(‘Consuming Fire’ by Nizaket Sinanovska, featured in the ‘Dialogue of Colour: Azerbaijan–Germany’ exhibition)
THE LAND OF FIRE ENTERS 2013 Also in this issue: EU Commissioner Füle recognises the impact of Azerbaijani–EU Co-operation New power station to be constructed Jazz piano sensation Isfar Sarabski makes a triumphant return to Berlin Shah Deniz Consortium acquires 50 per cent option in Nabucco West Free economic zone to be constructed at Baku airport www.teas.eu
01 / 2013
www.teas.eu January 2013
Welcome to The European Azerbaijan Society
The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) is a pan-European organisation dedicated to promoting Azerbaijani culture, business and public affairs to international audiences. TEAS is also actively involved in helping create a sense of community amongst expatriate Azerbaijanis. TEAS was launched in November 2008, having initially been established as the London Azerbaijan Society four years earlier. The organisation now has offices in the UK, Belgium, France and Germany, together with a representative office in Azerbaijan. TEAS has three main façets to its operations: • • •
Culture – TEAS raises awareness of Azerbaijan’s rich and vibrant culture to a worldwide audience by organising cultural events and operating as a networking centre. Business – TEAS supports its membership of European and Azerbaijani businesses. It provides a platform for organisations to establish links and strengthen their existing business relationships via a programme of networking opportunities across the region. Public Affairs – TEAS works to increase awareness about Azerbaijan amongst key opinion formers, key decision-makers and other political, academic and civil society stakeholders.
TEAS is focused on achieving the following: • • • • •
The establishment of strong links between key Azerbaijani and European stakeholders, thereby helping Azerbaijan to integrate fully into the European family of nations. Strengthening ties between Azerbaijan and key economic, political and social structures across Europe. The promotion of Azerbaijan as a modern, secular, Western-facing country with tremendous economic opportunities and a strong cultural heritage. Creating a community spirit amongst expatriate Azerbaijanis in Europe. Increasing awareness of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the plight of the 875,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
TEAS is always bringing the latest news, views and interviews on all aspects of Azerbaijan, and is launching a biweekly free e-newsletter. To find out more, please sign up at www.teas.eu.
Outreach and Engagement
The TEAS Facebook page is your chance to learn about the latest TEAS news, events, campaigns and other items of interest to the Azerbaijani community. Please ‘like’ the page at http://bit.ly/TEASFB
TEAS offers a range of corporate and individual membership packages, providing such benefits as advertising, networking, travel discounts and assistance with visas. To find out more, e-mail: email@example.com
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Politics and News Commissioner Füle commented on the strength of EU– Azerbaijani co-operation
and solution of this conflict remains of primary importance. Both sides reiterated their support for the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been tasked with establishing negotiated conflict resolution. The EU also expressed its concern regarding incidents on the ‘contact line’, and urged both sides to maintain stability on the ground and to refrain from statements and actions that would increase tension.
EU to implement €2.2m EU Commissioner Füle programme assesses Azerbaijani The EU Delegation to Azerbaijan has launched a Call for Proposals under the 2012 European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy development in 2012 Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, has given his verdict on the EU–Azerbaijani relationship during 2012. The comments were made in Brussels after a meeting of the EU– Azerbaijan Co-operation Council. He said: “We are glad to see Azerbaijan and the EU moving closer to each other. Our co-operation is bearing fruit. In the energy sphere, which is an area of strategic partnership, significant steps have been taken on the Southern Energy Corridor. The ratification by the Azerbaijani parliament of the agreements with Turkey, regarding the construction and operation of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), is very welcome. During the next few months, we are expecting the final decision by the Shah Deniz Consortium on the preferred route of the pipeline. In respect to the Trans-Caspian Pipeline, we have confirmed with Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, our joint commitment towards working closely with Turkmenistan with a view to finalising our trilateral agreement, paving the way for the Southern Corridor.” “The negotiations on the EU–Azerbaijan Association Agreement have gained strength in the last few months, although we would like to accelerate the pace on certain issues. Negotiations on agreements relating to visa facilitation and readmission started in March, and will be intensified next year, with a view to an early conclusion. This will enable us to boost people-to-people contacts, which is an important element of our co-operation. We welcome the progress made by Azerbaijan to fully respect its commitments towards the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the EU.
The EU–Azerbaijan Co-operation Council reviewed progress regarding resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The EU reaffirmed that the status quo remains unacceptable, www.teas.eu
after the Azerbaijanis decided to increase the annual lease from $7m (£4.3m) to $300m (£186m), following the conclusion of the decadelong lease on 24 December. The Gabala station had covered all of the Middle East and India, but a more advanced station situated on the Black Sea coast has recently assumed its role. Russia had offered to upgrade the Gabala station and pay rent up to $293m (£181.6m) per annum. In addition, Russia has always paid Azerbaijan $5m (£3m) a year for electricity and $10m (£6.2m) a year for other services. Around 500 Azerbaijanis were employed at the radar station, in addition to 1,100 Russians. According to BBC reports, officials have subsequently reported that the radar site could be transformed into a leisure area. Much of Gabala is being converted into a resort, and Eldar Sabiroglu, Azerbaijani Defence Ministry Spokesman, stated: “The radar station occupies a large area in the Gabala region”, and added that the land “may also be used as a part of this resort.” Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, said that a commission overseeing the dismantling of the station would be established and all equipment would be returned to Russia. He commented: “I’m not sure that anyone would want to make use of this station. No interest has been expressed so far.”
US-based CNN reports: ‘Azerbaijan on the Silk Azerbaijani–Dutch Road’ The US-based CNN has broadcast a interparliamentary ties documentary entitled Azerbaijan on the Silk Road. The report provides information about the highlighted upgrading of the transportation infrastructure of Azerbaijan, and the country’s importance as a transit point between East and West, and North and South. Particular emphasis was placed on the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) link. During the report, Jim Boulden, CNN Correspondent, commented on the ancient Silk Road, and the current role of Azerbaijan, stating that: “Azerbaijan pays great importance to the development of transport infrastructure, and its products are freely transported throughout the country.” To see the programme, go to http://bit. ly/cnnsilkroad.
The iconic Soviet period Gabala radar station will be dismantled
“Let me conclude by congratulating Azerbaijan for having been chosen to host the first European Olympic Games in 2015. After another important event – the Eurovision Song Contest, last May – the Games will be yet again a window to the world for Azerbaijan. This will also be a window through which Europe will look at the sports locations and the country as a whole.”
and Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility. Applied in two phases, its purpose will be to strengthen the role of civil society in Azerbaijan regarding the promotion of rights and democratic reforms, together with enhancing political participation and representation. This anticipates the forthcoming Azerbaijani presidential, municipal and parliamentary elections. The total budget allocation is €2.2m (£1.8m), and the deadline for applications is 25 March.
Soviet-era Gabala radar station to close
Russia has decided to close its Daryal-type longrange missile detection radar system in Gabala,
Adil Aliyev, MP, Head of the Azerbaijani–Dutch Working Group on Interparliamentary Relations, met Hans Franken, Second Vice-President, Dutch Senate; Vice-Chair Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs; and Head of the Dutch Delegation, EU Parliamentary Assembly, on the sidelines of an international conference in The Hague. During the meeting, also attended by Salih Gasimov, Chair, Benelux Azerbaijanis Congress, they praised the development of co-operation between the two countries, particularly in economic terms. Hans Franken made reference to the recent Azerbaijani–Dutch Business Forum and visit to Baku by Lodewijk Asscher, Dutch Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Aliyev concluded by extending an invitation for Mr Franken to visit Baku.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Broadband internet to expand in 2013 The Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT) has announced plans to launch a broadband access network expansion project during 2013. The expansion will involve the use of Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) technology to offer speeds of 30–100 megabytes per second (mbps) to end-users in Baku, and speeds of 10–30mbps in the regions. The project will be undertaken in cooperation with Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.
