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MAGAZINE News • Views • Interviews

Culture • Business • Politics Ph o t o : Al a i n D o u i t ( E BU )

EUROVISION VICTORY FOR AZERBAIJAN Also in this issue: Business Forum attracts UK investors Employment guidance for Azerbaijani students Parliamentarians meet Azerbaijani President and visit ‘contact line’ Republic Day remembered Kazan tripartite meeting on the horizon Kiçik Qalart – contemporary art showcase

June 2011

P3 Politics and News

P7 Culture

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TEAS EVENT 5–10 September 2011 Art from from Azerbaijan – a collection of paintings and drawings by Kabira Alieva Mall Galleries, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5BD TEAS is delighted to sponsor this exhibition of paintings and drawings at the prestigious Mall Galleries, which capture the essence of Azerbaijani nature and culture in a unique and imaginative manner. Attendees will also be able to hear tracks from UnVeiled, the first CD to be released by the Sabina Rakcheyeva Ensemble, which features a booklet illustrated by Kabira, having been inspired by the compositions.

P 11 Nagorno-



P 13 Business News

P 15 Corporate Profile

P 16 Facts and Figures



A group of UK Parliamentarians has undertaken a five-day fact-finding mission to witness the challenges and opportunities facing Azerbaijan. The delegation from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was headed by Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, Chairman of the Azerbaijan APPG, and member of the Commons Intelligence and Security Select Committee. Other members were Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour MP for Bradford South and frontbench Home Affairs spokesperson; Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon and a Parliamentary Private Secretary; Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East; Lord Rogan, Ulster Unionist Party; and Lord Kilclooney, a Crossbencher.

Highlights of the fact-finding tour were:

a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, and with Ali Hasanov, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Committee on IDP and Refugee Issues; Oqtay Asadov, Speaker, Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament), together with Abulfaz Qarayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism; Mahmud Mammad-Quliyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and a dinner hosted by the Azerbaijan-UK Parliamentary Friendship Group.


The APPG, headed by Mark Field MP, exchanged opinions with Azerbaijani President Aliyev The APPG delegation stands before the monument to those British servicemen who sacrificed their lives in the defence of Baku in 1918–19

During the trip, the Parliamentarians were briefed on the prospects for further expansion of Azerbaijani oil and gas exports, and for increasing the considerable UK investment in the country. They were also briefed on the continuing Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions. A short video showing excerpts from the trip may be viewed on TEAS TV Mark Field MP commented: “I felt it was important to bring Parliamentary colleagues from both Houses and different parties to see for themselves the many opportunities – and challenges – existing in this strategically vital country and region. In recent years, Azerbaijan has charted one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and has used that wealth to rebuild its infrastructure, educate its young people, and house the 870,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions. It is a model secular Muslim state, and we witnessed for ourselves the religious tolerance that is extended to all faiths.”

Members of the APPG had opportunity to view the ‘contact line’ between Azerbaijan and the Armenian-occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh

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a meeting with the British Ambassador, Dr Carolyn Browne, and an Embassy reception with the British business community. visits to three camps for refugees and IDPs. a visit to the trenches on the ‘contact line’ with Armenian-occupied territory near Agdam. a visit to the Guba region, which is amongst the most picturesque in Azerbaijan, including the Red District which is home to around 4,000 Mountain Jews; and a visit to the site of the massacre committed by the Armenian Dashnaks and Bolsheviks in March 1918. a visit to BP’s Sangachal terminal, soon to become the world’s largest oil and gas terminus. laying wreathes in Martyrs’ Alley for those civilian Azerbaijanis killed by Soviet troops during Black January (20 January 1990) and during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; and at the monument to British troops killed in action in Azerbaijan during the First World War.

The Azerbaijan APPG will be producing a report on the country and its importance to the UK and the West over the summer.

EU–Azerbaijani relations to the fore Emil Agazade at TEAS has contributed a major article on EU–Azerbaijani relations to the Public Service Europe website at This website focuses on the policies of the EU and European Parliament and has been acclaimed by Jerzy Buzek, President, European Parliament, as “an excellent new venture.” The article explains that the foundations for integration with western Europe date back to the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918. It continues by outlining the increasing relevance of the country since the signing of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement in 1996, and discusses the continued EU support for Azerbaijani territorial integrity. US Special Envoy supports Baku– Ankara gas transit agreement Richard Morningstar, US State Department Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, has visited Baku to attend the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference. He commented: “One of the most important markets is European. It would be a mistake if Azerbaijan did not export in this direction.” He went on to express his support for the ratification of the Azerbaijani–Turkish gas transit deal: “I believe that the agreement is very close to being signed, and hope this will take place following the Turkish parliamentary elections. We have not identified any factors that would prevent conclusion of this agreement in the near future.”


Politics & News

The Azerbaijan APPG meets Azerbaijani President and visits Nagorno-Karabakh ‘contact line’


Azerbaijani movers and shakers showcased in London

Politics & News

class education. The people remember their heritage, yet they think in the 21st century.”

More than 200 speakers and delegates from across Europe, the US and Azerbaijan flocked to the IET Conference Centre in Central London on 12–13 May to attend TEAS’ inaugural Business Forum. This was organised in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the UK and the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO). Forming part of the celebrations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of regaining Azerbaijani independence, the event illustrated the full array of current and future opportunities for western investors, both in the hydrocarbon and non-oil sectors. During the opening ceremony, H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK, observed: “This is a good opportunity to inform the British business community of the wealth of opportunities in Azerbaijan. It is a young state, yet has achieved

Dr Carolyn Browne, British Ambassador to Azerbaijan, recommended that the country should quickly gain WTO accession

significant progress, due to its geostrategic position and multilateral foreign policy. The UK remains the leading investing country, contributing 51.5 per cent of all foreign direct investment (FDI). Altogether, there are 172 UK companies active in Azerbaijan, and 5000 British expatriates have made the country their home. Much of this is attributable to the hydrocarbon sector, but there is significant potential in other areas, most notably ICT and agriculture. The Azerbaijani government has designated 2011 as the Year of Tourism, and much work is being undertaken to attract international visitors to my fascinating country.” He went on to acknowledge the role of Dr Carolyn

The delegates were updated on all aspects of the Azerbaijani economy, including the prospects for WTO accession; the expansion of the ICT industry, revenues from which are expected to surpass those of oil and gas by 2025; tourism; agriculture; and financial services. Highlights included the presentation on the remarkable new Heydar Aliyev Centre by Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu, Zaha Hadid Architects.

