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CULTURE | BUSINESS | PUBLIC AFFAIRS

BAKU’S HIGH-PROFILE NEW LANDMARK IN THE SPOTLIGHT Also in this issue: 20 years of Agdam occupation commemorated James Warlick – new US representative for the OSCE Minsk Group TAP decision gains international support EBRD to deepen co-operation with Azerbaijan Elchin’s theatrical menace comes to Camden www.teas.eu

08 / 2013

www.teas.eu August 2013


Welcome to the TEAS Magazine The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) is a UK-registered pan-European organisation dedicated to raising awareness of Azerbaijan and fostering closer economic, political and cultural links between that country and the nations of Europe. As well as promoting the positive aspects of Azerbaijan, TEAS also highlights the plight of the 875,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within the country. These people are unable to return to their homes and lands because of the illegal occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions by Armenia’s armed forces – in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions. TEAS has three main facets to its operations: • Culture – TEAS raises awareness of Azerbaijan’s rich and vibrant culture to a worldwide audience by organising cultural events and operating as a networking centre. • Business – TEAS supports its membership of European and Azerbaijani businesses. It provides a platform for organisations to establish links and strengthen their existing business relationships via a programme of networking opportunities across the regions. • Public Affairs – TEAS works to increase awareness about Azerbaijan amongst key opinionformers, key decision-makers and other political, academic and civil society stakeholders. In pursuit of its objectives TEAS: • Organises meetings with interested parties, opinion-formers and decision-makers • Arranges roundtables, seminars, lectures and conferences • Publishes pamphlets, reports, bulletins, books and films • Facilitates fact-finding trips by politicians and business people.

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TEAS is always bringing the latest news, views and interviews from Azerbaijan. Sign up to our mailing-list to receive the latest information straight to your inbox: www.teas.eu

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Membership and Sponsorship

TEAS offers a range of corporate and individual membership packages, providing such benefits as advertising, trade missions, networking, business sector advice and hotel discounts. TEAS also offers numerous sponsorship opportunities throughout the year for its events and conferences. To find out more, e-mail: membership@teas.eu.

Upcoming Events For full details of all TEAS events, go to www.teas.eu/upcoming-events 15 September Liberal Democrat Party Conference TEAS Jazz Reception Argyll II Room, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Congress Road, Glasgow, Strathclyde, G3 8QT Main speaker: Lord German 22.00–23.30. Free admission (inside secure area) 22 September Labour Party Conference TEAS Jazz Reception Charlotte Room, The Grand Brighton, 97–99 King’s Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2FW Main speaker: Gerry Sutcliffe MP 21.00–23.00. Free admission (conference pass required) 1 October Conservative Party Conference TEAS Jazz Reception Alexandria A, The Midland, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS Main speaker: Christopher Pincher MP 21.30–23.00. Free admission (conference pass required) TEAS’ presence at the three main party conferences this year will comprise sophisticated jazz receptions, featuring Sabina Rakcheyeva and the Deco Ensemble. Azerbaijani violinist Sabina has been resident in London for several years, having previously studied and resided in Brussels and New York, where she was the first Azerbaijani to graduate from the Juilliard School. To date, she has performed in more than 40 countries around the world. The CD UnVeiled was her “excellent debut album” – Songlines magazine – and she is also Cultural Advisor to TEAS. At the jazz receptions, Sabina and the London-based Deco Ensemble will perform a vibrant mix of standards, tangos and their own compositions. Refreshments will be served at all receptions. For more information, e-mail Orkhan Amashov on orkhan.amashov@teas.eu.

Latest Member Please see website for more members

August 2013

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Politics and News

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS

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One view over the remarkable undulating design of the Heydar Aliyev Centre

From the TEAS Director Focus on Baku’s iconic new cultural centre

This issue marks the 20th anniversary of the Armenian invasion of the majority of the Azerbaijani district of Agdam during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. To this day, trenches divide the district, where snipers from both sides face each other. On the Azerbaijani side, life continues virtually as normal, whilst on the occupied side there is only desolation – including the town of Agdam itself, which has been razed to the ground.

On a more optimistic note, the recently-opened Heydar Aliyev Centre is attracting a great deal of attention. During my last visit to Azerbaijan, I was privileged to see inside this unique building. The outside is evocative of great cultural landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, but inside the design is even more stunning – sweeping staircases, open galleries, museums and a one thousand-seater auditorium. Azerbaijan can be proud of this cultural landmark, and the UK can be equally proud to be the adopted homeland of the world’s greatest female architect, Zaha Hadid. As internet penetration in Azerbaijan reaches 70 per cent, the World Bank has endorsed Azerbaijan’s ambitions to become a regional ICT hub. The launch of Azerspace-1 – Azerbaijan’s first communications satellite – underlines the country’s ambitions in the communications field, as does the hosting of the summit on cybersecurity, backed by the UN and the International Telecommunications Union, which is scheduled for December. It is hoped that this will lead to a global agreement and the signing of the Baku Declaration on cybersecurity. Finally, it is difficult to talk or write about Azerbaijan without mentioning the oil and gas, which quite literally fuels its renaissance. The announcement that the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) has been chosen as the project which will bring Azerbaijani Caspian Sea gas to Western Europe via Greece, Albania and Italy, is making the Southern Corridor a reality. Azerbaijan’s integration into Europe has taken another significant step forward.

