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KHOJALY VICTIMS REMEMBERED THROUGH MUSIC Also in this issue: Azerbaijan in 2030: predicting the future Aghabayova’s artistry acknowledged Sochi tripartite agreement gives slight hope in Nagorno-Karabakh German jazz genius Dennerlein pulls out the stops in Baku PACE co-rapporteur Agramunt remains positive
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TEAS EVENT 12–13 May 2011 TEAS Inaugural Business Forum: highlighting Azerbaijan’s investment potential IET London, 2, Savoy Place, London, WC2R 0BL As part of its mission to serve as a networking and knowledge-sharing platform, TEAS is launching an annual flagship Business Forum. This will focus on business network creation, investment possibilities and strategic commercial alignments. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/teasbusform.
– stated that the killing of civilians could not be justified under any circumstances. Furthermore, some Armenian sources admitted the guilt of their own side. According to Markar Melkonian, the brother of the Armenian military leader Monte Melkonian: “Khojaly had been a strategic goal, but it had also been an act of revenge.” Melkonian particularly cited the role of the Arabo and Aramo Armenian military detachments that stabbed many Azerbaijani civilians to death. Christopher Pincher MP concluded: “A lasting peace must be brokered, allowing 870,000 Azerbaijanis to return to their rightful homes, and stability and prosperity to return to the South Caucasus region.”
Survivors of the Khojaly Massacre flee their village
The Khojaly Massacre remains the most heinous crime of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On 26 February 1992, this atrocity was carried out by Armenian armed forces, supported by the No. 366 Soviet Infantry Regiment, against the innocent inhabitants of Khojaly, the largest town in the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The final death toll of 613 civilians included 106 women, 83 children and 70 elderly people. All Azerbaijanis and all those who support human rights commemorate this date each year, remembering the victims of that terrible event. In Time magazine, dated 16 March 1992, Jill Smolowe and Yuri Zarakhovich reported: “While the details are disputed, this much is plain: something grim and unconscionable happened in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly.” Christopher Pincher MP, member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Azerbaijan (CFAZ) stated: “The commemoration of the Khojaly Massacre serves as a reminder of the barbaric acts that are perpetrated during conflict. Those who were killed, maimed or forced from their homes that day should not be forgotten.” Kristiina Ojuland MEP, formerly the Estonian Foreign Minister, commented: “It is important for the European community
to remember and commemorate the Khojaly tragedy. It is through remembering and facing the past, and not trivialising it, that one can build a more peaceful future, the more so in the South Caucasus.” According to Serzh Sargsyan, long-time Defence Minister and Chairman of the Armenian Security Council, and current Armenian President: “Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, being under the impression that Armenians were people who could not raise their hands against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype]. And that’s what happened.” As with many occurrences during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the atrocity in Khojaly received limited western media coverage at the time and a grave injustice was overlooked. The few western media representatives in the region at the time universally condemned the Khojaly Massacre. Human Rights Watch commented that the tragedy struck when: “A large column of residents, accompanied by a few dozen retreating fighters, fled the city as it fell to Armenian forces. As they approached the border with Azerbaijan, they came across an Armenian military post and were cruelly fired upon.” Both Human Rights Watch and Memorial – a Moscow-based human rights organisation
Lindblad outlined the impact of this appalling military crime
Bringing Khojaly to the attention of Brussels
On 1 February, the Brussels office of TEAS organised a major event at the Renaissance Hotel, Brussels, to commemorate the victims of the Khojaly Massacre, attended by around 70 leading figures from politics, diplomacy and business. Emin Eyyubov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Belgium and Luxembourg and for the Mission to the European Community, acknowledged: “We are commemorating a great injustice today.” Following this, a minute of silence was observed in remembrance. According to Leon Cook, TEAS’ Head of Government Affairs: “The atrocity committed on 26 February 1992 was especially brutal.” Göran Lindblad, former Swedish MP and former Vice-President of the Council of Europe and currently External Advisor to TEAS Brussels, stated: “Commemorating an organised military crime against humanity is indeed our duty. We must underline that this sort of crime is totally unacceptable.”
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The Khojaly Massacre – never forgotten
Lord Laird began the proceedings by recalling that: “The Khojaly Massacre, which took place 19 years ago, constituted a killing of civilians that was unprecedented in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Innocent people were brutally killed, and many were captured. To this day, we do not know their fate. The international Justice for Khojaly campaign has been active for several years, its objective being to commemorate the victims. The truth had not been brought to the attention of the world.”
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In 2008, Canadian war reporter and former soldier Scott Taylor visited NagornoKarabakh from both the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides whilst writing a book, entitled Unreconciled Differences: Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Speaking from experience, he commented: “It is against human nature to kill – to do so, it is necessary to dehumanise the enemy. The Armenians used racial epithets in their propaganda to enable these actions to take place.
The demonstrations were reverential and powerful
Protesting in London
On 25 February, Azerbaijanis and friends of Azerbaijan in the UK united in the heart of London to participate in the peaceful Justice for Khojaly, Freedom for Nagorno-Karabakh march and stationary demonstration, which took place in Trafalgar Square. This was organised by Ramin Hakimov, Chairman, York Azerbaijan Society and Sanan Aliyev, Chair, Azerbaijan House, with the support of TEAS and the Azerbaijani Students and Alumni International Forum (ASAIF). The participants comprised around 200 members of Azerbaijani societies from Cambridge, East Anglia, Essex, Exeter, Hull, Lancaster, London, Newcastle, Oxford, and York. They waved flags and posters, distributed pamphlets and chanted slogans. Initially, demonstrators walked, in reverent silence, through the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, outside the National Portrait Gallery and towards Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street. They then raised their voice, chanting the slogan Peace and Justice for Khojaly and NagornoKarabakh. Their petitions were handdelivered to 10, Downing Street, being addressed to UK Prime Minister David Cameron. On the same day, the Essex University Azerbaijan Society organised an openair stand in conjunction with the Human Rights Centre, dedicated to the Justice for Khojaly campaign. They distributed materials, booklets and DVDs concerning the Khojaly Massacre and NagornoKarabakh, all of which had been supplied by TEAS, to around 300 students and academics. Approximately 50 international students signed the Justice For Khojaly petition.
As part of the campaign, an e-mail on the Khojaly Massacre was despatched to all academics and students at the university. In addition, Tural Guliyev and Ziya Tariverdiyev, students at Essex University and members of the Essex University Azerbaijan Society, published an article about the Khojaly Massacre in The Rabbit, the university newspaper, entitled No-one and nothing is forgotten.
