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. He also stressed the importance of confidencebuilding and security measures.
On 3 September, an Azerbaijani civilian was shot in the back by an Armenian sniper in the Alibeyli village of the Tovuz region. The wounded man was placed in the central hospital of Tovuz, having suffered a great deal of blood loss. H.E. Richard Morningstar, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, stated that the US considers it to be a very great tragedy when citizens become victims of the conflict. He continued: “Therefore, we believe that the conflict should be settled as soon as possible.”
to be included in OSCE The Armenian military occupation of Azerbaijani territory will be included in the agenda of the autumn session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, according to Bahar Muradova, Deputy Speaker, Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) and head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The meeting will take place on 13– 14 October in Budva, Montenegro.
condemned by US
Elkhan Suleymanov, an Azerbaijani PACE member and President, Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan (ACSDA), revealed that the motion had been submitted to the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. The draft resolution, based on the motion, has been tabled for discussion at the PACE Plenary Meeting. It condemns the illegal Armenian blockage of the water supply and irrigation The Sarsang Reservoir has now been blocked by the occupying forces in the Terter region (Photo: Varhram Petroysan)
systems across these Azerbaijani territories as a violation of international law. Based on earlier resolutions, the PACE Presidential Committee goes on to urge Armenian military forces to hand over control of the reservoir and all related irrigation systems to the Azerbaijani authorities. The draft calls on the international community to take urgent measures to prevent any additional military provocation, or otherwise to prepare for catastrophes with possibly life-threatening consequences.
Azerbaijani prisonerof-war released from Yerevan
On 30 August, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was informed by the Armenian authorities that an Azerbaijani prisoner-of-war (POW) had been released and left Armenia for a third country under the auspices of another international organisation. He had been detained since July 2012, and the move followed an ICRC visit four days earlier. Earlier, on 20 August, ICRC delegates visited an Armenian POW held in Azerbaijan since 8 August and provided him with the opportunity to exchange messages with his family. The ICRC has been visiting POWs and civilians interned due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 1992.
Fataliyeva to relaunch case in Supreme Court Mirvari Fataliyeva, Chair of the Parisbased Azerbaijan House, is set to appeal to the Supreme Court of Paris to relaunch the criminal case on her brutal beating by François Rochebloine, a pro-Armenian member of the French National Assembly, supported by members of the Armenian diaspora.
Mirvari Fataliyeva and Vusal Huseynov were beaten in the French National Assembly when they raised the issue of the Khojaly Massacre during an Armenian-organised event
As reported by the APA agency, the decision to invoke the powers of a higher authority is due to the fact that Azerbaijanis across France are indignant that the Paris Prosecutor’s Office has closed the criminal case without punishing the perpetrators. She said that her lawyers are currently preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Paris. Ms Fataliyeva said: “The early cancellation of the criminal case angered us. They argue
that there is no physical evidence to bring someone to justice. But this is absurd, because the scene was full of people and there are photos and medical evidence. Therefore we will not be quiet, until these people are detained and punished.” The events took place on 26 February during an event organised by the French Bureau on Armenian issues regarding an alleged massacre of Armenians in Sumgait in 1988. Ms Fataliyeva and her friend Vusal Huseynov were attacked when they reminded attendees of the Khojaly Massacre, when Armenian and Soviet troops killed 613 civilians in Khojaly, Nagorno-Karabakh in 1992. They had also stated that reports of the alleged events in Sumgait were without factual basis.
Qarabag Agdam FK – two decades playing away from home During a match on 29 August at Frankfurt’s Commerzbank Arena – packed with 51,500 supporters – Qarabag Agdam FK tried its best to beat the home side Eintracht Frankfurt to reach the final stages of the UEFA Europa League tournament. The Azerbaijani team came to Germany already with a two-goal deficit from the first leg and needed only a victory to go through. However, the German side Eintracht Frankfurt proved too strong a challenge and beat the tourists with a final score of 2:1.
sharing the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku – Azerbaijan’s largest stadium – with the Azerbaijani national team. The majority of the Azerbaijani region of Agdam was invaded by Armenian troops 20 years ago during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In addition to losing its stadium, training facilities, and the players’ homes, all of which were destroyed, the Qarabag Agdam FK team coach, Allahverdi Bagirov, was killed when his car ran over an anti-tank mine.
The sad irony is that Qarabag Agdam FK effectively always plays away from home,
TEAS’ reception at the Commerzbank Arena was aimed at raising awareness
of Qarabag Agdam FK’s story and the ongoing occupation of Azerbaijani territory. Stark photographs showing the human suffering of some of the refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), taken by the renowned German photographer Philipp Rathmer for the TEAS Five Roads Back Home project, were displayed at the reception and in a spectators’ box during the game. Despite the UN Security Council passing resolution 853 against the occupation of Agdam on 29 July 1993, none of the players in the current Qarabag Agdam FK squad have ever been able train or play in their hometown.