Politics and News
(Photo: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
AzerSpace-1 is finalised at the Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, USA, in readiness for launch
stressing the importance of developing the non-oil sector, he outlined US support for the Southern Corridor. “The US is interested in increasing global supplies. The US does not obtain oil through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. However, we support the needs of other countries regarding oil and gas. Currently, the BTC pipeline is used by several countries, and the US is interested in increasing global oil and gas supplies.”
AzerSpace-1 satellite report on to contribute towards PACE economic development Azerbaijan published Speaking at the Azerbaijan 2013: New Targets, New Success conference in Baku, Yaqub Eyyubov, Azerbaijani First Deputy Prime Minister, commented that launching Azerbaijan’s first satellite in February 2013 would contribute towards development of the IT sector and the economy as a whole. The satellite will be launched into geostationary orbit at the orbital slot of 46° east longitude, which is leased from MEASAT Satellite Systems, owned by the Malaysian government. AzerSpace-1 will cover Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North Africa, and is designed to provide digital broadcasting, internet access, data transmission, creation of very small aperture terminal (VSAT) multiservice networks and governmental communications.
The PACE report entitled Azerbaijan’s Implementation of Commitments, prepared by Pedro Agramunt and Joseph Debono Grech, Co-rapporteurs, PACE Monitoring Committee on Azerbaijan, has been published. They stated that, after Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe, progress was achieved regarding development of the legislative base, established to ensure development of democratic institutions. The report stressed that Azerbaijan, except for one document, had signed and ratified all the legal documents relating to the country’s commitment to PACE. The corapporteurs also noted that establishing the Judicial Council, as part of the reform of the Azerbaijani judicial system, is commendable.
presidency will pass to Ukraine. Azerbaijan’s presidency was initially proposed during a meeting in Baku in November, attended by representatives of Ukrainian national operator Ukrtelecom, the German company T-systems, and Georgian company FopNet. Construction of the Azerbaijani segment of the cable line is now complete. Commissioning of this fibre-optic highway will facilitate the establishment of a direct line between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and Ukraine. The TAE project was agreed in 1999 between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and construction of the Azerbaijani segment began that year. In 2001, construction of the onshore section of this was completed, and channels of communication between Baku and Tbilisi were transferred to a fibre-optic TAE highway.
NEWS IN BRIEF AgustaWestland to supply 10 helicopters to AZAL AgustaWestland, the Finmeccanica subsidiary, has
Airlines (AZAL) to purchase eight AW139 helicopters, and has secured a preliminary
Ambassador Morningstar voiced the need for economic diversification
US Ambassador comments on rapid Azerbaijani development
Speaking at a meeting of the Caspian European Integration Business Club (CIBC), Richard Morningstar, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, stated: “I believe that the country will become a state with one of the most advanced economies in the region and the world. It is important to make some important actions in the country. Diversification of the economy is one of the most important issues now.” He voiced the opinion that, during the next decade, significant measures must be implemented to reduce dependence on the oil sector. Ambassador Morningstar said: “Azerbaijan has made great investments in development of the social sphere, and this is very important for the country. However, a strong educational system must be created to ensure the country’s future.” After January 2013
Tests on Azerbaijani segment of EPEG completed
Trials on the Azerbaijani segment of the Europe-Persia Express Gateway (EPEG) fibreoptic cable have now been completed. Rahid Alekberli, Technical Director, Delta Telecom, explained that each segment of the cable line being laid across the territory of member states will be thoroughly tested and the next meeting of EPEG member countries would coincide with the commissioning of the project in early 2013.
agreement for a pair of AW189 helicopters, which are currently under development. Six of the machines, including the AW189 duo, are intended for offshore transport. Two AW139s will carry out emergency medical service (EMS) operations, with one AW139 dedicated
activities, and the final AW139 for VIP transport.
Baku to host joint Azerbaijani-Turkish military training The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry has stated that Azerbaijani and Turkish servicemen will hold joint manoeuvres in March. Its purpose will be to train detachments from both countries regarding joint defence activities. The training
The 6000km-long EPEG cable route, connecting Oman and Frankfurt, passes through Azerbaijan, Poland and Ukraine. EPEG’s participants are the Iranian Telecommunication Infrastructure Company (TIC), Omani Omantel, Russian Rostelecom and International Cable & Wireless (C&W). The capacity will reach about 3.2 terabytes per second (tbps), and should serve to further reduce internet prices in Azerbaijan.
will be held in accordance with the AzerbaijaniTurkish Military Co-operation Plan. Last year, Azerbaijani servicemen were trained in Turkey as part of the Caucasus Eagle 2012 manoeuvres.
Azerbaijan to participate in Brussels NATO event The
announced that, under the US–Azerbaijani programme of military co-operation, Azerbaijani
Azerbaijani presidency of TAE confirmed
Protocols have been signed confirming the Azerbaijani presidency of the TransAsia-Europe (TAE) project during 2013– 15, according to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT). Following this, the
servicemen will attend a meeting in Brussels from 15–19 January of the NATO countries, all of which participate in the VERITY programme. The VERITY system came into effect in March 1994, and is designed to assist with maintaining awareness of national military force holdings; the notification of reduction events; the result of
the time, place, and type of inspections.
Politics and News The impact of unregulated oil extraction is now being addressed
(Photo: Nigel Green)
has witnessed unprecedented growth in oil and
Independent States. The facility will enhance the energy security of the Absheron Peninsula, which encompasses Baku and its surrounding districts, and the southern regions, improving the efficiency of power transmission and distribution. In addition, the equipment for a second power station, with a 409MWt capacity, has been delivered to augment the current power station at Shimal. During January–November 2012, Azerenergy generated more than 19.2bn kwh of electricity, whereas the figure was 17.9bn kwh during the same period of the previous year. The national grid currently includes 13 thermal power plants and six hydro-electric power plants.
Azerbaijan tackles its gas exploration, extraction and transportation. environmental nightmare SOCAR and Houston head-on Azerbaijan is home to areas of outstanding authorities sign Free economic zone to natural beauty and biodiversity. However, as the former oil-producing hub of the Soviet memorandum be launched at Baku Union, Azerbaijan currently faces the residue of SOCAR and the authorities in Houston, Texas widespread land and water pollution. Despite have developed a memorandum aimed at airport the closure of Soviet-era chemical plants, poor air and water quality remain pressing concerns. The UK-based Caspian Information Centre (CIC) has subsequently published its Occasional Paper No.23 entitled Awakening from Azerbaijan’s Environmental Nightmare, which assesses the magnitude of the task and specifies how the clean-up is being addressed.
The country’s environmental protection regime remains in its infancy, but it is clear that Azerbaijan regards the protection and enhancement of the environment as an important aspect of its renewal. To read the paper, go to http://bit.ly/cicenvironment.
UN Environment Agency welcomes Caspian protection
During a meeting in Moscow, the five countries bordering the Caspian Sea reaffirmed their strong commitment towards protecting their marine environment, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which welcomed the move as an “important step.” In a press release, the UN agency said that Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan had reached a “crucial milestone” by adopting and signing another protocol on the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea. The UNEP stated: “This is an important step forward in the process, as the protocol addresses one of the major ecological threats to the Caspian environment and aims to safeguard coasts and waters from the detrimental effects of pollution from land-based sources, such as agriculture, industry and urban settlements.” It added that the legally-binding agreement has resulted in increasing co-operation amongst the five Caspian nations regarding this threat, coinciding with a period during which the region www.teas.eu
strengthening relations and co-operation between the company and the city’s authorities. The document was signed in Houston by Khalik Mammadov, Vice-President: Personnel Régime and Information Technologies, SOCAR, during a meeting with senior government officials, including Senator Rodney Ellis. The Houston officials praised SOCAR’s contribution towards boosting ties between Azerbaijan and the US. They also praised the role of the Houston–Baku Sister City Association and Irada Akhundova, Chairperson.
According to the report Azerbaijan – 2020: The Vision of The Future, a free economic zone (FEZ) will be established close to Baku airport. The report states: “A new airport terminal, runway and hangars will be commissioned at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, and a FEZ will be constructed. Further measures will be taken to renew the six other international airports and the air fleet.” Following reconstruction, the total area of the airport complex will amount to 58,000km2. It is expected that passenger traffic will increase to 3m travellers per annum.