The widely-publicised Heydar Aliyev Centre, designed by the UK-based Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, will be showcased during a reception on 16–17 September 2013 in an event organised by the Architectural Review. The building was formally opened by Azerbaijani President Aliyev in May. This amazing building has been designed as a landmark for Baku, and contains a library, museum, conference rooms, small galleries, and will act as a hub for Azerbaijani culture. The outer skin of the structure comprises over 12,000 glass-fibre-reinforced concrete

(GRC) panels, and there is an absence of straight lines in the undulating exterior. The building rises from the ground and reaches into the sky, creating an iconic image from any vantage point. A series of glazed slits in the folds enable natural light to flood the white, winding interior spaces throughout the building. The building has already been nominated for awards at the World Architecture Festival and the biennial Inside Festival. The building was heavily featured in the Imagine programme Zaha Hadid: Who Dares Wins on BBC 1 television in July. Visit http://bit.ly/heydaraliyev for video footage.

Moody’s – Azerbaijani banking ‘stable’ Moody’s Investors Service has given a ‘stable’ verdict on the Azerbaijani banking system for the third successive year. In its reports, the analysts comment on the key drivers – which include a favourable operating environment; improving asset quality; sufficient capital buffers to absorb losses; marginally improving profitability; and adequate liquidity profiles. Lev Dorf, a Moody’s Analyst, and author of the report Banking System Outlook: Azerbaijan, said: “Supportive macroeconomic conditions will remain a key factor that underpins our stable outlook for the banking sector over the

12–18 month outlook period. According to our forecasts, Azerbaijan’s GDP will increase by 3.5 per cent in real terms in 2013 (2012: 2.2 per cent), driven by a continued strong performance in the non-oil economy which benefits from government-led investments in large-scale infrastructure projects. “The strong growth in Azerbaijan’s nonoil sectors will, in turn, boost banks’ asset quality, leading to a fall in the level of ‘problem’ loans (overdue by more than 90 days, and restructured) to around 11 per cent of gross loans during the outlook period, from 14 per cent at year-end 2012.”

Presidential election date set for 9 October The Azerbaijani Central Election Commission (CEC) has announced that the presidential election will be held on 9 October. Incumbent President Ilham Aliyev will be running for an unprecedented third five-year term. He has held power since 2003 and, in 2009, a constitutional amendment removed the two-term presidential limit. Mr Aliyev was nominated by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. Altogether, 12 candidates have been approved by the CEC, to date, which states that each should have obtained 40,000

signatures in support of their candidacy. The other party leaders are Khafiz Gadjiyev, Modern Musavat Party; Faraj Guliyev, National Revival Movement; Ahmed Orudj, Freedom Party; Igbal Agazade, Hope Party; Fuad Aliyev, Liberal Democratic Party; Ali Aliyev, Citizens and Development Party; Araz Alizade, Social Democratic Party; Gudrat Gasanguliyev, Azerbaijani Popular Front Party; together with the independent candidates Zahid Orudj MP; Arastun Orujlu, Head; East-West Research Centre and Ilgar Mamedov, a lawyer.

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS www.teas.eu

August 2013


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Politics and News Silk Way Airlines has ordered two of the latest Boeing cargo areoplanes

Two Boeing 747-8 freighters ordered by Silk Way Airlines

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Silk Way Airlines, a cargo carrier based in Baku, have announced an order for two Boeing 747-8 Freighters, valued at $704m (£452.6m). Zaur Akhundov, President, Silk Way Holding, parent company of Silk Way Airlines, commented:

“The order for two Boeing 747-8 Freighters is an important development. Silk Way Airlines’ vision is to be a successful and profitable cargo operator by investing in its fleet and services and is continuing to increase its regional and international footprint.”

ASAN acclaimed in UK newspaper

Ambassador: France wants strong, independent Azerbaijan

Writing in The Guardian, Kamal Jafarov, Secretary-General, Azerbaijan Lawyers’ Confederation, has described how Azerbaijan’s innovative new one-stop centres are increasing efficiencies in the accessing of services by members of the public. He writes: “The one-stop shop model – where citizens are able to receive a range of public services in a dedicated centre – has been introduced by countries such as the UK, Canada and Georgia to make service delivery more efficient. Azerbaijan has recently adopted a similar model, which is having a big impact on the way that citizens access services.” He goes on to explain that the Azerbaijan Service and Assessment Network (ASAN) is using the latest technology to make government services more easily accessible to citizens, with all services being processed online. He comments: “The six core principles of the ASAN model are: being customer-centric, connecting up government, building capacity, delivering on its promise to the public, innovation, and fighting against corruption.” Mr Jafarov goes on to explain that the range of services provided include free legal consultations, building and car insurance and medical services. Young adults aged 17–25 years are helping those who are challenged by form completion, ensuring that they do not feel disenfranchised, and mobile ASAN services are being supplied for those who are unable to visit the ASAN centres themselves. To read the full article, go to http:// bit.ly/asanguardian.

