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LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012 – AN EXCITING PROSPECT Also in this issue: Baroness Ashton expresses concern about Nagorno-Karabakh resolution EBRD publishes recommendations for 2012 CNN focuses on Azerbaijan Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh to meet in Paris Renara Akhoundova mesmerises a London audience
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diplomatic posting Prior to this, Baroness Ashton referred to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during an interview with the APA News Agency. She commented that the EU was: “Very concerned about the lack of progress in resolving the NagornoKarabakh conflict, and would like to see how it could play a more active and helpful role, in full support of the OSCE Minsk Group.” US Ambassador Bryza has requested Senate support to continue his diplomatic mission
H.E. Matthew Bryza, US Ambassador to Baku, has expressed a wish to continue his position as US Ambassador to Azerbaijan. President Barack Obama made his appointment on 29 October 2010 for the term of one year, after Senate discussions proved ineffective. This year, Senators must decide whether he continues this posting. Speaking on AzTV, he commented: “I cannot predict the outcome of forthcoming discussions in the US Senate. However, I enjoy this process, and like it when I am driven into a corner by the Senators and am forced to answer their questioning. I hope they will understand the realities of the situation. I believe that every American will agree that I am following the right path for Azerbaijan.”
Baroness Ashton recognised the frustrations caused by the lack of progress over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Baroness Ashton in Azerbaijan
The peaceful settlement of the NagornoKarabakh conflict was a main topic of discussion during a meeting between Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Baroness Catherine Ashton, Foreign and Security Policy High Representative, EU, during her visit to the South Caucasus. The two sides also discussed issues related to bilateral co-operation, including energy.
She continued: “I have appointed a new EU Special Representative, Philippe Lefort, to take this work forward. A solution to the conflict would unlock huge potential for the entire region and particularly boost regional co-operation. Conflict resolution and reconciliation are key values, on which the EU itself is based, and which we believe can also inspire a renewed effort in the South Caucasus region. We will, of course, discuss the further development of our bilateral and multilateral co-operation in the context of the EU Eastern Partnership.” Baroness Ashton added that: “The OSCE Minsk Group has the mandate to mediate between the parties to the conflict. Our intention is to see whether we could do more to support its work, help build confidence between the two sides, and more generally act in support of the OSCE Minsk Group’s work. There is much at stake in this conflict, and a great deal to gain if it was resolved, both for the people of the region, and also for the EU. We are very worried, therefore, about the rise in tensions and the increase in incidents, and would like to see how we could help reverse this trend.” Following the meeting, Baroness Ashton travelled to Georgia and Armenia, before visiting Moscow to attend a meeting of the EU–Russia Council.
Baku’s 2020 Olympics bid raises its game
Baku has appointed Konul Nurullayeva as Chief Executive of its bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, together with hiring a group of international companies to help promote the Azerbaijani campaign. Nurullayeva was previously head of the International Relations Department of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, and will work under Yagub Eyubov, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister, who has been appointed by the Azerbaijani President Aliyev to spearhead the bid.
Nurullayeva also chairs the International Relations department of the Azerbaijan Athletics Federation and is General Secretary of several national bodies, including those related to bobsleighing and skiing. She was the first female Chef de Mission of the Azerbaijani delegation at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Nurullayeva is a member of International Inspiration Programme Co-ordination, which is now an official component of the London 2012 International Education Programme, being led by UK Sport with the British Council and UNICEF. In addition, Nurullayeva sits on the Sport Development Committee of the Islamic Women and Sport Federation; the Executive Committee of the Azerbaijan Athletics Federation; and the Azerbaijani Delegation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. She commented: “I am incredibly proud and excited to be appointed as CEO of my country’s bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Baku. We want to bring the joys and passions of the world’s greatest sporting event to the Caucasus for the first time, enabling this vibrant, open and enthusiastic region to realise its true sporting potential.”
NEWS IN BRIEF GUAM chairmanship to be transferred to Azerbaijan in 2012 The Foreign Ministers of the GUAM Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development countries held a summit in Vilnius on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting. During this, they finalised the decision to transfer the organisation’s chair from Moldova to Azerbaijan in 2012. The GUAM Foreign Ministers also discussed issues regarding cooperation with other international organisations. Azerbaijani–NATO co-operation discussed Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, has received Hussein Dirioz, Deputy Secretary-General, NATO, to undertake defensive policy and planning. The sides exchanged views regarding the development of Azerbaijani–NATO military co-operation; the military situation in the region; and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Politics & News
Bryza seeks continuity of
Politics & News
Russia has cut its final lifeline to the dangerously outmoded Soviet-era Metsamor nuclear power station, located 30km from Yerevan, the Armenian capital
Russia to end support of controversial Armenian nuclear facility
According to the RFE/RL Armenian Service, plans have been confirmed by a subsidiary of the Russian stateowned RAO Unified Energy Systems (UES) to end its eight-year management of the Soviet-era Armenian Metsamor nuclear power station. In 2003, UES was granted control over Metsamor’s finances, together with ownership of five Armenian hydroelectric plants, in return for repaying the facility’s $40m (£25.6m) debt to Russian nuclear fuel suppliers. Since then, UES has controlled the nuclear plant’s cashflows through its Inter-RAO subsidiary. Its five-year management contract with the Armenian government was extended in 2008, and was due to expire in 2013. The Russian Kommersant daily newspaper stated that Inter-RAO is no longer satisfied with the terms of the deal and has requested its immediate termination. An unnamed company source explained that this move was attributable to “dramatically increased risks” at the plant. Metsamor, located around 30km west of Yerevan, is amongst the few functional nuclear power stations to contain reactors without primary containment structures. Over a long period, both the US and EU have urged Armenian officials to close Metsamor, which was built in the 1970s in a seismic zone. Nikolay Gorelov, Spokesman, Inter-RAO, confirmed that the decision had been ratified. He commented that several other companies, including the Russian Rosatom nuclear corporation, had offered to take on responsibility for the plant. Gorelov stated: “I wish to state that these negotiations [with Rosatom] have not even started. Therefore, it’s hard to talk about that for now. There is a desire to end Metsamor’s management, but whether or not we will manage to do that remains unclear.” The Armenian Energy and Natural Resources Ministry declined to comment on the issue.