Mammadov stated: “For more than a century, Baku and Houston have been pioneers and centres of oil production, determining all new trends and developments in the industry. Baku and Houston became sister cities as early as 1976, and in 1991, when Azerbaijan restored its independence, these relations entered a new level.” He said that considerable work had been undertaken following the ratification of a ‘memorandum of understanding’ last year, including the opening of an Azerbaijan House and the organisation of a festival of Turkic countries in Houston.
The report states: “For Azerbaijan to become a regional trade centre, the country’s strategic geographical location must be effectively used, transit and transport services should be developed, and logistical centres will be established in the districts. This will enhance the country’s attractiveness as a production and investment centre, and open new business and employment opportunities.”
Azerbaijan to construct new power station
In a report, energy producer Azerenergy has revealed that Azerbaijan is to commission a new power station in the near future, following two years of construction. It stated: “Currently, the commissioning process for the power station is being undertaken. Following this, the capacity of the entire power system will increase.”
NEWS IN BRIEF GUAM Secretary-General: Azerbaijani chair a great success During
Chechelashvili, Secretary-General, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova (GUAM) Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development, has acknowledged Azerbaijan’s successful premiership of the organisation during 2012. He commented: “Many important events have been held, the last of which took place in Dublin, where a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers took place. The Azerbaijani chairing ended in New York on a
To be constructed on the Absheron Peninsula, the capacity of the Janub power station will be 780MWt. It will operate on three types of fuel – gas, diesel and oil – making it unique amongst power stations currently operating in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of
very good note. A resolution was adopted by consensus regarding co-operation between the our
in the system of international relations.”
Culture The concert by Isfar Sarabski (piano), Makar Novikov (bass) and Aleksandr Mashin (drums) attracted wild applause from an audience of JazzRadio Berlin listeners
(Photo: Henrik Jordan)
Jazz sensation Isfar Sarabski captivates Berlin audiences
Azerbaijani piano star Isfar Sarabski, aged 23, gave two barnstorming concerts in Berlin on 13 and 15 December, the first of which was for jazz fans from the world of politics, sponsored by TEAS, the second being for listeners of JazzRadio Berlin. The concerts came hot on the heels of his performance at the annual Jazz Loft Party in New York, organised by the Jazz Foundation of America, co-hosted by Danny Glover, where he shared the bill with such jazz legends as Lou Donaldson, Junior Mance and Randy Weston. He also recently gave a remarkable concert at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall in Baku during the annual Baku International Jazz Festival. The first concert, Winter Jazz and Politics, was given close to Checkpoint Charlie at Kunztschule, one of Berlin’s most recentlyopened event locations. Located in the former Michaelsen Palais, constructed in 1904, this was attended by around 300 people. Isfar Sarabski, who won the Montreux Solo Jazz Piano Prize in 2009, performed for nearly two hours, accompanied by Makar Novikov (bass) and Aleksandr Mashin (drums). The concert focused on Sarabski’s own compositions, including New Age, Novruz, which featured the microtones found in Azerbaijani mugham music, and the funky G-Man. Other pieces included his delicate interpretation of Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow, an inspired arrangement of themes from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, featuring Mashin’s ecstatic drumming, and Victor Young’s serene Beautiful Love. During the introduction Leslie Nachmann, Chief Presenter, JazzRadio Berlin, said: “Isfar’s playing is more than just music – his performances are a landmark event for listeners. He was a worthy winner of the Montreux Solo Jazz Piano Prize, and we are proud to have him as a guest of TEAS and JazzRadio Berlin.”
The second concert was given in the 1920s Ellington Hotel for an extremely appreciative audience of around 120 listeners to JazzRadio Berlin. Sabina Rakcheyeva, Cultural Advisor, TEAS, commented: “Isfar Sarabski is one of the youngest, yet most well-known, jazz musicians in Azerbaijan. During the past three years, his concerts in Berlin have been very successful. Isfar has now performed on many European stages and at various jazz festivals to wide acclaim.” Isfar’s trio was clearly inspired by the audience, particularly with his rhapsodic conclusion to G-Man, and the breathtaking speed of Buta, another of his compositions. His version of the romantic Oblivion, by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, provided Isfar with the opportunity to demonstrate another side of his skills. The concert concluded with a standing ovation, followed by an encore of his blues-influenced Insurance Salesman, which became increasingly frenetic and exciting. Both concerts gave ample opportunities for Isfar and his trio to demonstrate their formidable abilities in one of the leading European jazz capitals.
A representation of the tar, kamancha and balaban by artist Shehla Gehramanli
Azerbaijani and German artists connect in Berlin
An exhibition entitled the Dialogue of Colour: Azerbaijan–Germany took place at the Direktorenhaus art gallery in Berlin, featuring works by talented young artists from Azerbaijan and Germany. At the opening, attended by
around 150 invited guests, including German artist Peter Föller, introductions were given by Samira Patzer-Ismailova, Chair, European Azerbaijan Congress; Paskal Johansen, Gallery Supervisor, Direktorenhaus; Nüsret Suleymanov, Azerbaijani Embassy Counsellor in Germany; Ilkin Özisik, Press Officer, Education Policy, Berlin Senate; and Shahla Nagiyeva, Chair, Sonmaz Mashal Cultural Relations Public Union. The exhibition spotlighted works by Shehla Gehramanli, Narmina Veliyeva, Nizaket Sinanovska and Simone Westfahl. Azerbaijani pianist Fidan Aghayeva-Edler performed a mix of Azerbaijani and German compositions at the opening. The exhibition demonstrated the role of art in improving understanding between nations, and a publication was distributed that explained Azerbaijani culture and its unique symbols. The mutual understanding between the artists reiterated that the dialogue of cultures is as meaningful as those dealing with political and economical issues. The exhibition sponsors were the Public Association for Cultural Relations, Sonmaz Mashal Cultural Relations Public Union and the European Azerbaijan Congress, supported by the Azerbaijani Diaspora Committee (KAD).
Mugham master Gochag Askarov to be BBC Radio ‘Mentor’
Broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 3, World Routes is the predominant world music radio programme in the UK, and for past three years the World Routes Academy has supported and inspired UK-based young world music artists by bringing them together with an internationally-renowned artist of the same genre. This year’s mentor will be the remarkable mugham vocalist Gochag Askarov. He has performed to wide acclaim at the WOMAD Festivals in the UK, New Zealand and Australia and appeared in the TEAS-produced awardwinning film The Mystical Music of Mugham Comes to Montana, which may be viewed at www.teas.eu/films-documentaries. He is renowned as one of the foremost living exponents of classical mugham, with a voice of unmatched purity and passion. This year’s scheme will begin with a concert in the BBC Radio Theatre on 25 January, where Gochag and his Mugham Ensemble will share a bill with the Colombian accordionist José Hernando, who was last year’s protégé, the Roberto Pla Latin Jazz Ensemble, and special guests. To apply for tickets, go to http://bit. ly/worldroutesacademy. The concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 27 January, and can be heard from the BBC website until 3 February at http://bit.ly/worldroutes. www.teas.eu
Culture Light Bulbs, a dark, troubling image by Niyaz Najafov
Najafov’s disturbing visions exhibited in London
Niyaz Najafov ranks amongst the most unique voices in Azerbaijani contemporary art, having participated in the Azerbaijani Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2009 and the Fly to Baku exhibition at the Phillips de Pury Gallery in London, which subsequently toured Europe. Niyaz’s work was also shown in the Down to Earth exhibition in 2011, organised by the Gazelli Art House, for which the Founder and Director is the Azerbaijani Mila Askarova. Such artists as Francis Bacon have inspired Niyaz, and his unflinching gaze pries into the most intimate moments of his subjects’ lives, making the viewer feel both fascinated and uneasy. For this solo show, Najafov has created a new series of works that epitomise his distinctive, dark style. Populated by mysterious figures, his complex oil paintings reflect both the disturbing and humorous elements of the human condition. Although they can represent sinister subject matter, his vision reflects an emotional spectrum ranging from violent passions to tender emotions. Gazelli has now organised the first solo UK exhibition of the artist, which will run from 18 January–7 March at the Gazelli Art House, 39 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NN. To find out more, go to http://bit. ly/gazelliniyaz.