Ambassador Gurbanov reaffirmed the strength of UK–Azerbaijani ties

Browne, outgoing British Ambassador to Azerbaijan, who has fostered the development of UK–Azerbaijani bilateral trade relations throughout her four-year tenure. Dr Browne added: “Azerbaijan is a postSoviet country that is seeking to modernise on a European template and, thanks to oil and gas revenues, is one of the few Eastern countries that is successfully attempting to realise this vision. Azerbaijani entrepreneurs understand how business is undertaken in the UK, and most of today’s leaders were educated in the west. In my comments to the Azerbaijani government, I have recommended expediting accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Only the Armenian invasion of NagornoKarabakh and the seven surrounding regions continues to prevent the country from achieving its full potential.”

Tony Adams, former Arsenal and England footballer, spoke on his experiences of coaching the Gabala FC team and how this is paving the way for a revolution in the Azerbaijani game. The concluding energy session, featuring eight recognised experts, demonstrated the essential future role of the proposed Southern Corridor pipeline network in bringing Caspian resources to Europe. Mark Field MP, Chairman, APPG for Azerbaijan stated: “Azerbaijan has a strong economic foundation, and this event has demonstrated its potential for economic diversification, based on a stable, welldefined government strategy. It represents an attractive prospect for western investment.” To see a series of video interviews with some of the leading speakers, including Ambassador Gurbanov, Tale Heydarov, Mark Field MP and Tony Adams, visit the TEAS TV site at

Tale Heydarov, Chairman and Founder, TEAS, acknowledged: “This is the first time we have organised a business event on this scale, and we particularly wish to highlight the opportunities beyond the oil and gas sector. For example, Azerbaijan is blessed with nine climatic zones, allowing a vast range of agricultural products to be cultivated. Many large-scale infrastructural projects are also underway.” Following this, Baroness O’Cathain explained her first experiences of the country in 2006: “I was overwhelmed with the vitality of Azerbaijan. From carpets to oil extraction innovations, Azerbaijan has always been at the forefront of development, being attributable to first-

Soccer legend Tony Adams fielded audience questions on the future of the Azerbaijani game

The event proved stimulating and informative

Gulnar Hasanova, Head, TEAS Recruitment Services, delivered an inspirational talk to the Azerbaijani student diaspora

The networking session enabled the students to consult the experts in an informal manner

Shaping Azerbaijan’s future

It is certainly true that climbing the careers ladder remains a challenge for all students. Academic excellence remains only one part of the equation – employers want qualifications, but they also need experience, and effectively combining the two is often a challenge.

Gulnar Hasanova, Head, TEAS Recruitment Services, stated: “Today is an historic day, both for TEAS and the UK-based Azerbaijani diaspora, because together we have started a new journey that should create a strong, united diaspora in the UK. By organising such events, TEAS aims to act as a bridge between Azerbaijani professionals and students.” Elnur Seyidli, IT Manager, BG Group, spoke on new opportunities in the IT industry: “There are now 400 different job titles in the IT sector, most of which did not exist 15 years ago. There is always a need for IT people, but you will constantly have to update your knowledge. As IT is such a wide sector, there are jobs to suit those with different abilities and specialisations. I cannot emphasise enough the necessity for a perfect CV and gaining the requisite qualifications for your chosen role.” Lionel Zetter, Senior Political Lobbyist, TEAS, explained the importance of lobbying and political careers: “Politics, lobbying and communications are related disciplines, and passion is a must. You need good written, oral and interpersonal skills. The TEAS Political Team has put Azerbaijan on the map for many UK politicians, raising awareness of the country’s energy resources and the continuing Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven adjacent territories.” He went on to outline how expatriate Azerbaijani students could assist TEAS on a political level. Katherine Alexander, Professional Recruitment Specialist, imparted some advice on successful interview techniques, including CVs, video CVs, presentation, preparation and the effective use of recruitment websites and agencies. Emil Agazade, Head, Media and Diaspora, TEAS, issued a rallying cry: “The Azerbaijani diaspora is only just coming together in the UK. Knowledge of Azerbaijan is expanding, and we need to demonstrate our abilities and skills in the workplace.”

UK committed to expanding Azerbaijani partnership

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has congratulated the Azerbaijani people on the occasion of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference. He commented in a statement: “The last few years have seen unprecedented challenges to the global economic system. At such a time, the ability of projects and nations to attract and sustain foreign investment is more important than ever before. “As all conference attendees will observe from the number of stands at this exhibition and Baku’s expanding skyline, Azerbaijan is amongst the countries succeeding in this task. As a major investor and friend of Azerbaijan, the UK remains committed to developing and deepening that partnership.”

Lajčák acknowledges Azerbaijan’s special role

Miroslav LajIčák, Managing Director, Europe and Central Asia: External Action Service, European Union, has acknowledged Azerbaijan’s special role as an EU partner during a visit to Baku. He stated: “The European Neighbourhood Policy offers tremendous opportunities for the countries in the South Caucasus region. Azerbaijan is a special partner for the EU, with whom we have already established a strong relationship. We want to go further, and faster, with the country.” Lajçák argued that it was now timely to develop a closer Azerbaijani–EU partnership and address issues of mutual concern. He continued: “The Association Agreement, which is currently under negotiation, will enhance our relationship, fully supporting the country’s modernisation efforts.” During the visit, the EU delegation met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev; Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister; and Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, together with representatives from political and civil society, international organisations and the Azerbaijani diplomatic community. The EU delegation also included John Kjaer, Divisional Head for Eastern Partnership countries and EU Chief Negotiator for the Association Agreement with Azerbaijan. During the visit, preparations were made regarding the Eastern Partnership summit, scheduled to occur in Poland during September.


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For this reason, the TEAS Recruitment Services division held a major careers event for around 50 of the UK’s brightest Azerbaijani students at the London School of Economics (LSE) in May. Entitled Shape Your Future, its objectives were threefold – to invite young professionals from various sectors – banking, law, IT and political lobbying – to provide career path advice; initiate networking between students and those already working in the country; and to raise awareness of the TEAS Recruitment Services website at www. This permits students to upload their CVs and enables employers in the UK and Azerbaijan to advertise their vacant positions and internships.


Aliyev: gas to last at least a century

Politics & News

Republic Day celebrated in the UK

without overseas assistance. Currently, the UK supplies 51.5 per cent of all FDI contributions, and 172 UK companies are active in Baku. This connection will further develop, as the country is transformed into the IT hub of the region. The UK parliament is also becoming more aware of the relevance of Azerbaijan to Western Europe, due to the APPG for Azerbaijan and the Conservative Friends of Azerbaijan (CFAZ).” Ambassador Gurbanov continued by presenting the Dostlug Order of Friendship to two Peers with extensive track records in promoting bilateral UK–Azerbaijani business relations – Baroness O’Cathain and Lord Fraser, Founder, Anglo–Azerbaijani Society. Baroness O’Cathain remarked: “Azerbaijanis are supremely hospitable, and realised that they could learn from the West soon after independence. The country now has one of the greatest economies of the world.”

Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady, tour the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference

Azerbaijani President Aliyev has delivered an upbeat message at the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference, stating that the Southern Corridor for gas will be the basis for launching the Shah Deniz 2 development: “A joint declaration on the Southern Corridor was signed by the EU and Azerbaijan in January. This is not merely an expression of intentions, but determines the direction of future development. I hope all the required documents will soon be signed so we have the groundwork in place to develop Phase 2 of the Shah Deniz project. This will also usher in a new stage of relations between Azerbaijan and Europe.” President Aliyev also said that Azerbaijan was “in the final stage” of talks with Turkey on the transit of Azerbaijani gas. He acknowledged that the Shah Deniz development in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea has had a tremendous impact on world gas markets. “Azerbaijan is now known internationally, not only as an oil-rich, but a gas-rich country. The country supports diversifying gas supply routes and is working to reach that goal. Azerbaijan’s proven gas reserves amount to 2.2tn m3 (tcm), which will supply the needs of Azerbaijan and its customers for at least 100 years.” Aliyev commented that the discovery of the Umid field in 2010 was indicative of previously untapped Azerbaijani gas reserves. This field contains an estimated 200bn m3 (bcm) of gas and 30–40m tonnes of condensate. He revealed that $97bn (£59bn) has been invested in the Azerbaijani economy since 1995, of which $42bn (£25.6bn) has been channelled into the hydrocarbon sector.

Baroness O’Cathain received the Dostlug award from Azerbaijani Ambassador Gurbanov

The 93rd anniversary of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was commemorated during a memorable rooftop event at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Central London, organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK. This event on 25 May was attended by various diplomats, including H.E. Ünal Çeviköz, Ambassador of Turkey to the UK; Farhad Badalbeyli, the leading Azerbaijani pianist, composer and musical educator; Foreign Office officials; MPs; association representatives; and members of the diaspora. H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the UK, initially recalled the achievements of the ADR, which lasted for 23 months from 1918–20, after which the country became subsumed within the Soviet Union for 70 years. He continued: “The ADR was the first democratic republic in the Muslim East, based on western European models. It extended the franchise to all women, predating such legislation in the US and UK, and supported the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first institution of its type in the East. Our commemoration this year is particularly important, as we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the regaining of Azerbaijani independence, following the Soviet collapse. During these two decades, there have been great achievements in politics, culture and education, leading to the establishment of embassies in 65 countries. “In addition, the country has achieved unprecedented levels of economic growth, being largely attributable to the hydrocarbon sector. Two years ago, it posted the highest GDP growth in the world, but none of this success would have been possible

Lord Fraser recalled: “I have organised many events involving Azerbaijani specialists, and am astounded by their knowledge. This has resulted in the development of strong economic ties between our countries. This mantle will be carried by the well-educated, westward-facing younger generation. There is still much scope for expansion of trade relations, and Azerbaijan is becoming a powerful economic force. We need to continue informing the west about the country – for example, many educated people remain unaware that Persian carpets are actually Azerbaijani. There are great opportunities for tourism, and we need to show westerners the range of scenery, and that there is more to the country than just Baku.” Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Hillary Clinton, US Secretary-of-State, issued a statement congratulating Azerbaijan on Republic Day. This recalled: “I was delighted to visit Baku last year, which was my first visit to the city, and to the country. I was impressed with the dynamism and potential of Azerbaijan and the strength of its people. The US and Azerbaijan have a strong relationship based on mutual interests and respect. We are working together to address a range of global challenges and to seize opportunities.”

Lord Fraser proudly accepts his award

P h ot o: P iet er Va n den B er g he (E B U )

The Eurovision winners’ joy was unbridled

On 14 May, Azerbaijanis across the world celebrated victory when their country won the Eurovision Song Contest 2011, held in Düsseldorf, Germany. Nigar Jamal and Eldar Gasimov, known as Ell and Nikki, were voted as Europe’s favourites, scoring 221 points with Running Scared, a poignant love song by the Swedish team of Stefan Örn, Sandra Bjurman and Iain Farguhanson. This beat the secondplaced Italian entry by 32 points. The fourhour broadcast attracted an estimated 120m viewers across the world.

Badalbeyli unleashes American passion

London’s music-lovers experienced a treat when acclaimed Azerbaijani pianist, composer and educator Farhad Badalbeyli came to Cadogan Hall to perform Gershwin’s 1925 masterpiece Concerto in F. This demanding work was the composer’s first attempt at symphonic orchestration, harmony and composition, being influenced by contemporary Soviet compositions. The solo part is supremely demanding, particularly the cadenza in the first movement and stride piano references in the concluding movement. Performing before a packed auditorium, Badalbeyli brought the piece alive. Following the concerto, he performed his own composition, The Sea, as an encore, being a gloriously lyrical piece dedicated to his wife. He was accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Dmitry Yablonsky, co-director of the Gabala International Music Festival, alongside Badalbeyli. The remainder of the programme comprised US classics by Copland and Bernstein.

This was the first time that Azerbaijan won the contest in its 56-year history, having only joined Eurovision in 2008. Although Jamal was born in Azerbaijan, she currently lives in North London with her husband and two daughters. On receiving the trophy, Gasimov exclaimed that he was: “The happiest man in the world.” Following their return to Azerbaijan, Ell and Nikki were greeted by hundreds of flagwaving well-wishers as they touched down at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku. The win was portrayed as national triumph by the main television channels in Azerbaijan, particularly as Baku will now host the 2012 contest. AzTV, the public broadcasting channel, commented: “It’s a great victory for Azerbaijani culture. Around 800m people live in Europe; we were able to show them our culture and now we will be able to demonstrate our traditions.” Azerbaijani President Aliyev commented that winning Eurovision constituted: “A great success for the Azerbaijani state and people.” Ganira Pashayeva MP and member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) told AFP: “Azerbaijan needs such victories – it unites the nation.” To see the winning performance, visit azwinseurovision

At the Embassy event, Farhad Badalbeyli (left) celebrates Republic Day, alongside his daughter Delara and Roger Thomas, former British Ambassador to Azerbaijan and now Executive Member of the AngloAzerbaijani Society

Mansion House resounds to an Azerbaijani song

Violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva, TEAS Advisory Board Member: Culture and Arts and Member of the European Cultural Parliament, has performed at the Mansion House at a dinner hosted by Alderman Michael Bear, Lord Mayor of the City of London and Robert Pick, Master of the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers. During the evening, she presented a book of photographs of Azerbaijan to the Lord Mayor, on behalf of TEAS.