Khojaly brought to the House of Lords
On 24 February, the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK and TEAS jointly organised a meeting in the House of Lords to commemorate the horrific events of the Khojaly Massacre. This was attended by over 80 people, including H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the UK; H.E. Ünal Çeviköz, Turkish Ambassador to the UK; and Otabek Akbarov, Uzbek Ambassador to the UK.
“To this day, the Armenians refuse to accept what they did that night, despite the findings of such international organisations as Human Rights Watch. Four UN Security Council Resolutions, passed against Armenia, remain unimplemented. Armenians were taught to hate the Turkic peoples, and we need to get past that hatred. “The Khojaly Massacre took place simultaneously with the Balkans conflict, and was thus overshadowed. The western media also had little knowledge of the region. By committing this atrocity, the Armenians had risked the condemnation of the world.” Tale Heydarov, Chairman and Founder, TEAS, explained: “The events in Khojaly were no accident. They were based on hatred that arose before and during the Soviet period. We must create trust between nations and remember Khojaly in order to avoid future human catastrophes.”
The mood was sombre when Ambassador Gurbanov outlined the tragic events of 19 years ago
He stated that much of his efforts would be directed towards negotiating a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as this is “more important than any other issue in the region.” Bryza acknowledged that the failure to settle the long-running dispute had brought about disillusionment in the OSCE Minsk Group, formerly co-chaired by Bryza, which had been seeking to broker a solution for 18 years. He commented: “It’s completely natural for people to feel disappointed until any negotiated process reaches its conclusion. Disappointment is felt on both sides about the conflict. However, I know from my own experience that, inside the negotiations – and now from the outside – it is true that significant progress has been made. If we look back at negotiations in 2004 or 2005, the process did not exist. It had reached a stopping point.”
Jumping the time warp
Professor Alan Riley delivered a lecture at the City Law School, London, entitled Azerbaijan in 2030: Is Brussels the Destination?, organised by TEAS. In a meeting attended by around 40 business persons, students and academics, Professor Riley assessed the various types of European integration that could be viable, taking the impact of European decline into consideration, which is making extension of the single market necessary. He explained that Azerbaijan remains the richest global market near the European Union (EU), with energy at its core. Furthermore, techniques for maximising oil reserves – such as shale gas extraction and gas-to-liquid (GTL) systems – will increase the life of the country’s deposits, although their widespread use could reduce international oil prices. This, in turn, could cause Azerbaijan to seek markets that are nearby, thus pointing towards Europe. Professor Riley emphasised the need to upgrade the Azerbaijani economy in order that it remains competitive; the necessity for definitive free trade agreements; and the requirement to resolve local conflicts, including the Nagorno-Karabakh situation. This should enable Baku to increase its proximity to Euro-Atlantic institutions. These topics were discussed against a backdrop of the BRIC economies, which will be major determinant of the new economic landscape. China is rapidly becoming a new superpower, but there are questions as to
whether such growth will be maintained, for it is undeniable that the state is capable of great capital misallocation. On the other hand, Professor Riley regarded the Indian economy as being underrated. Turkey is on track to becoming a major BRIC, and is the neighbour of Azerbaijan, with which it shares many common economic, political and cultural links. It has achieved sustained economic growth, having the potential to become one of the richest nations, particularly after it achieves EU accession.
Photo: Turkhan Karimov
Professor Riley was positive about the mutual benefits of enhanced Azerbaijani–EU relations
Bryza went on to promise that the US mission in Baku would apply its influence to ensure that European nations would be able to access diversified energy supplies. He outlined: “This is a long-standing area of co-operation, where we are working together to ensure that our European allies have a diversified supply of natural gas. Consequently, they feel safer, both politically and economically.” Bryza’s appointment could play an instrumental role in attracting regional support for the Nabucco pipeline.
Professor Riley concluded that if Ankara and Moscow move towards the EU, then there is a firm case for Baku following suit. This will be mutually beneficial, as the EU will play an integral role in developing the Caucasus, with Baku as the centre of wealth. The EU will bring stability and, even if Azerbaijan does not seek EU membership, closer engagement with EU member states is a certainty. The lecture concluded with a lively question-andanswer session.
Bryza is installed
Azerbaijani President Aliyev has received the credentials of Matthew Bryza, the newly-appointed US Ambassador to Azerbaijan. During a subsequent press briefing, Bryza commented: “According to the instructions of President Obama, I will do my best to develop and extend bilateral relations.” He explained that these encompass many strategic issues, including
Bryza pledged to concentrate on resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
NEWS IN BRIEF Azerbaijanis across the Mersey Four Azerbaijani students at Liverpool University have launched the Liverpool Azerbaijan Society to enhance the strength of the city’s Azerbaijani diaspora.
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security, energy and internal reforms. Bryza continued: “Official Washington thanks Azerbaijan for its support in combating terrorism and co-operation regarding issues in Afghanistan.”
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Fuad Ismayilov, former Azerbaijani Ambassador to Austria, was wellrespected across diplomatic circles
A life cut cruelly short
The funeral ceremony for Fuad Ismayilov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Austria, aged 43 years, has taken place in his home city of Baku. This followed his passing on 23 February in Vienna, after a long illness. Ismayilov graduated from the Arabic Department of the Oriental Studies Faculty at Baku State University. He worked in various overseas Azerbaijani diplomatic missions, and had headed the Azerbaijani Embassy to Austria since 2005. He was also Ambassador to Slovakia and Slovenia and Azerbaijan’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE, in addition to several international organisations.
During his visit, Ambassador Kobia stressed the need for greater EU–Azerbaijani collaboration
EU officials explore the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic
Officials from the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan, the EU Presidency, and diplomats from ten EU member states have visited the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR), according to the European Neighbourhood Policy Information Centre (ENPI). During their meeting, they discussed the sectors that would be suitable for future EU–Azerbaijani co-operation via the EU Eastern Partnership, the objective of which is to contribute towards sustainable development of the region. Ambassador Roland Kobia, Head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, commented: “The visit demonstrates the EU’s willingness to engage with all Azerbaijani regions on an equal footing. We have received a clear message from both local authorities and civil society organisations, calling for greater EU engagement in the region.” During the 24-hour visit, the EU Ambassadors discussed the impact of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They encouraged the implementation of OSCE projects in the NAR, and identified
economic development, education and science as potential areas for future collaboration. Amongst others, meetings were undertaken with Vasif Talibov, Chairman, Supreme Assembly, NAR and Ahmed Ahmadov, Minister of Internal Affairs, NAR.
Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US enlightens Oklahoma
Students at Herbert W. Armstrong College in North Edmond, Oklahoma, enhanced their understanding of Azerbaijan during a speech by H.E. Yashar Aliyev, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the US. Aliyev explained: “Although small, our country enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with the US. The most important thing for Azerbaijan is its independence.” He added that Azerbaijan has supported US soldiers in fighting terrorism in Iraq, and that Azerbaijani soldiers are currently supporting US forces on the ground in Afghanistan. The Ambassador continued: “Very recently we started training Afghani students. Small countries making small contributions can achieve a great deal.”
Araz Azimov, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister, commented: “The death of Ismayilov is a big loss for Azerbaijani diplomacy. He was an experienced diplomat.” Matthew Bryza, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, recalled: “Fuad Ismayilov was a very good friend, an expert diplomat and a good man. I first met him four years ago, and we frequently attended the same meetings regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. I know that I will miss him.”
NEWS IN BRIEF Raising awareness in York A presentation has taken place at the University of York outlining the NagornoKarabakh situation and focusing on the Khojaly Massacre. This was jointly organised by the York Azerbaijan Society and the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK. The speakers’ roster included Dr Tamara Dragadze and professors from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, and Leeds University. Attention was drawn to the violation of human rights by the Armenian perpetrators of the Khojaly Massacre. Ramin Hakimov, Chairman, York Azerbaijan Society, outlined the activities of the international Justice for Khojaly campaign. Dr Dragadze gave detailed information on the struggle for independence during the aftermath of the Soviet collapse and the implications of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
A musical remembrance of the Khojaly victims P h ot o: N e al e A t k i n s on
Aghabayova’s outstanding work stimulated a positive response from London’s artistic cognoscenti
Aghabayova – a young, vital, Azerbaijani visionary The FeMusa Ensemble, led by violinist Nazrin Rashidova, played a moving tribute to the victims of Armenian aggression
On 28 February, a remarkable concert, organised by TEAS, took place in the prestigious Central Hall, Westminster, just a short distance from the Houses of Parliament. Attended by over 200 people, including MPs, Peers, journalists, classical music aficionados and expatriate Azerbaijanis, the purpose of the evening was to remember the 613 civilian victims of the Khojaly Massacre.
Azerbaijan has increased its relevance to the UK. We have a real responsibility to recognise what has happened, and to push for the rights of the people displaced from their homes by the Armenian invasion. These people need their homes back. The west must support the Azerbaijani stance on this issue, and remember the people that have been forgotten for too long.”
The concert was preceded by an exhibition of graphic photographs taken by international photojournalists after the slaughter, many of which had not been previously exhibited. The faces of the grieving, injured and dead visibly moved all attendees. Lord Kilclooney commented: “I first visited Azerbaijan as an election observer for the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) soon after it gained independence from the Soviet Union. I made a point of visiting Nagorno-Karabakh, and also witnessed the terrible living conditions of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly residing in ramshackle apartment buildings spread across the country. I have also visited Guba, where the Jewish community is encouraged to live and prosper in this secular Muslim country.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is generally regarded as central to the development and evolution of mugham, the complex and passionate music that is synonymous with the Azerbaijani spirit. The musicians and composers in the region were acknowledged for their talent, and performed across the Caucasus.
Christopher Pincher MP, member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Azerbaijan (CFAZ), continued: “During the 19 years since the Khojaly Massacre,
The concert comprised a performance by the 22-year-old Azerbaijani violinist Nazrin Rashidova and her all-female FeMusa String Ensemble. It included works by Elgar, Greig and Britten alongside a rare chance to hear pieces by the Azerbaijani composers Asaf Zeynalli (1909–32) and Fikret Amirov (1922– 84). The Zeynalli piece was a new string arrangement of his Mugham Sayagi, based on mugham themes, which began with the sound of tubular bells, being reminiscent of a death knell. The finale was Amirov’s Nizami Symphony (1947), being performed in London for only the second time in 50 years, written in memory of Nizami Ganjavi, the 12th century Azerbaijani poet.
Baku is world-renowned centre for the arts, with the younger generation embracing creativity in an uninhibited manner. Currently, one of the most exciting talents in the Azerbaijani artistic world is Torakhanim (Tora) Aghabayova. A Bakuvite, born in 1979, she continues to reside in the capital, having graduated from the Azerbaijan Fine Arts Academy in 2002 with an MA. On 22 February, London audiences flocked to view Oil and Dreams, Tora’s inaugural solo exhibition, which took place at the prestigious Royal Opera Arcade Gallery in Pall Mall. Attended by around 150 enthusiastic art aficionados, hydrocarbon specialists, media representatives and friends of Azerbaijan, the event was cosponsored by Confidence Capital and private sponsorship, being supported by TEAS. The exhibition was curated by Farida Mammadova and Leyla Tabasaranskaya. Visitors were amazed by the way in which Tora accurately captured the noise and heat of heavy industry in her brushstrokes, portraying oil men surveying a pylon; oil rigs; or a muscle-bound builder, complete with rivet-gun. She also sought to capture ordinary people, such as the mother and her child sitting at home in the painting Expectation, or the children playing with welding visors in Childhood, inviting various interpretations. Humour was even present in her Self-portrait with Hard Hat. During the past decade, Aghabayova’s work has been exhibited internationally at such showcases as the Bakunlimited Basel event in Switzerland, the Baku Biennale, and the Venice Biennale. A solo exhibition will be held in October at the Kicik Qalart Gallery, Baku, organised by Art ex East.
Ph ot o: S a m D r a k e
No.5 in A Major, the final movement of which includes Turkish-inspired themes. This will share a programme with Mozart’s Requiem, performed by the Whitehall Choir. Friends of Azerbaijan will be eligible for a 10 per cent reduction on all ticket prices, normally ranging from £8–24. Simply quote ‘The European Azerbaijan Society’ when booking on 020 7766 1100.