August 2013

During the Bastille Day reception at the French Embassy in Azerbaijan, H.E. Pascal Meunier, French Ambassador to Azerbaijan, said: “Our countries have relations based on mutual trust. France is interested in an independent and strong Azerbaijan.” Commenting on the dynamic development of Azerbaijan, he expressed confidence in furthering political and economic bilateral relations, in addition to undertaking scientific, educational and cultural co-operation. He explained that Azerbaijan could rely on the support of France towards achieving peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and thanked Azerbaijan for its ongoing support for France on the Iran and Syria issues. Ambassador Meunier went on to welcome the humanitarian co-operation between the two countries, making reference to the forthcoming opening of the French Lyceum in Baku in September. Samir Sharifov, Azerbaijani Finance Minister,

Silk Way Airlines currently operates Boeing 747-400 Freighters and 767-300 Freighters. It provides services to Europe, the Middle East and Far East. It also serves international destinations through a network of alliances.

replied by saying that an extensive legal framework had been established to facilitate development of the two countries’ economic relations. He made particular reference to the role of Arianespace and other French companies in undertaking the successful launch of Azerspace–1, the first Azerbaijani communications satellite.

Ambassador Meunier, seen here speaking at the TEAS Paris Business Forum, stressed the need for further development of French–Azerbaijani relations

EU and Azerbaijan agree visa deal The EU and Azerbaijan have agreed a visa simplification deal, which has been initalled by H.E. Fuad Isgandarov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Belgium and Head of the Azerbaijani Delegation to the EU, and Stefano Manservisi, Director General: Home Affairs, European Commission. The agreement will be signed at the EU Eastern Partnership meeting in Vilnius in November. It will then

be ratified and come into force on 1 January 2014. It is thought that the deal will reduce visa costs and minimise the amount of paperwork needed. Multiple entry visas will be issued when requested. The scheme is mainly aimed at students, officials and those requiring medical treatment.

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Politics and News

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Baku to host global cybersecurity conference

The new resort will be constructed on the shore of Kotor Bay

Azerbaijan to build €500m resort in Montenegro Azerbaijani investors are to construct a new luxury resort worth €500m (£430.5m) in Montenegro. Reported in the Russian media, the statement was made following a meeting between Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic and a delegation of business people. The 25ha. resort will be located on shore of Kotor Bay on the site of old barracks in Kumbor. The resort comprise a hotel with apartments villas, with moorings for standard luxury yachts, a pier for fishing boats a fish market, around 70 shops, cafés restaurants, a tennis centre, heliport other facilities.

the the will and and and and and

A tender for the 90-year lease of the former military facility was held in Montenegro in

NEWS FROM BRUSSELS It is with regret that TEAS has received the sad news that Patrick Moriau, the Belgian politician, has died from cancer at the age of 62 years. During his long political career, he was Deputy Head of the Social Affairs Ministry in the State of Wallonia from 1988–92. He also held the position of Deputy Secretary-General of the Socialist Party in Belgium from 1992–95, Mayor of Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont from 1995– 2012, and was a Belgian Socialist MP from 1995–2013.

Patrick Moriau was a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in Belgian and international politics

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2012, being won by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR), represented by Triangle Investments and Development Ltd. Azerbaijan has subsequently established Azmont Investments LLC to realise the project. Azmont initially offered to invest €250m (£215.3m) in the project over an eight year period, although the decision to double this figure has subsequently been made. The new facility will be included in the One&Only Luxury Resorts network, being the first European resort to be added. Sol Kerzner, Owner, One&Only Luxury Resorts, commented: “This place is ideal for our first European resort.” The project in Kumbor is the greatest Azerbaijani tourism investment project to be undertaken outside the country.

A global cybersecurity conference will take place in Baku, organised by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). It will be held alongside the BakuTel International Exhibition and Conference from 2–5 December. The conference will provide a forum to share best practice and facilitate discussions on viable models and solutions for enhancing ICT security across the world. The event will begin with a high-level plenary session for ministers, heads of delegations and industry leaders. The second day will comprise interactive discussions on the challenges and opportunities to be confronted when ensuring cybersecurity. The event will conclude with the Baku Declaration on Cybersecurity.