Special price for Badalbeyli concert in London
TEAS has negotiated a special price of £20 (normally up to £45) for the ‘best available’ seats for a concert on 7 February by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London, SW1X 9DQ. The soloist for Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Mussorgsky’s Pictures www.teas.eu
at an Exhibition will be Farhad Badalbeyli, the renowned pianist, composer, educator and director of the Baku Music Academy. The orchestra will be under the baton of Dmitry Yablonksy, with whom Mr Badalbeyli directs the annual Gabala International Music Festival. The programme will also feature Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Sibelius’ Karelia Suite. To book reducedprice tickets, simply quote ‘The European Azerbaijan Society’ when phoning the box office on +44 (0)20 77304500.
Flood of Yellow Light by Faig Ahmed takes a sideways glance at the concept of the Azerbaijani carpet
Azerbaijani artists to participate in Sotheby’s exhibition Works by Azerbaijani artists will be included in an exhibition of contemporary art from Central Asia and the Caucasus entitled At the Crossroads, to be held from 4–12 March at Sotheby’s, 34–35 New Bond Street, London, W1A 2AA. Incorporating art from around 50 contemporary artists, using various media, from countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the exhibition will include socialist-realist art from the 1960s, through to the latest avantgarde practices. Jo Vickery, Senior Director, and Head, Sotheby’s Russian Art Department, London, commented: “Countries
throughout the Caucasus and Central Asia have experienced rapid development in recent years, and this is also true of the art scene. New collectors, art institutions and galleries are emerging every day, and this is an exciting new geography for Sotheby’s to explore. We are delighted to present this landmark commercial exhibition, which encompasses the diverse artistic practices of the region, and combines ancient historical roots with techniques at the forefront of contemporary art.” The aim of this exhibition is to highlight the diverse cultural expressions of the region, while exploring its shared Soviet past. The title At the Crossroads suggests the transitory stage of the countries represented in the exhibition, both socio-politically and in terms of artistic production. The extraordinary new carpet museum
World’s largest carpet museum to be opened on Novruz Eve
The world’s largest carpet museum will be opened in Baku on Novruz Eve on 19 March. Jointly constructed by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and UNESCO, the building represents an unfurling carpet, and features a unique architectural style and form. The basement will house an archive, store and laboratory, together with a restoration and conservation department. The ground floor will comprise an administrative and research area; the second floor will contain a library and research centre related to carpet weaving and sewing; and the third floor will feature meeting rooms and a room for audio-visual presentations. The fourth floor will house exhibition halls and meetings. The new carpet museum will also contain jewellery display rooms. It is hoped that the museum will play a significant role in attracting foreign tourists to Azerbaijan, and provide a marketplace for refurbished antique carpets. In November 2010, the Traditional Art of Azerbaijani Carpet Weaving was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. January 2013
Personalities – Caspian Corridor Concert Musicians Coming from a musical dynasty, Yalchin Adigezalov ranks amongst the foremost Azerbaijani conductors
Azerbaijani Muscianship comes to London
This year’s inaugural Caspian Corridor Conference concluded with an outstanding Gala Concert at Cadogan Hall in Central London, featuring the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra under the baton of Azerbaijani conductor Yalchin Adigezalov. Focusing on Azerbaijani classical music and mugham, this event was organised by the Buta Arts Centre, and was clearly appreciated by all those in attendance. Following the concert, TEAS caught up with the five Azerbaijani musicians and singers who had performed during the evening.
Yalchin Adigezalov (Conductor)
Born in Baku in 1959, Yalchin studied music from the age of eight years under the guidance of his father, the composer Vasif Adigezalov, whose Garanfil and Garabag Shikestesi – Oratorio were performed at the Gala Concert. A pianist, he studied at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. However,
in 1984, he decided to study conducting, attending the conservatoires in Tashkent and St. Petersburg. Since 1989, Yalchin has held a range of positions, including Conductor and Musical Director of the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra. He is also a Professor of the Conducting Chair at Baku Music Academy. The year 2012 marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of Fikret Amirov, who developed ‘symphonic mugham’. Why is his music so important to Azerbaijanis? Amirov was a composer that came from the people. He was born in Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh, which was known as the ‘Conservatory of the East’. He played tar, which he learned from his father, who played almost all of the Azerbaijani national instruments, and had folk music in his blood. It would be correct to say that the music of such composers as Fikret Amirov, Kara Kayarev and Niyazi would not have been possible without the work of Uzeyir Hajibeyli, whose innovations formed the foundation of Azerbaijani classical music. In my opinion, the works of Amirov are more Lyric tenor Azer Rza-zade’s astonishing technique attracted a standing ovation from the audience
likely to be heard during the 21st Century than those of Karayev. He was undeniably a great Azerbaijani composer, but Amirov is a little closer to the people, and his works attract standing ovations whenever they are performed across the world. Why do you feel his music is not better known in the West? This is solely attributable to the fact that Azerbaijan was a Soviet republic for 70 years. Although the Soviets developed a high level of musical education, which benefited our composers, the Moscow authorities filtered the music from the Soviet republics. Music from Eastern composers was permitted, but this was not widely performed across the Soviet Union, where Russian music was predominant. However, it is now possible to easily promote Azerbaijani music across all continents. Kara Karayev’s Seven Beauties ranks amongst the most popular Azerbaijani ballets, and three movements from the subsequent suite were included in the Gala Concert. As the composer was a student of Shostakovich, do you feel that his influence is evident? The three most popular Azerbaijani ballets are Karayev’s Seven Beauties and Path of Thunder and Amirov’s The Arabian Nights, which can be performed on every stage around the world. Throughout the Seven Beauties ballet score and suite derived from the music, a huge Shostakovich influence is evident, as Karayev tried to embed all the experience he gained from his studies with the composer. He impacted every element of Karayev’s music, who achieved outstanding orchestral colours. Karayev was also the teacher of Vasif Adigezalov, my father. Shostakovich said that Karayev was his son, and my father was his grandson. I saw Shostakovich overseeing rehearsals of his own music, and I noticed that he was always polite to the conductor and the soloists.
Personalities – Caspian Corridor Concert Musicians
The concert showcased some of the most rousing pieces of Azerbaijani classical music
Were you pleased with the reaction to the Gala Concert? I was glad that the audience responded so positively. The programme began with Amirov’s Azerbaijan Capriccio, which was very powerful. In these eight minutes, you can hear the entire history of the Azerbaijani nation, from the poet Nizami in the 11th Century up to the present time. Some of the following pieces were slower, but the concert concluded with my father’s rousing Garabag Shikestesi – Oratorio. The standing ovation was not just from the Azerbaijanis who were listening, but the entire audience, who were carried along on a wave of emotion. When did your father write the Garabag Shikestesi – Oratorio? Vasif started composing this in 1988, at the outset of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions. This was intended to be his protest against the actions of the politicians. The piece was premiered in Moscow on 20 January 1991 on the first anniversary of the Black January massacre, which had taken place in Baku at the hands of Soviet troops. When the piece was performed, the word ‘Garabag’ was deliberately omitted from the programme, as the Soviet authorities forbade this. All the musical themes are from Nagorno-Karabakh region. During the Gala Concert, we only heard the finale. In fact, the piece lasts 40 minutes, and was written for three soloists, poetry recitative, big chorus and full orchestra. The second movement of Haji Hanmamedov’s Concerto for Kamancha (spike fiddle) was performed during the Gala Concert. Have many concertos been written for the Azerbaijani national instruments? In fact, there are several, and pieces have been written to feature both the tar (doublebowl stringed instrument) and balaban (wind instrument), in addition to the kamancha. However, the Azerbaijani national instruments
are comparatively quiet, so composers need to take particular care not to overshadow the instruments in their orchestrations. Symphonic pieces featuring these instruments evoke the soul of Azerbaijan. What can be done to increase the number of performances of Azerbaijani music in the West? Promoters must assist us, and we need bankers and businessmen who are prepared to invest in Azerbaijani classical music. Azerbaijani composers always ranked highly amongst those from the Soviet republics. During the Soviet period, there was an annual forum in Moscow of composers representing the republics, and everyone knew that Azerbaijani composers would predominate. At the present time, the easy availability of scores remains a hurdle that is affecting the frequent performance of the works in the West. Whenever I perform with orchestras across the world, they always ask to retain the scores. Three years ago, I conducted the Orion Orchestra during the Azerbaijani Cultural Weekend, organised by TEAS. Following this, the orchestra included the Azerbaijan Capriccio in its repertoire, and went on to perform it five times.