Rasulov’s hyper-real Chicken 1, 2 and 3 posed endless unanswered questions
Firing up in London
The Gazelli Art House is a new commercial organisation in London’s contemporary art world. The curator is Mila Askarova, who was born and raised in Azerbaijan and educated in Turkey. Following studies at the LSE, Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design and Christie’s Auctioneers, she organised exhibitions in Baku and Istanbul, going on to work as a private dealer in the commercial sector in London. This year, she will co-ordinate the Azerbaijan Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale. The inaugural Gazelli exhibition opened on 10 February at The Dairy in Central London. This remarkable space was filled with around 500 members of the UK contemporary art cognoscenti. The exhibition, entitled Fired Up, was the first in a series to take place during the year, each of which will focus on one of the five classical elements. The Azerbaijani artistic community was represented by 25-year-old Farid Rasulov, whose work was featured at the Venice Biennale in 2007, together with numerous solo exhibitions across Baku. Rasulov constantly seeks to explore the
tension between visual representation and social definition in works portraying domestic objects. Fired Up focused on his magnificent 7m-long, five-panel work Eggs, depicting broken eggshells, and a series entitled Chicken 1, 2 and 3 picturing slaughtered, trussed chickens. Such paintings constituted a meditation on life, death, love and loss, and moved all those in attendance. The other artists were all British and American. Rory McCartney’s paintings generated a sense of excitement via the use of contrasting colours and a gorgeous sense of materiality – his paint is reminiscent of magma, being applied to a wide range of surfaces. David Jones’ scintillating baroque paintings captured the viewer with their bravura use of saturated colour, high-gloss finishes and finely-drawn detail. Lauren Cotton created hypnotic sitespecific installations that engage with the room, and Joe Clark’s alchemic, intriguing installations explored how, in a secular world, art engagement can represent a form of meditation. The exhibition concluded on 25 February, having been viewed by around 1000 people.
P ho to : S a m D ra ke
The private view of Gazelli’s next exhibition, Down to Earth, will take place on 31 March at The Studio, 2, Kingdom Street, London, W2 6PY. The Azerbaijani artist Niyaz Najafov will be featured. To attend, please RSVP to rsvp@ gazelliarthouse.com.
Rashidova demonstrates great artistry Mila Askarova has spearheaded this new initiative in the contemporary art world
London-based classical violinist Nazrin Rashidova will return to the hallowed surroundings of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square on 7 April. She will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto
Faig Ahmed’s work leverages modern techniques to embrace tradition
The magical mysteries of Azerbaijani art
Curated by Olivier Mestelan under the auspices of his Art ex East Foundation, the Kicik Qalart Gallery in Baku is currently presenting an exhibition of contemporary art entitled The Fabulous Four, featuring works by Orkhan Houseynov, Reshad Alekberov, Faig Ahmed and Farid Rasulov, all of which participated in the Venice Biennale in 2007. As in Fired Up, Rasulov concentrated on portraying everyday objects blown up to elephantine proportions, here portraying various types of the Azerbaijani dish dolma and a triptych of some animal entrails. He has also created some intriguing wire sculptures of deer, whose physical emptiness enunciates René Descartes’ dictum that animals do not have a soul. On the other hand, Alekberov specialises in brightly-coloured paintings of his installations of balloon-like female figures, which appear to be in the shadow of a disabled human. The impact on the viewer is evocative and troubling. Ahmed, however, takes a sideways glance at various schools of Azerbaijani carpet, which he faithfully replicates in aluminium. This represents the tenderness and structure of the design, yet reflects the impact of modernity. Houseynov is completely dissimilar, focusing on pure design that is both conformist in execution, yet nonconformist in meaning. His Silly Cat series bleakly contemplates the life and death of a cat in a devastating, simultaneous action.
Were you inspired by the recordings by Fats Waller on church organ? Not really – I was already playing church organ when I discovered the recordings that Fats Waller made in the 1920s. He was certainly the first person to play jazz on the instrument, and I sometimes perform his composition Ain’t Misbehavin’ in recognition of this. As you know, I play both Hammond B3 and pipe organ, and the technique is very different. There is a delay from pressing the key and the sound being heard, whereas the Hammond immediately responds. Also, the bass pedals on the pipe organ require the use of two feet. These are the main reasons why the instrument is not played by many jazz musicians.
Barbara Dennerlein stands before the magnificent new organ in the Lutheran Church of the Saviour in Baku
Barbara Dennerlein ranks amongst the foremost contemporary jazz organists, coming in the wake of Hammond B3 exponents Jimmy Smith and Brother Jack McDuff, who brought the organ to the foreground in the late 1950s. Having begun organ studies aged 11 years, she first performed in a jazz club four years later, and during the 1980s perfected her approach, combining elements of bop, swing, Latin and funk into an intoxicating and exciting mix. Equally at home in a trio format, with a big band or – most surprisingly – on church pipe organ, Barbara’s recordings and appearances have garnered numerous awards, and she has performed across the world in such as venues as the Blue Note Club in New York and Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. In February, she travelled to Baku to perform on the pipe organ in the Church of the Saviour. TEAS caught up with Barbara at home in Germany to find out more. What prompted your visit to Azerbaijan? This was actually my second visit to the country, as I played there 15 years ago. I was brought to Baku by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Rauf Aliyev, President, A+A Group, to play on a new pipe organ that has been installed in the Church of the Saviour, and this represented a very special opportunity for me. I was only the second person to perform a concert on this instrument, as it had been played the previous night by classical organist Martin Haselböck. This also gave me chance to collaborate with the great
Azerbaijani saxophonist Rain Sultanov and a local drummer. You performed in the Church of the Saviour in Baku, built by German Lutheran settlers in the 19th century. Did the organ and the ambience remind you of churches in Germany? The new organ forms part of the church restoration project, which has taken place over the course of a decade. Now used more as a concert hall than a church, the building has a new floor and stage. I wish more churches looked liked this – it was a very interesting and beautiful place in which to play a concert. The console was situated immediately in front of the audience, which was excellent. You performed with saxophonist Rain Sultanov, who has been a leading figure in Azerbaijani jazz for many years. Did you feel that his approach to improvisation complemented your own? Rain is a brilliant player and a very pleasant person. It was the first time I met and played with him. I have since heard his compositions, with which I am impressed, and it is interesting to see the way in which he combines jazz with Azerbaijani traditional music. Did you focus on compositions from the Spiritual Movement CDs, which you wrote for pipe organ? Yes, and it was great to hear these on such a new organ.
The Azerbaijani jazz scene has been buoyant for several decades, and the Baku Jazz Festival is held every year. Did you have opportunity to experience any Azerbaijani bands during your time in Baku? Unfortunately not – I had limited time in which to prepare the concert, and the new organ incorporated some electronics that required programming. I arrived on the night of the concert by Martin Haselböck. I was most impressed by Baku – it has changed a great deal during the past 15 years. I found everyone to be very friendly and hospitable. I received many presents, and found the food to be extremely tasty! I believe that jazz-mugham is very effective, and that Azerbaijani jazz musicians are of an international standard. Rain’s music contains many moods, including Azerbaijani harmonies and rhythms. I also appreciate the music of pianist Aziza Mustafa Zadeh. Do you have any plans to perform on Hammond organ in Azerbaijan in the future? I would very much like to perform at the Baku Jazz Festival. However, travelling with an immensely heavy Hammond B3 organ is a logistical nightmare, and I could not source an instrument in Baku. My previous visit was partially sponsored by Lufthansa, which made it viable. However, computerised organs are constantly improving, so I am optimistic. All those years ago, my concert on the Hammond was a tremendous success, and I would like to play for such an audience again.