The Kommersant report went on to explain that the Armenian government had expressed a desire to replace Metsamor’s existing reactor with a more modern facility, meeting current international safety standards. Rosatom and the Armenian Energy and Natural Resources Ministry established a joint venture in late 2009, tasked with designing and building the new reactor, which would have twice the power of the current facility. However, the plans have proven fruitless. In October, the Metsamor management was faced with a walkout of more than one-third of the plant’s 450-strong workforce, demanding better pay. Most employees agreed to return to work after accepting a 10 per cent increase from the government. Inter-RAO is remains the owner of Armenia’s national power facility, and Gazprom holds a controlling stake in the Armenian gas distribution network.
came, despite the fact that as many as 400,000 people entered Armenia during 1989–92. But it seems few of those people stayed. Around a million people may have left the country since the end of the Soviet period.” Armenia is a small, landlocked country, still suffering the economic impact of its unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan, he said. In addition, the problem is compounded by the fact that twice as many Armenians live in the worldwide diaspora as inside, and they attract their relatives abroad. De Waal outlined: “Now the issue is causing problems with Armenia’s main ally, Russia. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan publicly expressed worry over the Russian government’s Compatriots scheme, which provides thousands of Armenians with the promise of citizenship and work if they move to depopulated parts of Siberia. In effect, one ally is resolving its demographic problems at the expense of another.” According to de Waal, the World Bank in 2010 estimated that 9 per cent of the Armenian GDP came from overseas remittances. He wrote: “It is difficult to see the country developing while it is sapped by emigration. The rural economy is a subsistence one.”
Caucasus expert Thomas de Waal gave an alarming report on the impact of Armenian emigration
Armenian emigration continues unabated According to an article by Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, published in the US magazine The National Interest, the Armenian leadership has no interest in stemming emigration. He reported: “Even as the world marked the birth of its seven billionth person, a few countries are confronting the problem of insufficient population. But two countries are particularly hard-hit: Moldova and Armenia.” De Waal explains that the last Soviet-era census put the Armenian population at 3.3m, of which two-thirds were urban and one-third were rural. The most recent census, in 2001, stated that the population now amounted to 3m. He contextualised this: “Half of that rural population may now have emigrated in search of work, together with considerable numbers of urban dwellers. The drop in numbers
Azerbaijani–US naval relations develop further
An official statement has revealed that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met Ray Mabus, US Secretary of the Navy, and both sides expressed satisfaction with the development of bilateral military relations. The US official praised the participation of Azerbaijan in the international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan and its role in providing transport for international peacekeepers. During his time in Baku, Mabus met Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijani Minister of Defence and Vice-Admiral Shahin Sultanov, Commander of the Azerbaijani Navy. Mabus acknowledged that Azerbaijan remains of interest to the Pentagon as an important energy supplier for Europe. Furthermore, it hosts supply routes for equipment moving in and out of Afghanistan, including thousands of military and commercial flights that cross its airspace and hundreds that fly to and from Baku airport. In September, the US Defence Department reportedly offered $10m (£6.4m) of military aid to Azerbaijan to assist in the maritime effort against terrorism.
Azerbaijani modern counter-cultural classic hits London Preparing for Eurovision
David Parry, Co-Founder, Gruntlers’ Theatre Group (right), is congratulated by playwright Professor Elchin Efendiyev on the successful realisation of his vision
David Parry, Co-Founder, Gruntlers’ Theatre Group, commented: “Art saves us, beauty elevates us.” He went on to explain the concept of Elchin Theatre, where national traits are combined with the human condition, and remarked “Professor Elchin is a natural rebel.” He also expressed a wish to stage some works by Professor Elchin’s renowned father, Ilyas Efendiyev. Ambassador Gurbanov continued: “It is appropriate that this performance takes place during the year in which Azerbaijan commemorates the 20th anniversary of regaining its independence. One element missing from the celebrations has been theatre, and we are pleased to change this tonight. When I read the play, I fell in love with the characters and concept. It is very appropriate that the play Shakespeare is now being performed in the homeland of William Shakespeare.”
P h o to: EBU
The English-language version of the play Shakespeare, by Professor Elchin Efendiyev, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, has received its premiére in London by the Gruntlers’ Theatre Group, marking the first time that this prolific author’s works have been seen on the English-speaking stage. Performed in the historic surroundings of the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury, and jointly sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK and TEAS, the opening night was attended by Professor Elchin; H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK; Dr Ali Tekin Atalar, Chair, Azerbaijan House; and Tale Heydarov, Chairman and Founder, TEAS, amongst many others.
Abulfaz Garayev, Azerbaijani Minister of Culture and Tourism, has commented that the Association of Tourism Agencies is working with local tour companies and hotels to create special tour packages for visitors to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, to be held in Baku during May 2012. He explained: “These packages will include all services. Negotiations with hotels, restaurants and transport companies are currently taking place. We aim to incorporate tickets to the Eurovision final in the package.”