Accompanied by Australian pianist Fred Zhang, a student at the Royal Academy of Music, Sabina performed classical works by Kreisler, Bach and Albeniz, together with compositions taken from her recentlyreleased CD entitled UnVeiled, featuring her Ensemble. To order your copy, please visit

Sabina delighted invitees to a dinner hosted by Alderman Michael Bear, Lord Mayor of the City of London (left) and Robert Pick, Master of the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers

NEWS IN BRIEF Berlin hosts Azerbaijani art exhibition An exhibition by the young Azerbaijani artist Maryam Alakhbarli and Daniel LarsenVefring, her German colleague, has been held at the Baku–Berlin Art Gallery. The opening ceremony was attended by Parviz Shahbazov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Germany; Ibrahim Ehrari, Director, Baku– Berlin Art Gallery; Salkhab Mammadov, People’s Artist and Rector of Azerbaijan State Academy of Art, and Inge Schmidt, Lecturer, Potsdam University and Arts University, Berlin. A Spanish welcome for Azerbaijani art An exhibition of works by young Azerbaijani artists has opened at the Castillo de Montjuic in Barcelona, Spain, organised by the Azerbaijani Embassy to Spain. Barcelona’s dignitaries attended the opening ceremony, together with local community and mass media representatives and expatriate Azerbaijanis. Altay Afandiyev, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Spain, spoke of the enhanced cultural co-operation between the two countries. He underlined the necessity of organising reciprocal events in both nations. Thereafter, the exhibition moved to a gallery in Madrid. A happy day in Baku The Baku Jazz Centre has hosted a concert by the Melvin Williams Group, the acknowledged masters of contemporary US gospel music. Williams, a six-time Grammy nominee, successfully bridges the gap between traditional and modern gospel music. The group also performs soul, jazz, spirituals, hip-hop and classic arrangements. For many years, Williams performed in the Williams Brothers gospel ensemble, founded by his father in the 1960s. The concert was jointly supported by the Azerbaijani Embassy to the US and the US Embassy in Baku.



Azerbaijan wins Eurovision crown


Alizadeh unveils chamber opera


The 63-year-old composer Franghiz Alizadeh has overseen the première of her new chamber opera, entitled Your Name Means the Sea, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and performed at various halls around the US city of Houston, Texas, which is twinned with Baku. Synthesising western operatic concepts with mugham, Alizadeh explained: “As a composer it’s difficult to combine styles – but all my life I’ve been trying to do so.” She pointed out that western music is based on a ‘tempered’ system, comprising a scale of 12 evenly-spaced notes. Conversely, mugham is ‘untempered’, incorporating the microtones between the notes. It also includes elements of improvisation. Since 1999, Alizadeh has spent part of the year in Berlin, with her works being performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Munich State Opera Orchestra. They have also been heard at music festivals in such major cities as London, Amsterdam and Stockholm. Her oeuvre has also been championed by the late Bakuvian cellist-conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, and additionally been performed in the US by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the Kronos String Quartet. Anthony Freud, General Director, Houston Grand Opera, explained the reasoning behind the commission, which forms part of the Opera’s Song of Houston: East + West Project: “I became familiar with Alizadeh as an important contemporary composer and a mugham specialist. I called her, and said I’d love to find a way of encapsulating the meeting of two cultures in an opera, in the same way that she writes music. Franghiz was immediately very excited by this idea. The story itself is set on the beach in Galveston, where a Texan girl, who’s a painter, hears this boy from Azerbaijan singing mugham. They’re drawn together through their own particular artistic talents.” In order to stage this opera, sung in a mixture of English and Azerbaijani, the Houston Grand Opera flew in four mugham artists from Azerbaijan – Babek Niftaliev (tenor); Malakkhanim Eubova (mezzo-soprano); Mohlat Muslumov (tar); and Fakhraddin Dadashov (kamancha). The score includes a quartet of western instruments. Prior to the première, Jeffrey Werbock, Chairman, Mugham Society of America, gave a brief explanation and demonstration of mugham. Alizadeh acknowledged that, despite mugham being initially unfamiliar to western ears, it is not difficult to appreciate. She explained: “It’s brilliant music, and

the musicians are outstanding artists from Azerbaijan. If you understand Mozart and Beethoven, it’s not hard to also understand and love mugham.” To experience a performance of Alizadeh’s composition Deyishme, go to

French street art in Baku

The exuberance of French street art has been brought to the Old City of Baku as part of an initiative organised by the Institut Français in Azerbaijan; the Cultural Service of the French Ambassador in Azerbaijan, the Kiçik QalArt Foundation and the Art ex East Foundation. The work was organised by the Un Nous collective, established 15 years ago by two artists – José Maria Gonzalez and Roberto Martinez – who constantly seek to transform urban spaces, making the road into a field of creation, permitting freedom of expression and the creation of beauty. For the exhibition, a group of young Azerbaijani artists, directed by Patrick Pinon and Antonio Gallago (members of Un Nous) produced ephemeral murals on moveable panels situated around the Old City. The themes were images from their imagination; observations; and drawings, resulting in a patchwork of ideas and the juxtaposition of concepts. The result was spontaneous and supremely expressive.

Azerbaijan Pavilion creates a stir at the Venice Biennale

The Azerbaijan Pavilion has opened at the 15th century Palazzo Benzonda as part of this year’s Venice Biennale, attended by Azerbaijani First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva MP. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, more than 5,000 visitors passed through the pavilion over a two-day period, many commenting on the high quality of the exhibits, which were also viewed by Azerbaijani President Aliyev.

This year’s title was Relational, of Baku, whereby artists from two generations represented their emotions relating to the Azerbaijani capital. Only two of the artists showcased in the exhibition – Altai Sadigzadeh and Mikayil Abdurahmanov – actually reside in Azerbaijan. The others view their homeland from a distance, for Khanlar Gasimov and Aga Ousseinov live in the US; Zeigam Azizov resides in the UK; and Aidan Salahova is in Russia. Despite this, Bakuvian existence and the conjunction of East and West were omnipresent themes. All artists have experienced the political and economical transformation of their nation over the past four decades. They have a strong modernist heritage determined by Soviet ideology, and understand the importance of culture as a statement of Azerbaijani independence. The pavilion will remain open until 30 September. The exhibition was jointly co-ordinated by Mila Askarova, Founder and Curator of the London-based Gazelli Art House. To find out more, go to

Louvre director applauds Azerbaijani culture

In Baku, Abulfaz Garayev, Azerbaijani Minister of Culture and Tourism met Henri Loyrette, Director, Louvre Museum, alongside Gabriel Keller, French Ambassador to Azerbaijan. Garayev remarked on the close co-operation with the Louvre that has been achieved since Loyrette’s previous visit, which took place four years earlier. He commented: “The cultural relations between the two countries are on the highest level, and the co-operation between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Louvre Museum has a special place. We will launch new projects in collaboration with the Louvre Museum to promote Azerbaijani culture.” Loyrette went on to visit the new State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpets and Applied Art, and proposed that joint projects should take place following its opening later this year, featuring reciprocal displays of artefacts. The new museum website is www.