To hear Barbara play, please visit her website at www.barbaradennerlein.com
BARBARA DENNERLEIN – SPIRITUALS TO SWING
AGRAMUNT AND AZERBAIJAN: A HARMONIOUS COLLABORATION
also an important emergent middle-class, which is destined to play an important role in shaping the future of the country. Azerbaijan is an evolving democracy, with each election being acknowledged as an improvement. What steps need to be taken to achieve full democracy, as recognised by PACE? As Co-rapporteur, I wish to remain prudent on this topic. The latest report was approved by the Council of Europe on 24 January and analysed the most recent Azerbaijani parliamentary elections in November 2010. This indicated that important progress had been achieved, but some steps require fulfillment. The most important of these relates to the virtual absence of a parliamentary opposition. This is partially attributable to the state of the opposition and the electoral system. The nature of the opposition is an integral element in democratic systems.
Agramunt will use his role as Co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan to PACE to seek Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution
Pedro Agramunt is a Spanish MEP and member of the European People’s Party. He has held numerous positions in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during the past 11 years, including Second Vice-President of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe; membership of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population; and member of the Subcommittee on Refugees. Most recently, he has been appointed as one of the Co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan to PACE. As Azerbaijan celebrated a decade of Council of Europe membership, TEAS was delighted to catch up with Agramunt in Strasbourg to establish his perspective. Azerbaijan has just commemorated a decade of Council of Europe membership. How has this relationship evolved? As with each of the 47 member countries, Azerbaijani parliamentarians are members of the various political groups and committees, receiving reports in the same way as other representatives. Azerbaijani parliamentarians are actively involved in every issue deliberated upon by the Council of Europe. How would you describe the current relationship between Azerbaijan and PACE? The relationship with Azerbaijan is respectful and mutually beneficial, as for every other country that undergoes monitoring, regarding the commitments
and obligations adopted a decade ago when incorporated into the Council of Europe. It is akin to that which exists between PACE and such countries as Russia and Serbia. You first visited Azerbaijan nine years ago. How has it developed since that time? I have been most impressed by Azerbaijani economic development. During my first visit, the country gave an impression of poor aesthetics. However, the reverse situation is now true. I have now observed the spectacular economic development of the country, which is even greater than that of China. Walking the Baku streets has facilitated the discovery of astonishingly beautiful buildings and many new cars. There is
One of primary objectives of PACE is to protect human rights in Azerbaijan. You have previously spoken on the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, whose status is attributable to the Nagorno-Karabakh situation. How have their living conditions changed? Obviously the problem of the refugees and IDPs is due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Nearly ten years ago I visited around 12 refugee camps, and found their state to be appalling. Despite the fact that I have not visited them since, I believe that the conditions have considerably improved as new residences have been constructed. This remains a problem of some magnitude. What does PACE regard as a satisfactory resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? An ‘ad hoc’ committee has recently been re-established at PACE, of which I am a member. This will soon become active and seek to increase pressure for conflict resolution.
Agramunt takes his seat at the Spanish Senate in Madrid
Tripartite meeting achieves small steps conflict with Georgia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, when Russian troops almost reached Tbilisi.
Russian President Medvedev (middle) and Armenian President Sargsyan (right) were attentive to the views of Azerbaijani President Aliyev
Azerbaijani President Aliyev, Armenian President Sargsyan and Russian President Medvedev have concluded their eighth round of tripartite talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. This culminated with the issuance of a joint statement that emphasises the parties’ willingness: “To seek solutions to all points of dispute by peaceful means and investigate possible incidents along the ‘contact line’ with the participation of the parties, under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group, with support from the special representative of the incumbent OSCE chairperson-in-office.” The statement continued: “The presidents stressed the importance of their regular contact regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement and agreed to their continuity, together with supporting the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group CoChairs.” The Presidents discussed the practicalities regarding implementation of the tripartite declaration adopted during their last round of talks in Astrakhan in October 2010, and acknowledged that the: “OSCE Minsk Group is a mediator in the conflict.” During the meeting, the presidents agreed to conclude the exchange of prisoners-of-war (POWs) as soon as possible, as specified in the Astrakhan declaration.
Lindblad expounds at City University
Göran Lindblad, former Swedish MP, former Vice-President of PACE and currently External Advisor to TEAS’ Brussels Office, delivered an informative and interactive lecture at City University, London on 8
March, during a meeting jointly organised by the Azerbaijan Society of City University and TEAS. Entitled Will peace ever be achieved in the Caucasus? (with especial emphasis on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict), Lindblad explained that, whilst Azerbaijan has achieved considerable democratic successes, Russia is taking retrograde steps towards totalitarianism, and that Armenia is flouting the rule of law
Lindblad made some forthright observations on the role of Russia in continuing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
and democratic values. He stated that it remains in Russian interests to maintain the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh to ensure Gazprom’s monopoly on energy supplies to Europe, and outlined the military assistance that it provides to Armenia. Lindblad continued by emphasising that, in the case of a recurrence of hostilities, Russia could invade Azerbaijan to gain control over its energy resources. He claimed that Russian territorial ambitions had already been demonstrated during the
Lindblad cited an Economist report, dated 8 March, in which it stated that there were 53 per cent more incidents on the ‘contact line’ during 2010 than the previous year, with 25 deaths, and thus the conflict remains far from ‘frozen.’ He discussed the apathy and inefficiency of the EU, PACE, UN and the OSCE, together with the mendacious impact of the Armenian diaspora in Europe and the US. Any parallels with the Kosovan and Cypriot issues were dismissed. Lindblad concluded that international organisations must increase pressure on Russia to support peaceful resolution and to cease armaments supplies; that apolitical Azerbaijani–Armenian alliances should be fostered in such sectors as energy and education; and that any lasting peace treaty should recognise all minorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, with some element of self-determination being ensured within Azerbaijani borders.
Azerbaijani child killed by Armenian sniper
A young boy was tragically killed by Armenian sniper fire in the village of Orta Garvand in Azerbaijan’s Agdam District on 8 March. Farid Badalov, aged 9 years, received a bullet wound to the head as he played outside his house. He passed away whilst being transported to Agdam District Central Hospital. The OSCE is currently requesting the withdrawal of snipers from the ‘contact line’. Meanwhile, according to Habil Jafarov, Chief, Mobile Task Force of Azerbaijan’s National Mine Action Authority (ANAMA), an unexploded ‘Grad’ shell was found near the middle school in the Evoghlu village, Agdam region. The shell was destroyed during a controlled explosion. ANAMA also revealed that a 100mm-calibre artillery shell was recently found in a water tank in the Chamanli village, again in the Agdam region.