Azer Rzazade (Tenor)
Although he comes from a musical family, Azer, a lyric tenor, was initially a world-class kickboxer. However, three years ago, he decided to become a singer, and now regularly performs at the Azerbaijani Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and during the Gabala International Music Festival. Where are you studying? I am living and studying in Rome, where I am in my third year at the Renata Scotto School. I perform everywhere, but mostly in Italy, focusing on the standard western operatic repertoire, including works by Verdi and Puccini. I generally only perform works by Azerbaijani composers during concerts.
What is your experience of performing works by Uzeyir Hajibeyli? Hajibeyli’s work is more difficult to perform than the arias from most Western operas, as his writing combines opera and mugham, resulting in a rich palette of tonal colours. His work is technically challenging and emphasises the timbre of the voice. I am fortunate that my father is an Honoured Folk Artist of Azerbaijan, specialising in mugham, who has been able to provide an insight into this element of performance. Is this the first time you have performed in the UK? Yes, and I was delighted by the reaction. It’s not easy to perform for every audience – but I could feel the warmth coming from the people the moment I stepped on the stage and felt very much at ease.
Babek Niftaliyev (Mugham Singer)
Babek is one of the leading contemporary mugham singers. Frequently appearing on Azerbaijani television, he has performed across the world, and his voice is acknowledged for its expressiveness and flexibility. Where did you study mugham singing? I began to study mugham at the age of 10 years. I took my inspiration from recordings, and listened to all the major Azerbaijani mugham singers. I am the only person in my family of my generation to have pursued a musical career. Initially, I studied the saz and ashiq singing, but my teacher suggested that my voice would be ideal for mugham. Each mugham singer has their own approach, and I tried to attend classes given by many singers in order to develop my style. It is necessary to feel the music inside yourself to reach the audience your own way. Where have you performed? I have performed in around 30 countries,
Personalities – Caspian Corridor Concert Musicians (from left) Babek Niftaliyev, mugham singer; Azer Rza-zade, tenor; Aziza Vezir-Seyidova, Director, Azerbaijan Branch, Buta Arts Centre; Yalchin Adigezalov, Conductor; Sahib Pashazade, tar player; and Toghrul Asadullayev, kamancha player, seen backstage at Cadogan Hall
and appear on Azerbaijani television every fortnight. Is it difficult to develop the meditative skills necessary to achieve a connection with the audience? There is undeniably a spiritual element when we sit and perform the programme. In all musical genres – including pop and rock – mugham is the basis. During the performance, there is great emphasis on improvisation. The instrumentalists and singer constantly look at each other and express what they are singing with their eyes. Alim Qasimov takes the responsibility for introducing mugham to international audiences. I have learned much from him. What has the reaction to mugham been in the West? Mugham is received very positively across the world, and I have even been asked if mugham singers have something special in their throats to achieve their unique sound. Mugham is very special and synonymous with Azerbaijani heritage.
Toghrul Asadullayev (Kamancha)
Toghrul is one of Azerbaijan’s leading kamancha players, having performed publicly for over 20 years. He frequently appears on Azerbaijani television, and has participated in the Sharq Taronalari Festival, Tashkent and the International Mugham Festival, Baku. Where did you study kamancha? My parents are both kamancha players, and I have been aware of the instrument since early childhood. I studied at Baku Music Academy, and have performed publicly since 1991. Prior to a performance, do you discuss your technique with the singer? All singers and instrumentalists know the mugham modes, and these provide room for improvisation. I have performed with the mugham singer Babek Niftaliyev, who
also participated in the Gala Concert, since 2005. We know each other’s technique very well. Although we rehearse, if there is an unexpected concert tomorrow, we can step on the stage and perform, as we empathise and feel the music in a similar manner. There is always a spiritual connection between the singer, the other instrumentalists and myself. Were you improvising during your performance of Haji Hanmamedov’s Concerto for Kamancha? The composer permitted an element of improvisation during the solo passages. Although the style slightly differs to standard mugham, it does not present any actual problems. It was a great pleasure to perform with the talented Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra for the first time. There are five or six kamancha concerti, although that by Hanmamedov remains the most popular. He has also composed several concerti for tar. Musicians get all their energy from the audience, and I was delighted by the response.
Sahib Pashazade (Tar)
Tar virtuoso Sahib has performed professionally across the world for the past decade, most notably at the International Mugham Festival in Baku and the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival in Toronto. He has also accompanied some of the most renowned mugham singers, including Alim Qasimov. Most recently, Sahib was the tar soloist for the new piece Khojaly, composed by Aleksandr Tchaikovsky, premiered at the Gabala International Music Festival. This commemorates the death of 613 civilians in Khojaly during its invasion by Armenian military forces in 1992. Two years ago, at the age of 30, Shahib was the youngest person to be acknowledged as an Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan for National Instruments. Where did you study the tar? I studied at the Bulbul Music School in Baku,
where I initially studied classical piano, and five years later switched to the tar. I feel close to the tar – Agaverdi Pashaev, my father, is the conductor of the Azerbaijani State Orchestra of National Instruments – and plays tar himself. I often heard it being played at home when he was giving lessons to students, and I always felt that this was something special for me. My father is a People’s Artist of Azerbaijan, and I play first tar in the orchestra. What are the differences between being an accompanist to a mugham singer and performing as a soloist? Whilst performing in the standard mugham trio, alongside the kamancha and singer, who also plays the daf drum, I am always the first accompanist to play behind the mugham singer, with the kamancha coming in after myself. It is necessary to listen carefully to the singer, his approach to the song, the words he sings, and how he enunciates. Whilst performing concerti, my performance is the focus, and the orchestra follows my lead. It is normal to give solo tar concerts with orchestra after the age of 30, when the performer’s reputation is already established, but I first played such pieces on stage at the age of 26. Where have you performed? I have played in over 30 countries, and worked with orchestras in Turkey, Canada, the US and Russia, amongst others. At the 2012 Gabala International Music Festival, I performed at the premiere of Aleksandr Tchaikovsky’s Khojaly, having been invited to perform by Farhad Badalbeyli, the Pianist, Conductor and Director, Baku Music Academy. Khojaly was written for a quartet of viola, cello, piano and tar. I was the youngest performer, alongside Farhad (piano,) Dmitry Yablonsky (cello), and Yuri Bashmet (viola), all of whom are very prominent musicians. Most of the piece was composed, although one section in the middle permitted a degree of improvisation for the tar. Farhad encouraged me, saying: “Whatever you have in your heart, just get it out.” Although it was challenging to improvise on such a work, I will never forget this concert. All the other soloists and the composer commented on my performance, and I was very pleased. Was this your first experience of performing for a UK audience? I was here two years ago to perform at the Azerbaijan: Flying Carpet to Fairytale presentation, organised by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. During the Gala Concert, I felt the warmth of the audience. This was a memorable concert, and it was a great honour to be under the baton of Yalchin Adigezalov and to work with the Buta Arts Centre.