Azerspace–1 begins its payback

Azerspace–1, the first Azerbaijani telecommunications satellite, has started its commercial activities. According to the APA-Economics agency, Azerkosmos OJSC and the ANS Independent Broadcasting and Media Company have ratified an agreement on The Launch of the Transponder Capacity of Telecommunication Satellites. This was signed by Rashad Nabiyev, Chairman, Azercosmos, and Vahid Mustafayev, President, ANS Independent Broadcasting and Media Company.

e-mail: brussels@teas.eu As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Belgian Federal Parliament’s House of Representatives and the Head of the Belgian Group to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Mr Moriau showed an explicit interest in the South Caucasus region. He was specifically interested in Azerbaijan, which he described as “one of the most exciting countries in the world.” Mr Moriau was also the former Chair of the Belgian–Azerbaijani Friendship Group in the Belgian Federal Parliament, and was respected as one of the main experts and proponents of Azerbaijani societal issues in the Belgian and international political environments. Indeed, he considered international involvement to be crucial in politics, being involved directly and indirectly in numerous initiatives across diverse policy areas. With the death of Mr Moriau, the Belgian Parliament has lost a committed man and a very assiduous politician who had an excellent understanding of Azerbaijani society and its citizens.

Azerspace-1 awaits blast-off (Photo: Azercosmos)

During the first phase, in addition to local channels, 50 television and radio channels will be broadcast in English, Russian, Turkish and Farsi, and this amount will be subsequently increased.

Internet penetration reaches 70 per cent

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT) has revealed that internet penetration has now reached 70 per cent. According to the ICT Ministry, internet use has doubled during the past five years, and broadband useage for every 100 internet users during this period rose 12.9 times to reach 4,187 kbit/s. This was largely attributable to internet tariffs reducing 12.5 times over this period. In Azerbaijan, computers will be found in 47.7 per cent of households. August 2013


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Personalities – Nick Pelas Nick Pelas –

exploring paranoia and creating Hell

Nick Pelas has directed a diverse range of plays in the London Fringe Theatre since 2008, including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Dante’s The Inferno and was the director and playwright for All About Poe and his Return to Bath, based on Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. He directs between four and six plays a year. Most recently, Nick directed the first UK performance of the English translation of Citizens of Hell by Professor Elchin Afandiyev at Theatro Technis in Camden, North London. Coming from a renowned literary family, Professor Elchin celebrates his 70th birthday this year. His work was first published in 1959, and he remains one of Azerbaijan’s most renowned living authors and playwrights, having written over 100 books that have been translated into over 20 languages. His works include comedies, farces, tragicomedies and tragedies. For the past 20 years, he has also been Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan. Citizens of Hell is one of his darkest works. Written in 2007, it is set in the Baku of 70 years earlier, which was plagued by the policies of Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, and Lavrentiy Beria, Head of the NKVD (forerunner of the KGB). This was the time of the great purges across the Soviet Union, when public denunciations and show trials became commonplace, and a visit from an NKVD officer frequently represented a death knell. As a married couple wait to welcome the new year, they hear the knock on the door from a stranger, who lets himself into their house and infiltrates their lives, uncovering levels of duplicity as he does so. This menacing piece ably captured a sense of paranoia, and TEAS spoke to Nick at The Actors’ Centre in Covent Garden to find out more: What originally inspired you about the play Citizens of Hell? In the first instance, nothing specifically inspired me about the play itself. In fact, it was offered to me as a commission, although generally I tend to undertake my own self-financed productions. However, I am often asked to work on a play with payment, and recently directed a production of the pantomime Aladdin. I had no knowledge or preconceptions about Citizens of Hell. I came to the play as I know David Parry and previously heard about his involvement with the literature and dramaturgy of Azerbaijan. David has been a supporter and admirer of my plays for some time, including Dante’s Inferno and All About Poe and his Return to Bath, both of which were Hell-based. He was convinced that I would be able to bring the requisite sense of the Demonic to the production. I knew nothing about the play before it was given to me as a script. Then, like most good films, pieces of music and plays, I didn’t initially like it. Gradually, however, during rehearsals and readings, I really got into it and realised that this is an excellent play. When it’s an important piece of work, it gradually comes alive. Only mediocre works elicit an immediately positive response. Two things really inspired me – the abstract darkness of Hell and Satan and that of the normal family being ripped apart, which can be in any circumstances. As David said on the closing night to an invited audience, this could be set in any country under a dictatorial regime – it does not have to be Stalin’s Soviet Union. It could be China, or Nazi Germany, or under the UK’s surveillance society. I found the play to be universal. I was aware of the historical situation of Azerbaijan within the Stalinist Soviet Union, but I abstracted away from the setting and looked at it in its purity and the concept of a couple being ripped apart by the Devil. Although there are some historic references in the script, that is the magic of the writing. That is also the reason why I decided to dress the characters in clothes that are not specific to the period. Stalin and the purges were irrelevant – in fact the play can appeal to anyone, and that’s why I liked it.