Professor Elchin concluded: “Shakespeare has been performed in various countries, including Russia and Ukraine, in addition to Azerbaijan. The works of William Shakespeare are well-known across Azerbaijan, particularly Hamlet and Othello. I am delighted to see the performance, and to find a new friend – David Parry.” Set in a psychiatric hospital soon after the regaining of Azerbaijani independence, this Dadaist play featured numerous mentally ill characters who are under the delusion that they are someone else, including Joseph Stalin (Conrad Peters), who is in a permanent state of repentance; Shakespearean actress Sarah Bernhardt (Eleanor Bennet); and Husband– Wife (Andrew Rea), who has a splitpersonality. However, their lives are transformed by the arrival of the charismatic Slash 13 (Jovan Matic), a genuine extraterrestrial from the planet of Vanderprandur. Throughout, they are shown to have greater sensitivity and kindness than the Head Doctor (Peter Stanford) and Junior Doctor (Dervla Toal), who eventually sides with the inmates. The enthusiastic cast brought great energy to their performances and the inspired script, attracting wild applause from all those in attendance. Professor Elchin went on to describe the production as “stunning”. It is now anticipated that Gruntlers’ Theatre Group will take Shakespeare on tour to selected theatres in Oxford and Cambridge, in addition to those in Istanbul, Moscow and Baku. They also plan to produce another work by Professor Elchin at the same time next year.
Preparations are underway to develop package deals for Eurovision fans visiting Baku for the first time
NEWS IN BRIEF 90th anniversary of Baku Music Academy celebrated A concert entitled Clarinetissimo II has taken place to commemorate the 90th anniversary of founding the Uzeyir Hajibeyli Baku Music Academy. During the event, Dr Aybaniz Mammadova, Baku Music Academy, outlined the history of the institution. This was followed by a concert of works by international composers, featuring the clarinetists Anar Mammadov and Vali Budagov, from the Special Exemplary Military Orchestra of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. The conductors were Nargiz Agayeva and Gular Agayeva.
Photo: Tom McCavera
Culture Violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva brought alive the vibrant rhythms of Baku and Bueños Aires
Tango Nuevo at the Royal Holloway College Acclaimed concert violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva, Member of the European Cultural Parliament and Cultural Advisor, TEAS, and the first Azerbaijani graduate from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York, has given a first-class concert amidst the glorious surroundings of the Picture Gallery at the Royal Holloway College, University of London. Accompanied by pianist Shzr Ee Tan, lecturer at the Royal Holloway College, they focused on compositions by such originators of the tango as Carlos Gardel, Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, and Jacob Gade, in addition to works by Astor Piazzolla, who breathed new life into the music with the development of Tango Nuevo in the 1950s and 60s. The vibrant music was complemented by a performance by a group of tango dancers, led by Esther Rosten and Anne Hobday. Sabina and Shzr Ee also performed some inspired versions of Azerbaijani mugham compositions to wide audience acclaim.
Despite writing more than 100 books, translated into more than 40 languages, being on the Azerbaijani school curriculum and coming from a long line of literary forebears, Professor Elchin Efendiyev (b.1943, Baku, Azerbaijan) remains virtually unknown in the West. David explained: “The reason for this shocking omission is to be found in the sphere of recent international politics, whereby the ‘Iron Curtain’ drawn between the Soviet sphere and Western powers proved to be an almost impenetrable block to cutting-edge artistic exchange.” David particularly emphasised Professor Elchin’s relationship to the Dadaist enterprise that flourished in the years immediately following the First World War, where “revolutionaries sliced into the substance of revered cultural structures”, and comedy was placed on parity with accepted concepts of ‘high’ art. Initially coming to prominence during the 1960s, the author worked within the limitations placed upon him by the Soviet regime, cleverly harnessing the approved conception of ‘realism’ to
An Azerbaijani master’s life and work showcased in London
On 21 November, TEAS sponsored a lecture at Pushkin House, London, entitled The Theatre of Genius: Examining the Life and Work of Professor Elchin Efendiyev, written and delivered by the leading literary critic, poet and dramaturge David Parry, Cofounder, Gruntlers’ Arts Group.
David Parry passionately extolled the vision of Professor Elchin Efendiyev
subvert authority and amuse audiences. David commented: “His work led to the evolution of an experimental form of stagecraft known as ‘Elchin Theatre’. This is a subtle methodology, blending both recognisable national traits with a broader sense of the human condition.” He went on to compare his work with that of Henrik Ibsen, whose minimalist staging and approach towards his characters’ interiority created a transcendent state of meaning. David also drew comparisons between Professor Elchin’s stagecraft and Mike Leigh’s approach to film, where actors are invited to develop their characterisations and improvise, with their interpretation resulting in a finalised script.
CNN gives a week of special coverage to Azerbaijan
As Azerbaijan prepares to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, the crew of CNN’s Eye On… series of short reports has visited the country. In the Eye on Azerbaijan series, CNN reporters Jim Clancy and Jim Boulden presented a mix of reports and interviews, covering some of the major Azerbaijani business, cultural and sporting stories. Mike McCarthy, Vice-President, Coverage and Feature Programming, CNN International, commented: “Azerbaijan has changed beyond recognition since it gained independence from the Soviet Union 20 years ago. It has formidable energy resources, a rich culture and a burgeoning tourism industry. We want to look at some of the untold stories in the country, and take its temperature at this interesting time in its development.” Altogether, ten films were broadcast, focusing on such diverse topics as the exploitation of oil and gas reserves, including a visit to the Sangachal Terminal; women’s football, chess; caviar; carpets; mugham, incorporating an interview with Alim Qasimov; and preparations to host the Eurovision Song Contest. One of the most powerful videos comprised an interview with the photojournalist Reza, a National Geographic Fellow, who has powerfully documented the history of the country over more than 20 years, including Black January, the aftermath of the Khojaly Massacre and other aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in addition to powerful images of Azerbaijani culture, history and nature. To view the videos, go to http://bit.ly/ udS4mn.