To find out more on the Buta Arts Centre, go to http://new.buta.ru
Corporate Profile – Hardy Marketing Solutions The branded toy market in Azerbaijan provides great scope for development
(left) The Jake’s Sword product recently sold out in the Middle East market Jake, the magical dog, is one of the most popular characters
Hardy Marketing Solutions
Hardy Marketing Solutions was launched to develop business oppor tunities in Easter n Europe in the children’s toy sector. Jurate Hardy, Chief Executive, Hardy Marketing Solutions, recently visited Baku to launch a popular children’s television programme to Azerbaijan, entitled Adventure Time, produced by Tur ner Car toon Network (CN) Enterprises. The series follows the strange adventures of Finn and Jake, his dog, who has magical powers. Together, they fly across the land of Ooo, during which they become involved in many crazy and random escapades, such as saving princesses and duelling with evildoers. TEAS spoke to Jurate to find out more: What is your company’s specialisation? Hardy Marketing Solutions specialises in launching established concepts from Wester n to Easter n Europe. What are the special strengths of Adventure Time and Turner CN Enterprises? Adventure Time is a children’s comedy programme that has achieved remarkable popularity. Created by Pendleton Ward, the animator, screenwriter and producer, for Tur ner CN Enterprises, the television series has become a critical and commercial success.
Adventure Time appeals directly to its core audience of boys aged 6–12 years who enjoy the show’s action, adventure and heroic characters. Girls of the same age also appreciate the female characters, such as the Princesses, Lady Rainicor n and Marceline the Vampire Queen. The programme appeals to teens and adults, due to its quirky comedy. Why Azerbaijan? Adventure Time has won the hear ts and imaginations of kids, teens and adults around the globe and attracted numerous award nominations, including the Annie Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards and BAFTAs. In the US, Adventure Time is the number one show on Tur ner CN among boys aged 6–11 years. Sales of merchandise relating to the series have proven outstanding. In 2011, Adventure Time toys, clothing and accessories sold out, leading to expansion into additional product categories and fur ther retailers. The show is a top ten programme in seven markets – the UK, Spain, Poland, Hungar y, Romania, France and Italy. Since its launch, Adventure Time has seen a four-fold increase in average monthly viewers across EMEA markets, demonstrating its appeal and longevity. Are you experiencing any competition from outside of Azerbaijan? Azerbaijan represents a relatively underdeveloped market for children’s toys and television series and presents enor mous growth and lucrative investment oppor tunities. With significant demand for Wester n enter tainment brands across the region, and an expanding expat community, the Azerbaijani market is currently receptive to brands that have already demonstrated commercial success elsewhere, such as Ben 10, the popular boys’ action brand.
One of the many Adventure Time branded toys that have proven so popular
Tur ner is dedicated to replicating the global success of Adventure Time in Azerbaijan and is keen to launch the series on free-to-air channels, so that all local children, teens and adults will have the oppor tunity to enjoy the adventures of Finn and Jake. With 104 episodes ready to air, Adventure Time aims to build a solid fan base via its television series, so that by the time a toy distributor is on board for the Azerbaijan region, demand will be established and sales will mirror those of other markets. Recently, the toy lines launched in the Middle East, and the Plush, Slam-a-Cow and Jake’s Sword completely sold out. What do Hardy Marketing Solutions have to offer? Tur ner is now in discussions with Azerbaijani broadcasters to bring the show to the area, and is working with Hardy Marketing Solutions – a UKbased business that has a proven track record of applying Wester n business philosophy to for mer Soviet markets – to capitalise on sales and marketing, strategies, merchandising, public relations and product launches. To be involved in the launch of the Adventure Time programme in Azerbaijan, or for fur ther infor mation, please contact Agne Zurkeviciute, Territor y Manager for Russia and CIS, Tur ner CN Enterprises on +44 (0)20 7693 0782 or e-mail agne.zurkeviciute@ tur ner.com.
Turner CN Enterprises is actively seeking a distribution partner for Adventure Time-related toys. Make your interest known by contacting Jurate Hardy, Marketing Solutions, on +44 (0)7789 462271; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more on Adventure Time, go to www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/ adventuretime.
Nagorno-Karabakh The controversial new airport remains unused
Proposed airport opening in NagornoKarabakh condemned
Mubariz Gurbanli, Azerbaijani MP, has commented that the possible opening of the airport in Nagorno-Karabakh, located in Khojaly, is aimed at delaying peace talks and impacting the ongoing negotiations. He said: “These attempts are illegal, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has the same opinion. Baku has protested, citing the provisions and principles contained in international legal norms and conventions. In all cases, the law is on our side, and diplomatic efforts to stop these attempts are being continued.” Following the occupation of Azerbaijani territory, Azerbaijan banned the use of airspace over Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, as it is impossible to guarantee a safe air corridor in the area. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ICAC) continue to support the position of Azerbaijan on this issue.
Mammadyarov remains cautiously optimistic
Speaking to EU Reporter, Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, has stressed the importance of the EU–Azerbaijan Co-operation Council in achieving a breakthrough in the impasse between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He stated: “Europe is intensively assessing the state of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding conflict settlement. Unfortunately, we have not achieved breakthrough so far. I use the phrase ‘so far’, as I believe that resolution is possible.” He reflected that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs – the US, France and Russia – tasked with achieving a negotiated peace, are three permanent members of the UN Security Council (SC), who supported the four UNSC resolutions passed against the Armenian occupation in 1993. The Foreign Minister explained that they should fully
understand how the conflict should be settled. He continued: “We have been trying to explain to our Armenian neighbours that the status quo situation, which exists today, is unacceptable. This has been reiterated by the Presidents of the three OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.” When quizzed about the possible replacement of France as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijani foreign policy does not condone intervention in the domestic issues of other entities or state, and that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) should decide. He stated: “For me, as Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, the territories under occupation remain the most important factor.”
BBC reporter raises awareness of the human tragedy
Damien McGuinness, Caucasus Correspondent, BBC News, has broadcast an outstanding report about NagornoKarabakh on the influential BBC World Service programme From Our Own Correspondent and subsequently written a report for the BBC website at http://bit. ly/karabakh. Focusing on the humanitarian tragedy, he spoke to Antiga Gahramanova, an 80-year-old woman from NagornoKarabakh, who has been an internally displaced person (IDP) for 20 years. Her daughter and son-in-law were tragically killed in the conflict, and one of her grandchildren was shot in the foot. He also concentrates on concerns that the conflict could reignite. Mr McGuinness also interviews Alexander Iskandaryan, the Armenian Political Analyst, who explains: “For my students, Azerbaijanis are like something from the moon. They know more about Britain than about Azerbaijan. And the same goes for young people in Azerbaijan.” The correspondent continues by visiting the ‘contact line’, describing it as: “hundreds of kilometres of deep trenches zigzag along the front line in western Azerbaijan. It all looks like something out of World War I. At regular intervals there are raised parapets, protected by sandbags, with gaps to shoot through.” He concludes his report by interviewing Lawrence Sheets, South Caucasus Project Director, International Crisis Group, who outlines the escalating risk to international security: “There are now offensive missile systems capable of hitting Baku and Yerevan, the capitals of Azerbaijan and Armenia. This is a conflict which has the danger of pulling in major regional powers.”