The anarchic murals contrast with the ancient walls of the Kiçik QalArt Foundation in Baku’s Old City

and decided to establish a Foundation with the idea that it could be used to promote art projects without immediate returns or profits. To date, the Art ex East Foundation has sponsored various exhibitions, catalogues and artists in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia. Kiçik QalArt is both the name of the exhibition place and the Baku project sponsored by Art ex East. The name of Art ex East is taken from the Latin, whereby art is ‘brought out’ of the East. Kiçik QalArt refers to the name of the street in which the building is located in the Baku Old City (Kiçik=small; qala=tower).

Kiçik QualArt opened in 2009 with an exhibition of thought-provoking works by Aidan Salahova

Nowadays, Baku is home to some of the world’s most exciting cultural events. Furthermore, Azerbaijan exemplifies an extremely rich variety of artistic traditions and treasures across many fields, including architecture, literature, poetry, music, folk dance, and painting. Since Azerbaijan regained its independence, the government has acknowledged the need and necessity to provide assistance to the arts and artists. Nonetheless, it is impossible for the government to support every element, and there remains a lack of private support for cultural projects. The local art market has not yet reached its full potential, and young Azerbaijani artists may find it difficult to obtain the required finance or have the opportunity in which to hold exhibitions in the city’s prestigious galleries.

father and my mother were painting during virtually all their free time! When they were not creating their own art, my parents were visiting art museums or galleries. Unfortunately, I was not artistically gifted myself. However, by the early 1990s, my job necessitated travelling across the former Soviet Union and I started paying attention to local art, which I began to collect. I learned Russian and met artists, gallery owners, art collectors and art critics, gradually building up a network of contacts in such major artistic hubs as Baku, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Tbilisi and Budapest. In the 1990s, I purchased iconic social realism, moving towards contemporary art at the beginning of 21st century. I became tired of buying one painting after another,

The first exhibition, in September 2009, was of works by Aidan Salahova, the daughter of renowned Azerbaijani painter Tair Salahov, who focuses on paintings of Niqab-dressed women and Persianlike miniatures. Aidan is a pre-eminent contemporary gallery owner in Moscow, and is also a very interesting artist herself. She had never previously been exhibited in Baku. Since then, there have been six exhibitions, including those dedicated to Niyaz Najafov, Fakriya Mammedova and Farid Rasulov. How does Kiçik Qalart operate? We have a very light structure, thereby reducing costs and maintaining reactivity and dynamism. Ali Shamsiev, an old friend of mine, and acknowledged local artist, ‘manages’ Kiçik Qalart, organising all the contacts with the authorities, public, and artists. He is supported by Elnara Shamsiyeva, a young lady who opens Kiçik Qalart every afternoon (except Mondays). She welcomes our guests in a very pleasant manner. On the whole, many volunteers

Bakuphile Olivier Mestelan is an enthusiast for vibrant and vital Azerbaijani art. By establishing the Kiçik QalArt Centre in 2009 in the Old City of Baku, Olivier has brought the work of the most outstanding avant-garde artists to the forefront of Azerbaijani culture, enabling it to be evaluated on equal parity with more established artforms. His appreciation for painting, sculpture, photography, video art and conceptual installation is without boundaries, and I was delighted to catch up with Olivier during a fleeting visit to London. What inspired you to launch the Kiçik QalArt project? I have always been interested in art, as I was brought up in a family where both my

Niyaz Najafov finalises another darkly challenging painting in readiness for his exhibition





Personalities The exhibition of works by Georgian artist Oleg Timchenko included Ali Baba

Leyla Aliyeva, a keen patron of Azerbaijani arts, attended the opening of the Un Nous street art exhibition

help promote the exhibitions and contribute towards the success of our projects.

The Four are really great, smart, creative, nice-looking, and joyous!

There is a considerable level of dynamism in the Azerbaijani contemporary art world, most of which is concentrated in Baku. I genuinely enjoy the quality of young local artists. We make it a principle that the works on display must not have been shown elsewhere.

Rashad Alekberov specialises in shadow ‘installations’. He uses very ordinary material to produce amazing shadow effects; Faig Ahmed replicates the glory of Azerbaijani carpets in aluminium; Orkhan Houseynov is a subtle minimalist in his Silly Cat series; and Farid Rasulov produces hyperreal paintings of Azerbaijani culinary traditions.

In the past, I collaborated with Leyla Akhundzadeh, the matriarch of Azerbaijani contemporary art. She founded Zamanin Ganadlari, the first Azerbaijani contemporary art collective, and launched the Aluminium Biennale in Baku in 2003, which she curated on four successive occasions. She also directed the inaugural Azerbaijan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. I was most saddened when she passed away after a road accident last year. When an exhibition is held at Kiçik QalArt, it is usually supported with a professionalquality catalogue that becomes a visiting card for the artist. Exhibitions normally last for two or three months. Throughout this time, a large hoarding is displayed over the front of the gallery, which is located near the historic sights of the Old City.

I was delighted by the positive response to all these diverse works, with their varied meanings, many of which refer to Azerbaijani traditions, showing them in a new light. Which exhibitions are planned for the remainder of this year? In May, there was the first street art event ever displayed in Baku. This was organised under the patronage of the French Embassy in Azerbaijan, l’Institut Français of Paris, and the Art ex East Foundation.

This comprised a week-long workshop, during which two renowned French street artists shared their knowledge and experience alongside a masterclass for local young artists and students. Their collective works were displayed in the open air in the Old City of Baku and at Kiçik QalArt. This will be followed in July by works from a Ukrainian photographer and, in September, we will feature paintings by Torakhanim Aghabayova, whose London exhibition was recently supported by TEAS. To know find our what comes next, readers of the TEAS Magazine should pay attention, as future issues will include information on our forthcoming exhibitions and projects!