Performing alongside his quintet, including Arslan Novrasli, his brother (tar) and Elshan Mansurov (kamancha), the concert attracted widespread applause from all those in attendance.
Composer and pianist Franghiz Ali-Zadeh performs alongside cellist Ivan Monighetti, the final student of the great Mstislav Rostropovich
The Paris-based Dmitri Shostakovich International Association has collaborated with the Azerbaijani Embassy in France to organise a concert series and other events within a Festival entitled A Visit to Azerbaijan (see www.chostakovitch.org). The first day comprised a lecture and concert entitled Modernity and Traditions of the Music of Azerbaijan, during which Saida Zulfugarova, an Azerbaijani pianist living in France, outlined the history of Azerbaijani music, ranging from mugham and ashiq forms to the classical music that developed at the turn of the 20th Century. She performed pieces by such composers as Uzeyir Hajibeyli, Fikret Amirov, Jovdat Hajiyev and Ogtay Zulfugarov, accompanied by French musicians Martial Budran (violin) and Pier Avedik (cello). Alongside this was an exhibition comprising photos of the life and work of Azerbaijani composers, particularly emphasising the friendship and working relationship between Azerbaijani composer Kara Karayev and Dmitry Shostakovich, under whom he studied at the Moscow State Conservatoire. Examples of traditional dress, musical instruments and household items were also on display. Another concert in the series focused on the working relationship between Azerbaijani composer Karayev and Shostakovich, who stated: “Kara Karayev is one of my favourite composers.” A film was screened, and music by Kara Karayev and Faraj Karayev, his son, was performed. H.E. Elchin Amirbayov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to France; French classical music aficionados; and members of the French-based Azerbaijani diaspora attended the next concert, entitled Dmitry Shostakovitch, Kara Karayev and Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, which took place at the Salle Aydar. The programme included Kara Karayev’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (1960), dedicated to the memory of Vladimir Kozlov, musician and friend
of the composer, performed by 24-yearold Azerbaijani violinist Javad Taghizade and Finnish pianist Eeva Mattila. She also performed one of Karayev’s earliest published works – Statue at Tsarskoye Selo (1936) – inspired by the Pushkin poem. The concert also included a rare reduced version for four hands by Shostakovich of his own Ninth Symphony (1945), which was denounced as ‘formalist’ by the Soviet authorities after 1948, and his Music for the Court for two flutes and harp, composed for the soundtrack of the film King Lear in 1970. The second half included three works performed and composed by the Azerbaijani pianist Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. The first of these was Music for Piano (1989), written for ‘prepared piano’, synthesising the US avant-garde with Azerbaijani traditional music. This was followed by Habil-Sayagi for Cello and Prepared Piano (1979), a single-movement piece inspired by mugham, and particularly by the work of legendary kamancha exponent Habil Alijev. Ali-Zadeh continued by performing Crossing II (1992), written for an ensemble of 11 musicians, combining driving rhythms, mugham harmonies and dance themes. The season concluded with an event entitled Mstislav Rostropovich in Baku, comprising the screening of a documentary on the Bakuvian cellist’s life and work.
Azerbaijani pianist plays French jazz festival
The renowned Azerbaijani jazz-mugham pianist Shahin Novrasli, winner of the second prize at the Montreux International Jazz Piano Competition in 2007, has wowed the critics at the Jazz-en-Ouche Festival 2011 in Lower Normandy, France.
Festival President Serge Delavallée, Deputy Mayor, L’Aigle Community, commented that he would like Azerbaijani jazz musicians to appear at the festival in the future, and revealed that negotiations were already taking place. Held for the third time, the Jazz-en-Ouche Festival 2011, featured blues master Billy Boy Arnold; Hammond organist Rhoda Scott; singer and guitarist Thomas Dutronc; and other jazz stars. Novrasli’s participation was attributable to co-operation between the Azerbaijani Embassy in France and the Mayor’s Office of L’Aigle, which is twinned with Naftalan in Azerbaijan. Part of Novrasli’s performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London may be viewed at http://bit.ly/u3klwu.
Baku’s Rostropovich Festival attracts international orchestras
The week-long Fifth International Rostropovich Music Festival has taken place in Baku to celebrate the life and work of Mstislav Rostropovich, the famous Bakuvian cellist. The event began at the Heydar Aliyev Palace with a performance of Mahler’s epic Symphony No.5, performed by the orchestra of the Flemish Royal Opera (Vlaamse Opera), conducted by Dmitri Jurowski, including a solo section featuring Austrian baritone Georg Nigl. Most of the following concerts took place in the State Philharmonic Hall, including those by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Karayev, performed by the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rauf Abdullayev, featuring South Korean violinist Seong-Yun. The glamour of Bueños Aires came to Baku for Une Nuit de tango, given by Luis Bacalov (piano), Eduardo Hubert (piano), Michael Guttman (violin) and Juan-Jose Mosalini (bandoneon), and a string quartet comprising Maristella Patuzzi (violin), Jorge Bosso (cello) and Enrico Fagone (double bass). The festival ended with a performance by of works by Saint-Säens, Stravinsky and Schubert, played by The Paris Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Lawrence Foster, featuring the renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
France explores Azerbaijani musical legacy
Renara – spiritual and significant 8
In the West, only a few performers have become well-known by their first names, usually signifying a symbiotic relationship with the audience. One of these is pianist/composer Renara (full name Renara Akhoundova) who was born in Baku, yet moved to Paris in 1991. Since recording the first CD of her compositions in 2006, her spiritually uplifting, supremely tuneful pieces have increased in popularity. TEAS had the very great pleasure of meeting her again when she visited London to give a concert at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly: It was wonderful to see you play again at St. James’s Church in Central London. What brings you to London at this time, and were you pleased with the audience reaction? I was most touched by the sincerity of the audience. Something mystically happened from the middle of the concert until the end. There was definitely a transference of energy, and this inspired me for the concluding improvised piece. The ovation was very warm – I had been warned about the reserve of the English people, but this proved not to be the case. Many audience members were previously unaware of my music, but their hearts were open and they were ready to meet my music. I was very pleased to encounter a new audience. This was the second time that I had performed in St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, in the heart of London, and was delighted to see so many people on this occasion. This is one of the most ancient and beautiful churches in London, and they have an excellent new Fazioli grand piano to play upon. The concert was suggested by Alyona Nehodova, my London agent, with sponsorship provided by the Alexander Art Antique Gallery. It was promoted by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UK, Azerbaijan House, and TEAS. Are any further concerts planned in London? There will certainly be further concerts in 2012, although the dates and venues are yet to be confirmed. I would like to organise a concert where I perform for one half, and another Azerbaijani performer resident in the UK takes the other half. I would also consider giving some solo recitals. How has your career developed since we met a year ago? This has been a very interesting year