NEWS FROM BRUSSELS
An article entitled A Historic Chance for the European Union (EU) by Kristiina Ojuland MEP has been published in the online and printed editions of the Brussels-based New Europe newspaper, which has a readership of over 30,000 and can be read at http:// bit.ly/ojuland. In the article, she states: “We talk about our common foreign and security policy, but we are often too timid about using our influence in our neighbourhood, even when all 27 member states are in broad agreement…coming from Estonia, I know only too well how difficult it can be to make the transition from being part of an authoritarian country to being an independent state that looks to Europe. We were lucky to get practical help from outside, not only from our closest neighbours, who are Finland and the Scandinavian countries. “Right now, this is the case in the South Caucasus, whose closest neighbours are Russia to the north and Iran to the south. This is a region that has strong historical links to Europe and is set to play a crucial role in our own economic future, as it exports increasing amounts of energy. Yet I feel that more could be done in order to solve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is more than 20 years now since those countries fought a bloody war over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, halted by a fragile ceasefire that left the underlying issues unresolved. Today, Armenian troops occupy the area and surrounding regions, while 875,000 refugees and IDPs live in Azerbaijan. Continuing border skirmishes have led to deaths on both sides...that is why when we debated that case in the European Parliament in September, I suggested that the time had come to break with the past and to try a new approach. “In theory, the responsibility for securing a peaceful settlement rests with the Minsk Group, an organisation established by the OSCE. The Group has three Co-Chairs – Russia, the US and France. It has met regularly for 20 years and got precisely nowhere. “We need something dramatic to break the log jam – and my proposal is that the EU should now replace France as one of the three Co-Chairs in order to bring a new influence and dynamism to the process.” E-mail: email@example.com
Nagorno-Karabakh Eduard Nalbandian expressed his frustration during talks at the EU in Brussels
Nalbandian becomes enraged during EU talks
Eduard Nalbandian, Armenian Foreign Minister, has lashed out at Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh at a meeting with EU representatives in Brussels. He had said that citizens of the area would decide the final status in a referendum. The comments came after Elmar Mammadyarov, his Azerbaijani counterpart, told EU representatives that Armenian communities in NagornoKarabakh would become citizens of Azerbaijan. Erato Kazakou-Marcoullis, Cypriot Foreign Minister, representing the EU, underlined that Brussels had no intention of joining the OSCE Minsk Group, but expressed disappointment that 20 years of mediation had failed to provide a lasting solution. He stated: “This conflict has no place in the region. It is unacceptable, and is against all our values. It seriously hampers integration, growth, and investment in large infrastructural projects.”
New OSCE Chair Ukraine cites ‘protracted conflicts’ as key priority
As his country becomes the incoming Chair of the OSCE, Leonid Kozhara, Ukrainian Foreign Minister and new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office has pledged to achieve progress on resolving protracted conflicts, strengthening conventional arms control, combating human trafficking, and reducing the environmental impact of energy-related activities, amongst other objectives. He said: “We must re-energise negotiations within the existing formats, and prevent any escalation in tension. The resolution of protracted conflicts must remain the highest priority for the OSCE and all participating States.” He also said that Ukraine would be working to achieve progress in arms control and confidencebuilding measures. www.teas.eu
Nagorno-Karabakh film screened in Moscow
The new Azerbaijani feature film Dolu (The Hail) has been screened at the Ljudmila Rumina Centre in Moscow, during an event organised by the Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia. The film was directed by Elkhan Jafarov, and based on the novel by Aqil Abbas, Azerbaijani MP, who undertook his own adaptation for the screen. The film concerns the experiences of a group of soldiers fighting during the conflict. Polad Bülbüloglu, the composer, singer, Azerbaijani People’s Artist and Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia, composed the musical score. During the introduction, Ambassador Bülbüloglu thanked the filmmakers for creating such a powerful evocation of life during the Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions. He explained: “As the film relates to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it is being screened in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg for our Russia-based diaspora.” The trailer may be viewed at http://bit.ly/dolufilm.
in the South Caucasus and resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were discussed at the EU–Russia Summit in Brussels. He explained: “It is particularly important to address protracted conflicts. I raised the importance of moving forward in the ‘5+2’ talks on the conflict in Transnistria, and expressed concerns regarding developments in Nagorno-Karabakh.” The EU was also represented by José Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister. During his subsequent meeting in Brussels with H.E. Fuad Isgandarov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Belgium, and Head, Azerbaijani Representation to the EU, Mr Van Rompuy pointed out that the ongoing status quo is unacceptable.
NEWS IN BRIEF Kuwaiti support for Azerbaijani perspective Tural Rzayev, the Azerbaijani Ambassador to
Speaking at an international conference organised by the Jamestown Foundation in Washington D.C., David Merkel, Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins Centre for Transatlantic Relations, commented that progress towards peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can only be achieved if the West and the US, in particular, play a crucial role and intervene in the settlement process at the highest level. According to the Voice of America, David Merkel went on to say: “The NagornoKarabakh conflict is one of the areas where the policy of ‘reset’ can be effectively used by the Obama administration.” Matthew Bryza, former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, stressed his support for David Merkel’s call for intervention, and explained that either a Democratic or Republican administration could equally provide support for the Azerbaijani cause.
told the Kuwaiti representative about the ongoing
US called to intervene in peace process
of his country, and outlined the impact of
Azerbaijani conflict, stressed his country’s support for the position of Azerbaijan.
Baltic Assembly backs Azerbaijan During a visit to Baku to attend a meeting of
Raimonds Vejonis, Vice-President, Baltic Assembly, stated: “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. We are supporting Azerbaijan’s fair position in settlement of the conflict. In the modern world, the forceful occupation of territories by
Polish Foreign Minister urges restraint Speaking in Yerevan, Radoslaw Sikorski, Foreign Minister, Poland has requested that Armenia and Azerbaijan should refrain from actions and statements that may lead to tension regarding the NagornoKarabakh conflict. Reported in Armenia
Nagorno-Karabakh discussed at EU– Russia summit
Herman Van Rompuy, President, European Union (EU), has revealed that the situation
Today, the comments were made during a joint press conference, alongside Eduard Nalbandian,
Carl Bildt, his Armenian, Bulgarian and Swedish counterparts. The Polish Foreign Minister went on to reiterate that Poland supports peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Business The Shah Deniz Consortium now holds 50 per options in both Nabucco West and TAP
50 per cent Nabucco West option for Shah Deniz Consortium The Nabucco Consortium has announced that the Shah Deniz Consortium is to purchase a 50 per cent stake in the equity of the Nabucco West gas pipeline project, if constructed. This comes in the wake of a similar deal in August 2012 when the Shah Deniz Consortium – the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR), BP, Statoil and Total – purchased a 50 per cent option in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project. The two pipeline schemes are currently competing to bring gas from the Turkish border to Europe. This decision will be finalised in June 2013. The statement reads: “[We] have reached agreement, in principle, on the granting to the potential investors of equity options of 50 per cent to participate as shareholders in Nabucco, following a positive pipeline selection decision by the Shah Deniz Consortium in favour of Nabucco West.” At present, the six equal shareholders in Nabucco West are Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Romanian Transgaz, Bulgarian Energy Holding, Turkish BOTAS and German RWE. According to the agreements made Thursday, the Shah Deniz Consortium will jointly fund the preliminary work for the Nabucco West development until the pipeline selection decision is finalised. The TAP shareholders are Swiss EGL (42.5 per cent), Norwegian Statoil (42.5 per cent) and German E.ON Ruhrgas (15 per cent). This would take the gas from the border with Turkey via Greece and Albania to Italy, whereas Nabucco West would traverse Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to Austria. In a statement to Platt’s, a BP spokesman stated: “The main Shah Deniz partners, including BP, aim to be participants in each section of pipeline, transporting gas to Europe – that includes the South
Caucasus Pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and TAP/Nabucco West.” SOCAR is expected to sell its 29 per cent stake in TANAP to BP, Total and Statoil, as it has previously indicated its intention to bring partners into the $7bn (£4.3bn) TANAP project, specifically those who are part of the Shah Deniz Consortium.
Israel upscales its Azerbaijani trade relations
H.E. Rafael Harpaz, Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has revealed that the Israeli government will significantly increase trade turnover with Azerbaijan during 2013, having amounted to more than $4bn (£2.5bn) in 2012. Ambassador Harpaz said: “Azerbaijan has a good business climate, and Israeli companies are interested in cooperation with the country.” The Azerbaijani government is currently planning to sign an agreement with Israel on the avoidance of double taxation, agricultural co-operation, and the simplification of the visa regime, for persons with diplomatic and official passports. Ambassador Harpaz explained that the energy sector remains another important sector for co-operation. He went on to explain: “Oil and gas fields have been recently found in Israel, and the government intends to study Azerbaijani experience in this sphere.”
20 th oil and gas exhibition to be held in June Baku is to again host the International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference (incorporating Refining and Petrochemicals) from 4–7 June. The event will be organised by Iteca Caspian, with support from the Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Ministry and SOCAR, and it is expected that over 10,000 people will be in attendance. This will provide ample opportunities for networking between regional and international oil and gas leaders and government representatives. The conference will take place alongside the exhibition, and constitutes a hub at which ministers and regulatory agents from around the world can discuss and debate relevant issues.