NEWS IN BRIEF Military exercises confirmed A report from ITAR–TASS has stated that the separatist régime in Nagorno-Karabakh has confirmed that it held large-scale military exercises in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories from 15–19 February.
Semneby is concerned over violence escalation
During his final visit to Yerevan as outgoing EU Special Representative to the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby reiterated his concern about an intensifying arms race between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He stated: “The ongoing arms race in the region can only have a destabilising impact. This is something that we are seriously worried about. We saw many incidents last year. In the context of such an arms race, we fear that the threshold for the use of force in the conflict may gradually be lowered.”
IDP camps are spread across Azerbaijani territory
Azerbaijani IDPs call upon the EU to speed their return
A three-member fact-finding mission from Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a Brussels-based NGO, visited IDPs living in and around Baku from 27–31 January. They reported that those fleeing the Khojaly Massacre bore the hardest stories of displacement. A woman from Khojaly testified: “We have lost 28 members of our extended family, 16 of whom were close family members. Our daughter, whose husband was killed, was pregnant at the time. She suffered wounds in the right arm, which is now not completely functional. My father, a former Chief Postmaster in Khojaly, was injured. We stayed in train cabins and travelled to Agdam to find the bodies of dead relatives, where they were subsequently buried. Agdam is now occupied, and we cannot visit the graves. We have left behind our land, houses, and belongings. The hardest aspect is that we are unable to visit the graves of our relatives and seek solace.” Human Rights Without Frontiers International discovered that the sense of temporary dislocation was overwhelming when talking to IDPs in Azerbaijan. The report observed that large families of several generations spent their time watching television, awaiting a breakthrough in the peace talks. “The only reason we can tolerate these conditions is the hope of return. Our family members died in the occupied regions, and we want to die there too…we want our homeland back. There is no other choice,” was a recurrent topic, echoing the sentiments of the majority of IDPs. The thought that they are only “provisionally” displaced
permeated their lives and governed their life choices, including the decision to have provisional burials at the location of their internal displacement. Such people mainly identified themselves with their villages and regions.
Bleak predictions from the ICG
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has delivered a pessimistic view of the current Nagorno-Karabakh situation. Its report, entitled Azerbaijan and Armenia: Preventing War, begins: “An arms race, escalating front-line clashes, vitriolic war rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks are increasing the chance that Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh. Preventing this is urgent. Increased military capabilities on both sides would make a new armed conflict in the South Caucasus far more deadly than during 1992–94, which ended with a shaky truce. Neither side would be likely to win easily or quickly. Regional alliances could pull in Russia, Turkey and Iran.” It continues: “There has been a significant deterioration over the past year. Neither government is planning an all-out offensive in the near future, but skirmishes that already kill 30 people a year could easily spiral out of control. It is unclear if the leaders in Yerevan and Baku thoroughly calculate the potential consequences of a new round of tit-for-tat attacks. Ambiguity and a lack of transparency about operations along the ‘contact line’, arms deals, other military expenditures, and even the state of the peace talks all contribute to a precarious situation. Monitoring mechanisms should be strengthened and confidence-building steps implemented to decrease the chance of an accidental war.”
He continued: “I’m not talking about deliberate actions, but we cannot exclude the possibility that any of these incidents could escalate beyond control at some point.” Semneby voiced similar concerns in September 2010, when he told Reuters that the ceasefire around Nagorno-Karabakh should be strengthened, possibly with the deployment of more international observers. The envoy noted that the conflicting parties had made “less progress than we had hoped for” in their peace talks, and revealed that: “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is becoming an increasingly serious issue for the EU.” Semneby went on to dismiss Armenian opposition claims that the EU has tolerated human rights abuses in Armenia during the 2008 post-election unrest in order to facilitate a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.
NEWS IN BRIEF Swiss role unwound H.E. Sabine Ulmann Shaban, the recentlyappointed Swiss Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has outlined her nation’s plan for further co-operation with Azerbaijan during a meeting with Bahar Muradova, Vice-Speaker, Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament). The Ambassador commented on her country’s readiness to assist Azerbaijan in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, whilst Muradova explained the current state of negotiations. Azerbaijan and Turkey jointly produce grenade launcher and submachine gun An agreement on joint production has been ratified between the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence and the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK) during the IDEX–2011 military exhibition in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The signatories were Yavar Jamalov, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, and Vejdi Konul, his Turkish counterpart. According to the agreement, 40mm revolver grenade launchers, related ammunition and MP5 submachine guns will be produced in Azerbaijan under license, applying MKEK technology.
President Aliyev (right) personally trialled one of the new London taxis
Azerbaijan gives Manganese Bronze its largest ever taxi order
Azerbaijan has placed an order for 1000 TX4 London taxis with Manganese Bronze, the leading manufacturer. Worth approximately $27m (£17m), the decision led to a 50 per cent hike in the company’s share value. The deal, the largest single order of London taxis in the manufacturer’s history, will result in the vehicles being supplied to the newly-created Baku Taxi Company by Shanghai LTI, Manganese Bronze’s joint venture partner at Geely Automobile Holdings, based in China. The Baku Taxi Company has recently been created under the auspices of the Azerbaijani Transport Ministry’s development programme. The first consignment of 100 taxis is scheduled for delivery by the end of April, with the remaining vehicles being built and shipped by the end of November 2011.
Moody’s elevates Azerbaijan’s ratings outlook to ‘positive’
Moody’s Investors’ Service has upgraded the outlook for Azerbaijan’s Ba1 government ratings from ‘stable’ to ‘positive’. It stipulated that the move was attributable to the country’s “significant improvements in governmental fiscal and external positions, reflected in the rapid accumulation of financial assets by the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ); and ongoing government efforts to invest in the non-oil sector.” Likewise, Moody’s has amended the outlook of Azerbaijan’s Baa2 foreign and A3 local-currency debt ceilings and its Ba2/Baa1 foreign and local currency
deposit ceilings, which have developed from ‘stable’ to ‘positive’. The Azerbaijani government registered a fiscal surplus of 14 per cent of GDP in its consolidated budget, with an account surplus representing 30 per cent of GDP in 2010. Moody’s attributes the majority of surpluses to SOFAZ, the assets of which expanded by $8bn (£5bn) to reach $23bn (£14bn) between Q4 2009 and Q4 2010, with the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) increasing its foreign reserves by $1.6bn (£992m), equating to $7bn (£4bn). Moody’s highlighted the Azerbaijani government’s non-oil sector investments, stating that that growth in this sphere had increased by 7.9 per cent during 2010, compared with just 3.2 per cent in 2009. It emphasised government support for the private sector via its Enterprise Fund, which invested a total of $125m (£78m) across more than 100 companies during 2010.