Director Nick Pelas played an essential role in attaining the requisite sense of menace

August 2013

I have seen other political plays – they can be very heavy and, with some, the audience really needs to comprise political experts to understand all the comments. I felt that this play moved away from that, although there were references to the purges throughout. Earlier in the run, some audiences had asked for a brief overview of Stalinist policy, but the invited audience on the closing night did not require this.

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Personalities – Nick Pelas

What were the challenges of the play? These were connected to working with three people. In my previous play, I had a cast of nine. When it’s just three people and they are on stage most of the time, you find it is harder to work with them. It was a case of trying to make everyone interact together as a cohesive whole. They had not worked together before, although I had worked with Priscilla Fere, who was in Dante’s Inferno. David had noticed her in that production. I basically went in cold with the actors and built up a good rapport. There were tensions – there always are in theatre – but eventually it all went very well. There were challenges for some actors relating to the way I wanted the work to be interpreted, which could differ to the way they saw their roles. For example, Dominic O’Flynn, who played the Devil, originally gave a very physical performance. In fact, it is more menacing if he just sits in the chair and just looks at the couple for a few minutes, rather than getting up all the time. He should get up only if there is a need to do so, such as to look at the photograph of the wife (Priscilla Fere) or to read the letter. To be fair, he was carrying out the stage directions, but I don’t believe in being a slave to these, and this shouldn’t be the case for any director. In my production of Dante’s Inferno, the play featured the character of Jack the Ripper, who spent some periods just sitting and contemplating from his chair. I wanted to capture a similar sense of menace with Dominic. However, I let him run riot at the end, when he comes in as an NKVD official. I’m a great believer that less is more, and Priscilla very much played it this way. That’s what Brando used to do, and that is the art of acting. To what extent did you edit or modify the script? I remained true to the text – there was very little editing. However, I added the set

pieces for the murders. There were killings in the original text, but in a different way. The concept of the murders in the second half, with the fingers in the eye and strangulation in the chair, was my own. Something influences everyone, and the 1966 Hitchcock film Torn Curtain made a great impression on me. The murder in the chair was derived from that. It’s not easy to kill someone, and that comes across in this film. When there is a death on stage, it can be laughable, and I wanted to avoid this. When I directed All About Poe and his Return to Bath, and the figure of death touched all the characters, I eschewed the characters actually dying on stage, and instead had them walk off stage in a trance. When the husband in Citizens of Hell (Andrew Boxer) commits suicide by jumping out of the window, I asked him to walk up two steps and not to jump, but to let the theatre black out, during which he would disappear.

The figure of the Devil (Dominic O’Flynn) exuded demonic charm

Previously, David Parry, the producer, had been directing the play. To what extent did you combine his vision and your interpretation of the work? David’s vision determined the clothing of red and black, representing anarchy. He decided to use the films by Eva Terzoni of Philip Firsov’s paintings that bookended the play, and the gigantic vision of the knocking hand on the door. I had a free rein on directing the actors on the set, although I discussed the most important ideas with David in advance.

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The play uses very little in the way of props and scenery. Why did you adopt this minimalist approach to the work? All my sets are minimalist. My version of Twelfth Night used a piece of wood to represent a shipwreck. In this production, the only difference was the food, as it was necessary to have food on the table. The set was very much David’s concept. What do you feel the films by Eva Terzoni brought to the performance? It was multimedia – the audience saw some acting and a film of paintings and heard music. I thought the film bookends enhanced the production, although the final product could have been shown on a better screen with enhanced sound quality. It was also reminiscent of Soviet experimental theatre, where film and theatre were combined and complemented each other. Despite being very prolific, Professor Elchin’s work remains comparatively unknown in the West. How would you say his work fits within the concept of absurdist theatre? I need to read more, but there was certainly a Kafkaesque aspect to this play. I have just come from directing a version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, in fact. It certainly imbued that sense of Kafka’s The Castle and The Trial. Citizens of Hell has an undeniably absurdist feel. Do you have any plans to direct further plays by Professor Elchin? I would certainly do so, if requested by David. I will let him make the selection, but as far as I can see, Professor Elchin’s plays are of great interest to me. What plays will be the focus of the new theatre company being established by yourself with David Parry and John Dunne, Director, London Irish Theatre? The theatrical world is a totally closed shop, due to elitism, and that was why I started in the business so late. The doors were closed. Now, with David and John, we will be knocking on the doors. We are all outsiders from mainstream theatre and are producing a lot of cutting-edge material. I think together we can combine forces and make some waves. What is your next production? It is called A Certain Library in Bath, which is in homage to Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on Rope and containing many other elements taken from his films. This is running from 26 August–1 September at the Baron’s Court Theatre, and tickets may be booked on 020 8932 4747.