NEWS IN BRIEF Azerbaijan cements its German relationship The
Garadagh suburb of Baku has obtained a $22.3m (£13.8m), seven-year loan from the Frankfurt-based Kommerzbank under the guarantee of the Pasha Bank. The money will be used to purchase production equipment. The factory will produce 2m tonnes of cement per annum, and will be the most extensive cement factory in the Caspian region. Farid Akhundov, CEO, Pasha Bank, said that
Israeli companies are currently active in Azerbaijan in such areas as agriculture, water management and supply, healthcare, and telecommunications. Co-operation in the IT sphere is also planned. Ambassador Harpaz also outlined plans to create the Israeli-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce.
this was the largest project currently being undertaken in the non-oil sector, and that the factory would employ around 400 people, with a further 150 people working in the mines.
Powering up Georgia Georgia will receive additional 600MW of electricity from Azerbaijan during the first
SOFAZ budget 2013 approved
Azerbaijani President Aliyev has approved the budget of the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) for 2013. This states that SOFAZ revenues for the year are estimated at AZN11.5bn (£9.1bn), with expenses at AZN13.4bn (£10.6bn), including the financing of AZN300m (£236.9m) of measures to improve the social conditions of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Other expenditure includes financing the reconstruction of the Samur-Absheron irrigation system for AZN107.4m (£84.8m); construction of the new Baku–Tbilisi– Kars railway for AZN138.3m (£109.2m); implementation of the State Programme on the Education of Azerbaijani Youth Abroad for AZN34.1m (£26.9m); and financing the share of Azerbaijan in the TANAP project for AZN86.3m (£68.2m).
quarter of 2013. Kakha Kaladze, Georgian Energy Minister, said: “We have agreed with Azerenergy that, during January–March, the company will deliver enough electricity to make up for shortfalls.” In the past, Georgia has experienced seasonal power shortages, as it has been reliant on Russian sources.
SOCAR to construct Turkish refinery Rovnag
has stated that SOCAR is to construct the Star Oil Refinery in Turkey at the Aliaga region on the Aegean coast during 2013. He revealed that up to $6bn (£3.7bn) has been allocated for the refinery construction, 30 per cent of which is from shareholders’ funds. The plant will produce raw materials for the Petkim Petrochemical Complex, in which
To incentivise construction of the Star Oil Refinery, Turkey provided tax exemptions up to 90 per cent and a VAT refund.
Business (from left) Nasib Piriyev, CEO, AzMeCo; Nizami Piriyev, Chairman, AzMeCo and Paul Reed, CEO, BP Integrated Supply and Trading, sign the off-taker agreement
of Azerbaijan.” In early December 2012, Azerbaijan’s strategic monetary reserves equated to 70 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The report goes on to state: “According to this indicator, the country ranks amongst the 15 leading countries in the world.” According to the Azerbaijani government, the strategic monetary reserves of Azerbaijan will exceed $50bn (£30.1bn) by the end of 2013. These comprise the reserves of the CBA, State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) assets and the treasury of the Azerbaijani Finance Ministry.
Methanol plant to be Swedish interest commissioned in 2013 The first methanol plant in Azerbaijan and ICT sector the South Caucasus will be opened in early 2013. Nizami Piriyev, President, Azerbaijan Methanol Company (AzMeCo) said: “Delivery of the first products to consumers will occur during the first quarter of 2013. Following this, daily production will reach 2,000 tonnes of methanol per day.” On 26 November, an off-taker agreement to purchase Azerbaijani methanol was signed between AzMeCo and BP during the Caspian Corridor Conference at Lancaster House, London. Total investment in the plant amounts to $360m (£223m).
Shah Deniz II costs to exceed $28bn
As reported by Bloomberg, Rovnag Abdullayev, Director, SOCAR, has stated: “In total, development of Shah Deniz II will cost $28–$30bn (£17.4–18.6bn).” The cost had previously been estimated at $25bn (£15.5bn). Abdullayev has also estimated that, by 2020, Azerbaijan will export 25bn m3 (bcm) of gas per annum. This is partially attributable to the discovery of new fields, such as Umid and Absheron. Gas and condensate from the Umid field has already come on-stream, and supplies from Absheron will begin in 2020, when total annual gas production is expected to reach 54bcm.
Azerbaijani coffers grow 14.7 per cent in 11 months Azerbaijani strategic monetary reserves grew by 14.7 per cent to reach $46.5bn (£28.8bn) during January–November 2012, according to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA). The statement said: “The strategic monetary reserves of Azerbaijan currently allow compensation for three-year imports to the country. The monetary reserves are nine times higher than the foreign debt
During a meeting in Baku with Ali Abbasov, Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT), H.E. Mikael Eriksson, Swedish Ambassador to Azerbaijan, stated the interest of Swedish IT companies in the Azerbaijani ICT sector. He said that this would have a positive impact on efforts to create a dedicated industrial park in the country and on ICT development support. He went on to comment that the first Azerbaijani-Swedish ICT Business Forum would take place alongside the Bakutel Exhibition from 25–28 September. Abbasov replied by outlining the importance of ICT in the Azerbaijani economy, as part of the evolving non-oil sector, stating that the Azerbaijani market is open to Swedish investment.
co-operation represents yet another step forward towards implementing our strategy in Azerbaijan to foster sustainable growth and economic diversification by investment and advisory support to the non-oil sectors.”
German-owned KfW to allocate €105.5m towards Azerbaijani water
The KfW Banking Group, the German government-owned development bank, is to allocate €105.5m (£87.3m) towards Azerbaijani water supply and sewerage projects. Azersu, Azerbaijan’s national water provider, said that Azerbaijan will receive €102.5m (£84.8m) as a loan, with a grant of €3m (£2.5m). These funds will be used to undertake the second and third stages of the water supply and sewerage projects in the cities of Ganja and Sheki. A government source said: “The project will improve the water supply and utilities for 500,000 residents” and added that the project’s first stage is nearing completion. Abid Sharifov, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister, noted that KfW had previously loaned €380m (£314.3m) for the implementation of projects across Azerbaijan.
NEWS IN BRIEF SOCAR to undertake urea plant construction SOCAR has unveiled plans to construct a
IFC declares $15m loan to AccessBank
plant for the production of urea (nitrogen fertilizer) in Georgia by the end of 2013. During a
Director, SOCAR, said: “SOCAR is planning
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, is to provide a $15m (£9.3m) loan to Azerbaijan’s AccessBank. IFC said that the funding would be used to support micro and small businesses in Azerbaijan, supporting job creation and economic development. Michael Hoffmann, General Manager, AccessBank, said: “The growth of micro and small businesses is often hampered by a lack of access to financial services, particularly in the Azerbaijani regions and for small agricultural businesses. AccessBank was created to close this gap and to develop a more inclusive financial system. The IFC loan will help us move forward in this direction.”
the construction of two urea plants, one of
Thomas Lübeck, Regional Manager: South Caucasus, IFC, replied: “Through this project, AccessBank, our long-term partner, will increase lending to micro and small businesses engaged in such sectors as trade, services, and agriculture. This
Kenan Yavuz, Head, SOCAR Turkey, and Board
which will be located in Sumgait, Azerbaijan, and the second being situated in Georgia.” Construction of the Azerbaijani plant will begin during the first quarter of 2013. The plants will be identical, and each will have a total annual capacity of between 1.2–1.3m tonnes.
Turkish Petkim finalises agreement with SOCAR Gaz The Turkish Petkim Petrochemical Complex has finalised a gas purchase agreement with SOCAR Gaz. The Turkish Public Disclosure Platform (KAP) revealed that, from 1 January, it would start to annually import 1.2bcm of gas from Azerbaijan at a rate of $380 (£235.5) per 1000m3.
explained that 400–500 million m3 of gas would be destined for the Petkim complex, with the remainder being sold to Turkish domestic market.