Renara was delighted by the warm response her performance elicited from the London audience
in my career. I was invited to play for the birthday of the renowned German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger at a congress in Bavaria attended by 1500 people from 84 countries. This proved, once again, that music does not know borders and serves to unite people. I have performed at numerous psychological congresses around the world, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Kuwait. Many psychiatrists and therapists use my music during patients’ workshops, and they inform me of its effect when they send e-mails via my website. They tell me that the music enables them to deeply enter the consciousness of patients to reach depths that had not been previously accessed. This is often a revelation for the patients. I had never predicted that my music would be used in this way. Despite living in Paris for 20 years, I had never performed a solo concert of my own work there, so I was delighted to give my Paris début at the Cortot Hall, which ranks amongst the foremost classical venues. One CD was released during the year to coincide with my concert in Paris, although this was a compilation of existing material, entitled Love and Gratitude. However, I also finished recording my eighth CD, entitled Forgiveness, which features entirely new compositions. I regard this as the opening door to my
ninth CD, Love, as it is impossible to have love without forgiveness. The launch plans for Forgiveness are currently being finalised, but they may comprise concerts in the UK and in France. After my concert in Paris, I found that many attendees wished to purchase my entire back catalogue, so I have since been discussing the reissuing of all my past CDs with various labels. However, I still aim to retain control over my work and how it is published and disseminated. Please explain how Prior Artemy Vladimirov from the Monastery of All Saints in Moscow has affected your work. One of the most exciting projects with which I have been involved during the past year has been the collaboration with Prior Artemy Vladimirov from the Russian Orthodox Church of All Saints in Moscow. He is a very special person, and works in the service of humanity, and expresses unconditional love for all. Prior Vladimirov uses the full gamut of expression in the great Russian language, and heals the soul with his words, sending messages to the heart of the listeners. The format of the concerts were that Prior Vladimirov would read some his prose, related to a single subject, for around 20mins, and then I would perform an improvised piece, inspired by his words. During the course of each performance, I would create two or three pieces of music.
We gave numerous concerts together in Austria, Estonia, Ukraine and all across Russia, including remote churches in Siberia. A film entitled Celebrate God in your Hearts was shot during one of these, and subsequently screened on Russian Orthodox television. I would very much like to bring this performance to Baku, as I have not performed there for over 20 years, and possibly even to London. Many of the concerts were filmed, and we have considered editing sections from several of these together. Are you still collaborating with Paul de Senneville, the leading French composer and producer? Although my previous CD, entitled Romantic Tribute, solely comprised Paul’s compositions and was produced by him, we have not worked together since. However, it would be my pleasure to work with him again.
Renara’s sincerity and supreme musicality were omnipresent throughout her performance
In which countries have you toured? How is your music now received in Azerbaijan? The comments received through the website have indicated that the Azerbaijanis have considerable enthusiasm for my music. I would greatly appreciate the chance to take my music to my homeland. Do you see yourself drifting further towards improvisation? To me, the culmination of each concert is the purely improvised piece that stems from the energy of the audience and my surroundings. In order to produce these pieces, I must open my heart and mind, and lose my ego. I have no preconceived notions regarding the structure. I may be seeing some audience members for the first time, and feel inspired by them. It is important for me to open my mind. I would say that I achieve a heightened state of consciousness at this point of the concert – the persistent vision of the here and now. The four phrases that I always bear in mind whilst improvising are: ‘Sorry’; ‘Pardon’; ‘Thank you’; and ‘I Love You’. I am certain that all who heard you at St. James’s Church were mesmerised by the beauty of your playing and your compositions. However, many will have been unaware of your work. How close are you to achieving a recording deal with a major company? That is the big question for 2012. However, it remains extremely important that I maintain complete artistic control over my past, current and future recordings. I am not prepared to compromise to be commercial.
Renara’s deep spirituality pervades her work
What was the impetus behind your new website? The internet is an undeniably unmatched method of increasing awareness of my music on an international level. It transcends national boundaries and, to an extent, language. The new site provides greater scope for uploading my videos and music, and for audience members to express their views. Last time you spoke to TEAS (TEAS Newsletter, October 2010, pp.11–12), you indicated your interest in writing film music. Have you now managed to do so? Actually, I am honoured that renowned director Costa-Gavras appreciates my work and has encouraged me to write film scores. Undeniably, it is the film director and composer of the musical score that determines the tone and emotion of a film. Ideally, I am looking to collaborate with a talented young director at the beginning of their career.
It has also been suggested that my music should be used to accompany a ballet. Some choreographers are already working on this, and have informed me that my music is used during practice sessions. How do you see your art developing? I would appreciate the opportunity to give more concerts in countries that I have not previously visited. I would particularly like to take my collaboration with Prior Vladimirov to more cities. Audiences have been greatly moved by these performances. Throughout, I am hoping that my music promotes understanding and love on earth.