The Devil forces the husband (Andrew Boxer) to acknowledge his helplessness, as his wife (Priscilla Fere) contemplates the impact of Stalinism on her existence (Photos: Fedor Toshchev)

www.teas.eu

August 2013


08

Culture

A moment of enlightenment for the Professor (Ralph Bogard) and Nurse (Victoria Sye) during their search for the eponymous title character, photographed during the London production (Photo: ALOFF Theatre)

First Edinburgh outing for Azerbaijani theatre

The London-based ALOFF Theatre has taken Azerbaijani theatre to the Edinburgh Festival for the first time, where it was performed at the Gryphon Venues. My Favourite Madman, written by the prolific Professor Elchin Afandiyev, is set in Baku in 1995. The farce takes place in a lunatic asylum and newspaper editorial office, and tells the story of the search for an escaped inmate, exemplifying elements of the altered sense of reality and paranoia of the immediate post-Soviet period. Following its acclaimed successful five-day run at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden, London, in April, the Edinburgh production was also directed by Matthew Gould and featured the incidental music of Memed Ansari. The London production attracted several positive reviews, including one in Everything Theatre, which read: “My Favourite Madman is a complex essay on cultural heritage, fractured identities, and nation formation.”

Violinist Nazrin to perform at London’s renowned Wigmore Hall

The young violinist Nazrin Rashidova is to give her first solo lunchtime recital at London’s Wigmore Hall on 26 September at 13.00hrs. Performing alongside pianist Roderick Chadwick, her programme will include Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B Flat and Szymanowski’s Fountain of Arethusa, together with five of Leopold Godowsky’s Twelve Impressions for Violin and Piano, written in 1916 for the legendary Fritz Kreisler and his wife. This concert will also mark the launch of Nazrin’s debut CD on the Naxos label. This contains all 12 of these pieces, in addition to other works by Godowsky, which are performed as duets with Roderick. This is also the premiere recording of these compositions. To book tickets for the concert, go to http://bit. ly/Nazrinconcert and the CD may be ordered

from http://bit.ly/NazrinCD.

Nazrin has recorded another CD with the Bulgarian guitarist Stanislav Hvartchilkov. Entitled Dreams, this contains works by the Azerbaijani composer Tofig Guliyev (1917– 2000) in new arrangements by Nazrin and Stanislav. The CD is available on request from Nazrin’s website at http://nazrin.co.uk. This CD launch comes on the heels of a busy summer for Nazrin, when she took her all-female string ensemble FeMusa to the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall for a concert featuring works by Antonio Vivaldi, Edvard Grieg, Gustav Holst and the Azerbaijani composer Fikret Amirov. The Anglo-Azerbaijani Society supported the concert.

Nazrin and some members of FeMusa don masks during their performance at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall

Fifth Gabala International Music Festival closes to wide acclaim The fifth Gabala International Music Festival, organised by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, was held from 24 July–6 August at the Qafqaz Resort Hotel. Performers included many prominent musicians, chamber music ensembles, soloists, and conductors from Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey, the UK, USA, Italy, France, South Korea, Israel, Lithuania, Cuba, and Kazakhstan. The festival directors were Farhad Badalbeyli, the leading pianist and conductor and Director, Baku Music Academy, and cellist and conductor Dimitry Yablonsky. The two resident orchestras were the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the August 2013

Symphony Orchestra of New Russia, conducted by Yuri Bashmet. Each day comprised two main concerts – a chamber concert in the hotel and a main open-air concert in the grounds. On this occasion, highlights included a rare performance of the Symphony Concertante for Violin and Orchestra by the 80-year-old Azerbaijani composer Musa Merzoev, performed by Umida Abasova (violin) alongside the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Yalchin Adigezalov; the Viva Verdi concert by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jader Bignamini and featuring Carmel Corado Caruso (baritone); a concert of traditional Cuban music by the Septeto Santiaguero; a

rare performance of Rachmaninov’s Double Piano Concerto, arranged for two pianos and orchestra, performed by Farhad Badalbeyli and Murad Adigezalzade alongside the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra; a concert by the winners of the Bul-Bul singing competition, featuring baritone Sergei Leiferkus; and, of course, the mugham night. To see a Euronews report on the festival, go to http://bit.ly/gabala.

Gabala was appointed as one of the cultural capitals of the Commonwealth of Independent States earlier this year. It played host to some concerts during the Space of Mugham festival in March, and the third Gabala International Art Exhibition took place in May. www.teas.eu


Culture

09

Sabina and the Deco Ensemble perform passionate Piazzolla Violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva, Cultural Advisor, TEAS, has joined forces with members of the Deco Ensemble to perform a vibrant concert of pieces by the legendary Argentine composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla at St. George’s Church in Bloomsbury. Renowned for combining the tango music of his homeland with elements of jazz and classical music, Piazzolla developed a form of music known as ‘nuevo tango’.

Violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva demonstrated some unusual bowing techniques during the recital of works by Astor Piazzolla

Featuring Bartosz Glowacki (accordion), Ricardo Gosalbo (piano), Rob Luft (electric guitar), and Andrew Vicker (double bass), the programme comprised some of Piazzolla’s most well-known compositions, including Michelangelo 70, Libertango, Milonga del Angel, the Estaciones Porteñas (Four Seasons of Bueños Aires) Suite, and his hypnotic Oblivion. The evening benefited the Protimos charity, which provides legal support for communities in developing countries. For more information and to donate, go to www. protimos.org, and to hear the Deco Ensemble performing some pieces by Piazzolla, visit www.decoensemble.com.

German TV captures the essence of jazz-mugham TV Berlin has broadcast a documentary focusing on Azerbaijani jazz and its synthesis with mugham. Entitled Sari Gelin – Fair-haired Bride: Jazz and Mugham in Azerbaijan, the programme was directed by Klaus Bernhard. This focuses on the history of jazz-mugham, and features interviews with such performers as mugham singer Alim Gasimov, pianist Salman Gambarov, saxophonist Rain

Sultanov, pianist and composer Farhad Badalbayli and pianist Isfar Sarabski, winner of the 2009 Montreux Jazz Piano Prize. The documentary also provides an insight into the country’s history and culture, emphasising that Shusha, in the Armenian-occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh, remains central to the essence of Azerbaijani music.

Sahand’s legacy celebrated in style The Azerbaijan House Cultural and Friendship Centre in Shoreditch, London, staged a vibrant celebration of the South Azerbaijani poet Bulud Garachorlu (Sahand) (1926– 79). Born in Maragha, he studied in Tabriz, and became politically active at a young age, seeking the independence of South Azerbaijan and its unification with Azerbaijan SSR (now the Azerbaijani Republic). Working as a labourer during the day, he wrote at night, and was first published in 1953. He believed in making his works comprehensible to all, using simple, effective language and writing extensive prefaces and conclusions in his books. Despite communicating for many years with poets in Azerbaijan SSR, his only visit to Baku occurred in 1969. The celebration opened with comments by Dr Ali Tekin Atalar, Chair, Azerbaijan House, followed by a short biography of the poet from Farida Panahova. Babak Bakhtavar performed I Went From the Sea to Sea and www.teas.eu

other folk songs, accompanying himself on the saz, which was most appropriate as Sahand’s two books of poetry are entitled The Word of My Saz. Hediyat Soltanzadeh, a friend of Sahand, spoke about his friendship with the poet and the importance of his works, and Aladdin Fatherazi described the censorship of his works. Rose Fatherazi went on to perform a piano piece by Frederic Chopin, followed by an intimate performance of the popular song Moon River, accompanying herself on the guitar. The tenor Farhad Nishat sang some Azerbaijani lyric songs, and the poetess Ziba Karbbasi read some of her own works. Ozan Toprak sang some Turkic songs, accompanying himself on the baglama (a form of saz). One of the most exciting parts of the evening was a performance on the nagara drum by Hosain Faraji. The event concluded with a presentation in English by Dr Sahand Bagmesheh, who explained that Sahand’s

Alim Qasimov – seen here in concert in Warsaw, Poland – is heavily featured in the documentary (Photo: ZEBRAne w kadrze)

work emphasised the role of freedom and justice, and the equality of races, going on to read his own translation of Armaghan (A Present).

Lyric tenor Farhad Nishat exhibited considerable passion during his performance

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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Azerbaijan to participate in OSCE-brokered

Presidential meeting

Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, has expressed his support for the OSCE initiative to organise another meeting between Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian President Sargsyan. He said: “This idea was discussed in Vienna, and a decision was made to consider this initiative – Baku agrees to this meeting. In addition, a meeting between the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs will take place in New York during the UN General Assembly’s session. One of the scores of ruined buildings in the occupied Azerbaijani district of Agdam (Photo: Marco Fieber)

Two decades since Agdam occupation commemorated

On 23 July, TEAS acknowledged the twentieth anniversary of the occupation of the majority of the Agdam district by Armenian forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During the invasion, the Armenian forces seized 882km 2 of territory, including one city and 80 villages, with the military incursion costing the lives of around 6,000 people. The Armenian occupation of the Agdam district also resulted in approximately 128,000 Azerbaijanis becoming Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

of the occupation and the heartache this has caused for my family and the Azerbaijani population. We fled to Sumgait with the view that one day we would be able to return home to a city reunified, yet after 20 years we are still waiting. I hope that the EU will finally play its rightful role in resolving this open sore on Europe’s border before it is too late. I remain hopeful that my own and future generations will live peacefully, once again, alongside our Armenian neighbours, following the restoration of Azerbaijani territorial integrity.”

On 29 July 1993, the UN Security Council passed resolution 853 that: “Demands the immediate cessation of all hostilities and the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces involved from the district of Agdam and all other recently-occupied areas of the Azerbaijani Republic.” This, together with three other UN Security Council resolutions, currently remains unimplemented.