Azerbaijan’s ICT income set to increase to $15.4bn
The total income from the Azerbaijani ICT sector will reach $15.4bn (£9.6bn) by 2024, according to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies. Speaking at the Azerbaijan Investors’ Summit in Baku, Elmir Velizadeh, Deputy Minister, Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, predicted that estimated ICT earnings would soon exceed those of the hydrocarbon sector. Velizadeh stated: “According to forecasts, annual ICT revenues will be $15.4bn by 2024, compared with oil revenues of $10.9bn (£6.8bn). Over the past six years, the domestic ICT sector has received total investments of $1.5bn (£932m), of which foreign capital equates to 21 per cent. The Azerbaijani ICT sector has grown fivefold, with the annual rate of sector growth
Velizadeh confirmed that total predicted ICT sector investments for 2011 would amount to $204m (£127m), commenting: “This year, one communications company alone is expected to invest $50m (£31m). The investment figures increase every year, and this is indicative of high growth levels in the ICT field. We want this year’s dynamics to continue this upwards trend, but this depends on various factors. Presumably the pattern of growth in 2011 will be akin to that experienced during 2010.”
NEWS IN BRIEF Austrian expertise to enhance renewable energy sector development Gabriel Lansky, Vice-President, AustrianAzerbaijani Chamber of Commerce (ATAZ), has announced at the Azerbaijan Investors’ Summit, which took place in Baku on 2–3 March, that: “Currently we’re negotiating the possibility of Austrian business participation in the development of the renewable energy sector in Azerbaijan. Today, up to 30 per cent of electricity generated in Austria is derived from alternative and renewable sources. We hope that our country’s experience in this field will be useful for Azerbaijan.” Established by Austrian and Azerbaijani businesspersons in 2009, the AustrianAzerbaijani Chamber of Commerce facilitates the strengthening and expansion of economic ties between Azerbaijan and Central Europe. Azerbaijan’s oil reserves to hit 2bn tonnes Rovnag Abdullayev, Director, SOCAR, has announced that Azerbaijani oil reserves now total 2bn tonnes, with recoverable gas reserves standing at 2.2tn m3 (tcm). According to Abdullayev, Azerbaijan’s 2010 indicators for oil and gas production reached the level of 51m tonnes and 27bn m3 (bcm), respectively. Abdullayev went on to claim that the country had ensured its energy security and become an exporter of gas. Azerbaijan now exports gas to various countries, including Georgia, Turkey and Russia. In 2010, SOCAR produced 7.28m tonnes of oil and over 7bcm of gas. Working in collaboration with overseas partners, SOCAR has participated in numerous major strategic projects, including the development of the Azeri–Chirag–Guneshli oil and gas fields, and the Shah Deniz gas field.
at 30–35 per cent. In 2009, despite the international economic crisis, the dynamics of sector development were maintained at 13.7 per cent. By 2010, this had increased to 32.1 per cent. Due to the creation of an acceptable competitive environment, the private sector share rose to 80.3 per cent, whereas it had previously been 70.7 per cent.”
Azerbaijan Investors’ Summit held in Baku 14
Business News Vanessa Raine, Business Co-ordinator, TEAS, celebrates Azerbaijani economic success with Daniel Matthews, Baker & McKenzie, a TEAS member
From 2–3 March, TEAS supported the Azerbaijan Investors’ Summit in Baku, organised by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AzPromo), together with Euroconvention Conferences. The Summit played host to investors from various countries, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Hong Kong, amongst others. Adil Mammadov, Executive Director, AzPromo, commented: “These investors represent the banking and finance, agricultural, construction, and alternative energy sectors, most of whom are visiting the country for the first time. Azerbaijan presented information regarding legislation and the business environment.” During this well-attended event, Mammadov also discussed trade, business and investment opportunities in the South Caucasus and Caspian regions. Afgan Isayev, Executive Director, Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC), moderated a panel discussion on development perspectives for the banking and finance sectors, highlighting the activities of AIC and the implementation of non-oil sector projects. Representatives from the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) discussed the developments and progression that had been applied to Azerbaijani financial institutions. The event also focused on transport, infrastructure and telecommunications.
One small step for Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has signed a preliminary cooperation agreement regarding its entry into the space industry, according to Mir Heydar Ismailov, Head of Co-ordination at the Public Institutions’ Activities Department of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies.
The agreement, signed by Azerbaijan and the European Space Agency, together with the Italian, Japanese, German and Canadian space agencies, was reached in February in Vienna during the 48th Session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Azerbaijan currently has observer status at COPUOS. However, if the country became a permanent committee member, it is envisaged that it would become highly involved in various projects, enabling it to become one of the most active participants in global space activities.
passenger numbers via Air France’s extensive route network. This route will be serviced by an AZAL Airbus A319, seating 24 business passengers and 90 standard passengers. The AZAL flight schedules are as follows:
Ismailov advised: “Azerbaijan is taking its first steps in the space industry. It is aiming to work towards the same objectives as other developed countries, such as the US, Japan, France and Germany. Several countries are already interested in the technical elements of our satellites and wish to use their facilities in the future.”
AZAL is the national carrier of Azerbaijan, operating flights to European cities (London, Milan and Prague), CIS countries, Asia and the Middle-East. Its fleet comprises aircraft built by Airbus, ATR and Boeing.
Arianespace is due to launch Azerspace, the first Azerbaijani communications satellite, in late 2012. Azerspace, equipped with 24 C band transponders and 12 Ku band transponders, will be placed in orbit at 46° east longitude, covering Europe, Central Asia and Africa. Azerspace’s orbital position has been leased from Malaysian satellite operator, MEASAT, initially for 20 years. Azerspace has been designed to provide digital broadcasting, internet access, data transmission, VSAT multiservice networks, and governmental communications.
Azerbaijan Airlines go French
• • • •
AF8176 * / J2074 Paris-CDG2B 1150– 2000hrs Baku (Tuesday and Sunday) AF8176 * / J2074 Paris-CDG2B 2300– 0710 +1 Baku (Friday) AF8177 * / J2073 Baku 0800–1030 Paris-CDG2B (Tuesday and Sunday) AF8177 * / J2073 Baku 1900–2130 Paris-CDG2B (Friday).