Three MEPs call for an end to the Armenian occupation
Responding to TEAS questioning, three Romanian MEPs have reiterated the need for Armenian troops to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts. Romanian MEP Victor Bostinaru, who is represented in the Committee for Regional Development and the Committee on Petitions, said: “The way to resolve these enormous burdens can only happen by restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The South Caucasus is a very important neighbouring region for Europe, both in political and in economic terms. The conflict between Georgia and Russia in 2008 has shown how fast the security situation can change. Hence, it is of vital interest for Europe that the peace negotiations finally achieve a satisfactory result.” Ramona Manescu MEP, Vice-President, ALDE Party said: “For the countries in the region to be able to realise their social and economic potential they need, first of all, to be secure and at peace with their
neighbours.” She continued: “I believe that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be respected, as should the rights of the IDPs and refugees to return to their homes.
“I expect both the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to understand that their citizens must be their first priority, and to reach an agreement to end the conflict and ensure stability and prosperity for their people. The EU supports the international mediation efforts through the OSCE Minsk Group, and stands ready to play its part in achieving a lasting and peaceful settlement.” Corina Cretu MEP, Vice-Chair, Committee for Development and Member of the Delegation for Relations with the US, explained that the UN Security Council’s decisions are regulated by international law. She went on to say: “Besides, the negotiations initiated by the OSCE have been repeatedly suspended.
“The future prospects for EU–Azerbaijani co-operation are encouraging, and both sides should use this opportunity. For this purpose, stability and security should be achieved in the South Caucasus. Whilst in Baku, Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, said that the people of Azerbaijan and Europe should strengthen ties within the EU Eastern Partnership. A stable political situation is required for this. However, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict contradicts this, causing tension in the entire region.”
Ramona Manescu MEP called for Azerbaijani sovereignty and territorial integrity to be respected
Business News The construction of the Southern Gas Corridor was a major topic during the last TEAS Business Forum London in 2012
Register now for the TEAS Business Forum London Work is currently underway to organise this year’s TEAS Business Forum London, coming in the wake of successful events in 2011 and 2012 and the inaugural Paris edition earlier this year. Entitled Enhancing Azerbaijan’s Competitiveness and Business Climate, the event on 5 November at No.4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ will focus on the opportunities and risks that should be taken into account when undertaking business in Azerbaijan, bring attendees up-to-speed on the investment climate and investors’ concerns, discuss ideas for new policies and government practices to stimulate investments, and raise awareness of the non-oil growth sectors.
Topics will include agribusiness, large-scale infrastructure projects, regional energy issues and the development of the ICT industry and, as in previous years, a wide range of delegates, including investors, policy-makers, bankers, journalists, analysts, NGO representatives and government executives are expected to attend. Half the day will be devoted to business-to-business (B2B) sessions between delegates and companies already present in Azerbaijan. Attendance is free – simply e-mail teasbusinessforum@ teas.eu to reserve your place or find out more on B2B participation or sponsorship opportunities.
Shah Deniz gas deals to be signed Several agreements will soon be signed regarding the purchase and sale of Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz II field. It is expected that this will reach optimal production in 2022. Rovnag Abdullayev, President, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR), said that agreements with the buyers of Azerbaijani gas would be signed during a major event in the very near future. Earlier, BP Azerbaijan, which is part of the
Shah Deniz Consortium, announced that the terms for gas to be supplied from the Caspian Sea to Europe via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) have been agreed with several buyers in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria. TAP will connect with the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which ends near the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi, transporting the resources across Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Southern Italy. It will have a maximum capacity of 20bn m3 (bcm) per annum.
SOFAZ to share its experience Speaking at the South Caucasus in a Changing World forum in Baku, organised by the Association of Scientists for Foreign Relations, Shahmar Movsumov, Executive Director, State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) commented that Azerbaijan has gained rich experience in the rational governance of funds derived from the extraction, processing and sale of oil and gas products, and that this can be shared with overseas counterparts. He said: “SOFAZ funds are being used for large-scale infrastructure projects in the country. The construction of temporary settlements for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, who
previously lived in very poor conditions, is being financed by SOFAZ. We have been able to provide more than 150,000 people with decent housing.” Mr Movsumov commented that SOFAZ’s most important investments are those aimed at transforming oil capital into human capital. He said: “Every year, we allocate a certain amount of money to finance the education of Azerbaijani citizens abroad. These funds enable many Azerbaijani students to study in the world’s best universities. The only requirement is to return home after graduation and to work in Azerbaijan for five years.”