For more information on Renara Akhoundova’s music, please visit www.renara.org
Photo: Armenian Presidential Website
Armenian President Sargsyan (left) meets Jacques Fauré, the incoming French OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair
Karabakh mediators cross contact line into Azerbaijan
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs have crossed the ‘contact line’ separating Armenian and Azerbaijani troops. According to the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, the mediators crossed the northern end of the line on foot between the Armenian village of Kayan and the Azerbaijani village of Jafarli in the Gazakh District. Bernard Fassier, French OSCE Minsk Goup Co-Chair, commented: “This time we made the crossing not in NagornoKarabakh, but over the Armenian– Azerbaijani border. Fortunately, the tension here is less than along the ‘contact line’.” The Co-Chairs then met Ayaz Asgarov, Head of the Gazakh Executive Authorities, and left for Baku via helicopter. Prior to crossing the ‘contact line’, the Co-Chairs exchanged views with the head of the executive authorities in the Armenian district of Tavuz. During their visit to Armenia, the Co-Chairs met President Serzh Sargsyan to discuss the current stage in negotiating a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, in advance of the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Vilnius. At the outset, Fassier introduced Armenian President Sargsyan to Jacques Fauré, his replacement as French OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair. Fauré was previously French Ambassador to the Ukraine. The ceasefire along the contact line is regularly monitored by the OSCE. Despite this, exchanges of fire are frequent, with two Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers being killed in separate incidents along the ‘contact line’ during November. Some analysts have predicted that the role of France in the mediation process will increase in the wake of Russian President Medvedev’s apparent failure to broker a framework deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan in June.
Meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of NagornoKarabakh approved
Official Baku has indicated its approval for the arrangement of meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ali Hasanov, Head, Public and Political Department, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, commented: “Any method that may contribute towards achieving resolution of the NagornoKarabakh problem, including meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh, is acceptable and will receive backing. We should welcome any activity leading towards settling the problem and creating conditions for its negotiated solution.” Rabiyyat Aslanova MP, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) commented: “The meetings between the communities are extremely important, since Nagorno-Karabakh is an Azerbaijani territory and Armenians residing there are the citizens of Azerbaijan. Once peace is attained, these two communities will live and work together on this land.” The parliamentarian noted that developing ties between the two communities would serve to: “Create additional opportunities for informing the wider community about affairs in Nagorno-Karabakh, together with developing further plans in this direction.” She explained that this occupation has resulted in the destruction of many historical and cultural monuments across Azerbaijan. Huseynova revealed that nine centralised library systems, comprising 927 libraries and 4.6m books, had been plundered and destroyed in Armenianoccupied Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions. The occupied territories also housed some 22 museums, which contained over 100,000 exhibits; 808 clubs; four theatres; two concert halls; eight amusement parks; four art galleries; and 85 music schools.
Armenian and Azerbaijani communities to meet in Paris
Rasim Musabeyov, Azerbaijani MP, has revealed that: “A meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh is expected to take place in Paris during December.” The move follows an event in Berlin entitled Dialogue Forum: Nagorno-Karabakh – Meeting of Azerbaijanis and Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, which was also an initiative by the Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh that was boycotted by the Armenian community. Musabeyov explained: “Everyone was aware that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh did not solely comprise Armenians.” He went on to explain that the organisers of the meeting in Berlin regretted the Armenian non-participation: “We explained our position during the meeting in Berlin, but the Armenian side decided not to attend, under the pretext of concerns regarding the meeting format. It was proven again that Azerbaijanis are ready to co-exist with Armenians, but the Armenians are unable to do so. This factor is understood across Europe.” The Berlin meeting was attended by many representatives from the Azerbaijani Community of NagornoKarabakh, including the Azerbaijani MPs Rovshan Rzayev and Rasim Musabeyov; Ramig Maharramov, Head Physician, Shusha Regional Central Hospital; and Farhad Badalbeyli, Director, Baku Music Academy, whose ancestral home is Shusha; together with Armenian representatives and German scientists and politicians.
NEWS IN BRIEF Azerbaijani soldier killed by Armenian sniper Teymur Abdullayev, Deputy Chief: Press Service, Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, has acknowledged the killing of the 19-year-old Azerbaijani soldier Elmar Samad Habibzade by Armenian snipers on 26 November in the Terter region. The Lankaran Regional Military Commissariat had drafted Habibzade in April.
is a need for greater transparency, and the Co-Chairs need to be courageous at this juncture. The peace process must be opened up to greater scrutiny, and the sides – Armenia and Azerbaijan – together with the OSCE Minsk Group CoChairs, need to consider if there are other methods that can be harnessed to pursue the peace process in the future.”
Mammadyarov and Nalbandian informed the Delegation Heads of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries that their Presidents are ready to meet again in the near future to continue direct dialogue regarding the methods by which they may bring peace, stability, and prosperity to their peoples.
Discussing the composition of the OSCE Minsk Group, Dennis Sammut stated: “Whilst the option that the EU may replace France as a Minsk Group Co-Chair is not on the agenda for the moment, a wider EU role is not only desirable but, in some ways, now inevitable. Philippe Lefort, the new EU special representative for the South Caucasus, has a clear mandate to engage with the conflict and peace process.”