NEWS IN BRIEF Azerbaijan Mortgage Fund announces tender The Azerbaijan Mortgage Fund (AMF), under the auspices of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, has announced the opening of a tender commission for the following services: •
an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that can ensure access to an international network an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) provider to manage the AMF’s centralised back-up centre in Sumgait.
The details of the tender are as follows: • • •
tender participation fee: AZN50 (£39) procurement documentation submission date: 6 April 2011 unsealing of documentation: 3pm – 19 April 2011
For additional information, call +994 441 24 23 (extensions: 133 and 111).
A luxurious AZAL Airbus A319 takes off
Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) and Air France have announced the launch of joint flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Terminal 2B) and Baku International Airport from 22 February. The flights are due to a partnership agreement signed between the two airlines. This will enable Air France to offer passengers three flight routes to Azerbaijan, with AZAL gaining access to additional
SOCAR appoints new VP SOCAR has appointed Badal Badalov as VicePresident for Social Issues, having previously headed SOCAR’s Social Development department. He replaces Gorkhmaz Huseynov, who has been appointed as the Head of Azersu JSC, which is responsible for the country’s water supply. Rovnag Abdullayev, President, SOCAR, commented that Huseynov’s appointment at Azersu demonstrated the depth of his experience. Head Technology announces special prices for SMEs Head Technology Azerbaijan has announced the introduction of special prices for Proofpoint software, aimed at small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It has partnered with US-based Proofpoint, which develops security systems that are claimed to provide protection against threats associated with incoming e-mail traffic.
CORPORATE PROFILE: AIC REVISITED
The objectives of AIC are to:
• • • • •
make a contribution towards business development in the non-oil sector of the Azerbaijani economy via equity participation and management support attract local and foreign investment, technology, and knowledge emphasise and stimulate modernisation and innovation increase the competitiveness and market value of participating companies provide a fair investment return promote best practice in corporate governance, based upon transparency and international principles.
Having initially been profiled in 2009, TEAS caught up with Afgan Isayev, Executive Director, AIC, to learn more about the progression of the company: What is your company’s specialisation? AIC is a state-owned equity fund, created to support development of the Azerbaijani non-oil sector via termed equity investment in greenfield or brownfield companies. It operates in close collaboration with local and overseas co-investors and International Financial Institutions (IFIs). How has your company grown in the last year? The company has made significant progress throughout 2010, making investments in several projects. The most significant development has been the construction of the only modern shipyard on the Caspian Sea, in addition to building the first stateof-the-art seed processing and cultivation plant in Azerbaijan and inaugurating a salt plant. The Caspian International Investment Company, an affiliate equity fund jointly financed by the AIC; the Islamic Development Bank; and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector also successfully implemented several agricultural and real
The Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC) is a state-owned equity fund, established in March 2006 by a Presidential Edict. It supports the development of businesses in the non-oil sector of the Azerbaijani economy via equity investments. The main priority of AIC is to ensure that Azerbaijani enterprises participate in projects aimed at stimulating exports, also replacing imports with indigenously-produced goods, attracting local or foreign investors.
estate projects. In 2010, AIC’s charter capital was increased by AZN70m (£54m), reaching the level of AZN160m (£124m). Has the AIC entered any new markets or market sectors? In 2010, AIC entered the ship building and ship repair, agricultural and food processing sectors. Afgan Isayev, Executive Director, AIC
Are you experiencing any competition from beyond Azerbaijan? Of course, there is always competition from IFIs, local banks and equity funds. Do you have a presence in other countries in the region? The AIC mandate specifies that investments must solely be made in Azerbaijan. What are the aspirations of the AIC in Azerbaijan during the next year? In 2011, we expect to invest in organic farming, battery recycling, food processing and several agricultural projects. In addition, we plan to commission new milk processing facilities and cement plants. How do you view the business climate in Azerbaijan? There are many positive aspects of doing business in Azerbaijan that may be harnessed by both Azerbaijani and overseas entrepreneurs, such as the:
• • • • • • • • •
stable political, economic and social landscape developing economic and international trade relations healthy financial sector, stable currency and extensive currency reserves low sovereign debt long-term governmental strategy regarding development of the non-oil sector and economic diversification vast investment opportunities in the non-oil sector enormous oil and gas resources that will fuel the future development of the non-oil sector implementation of regional development and poverty reduction programmes fully-fledged governmental support for co-investment projects, achieved via
• • • • •
capital injection and debt financing from the AIC and the National Fund for the Support of Entrepreneurship massive investments in infrastructural developments strategic geographic location young, qualified, motivated and knowledge-hungry workforce very safe living and working environment beautiful nature, friendly people and excellent cuisine.
Does your company provide training or operate apprenticeship schemes? AIC trains internal staff in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). How has TEAS benefited your company since you became a member? TEAS has increased awareness of the AIC’s activities on a pan-European level via its events, publications and other public activities. TEAS successful promotes all façets of Azerbaijan, subsequently directly benefiting AIC’s business.
Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC), 11, Hasan Abdullayev Street, Baku Plaza, Baku AZ 1001, Azerbaijan Tel: +994 124372909 Fax: +994 124372903 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.aic.az
inner back page AZERBAIJAN: QUICK FACTS Official name: The Republic of Azerbaijan Capital: Baku Area: 86,600km2 Population: 9,000,000 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
n Az er ba i ja
Exchange rates as of 14.03.11: AZN1 = US$1.26; US$1 = AZN0.79; AZN1 = £0.78; £1 = AZN1.28; AZN1 = €0.90; €1 = AZN1.11
The European Azerbaijan Society
Highlighting Azerbaijan’s Investment Potential
12–13 May 2011, IET London, 2, Savoy Place, London, WC2R 0BL The European Azerbaijan Society, as part of its mission to serve as a networking and knowledgesharing platform, is launching an annual flagship Business Forum, to be held in the heart of London. This essential two-day event will focus on creating new networks, promote investment generation and facilitate strategic commercial decisions and agreements. Its main objectives are to: • outline the recent and potential trends and opportunities within the Azerbaijani economy • provide the latest and projected data on Azerbaijan’s investment climate • showcase the policies being adopted to ensure a stable climate for inward investment • demonstrate those elements that make Azerbaijan most appealing to investors • help identify the growth sectors in the country. So – don’t delay. This is your chance to find out how you can harness the might of the vibrant Azerbaijani economy. To find out more, please contact Vanessa Raine on +44 (0)207 104 2225; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.teas.eu