For more information, please visit

Do you now live in Baku? I am spending increasing amounts of time in Baku, and it would be my dream to live there permanently! What did you aim to achieve at the recent Fabulous Four exhibition? These four young artists have a real friendship, encapsulate brilliant artistic expression and exhibit huge reserves of creativity. They are like the new face of a new country. Of course, there is a reference to the old Fabulous Four (The Beatles), but the Yellow Submarine is now diving into the rich, mysterious waters of the Caspian Sea. With this exhibition, I just wanted to say and show that something is now happening here, in Baku, Azerbaijan. I felt extremely rewarded, and welcomed more than 500 young people to Kiçik Qalart on the opening evening.

As part of his contribution to the Fabulous Four exhibition, Farid Rasulov focused on Azerbaijani cuisine, enabling viewers to regard the ordinary from an extraordinary perspective

town of Khankandi for talks with Bako Sahakyan, leader of the unrecognised government in Nagorno-Karabakh.


The Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Co-Chair countries urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to accept the Basic Principles for conflict resolution

A joint statement has been issued by the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries at the G8 Summit in Deauville, France. Signed by Russian President Medvedev, US President Obama and French President Sarkozy, it comments that: “We are convinced the time has arrived for all the sides in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to take a decisive step towards a peaceful settlement. We reiterate that only a negotiated settlement can lead to peace, stability, and reconciliation, opening opportunities for regional development and co-operation. The use of force created the current situation of confrontation and instability. Its use again would only bring more suffering and devastation, and would be condemned by the international community. We strongly urge the leaders of the sides to prepare their populations for peace, not war.” It goes on to request: “The latest version of the Basic Principles, as discussed in Sochi on 5 March, lays a just and balanced foundation for the drafting of a comprehensive peace settlement. This document, based on the Helsinki Final Act and elements outlined in our joint declarations in L’Aquila in July 2009 and Muskoka in June 2010, provides a way for all sides to move beyond the unacceptable status quo. We therefore call upon the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to demonstrate political will by finalising the Basic Principles during their upcoming summit in June. Further delay would only call into question the commitment of the sides to reach an agreement.”

NY Times: Azerbaijan in limbo Ellen Barry has contributed a moving and informative article entitled ‘Frozen Conflict’ between Azerbaijan and Armenia begins to boil to the New York Times (http:// Containing interviews with internally-displaced persons (IDPs); those

undergoing military training; and ordinary people, the article accurately captures the “charged atmosphere” that pervades the country. In an interview, Ali Hasanov, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs, comments: “It’s peaceful coexistence that we need, not a war. We need peaceful development. But nothing will replace territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. If necessary, we are ready to give our lives for territorial integrity.” The article continues by outlining the enormity of the IDP catastrophy: “Among the forces driving Baku are refugees who have spent nearly two decades in limbo. The UN says there are 586,013 – 7 per cent of Azerbaijan’s population, which is one of the highest per capita displacement rates in the world, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre.” Barry also comments on the poor quality of IDP accommodation and recounts the story of Fariz Badalov, a nine-year-old boy slain by an Armenian sniper’s bullet near the ‘contact line’ in March.

Red Cross visits Azerbaijani POW in Armenia Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have visited Roman Huseynov, an Azerbaijani prisoner-of-war (POW), in Armenian captivity. They subsequently delivered a letter to his family. Huseynov was captured on 27 August 2010. Following the agreement in Sochi in March between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents, Azerbaijan swapped captured Armenian citizen Arthur Badalian for Azerbaijani soldier Anar Hajiyev. Azerbaijan has also transferred three Armenian soldiers to a third party at their request. Azerbaijani civilian slain near Karabakh A statement by the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry to AFP has acknowledged that Armenian forces have killed a civilian close to the ‘contact line’ with NagornoKarabakh. The man, a herdsman tending his cattle, was shot on 4 June and later died in hospital. The Armenian defence ministry emphatically denied the killing.

Azerbaijani President receives OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs

Kazan meeting vital for Baku Novruz Mammadov, Head, Foreign Affairs Department, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, has commented on the forthcoming tripartite meeting between the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian Presidents in Kazan, Russia on 26 June: “We attach great importance to this meeting. Moreover, the international community and OSCE Minsk Group member countries also regard the meeting as being of the utmost priority.”

During their visit, they crossed the AgdamBarda section of the ‘contact line’ whilst monitoring by the OSCE took place. They then travelled to the Armenian-occupied

Ban Ki-Moon stresses necessity of conflict resolution UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has emphasised the need for a peaceful conclusion to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, commenting: “Rapid and peaceful resolution of the ArmenianAzerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is necessary, and positive results are expected.” The request was made during a visit to the US by Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, who went on to inform him about the current state of negotiations.

Azerbaijani President Aliyev has received a visit by the OSCE Minsk Group CoChairs – Bernard Fassier of France, Igor Popov of Russia and Robert Bradtke of the US – accompanied by Andrzej Kasprzyk, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. During the meeting, the current situation and prospects for the peace talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were discussed.



OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs drive resolution forward



US Ambassador Bryza reiterated President Obama’s endorsement of the ‘basic principles’

Bryza rules out military solution Matthew Bryza, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has publicly endorsed US President Obama’s positive comments regarding possible agreement between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents during their forthcoming meeting on 26 June in Kazan regarding the ‘basic principles’ for Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.

The Ambassador said that: “The statement signed by President Obama says there is no alternative to peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and calls upon Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan to use this meeting in Kazan to reach an agreement on the ‘basic principles’. Of course, I share that hope, and am deeply convinced that there will be no military solution to the conflict.”

Khojaly monument unveiled in Berlin

A monument to the 613 civilian victims of the Khojaly Massacre has been unveiled in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough of Berlin, Germany. The artwork was realised by the sculptors Salhab Mammadov, Akif Asgarov, Ali Abdullayev and Ibrahim Ahrari, curator of the Baku-Berlin Art Gallery. The opening ceremony was attended by Norbert Kopp, Mayor of SteglitzZehlendorf; Adalat Valiyev, Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism; expatriate Azerbaijanis and leading scientific and cultural figures from both countries. Speeches were delivered by Parviz Shahbazov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Germany, and Ibrahim Ahrari.

Azerbaijan loses six soldiers along ‘contact line’ so far in 2011 Eldar Sabiroglu, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, has vividly disproved the concept that Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

is ‘frozen’ in a speech delivered on the ‘contact line’ in the Fizuli district. He commented: “During the past five months, the Armenian Armed Forces have broken the ceasefire 447 times, opening intensive fire. As a result, six Azerbaijan servicemen have been killed. The ceasefire was most frequently infringed on the Agdam, Fizuli and Gazakh sections of the ‘contact line’. Over this period, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs undertook monitoring of the front line five times.” He continued: “Armenia is provoking Azerbaijan to war. This proven by the daily violations of the ceasefire and the firing at civilian settlements in Azerbaijan, combined with Armenian changes of position in international negotiations and political manipulations.”