Dennis Sammut, Director, LINKS, has commented that expansion of the EU role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is key. The comments were made in a paper written for the Italian International Affairs Institute entitled After Kazan, a Defining Moment for the OSCE Minsk Process.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Nagorno-Karabakh statement to be adopted Sammut expresses wish within OSCE Ministerial for enhanced EU role in Council framework conflict resolution The Delegation Heads to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries – Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister; Hillary Clinton, US Secretary-of-State; and Jean Leonetti, French Minister for European Affairs – met Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Affairs Minister and Edward Nalbandian, his Armenian counterpart, at the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Vilnius on 6 December. All participants reaffirmed the importance of reaching a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Recalling the Moscow Declaration in November 2008, together with their countries’ statements at the OSCE Ministerial Council meetings in Helsinki (2008) and Athens (2009) and at the OSCE Summit in Astana (2010), the five Delegation Heads agreed that it was necessary to continue the negotiation process within the OSCE Minsk Group format. Within this, they agreed that further efforts should be implemented to investigate ceasefire violations, following the joint statement of Azerbaijani President Aliyev, Armenian President Sargsyan, and Russian President Medvedev at the Sochi Summit in March 2011. Noting the statement of their Presidents at Deauville in May 2011, which urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to finalise the Basic Principles for the Peaceful Settlement of the NagornoKarabakh Conflict, the Delegation Heads at the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries expressed regret that the parties had been unable to take this decisive step. The three Delegation
When commenting on the failure of the Kazan Summit between Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian President Sargsyan, brokered by Russian President Medvedev, Sammut stated: “The peace process has not collapsed, but has been damaged.” In the paper, Sammut proposed numerous measures aimed at improving the peace process, including greater scrutiny of the negotiations, spearheaded by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs; enhanced ceasefire maintenance; a review of OSCE Minsk Group composition; involvement of the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh and the displaced Azerbaijanis from the region; and consideration of the conflict within the wider context of the former Soviet Union and Europe; together with a more powerful role for the EU. Sammut said: “The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs have to somehow find a way of taking the negotiations forward. Over a long period, many observers have considered that the negotiations were being conducted in an overly secretive manner. There
Two decades of the OSCE Minsk Group – no cause for celebration Whilst speaking to journalists, Araz Azimov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, recognised that: “Next year is the 20th anniversary of the OSCE Minsk Group. But it will not be a very solemn celebration.” Azimov went on to state that the body had failed to achieve any result, despite the diplomats appointed as Co-Chairs being periodically replaced. He stressed the need for the Co-Chairs to be resolute in their mission. Azimov noted the Armenian dependence on the three Co-Chair nations and the pressure exerted by the Armenian disapora. Mikheil Saakashvili acknowledges the tragedy of Nagorno-Karabakh Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, speaking at the Georgian–Armenian Business Forum in Tbilisi, has given his personal view regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Directing his speech at Armenian President Sargsyan, he commented: “The most painful issue for us is the conflict that exists between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As it is painful for the Caucasus, it is painful for Georgia. In the future, I believe that the economy of the Caucasus should be integrated.”
P h o t o : O S C E /E LTA
Audronius Ažubalis (right), Chairpersonin-Office, OSCE and Lithuanian Foreign Minister, greets Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Affairs Minister
Heads reiterated the impossibility of a military solution to the NagornoKarabakh conflict. They stressed that the UN Charter, the Principles of the Helsinki Final Act, and the elements outlined in the joint statements of their Presidents at L’Aquila in July 2009 and Muskoka in June 2010 provided the route for all sides to move beyond the unacceptable status quo to reach a peaceful settlement.
P h o t o : Fo v e a Pi c t u r e s
Christopher Falco, Senior Banker, EBRD, indicated Azerbaijan’s priorities in the financial sector at a recent conference in London, organised by TEAS and Baker & McKenzie
EBRD assessment published The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has published its new Transition 2011 report, entitled Crisis and Transition: The People’s Perspective. Noting the highlights of 2010, when 5 per cent GDP growth was achieved, it comments on the preparations to restructure and privatise the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) and to curb corruption. It goes on to note that Azerbaijan and the EU have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding a comprehensive institutionbuilding programme to make public institutions more compatible with EU standards. The EBRD also notes Azerbaijan’s potential role as an energy supplier and transit country, commenting on the development of the Southern Corridor and the exporting of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Azerbaijan to Romania. Other developments of note are large infrastructural projects, such as modernisation of the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway and construction of the new International Sea Trade Port Complex. The EBRD analysts noted the move by the National Bank of Azerbaijan (NBA) to strengthen the supervisory framework and liberalise the financial sector. It also acknowledges the continuing negotiations to gain access to the World Trade Organisation. The EBRD goes on to recommend the following as key priorities for Azerbaijan in 2012:
• • •
further economic diversification, away from the hydrocarbon sector additional enhancement of the business environment and the promotion of competition significant financial sector reform.
The full report may be read at http://bit. ly/9nMN4T. The Azerbaijani section is at pp.114–115.
EBRD–Asian Development Bank links strengthened The EBRD and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are to work together on a range of projects, aimed at building capacity and promoting public–private partnerships across the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in London by Thomas Mirow, President, EBRD, and Haruhiko Kuroda, President, ADB, with the objective of strengthening and deepening co-operation in the two organisations’ common countries of operation, including Azerbaijan and Georgia. The EBRD press release stated: “Both our institutions are strongly committed towards helping unlock the region’s vast economic potential by supporting market-oriented, private sector development, boosting public–private partnerships and building the road, rail and energy networks necessary to facilitate growth in trade and commerce.” The ADB and EBRD are partners in the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programme. Over the past decade, the CAREC partnership has developed energy networks and transport corridors worth some $17bn (£10.9bn), connecting member countries to each other and with the booming markets of East and South Asia, Europe and Russia.