TAP will act as the link to Azerbaijan and other gas producers in the Caspian Sea and wider region, ensuring future EU energy security and providing a new source of gas. It is estimated that the total gas reserves of the Shah Deniz field amount to 1.2tn m 3 (tcm). According to BP’s annual report, gas production from the Shah Deniz field in 2012 amounted to approximately 7.7bcm of gas and nearly 16.1m barrels of condensate.
SOFAZ was established in 1999, when its assets amounted to $271m (£171.4m). By the end of 2012, these reached $34.1bn (£21.6bn).
Shahmar Movsumov, Executive Director, SOFAZ, seen speaking at the TEAS Business Forum London in 2012
In April, Azerbaijani President Aliyev spoke at the WEF conference Strategic Dialogue on the Future of the South Caucasus and Central Asia, hosted in Baku
Carrying on up the global competitiveness rankings
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) for 2013–14 in Geneva. According to the report, Azerbaijan has continued to move up the rankings, and now occupies 39th position, amounting to an improvement of seven places. Azerbaijan is now in the leading position amongst the transition economies, even surpassing some of the new and old members of the EU, including Greece, Portugal, Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic. According to analyst Arthur Bayhan: “Azerbaijan could play a model country role for competitiveness and act as a platform for knowledgesharing with the countries in the region.” Other countries in the region ranked as follows – Kazakhstan at
50, amounting to an improvement of one position on last year, and Kyrgyzstan is at 121, gaining six positions. The Russian Federation was at 64, Georgia at 72, Armenia at 76, Ukraine at 84, and Moldova at 89. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were not included in the report. In order to further enhance its competitiveness, the WEF recommended that Azerbaijan should focus on the areas of health, primary and higher education and training, and the financial sector. Other areas to be addressed are the intensity of local competition, effectiveness of anti-monopoly policy, the prevalence of foreign ownership, burden of the customs procedure, imports as percentage of GDP, availability of financial services, and the soundness of banks.
US IT experts to visit Azerbaijan Some leading US firms specialising in information technology (IT) will visit Baku from 2–5 December during a trade mission led by the US–Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC), supported by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT). This is timed to coincide with the Azerbaijan International Telecommunications and IT Exhibition and Conference (BakuTel 2013). Participating companies will include those specialising in
satellite technologies, business intelligence, cyber-security and other technological sectors. The mission will feature briefings and meetings with senior-level government officials and industry representatives from Azerbaijan and over 35 countries. It will provide an opportunity for US firms to explore the fast-growing ICT marketplace and gain exposure to the burgeoning Azerbaijani market. Participants will also have access to senior government
Nabucco West – still on the table
Despite having been deselected by the Shah Deniz Consortium in favour of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the pipeline to bring Azerbaijani gas to Europe, Natig Aliyev, Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Minister has said that the Nabucco West pipeline could still be constructed. Speaking at a press conference, he said: “Two projects – Nabucco West and TAP – have different goals, and the choice of TAP does not rule out the implementation of Nabucco West.”
Mr Aliyev went on to say that the main issue affecting the development of Nabucco West is the amount of resources currently available. He said: “The implementation of Nabucco West will depend on expansion of the natural gas volumes forming the resource base, whilst the implementation of the TAP project should give an impetus not only to gas extraction, but towards the exploitation of new reserves. I am sure that Azerbaijan has great opportunities in gas extraction. The country will be able to supply 40bn m3 (bcm) per annum after 2020. This will be possible if TAP and TANAP are launched on time, and if partner companies continue working hard.” Taner Yildiz, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, said that considering the growing demand for gas across the EU, Turkey is confident that the Nabucco West project will be constructed. He
regulators, potential partners and distributors, whilst being able to explore business opportunities in Azerbaijan and across the Caspian region. USACC and the Azerbaijani ICT Ministry will also organise an exclusive US–Azerbaijan Business Forum, and mission participants will be able to advertise their companies and product lines at the USACC stand at BakuTel 2013. To find out more, go to www.usacc.org.
commented that the two pipelines should not be considered as rival projects but, in fact, would complement each other. Earlier, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said his country would work with its partners regarding the implementation of the pipeline. He said: “I am sure that the Nabucco West project retains its strategic importance for European energy policy and has its place on the map of Europe.”
The proposed route for the Nabucco West pipeline runs from the Turkish–Bulgarian border to Austria (Copyright: Nabucco Gas Pipeline GmbH)