Book on NagornoKarabakh published in France

A book entitled The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, just peace or inevitable war? by Professor Fazil Zeynalov, International Law Department of the Baku State University and researcher of the Strategic Research Centre, has been published by L’Harmattan in France. The publishers state that this is the first authoritative book on the subject to be published in French. Multiple French, English, Russian, Turkish and Azerbaijani sources were used during the writing of this 452pp. work, which covers the historical, geopolitical and legal basis of the conflict. Professor Zeynalov initially details historic sources from the Caucasian Albanian and Middle Ages; the work of the Russian Orientalists in the 19th– 20th centuries; and outlines the discoveries of prominent Azerbaijani historians. The main finding is that Nagorno-Karabakh, formerly a province of Caucasian Albania, is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and that Armenian migration to the region was promoted by the Tsarist Russian Empire. It goes on to explain that the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples lived in atmosphere of mutual understanding for many years, but external forces fostered ethnic confrontation. This resulted in conflicts during 1905–06 and 1918. The academic then discusses Armenian acceptance of the region’s location within the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in a treaty of 1919 and the autonomous status granted to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic in 1921. The author also examines the war of 1988–94 and the subsequent attempts at achieving peace upon the basis of compromise and fulfilling the norms of international law. To purchase a copy, visit

Nagorno-Karabakh conference in Berlin

The Free University of Berlin has hosted a conference, entitled Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: German and Caucasian perspectives on conflict resolution, organised by the Azerbaijani Embassy in Germany, GermanAzerbaijani Forum (DAF), Research Centre for the Caspian Region at the Free University of Berlin and EuroKaukAsia Society. This was attended by over 100 delegates, including Bundestag members, scientific foundation representatives and German academics. During the conference, Professor Eva-Maria Auh, Head, Azerbaijani History Department, Humboldt University, explained the origins of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the context of the Soviet collapse. She demonstrated that the Armenian resettlement process began following ratification of the Gulustan and Turkmenchay contracts signed between Russia and Persia in 1813 and 1828, respectively. In continuation of this policy, Azerbaijanis were expelled from Armenia in 1948–53. Hauke Kruger, Doctor of Law, explained that self-determination by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh under Soviet legislation was without legal basis, and added that attempts to draw parallels between Kosovo and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are absolutely groundless. He emphasised that all Azerbaijanis have now been evicted from Armenia and that Armenians committed a massacre against Azerbaijani civilians in Khojaly in 1992.

NEWS IN BRIEF Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on OIC agenda According to Abdul Rauf Bin Rajab, Official Representative, Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan will be a priority issue during the forthcoming meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers in Astan, Kazakhstan, on 28–30 June. The OIC comprises 57 Islamic states, and four countries, including Russia, have observer status. Texas passes Bill on Khojaly Following a series of annual campaigns organised by the US Azerbaijanis Network (USAN), the Texas House of Representatives has passed a resolution recognising and commemorating the victims of the Khojaly Massacre. The HR535 bill was authored by Jim Murphy, State Representative, and adopted by the House of Representatives on 3 March. This is the first resolution on the Khojaly Massacre to be passed by the US State Legislature.

by Elchin Akberov

Changing the market

Azerbaijan has made significant advances towards achieving market-oriented reforms, despite the difficult and complex internal and external circumstances. Major achievements have been made in the exploitation of its hydrocarbon reserves, which have served to attract high levels of foreign direct investment (FDI). It has also attained macroeconomic stability through the implementation of stringent financial measures, combined with the involvement of international financial institutions.

Heydar Aliyev Square in Baku, overshadowed by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) HQ (left) and AtaBank HQ

The Azerbaijani economic position in the international arena is generally defined by its oil and gas resources and, to some extent, technical manufacturing related to the hydrocarbon sector, in addition to its fledgling tourism industry. The country’s comparative advantages and business successes are less dependent on simply combining the factors of production and more related to the embodied knowledge and management skills. Its openness to foreign trade has served to increase competition within the country, together with attracting greater capital inflows.

Black Sea Economic Co-operation (BSEC) organisation, Economic Co-operation Organisation (ECO) and Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Azerbaijan has entered into membership of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and CIS since 1992. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has received observer status at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) since 1997, and is currently in the process of acceding to full membership.

International capital mobility is guided by stability, transparency, predictability and adherence to internationallyaccepted rules and not simply by accessing cheap labour and raw materials. Transnational corporations transfer both technology and management skills, but also labour standards that are aligned with international norms. The export orientation, deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation that serve to characterise the expansion and deepening of the globalisation and integration processes are directly connected to the development of external competition.

Azerbaijan has embarked on a series of market-based reforms to ensure the democratic development of the country and to restructure the economy so it becomes more balanced, diversified and competitive, thus enhancing its integration with regional and wider international economic systems. The EU supports economic reforms in Azerbaijan via the transference of relevant technical assistance and expertise via the Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) programme. Under the TACIS indicative programme for Azerbaijan, priority is given to three main areas of cooperation – infrastructural, private sector and human resources development.

Relationship creation

During the integration process, countries in transition, such as Azerbaijan, must closely co-operate with international organisations, thereby assisting with the development of market economies. Following the regaining of Azerbaijani independence in 1991, the country has initiated processes aimed at achieving active integration with the international economy. Aligned with the

In May 2011, Azerbaijan was accepted to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) during a meeting in Bali, Indonesia. The NAM connects those countries who do not wish to join organisations with armed divisions, such as NATO, and espouses the policies and practices of co-operation, especially those that are multilateral and provide mutual benefit to all parties.

Oil-rich Azerbaijan is acknowledged across the world for its natural resources. The signing of production-sharing agreements (PSAs) with leading international energy companies has served to open a new era, as the country has initiated exports to Europe and the US. The discovery and exploitation of oil and gas fields has increased the FDI flow into Azerbaijan, thus forming a basis for robust economic growth and drawing attention towards development of the non-oil sector and integration with the world economy. Consequently, annual non-oil GDP increased from AZN3.06bn (£2.38bn) to AZN18.44bn (£14.36bn) between 2000–10. The firstquarter results for 2011 indicate growth of 23 per cent, when compared to the same period the previous year. This is indicative of rapid non-oil sector development, which should expedite Azerbaijani integration with the world economy. Figure 1 indicates that Azerbaijani non-oil exports increased from $510m (£311.4m) to $1.37bn (£836.3m) between 2004–10. Azerbaijan became a member of the OSCE in 1992, its objectives being to secure the peace, democracy and civil rights of member countries and to foster mutual co-operation. Thus, Azerbaijan and other member countries gained the opportunity to achieve further alignment with international markets. Moreover, the OSCE Minsk Group was established to settle the dispute over the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent territories.