Baku hosts second Azerbaijani–Swedish Forum
The Azerbaijani–Swedish Forum has taken place at the headquarters of the Baku Nobel Heritage Fund (BNHF). The discussions focused on the investment environments in both countries and the reciprocal business opportunities that are now available. Frank Belfrage, Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, commented that development of the Azerbaijani economy, particularly regarding the business and financial environment,
was serving to provide great opportunities for Swedish companies. He commented: “Azerbaijan is a partnership country for the EU, as it guarantees stability and security, together with developing suitable business and investment conditions.” Gulmammad Javadov, Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy, outlined some of the economic reforms being undertaken in Azerbaijan and the legislation that has been implemented to create an advantageous business environment in the country. Belfrage went on to meet Natiq Aliyev, Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Minister, who highlighted the country’s economic, energy, investment and industrial potential. He went on to explain how Azerbaijan had successfully ensured its energy security, and would seek to diversify European energy supplies for the future. Thereafter, Belfrage led a Swedish delegation on a visit to the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) in Baku. Khoshbakht Yusifzade, First Vice-President, SOCAR, commented that Swedish– Azerbaijani bilateral economic relations were on an upward trend, having been in existence since the first oil boom at the end of the 19th century. The Swedish delegation went on to brief Yusifzade and Elshad Nasirov, Vice-President, Investments and Marketing, SOCAR, on their business activities, and expressed an interest in expanding their reciprocal business relations.
Azerbaijani revelation – enough gas for a second pipeline
According to Reuters, Roberto Pirani, Chairman, White Stream Pipeline Consortium, has commented that energy supply diversification, together with panEuropean energy supply transit security, can potentially be ensured by the parallel development of the Nabucco and White Stream gas pipelines. Pirani explained that Azerbaijani gas reserves are now so extensive that they will facilitate the imminent development of a second large pipeline project. Speaking at the O&G Pipes Global Conference in London, Pirani explained that White Stream should be considered as complementing Nabucco and the other projects comprising the Southern Gas Corridor. He commented: “We want to avoid competition with Nabucco.” Pirani continued by explaining that the simultaneous development of Nabucco and White Stream would provide enhanced supply diversity. He added that the Southern Gas Corridor would play an essential role in achieving secure supplies for Europe.
Günther Oettinger, EU Energy Commissioner, expressed the panEuropean requirement for energy supply diversisfication
European Commissioner: EU stresses need for energy supply diversification
During his speech at the 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Günther Oettinger, EU Energy Commissioner, explained the necessity to diversify sources and transit routes for EU energy supplies. He commented: “This is the essence of the EU’s diversification policy. It is a policy of risk mitigation and economic interest, which offers mutually advantageous opportunities to us and to our suppliers.” He mentioned that, as a major energy consumer, importer and technology provider, the EU has an interest in the energy policy developments of all international partners. Oettinger continued: “It is in the EU’s strategic interest to build and enhance comprehensive and long-term partnerships with historic and new suppliers, together with other major consumer countries and emerging economies.” Furthermore, he explained, supplier participation in a fully-integrated EU gas market will facilitate access to a growing market of half a billion consumers, representing the largest single regional market for gas and electricity in the world. The Minister stressed that gas would continue to play an integral role in future EU energy policy, and that the priority project remains the Southern Gas Corridor. This currently comprises three projects – Nabucco, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Interconnector Turkey–Greece– Italy (ITGI). The predominant resource will be the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz 2 gas condensate field development, which is expected to facilitate the exportation of 10bn m 3 (bcm) of gas to Europe per annum, following its proposed completion in 2016.
Elman Rustamov, Chairman, C e n t ra l Bank of Azerbaijan, has r e ve a l e d that Azerbaijan managed t o e s c a pe the economic crisis. S p e a k i n g during his budget speech i n t h e Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Pa r l i a m e nt), he explained that the c o u n t r y currently accounts for a r o u n d 80 per cent of the South C a u c a s u s economy. He recalled t h a t p overty levels in the country h a d d e c reased five times since it r e g a i n e d independence 20 years a g o , a n d that currency reserves now a m o u n t t o around $45bn (£28.8bn). R u s t a m ov went on to predict that t h e s e c ond wave of the world e c o n o m i c crisis is approaching, a n d s t i pulated that the country wo u l d b e ready to withstand this.
He noted that GDP had grown by five per cent during the period 2009–11, with a trade surplus of $14bn (£8.9bn), equating to 67 per cent of domestic production. R u s t a m o v c o n t i n u e d : “A z e r b a i j a n i President Aliyev has stated that the Azerbaijani economy should grow by half during the next d e c a d e . Th i s c a n o n l y a c h i e v e d by production growth in the n o n - o i l s e c t o r. I t i s i m p o r t a n t to develop small- to mediumsized businesses, protect private p r o p e r t y, e v o l v e t h e i n d e p e n d e n t judicial system, and develop h u m a n r e s o u r c e s .” He revealed that the consolidated national budget is $25bn (£16bn), with budget expenditure accounting for 37 per cent of G D P.
Azerbaijan 2012 Budget amounts to $25bn
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The Superior Court in Azerbaijan
inner back page AZERBAIJAN: QUICK FACTS Official name: The Republic of Azerbaijan Capital: Baku Area: 86,600km2 Population: 9.1m Density: 104 inhab./km2 Urban population: 51.8 per cent Population of main cities excluding suburbs: Baku (2,500,000); Gandja (300,000); Sumgait (270,000); Mingacevir (95,000) Religions: Shiite Muslims (65 per cent), Sunni Muslims (28 per cent), Orthodox Christians (5 per cent), Others (2 per cent) Principal exports: Oil, gas, aluminium, carpets Official language: Azerbaijani Business languages: English and Russian
Average annual exchange rate for US$1
Exchange rates as of 11.11.11: AZN1=US$1.27; US$1=AZN0.79; AZN1=£0.81; £1=AZN1.23; AZN1=€0.95; €1=AZN1.05
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