Accession to the WTO

The main objectives of Azerbaijan in acceding towards full WTO membership are to:

• • •

accelerate integration with the world economy benefit from trade concessions between WTO member countries conduct trade with other countries, based on the rules specified by the WTO


Business News

Azerbaijani integration into international economics

in the Sumgait Technology Park (STP), which specialises in the production of electric cables, heavy equipment, plastic pipes, solar energy, copper melting and galvanising systems. The investment in STP will provide the local market with high-quality products and represent Azerbaijan across international markets.


Business News This AZN500 note features the likeness of poet Nizami Ganjavi

• • •

attract assistance towards implementing economic reforms further enhance FDI levels, following the implementation of WTO rules potentially implement the WTO conflict resolution mechanism.

WTO accession ranks amongst the leading goals of the Azerbaijani economy. The country has already launched a website at, following meetings with the Working Group for Azerbaijan, established on 16 July 1997 as part of the WTO Council. Altogether, there are more than 30 members in the Working Group for Azerbaijan, including representatives from such countries as the US, China, Japan, and Turkey. To date, the Group has undertaken eight meetings since 2002, during which several bilateral agreements have been concluded. There have also been opportunities to answer the questions of WTO member countries. During the most recent meeting in October 2010, new questions and comments were submitted to the Azerbaijani representatives, which has forwarded those questions for further reply. Full WTO membership will provide myriad opportunities for Azerbaijan. The government has also appointed a commission to undertaken preparatory work preceding full WTO membership, comprising high-ranking officials from various state authorities.

law on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) came into effect in 2009. This initiative will serve to enhance trade, together with developing contacts and relations with international markets via co-operation with foreign investors. Furthermore, enhanced FDI flows will expedite the application of high-tech, experienced management and marketing techniques. This should serve to reduce poverty and unemployment, thus helping Azerbaijan to supply competitive products and services that will increase its representation in international markets. Macroeconomic stability has provided favourable conditions for widening and deepening of market reforms. Azerbaijan initiated economic restructuring through the liberalisation of trade and economic activities; privatisation; and radical reforms in agriculture and services, including banking and finance. There has also been the inception of reforms in the social sector and public administration. Due to these measures, Azerbaijan has diversified its international trade and its economic ties with the outside world.

The private sector now plays a leading role in determining the future of new economic structures. There has hitherto been a lack of parity in economic growth between economic sectors and regions, being attributable to the concentration on the energy sector around the capital city of Baku. Other economic spheres, such as agriculture, thus remain at the development stage in other regions of Azerbaijan. Some of these initiatives have already borne fruit, with their products being supplied across the regional market.

Positive prospects

One of the most evident manifestations of contemporary globalisation is that such major players as transnational corporations, large industrialised countries and international organisations increasingly define global economic development. Such small economies as Azerbaijan remain extremely vulnerable to external influences and must develop the ability to react and adapt quickly to such changes. This will serve to define their competitiveness and, in this context, the role of governance and management of external boundaries is becoming increasingly crucial. However, Azerbaijan has already demonstrated its desire for economic integration with other countries and has implemented effective strategies to achieve this objective.

Currently, Azerbaijani membership as a ‘developing country’ ranks amongst the most important topics. Around two-thirds of WTO members receive this classification, thus benefiting from special rights. For example, there are time extensions regarding the implementation of obligations; provision of assistance and aid equating to 10 per cent of output, as opposed to 5 per cent for developed countries; and the right to limit trade and imports in special circumstances.

Enhancing competition

Free trade areas; unique markets; and both customs and economic unions rank amongst forms of international economic harmonisation. Bearing this in mind, Azerbaijan is continuing to take decisive steps toward integration, and thus the new

Figure 1: Azerbaijani oil and non-oil exports 2004–10

As with many post-Soviet countries, Azerbaijan has begun the privatisation of government plants, factories and other production and service fields. One of the most important initiatives was the investment

CONTACT To contact Elchin Akberov, please e-mail:

UNITED TRUST Corporate Profile


Increasingly, the Azerbaijani financial services sector is picking up momentum. As a result, Western companies are seeing unprecedented opportunities in partnering with the country’s financial professionals.

The United Group is one of the many international firms intent on helping Azerbaijan build its financial sector. We caught up with Alex Smotlak, Head of United Trust’s London office, to find out more about the company and its offerings:

Alex Smotlak, Managing Director of United Trust’s London office

Why Azerbaijan?

What are United Trust’s aspirations in the country? Partnering with Azerbaijani companies is consistent with the company’s business strategy. The Azerbaijani market is, after all, dynamic and independent – and therefore interesting to progressive international firms. United Trust and United Bank look forward to providing high-quality, efficient, multilingual services to all its clients – current and future – across the Caucasus region.

What is your company’s specialisation? The United Group comprises two companies – United Trust and United Bank, and its clientèle is truly international. United Trust’s offering includes corporate services, trust and private wealth services, environmental markets, risk management, and fund services, as well as marine and aviation services. What is the size of your company? Currently, the United Team maintains offices across nine jurisdictions – Aruba, Cyprus, Malta, Anguilla, Ireland, The Netherlands, Curaçao, Luxembourg and the UK. What are the special strengths of United Trust? United Trust is positioned as a modern financial services company, and transparency is paramount. How does United see itself in the context of the Azerbaijani market? United Trust has already undertaken

United Trust focuses on both corporate and private clients

United International Management Ltd., 1st Floor, 32, Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2RP Tel: +44 (0)20 7535 1070 Websites:;

Photo: P etra P atitucci

Experts say that development in the financial sector is an essential tool for maintaining stable economic growth in Azerbaijan. This view was voiced recently by Erik Berglof, Chief Economist, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), who commented: “Our surveys show that access to financial resources, particularly over the long-term, are among the key challenges for local businesses [in Azerbaijan].”

some work with Azerbaijani clients. The company has found the Azerbaijani market – and the actors in that market – to be especially professional. It would like to further develop relationships in the country.

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

Monetary indicators






Average annual exchange rate for US$1






Exchange rates as of 9.6.11: AZN1=US$1.27; US$1=AZN0.79; AZN1=£0.77; £1=AZN1.29; AZN1=€0.87; €1=AZN1.15

We’re moving! As of July 2011 we will be located in our beautiful new office – 2 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AA.

Please note that existing phone numbers have now been replaced. Please call +44 (0)207 808 1918 if you have any queries.

Ph o t o : Az e r O l y m p i c

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