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, said: “In 20 years, a whole new generation has grown up experiencing exile in their own country. It is time for the international community to ensure that these people are able to return to their homes in the occupied part of Agdam.”

Ulfat Hajiyev, who is undertaking an internship at TEAS Belgium, remembered those fateful days. He said: “As a young Azerbaijani from Agdam, currently studying in Brussels in the ‘heart of Europe’, I am constantly amazed by the lack of awareness

Despite the establishment of a ceasefire in 1994, casualties near the ‘contact line’ between Azerbaijan and the occupied territories are frequent. Two years ago, an Armenian sniper shot Fariz Badalov, a nine-year-old Azerbaijani boy, as he played near his home in Orta Garvand in the unoccupied part of the Agdam district. It has been estimated that the damage to Agdam equates to around £4bn.

Greece and Cyprus blamed for breaking arms embargo

According to the APA agency, Azerbaijan has been investigating alleged sales of French/German anti-tank missiles to Armenia, and has concluded that they were provided by Greece and Cyprus. Citing unnamed military officials, the Azerbaijani authorities commented: “The investigations carried out by Azerbaijan have revealed that Armenia has purchased anti-tank missiles

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and numerous machine-guns and grenade throwers from Greece and Cyprus in the past two years. According to the reports that have been obtained, Armenia has purchased more than 20 MILAN missiles from Greece. The missiles have been reportedly sold from the arsenal of the Greek armed forces.” The Greek Embassy in Azerbaijan refuted this claim.

(from left) Armenian President Sargsyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev flank former Russian President Medvedev during their meeting in Sochi in March 2011

“Armenians, living in Nagorno-Karabakh, are Azerbaijani citizens, and we support the initiative for holding a meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh.” Mr Mammadyarov was in Brussels to participate in a meeting for members of the EU Eastern Partnership.

Australian visit to

occupied territories condemned

The illegal visit to Nagorno-Karabakh by a group of MPs from New South Wales has attracted condemnation from all directions. Speaking to the media, Elman Abdullayev, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, explained that the MPs had demonstrated disrespect to the official position of their country and the principles of international law. Mr Abdullayev said that the foreign citizens’ visits to Nagorno-Karabakh had not been agreed in advance with the Azerbaijani side, and that the the position remains unchanged. He said that Baku would continue to deem them illegal, as they constitute endorsement of the Armenian occupation. Mr Abdullayev commented: “Australia has repeatedly voiced its support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and these actions do not reflect the country’s official stance.”

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Armenia intensifies its war footing

Shusha-born Seyran Ohanian, Armenian Defence Minister, organised the meeting in the capital of the occupied Azerbaijani region

Leading Armenian army generals and other military officials have organised an unprecedented meeting in the occupied Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, demonstrating a lack of commitment to peaceful resolution on the Armenian side. According to the Yerevan Defence Ministry, dialogue focused on ongoing efforts to strengthen the Armenian military.

A provocative Ministry statement quoted Mr Ohanian as calling for “deepening cooperation and the exchange of experience between the armed forces of the two Armenian republics.” This was followed by a discussion of the results of the Armenian military’s 2013 Winter Training Phase that acknowledged the forces were in a “a state of combat readiness and discipline.”

The meeting in Khankendi (Armenian: Stepanakert), chaired by Seyran Ohanian, Armenian Defence Minister, brought together the heads of various Defence Ministry departments, the leadership of the General Staff and all major detachments, together with the commanders of the armed forces operating in the occupied territories.

Ohanian reportedly issued orders addressing “shortcomings registered during the semester”, seeking to further improve discipline and their state of preparation. The meeting followed an annual gathering of Armenian officers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh, during which they discussed the situation along the ‘contact line’.

John Kerry – uniquely positioned to sort out Nagorno-Karabakh Writing in the US-based National Interest magazine (visit: http://bit.ly/kerrykarabakh), commentator Alexandros Petersen, author of The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West, amongst others, has written of the need for John Kerry, US Secretary of State, to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

After making initial reference to the decision made regarding the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) he states: “The natural gas pipelines connecting Azerbaijan to Europe inevitably have to snake around neighbouring Armenia because of the intractable conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. This so-called frozen conflict has, since the end of the Cold War, become synonymous with the sort of faraway, messy and unrewarding conflagrations that Washington does not want to get mixed up in. But in this case, the far from frozen, but rather simmering, conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia is one that will come back to haunt the US if it does not do its best to encourage a process towards conflict settlement.”

Mr Peterson goes on to recognise that: “Russia has long acted as Armenia’s patron, taking its side in the active war with Azerbaijan in the 1990s and maintaining a major military base in the country with treaty promises to defend Armenia in case of attack. As Azerbaijan becomes an increasingly faithful ally of the US – assisting in both the Afghanistan and Iraq theatres – Moscow has turned a cold shoulder to Baku, even as Azerbaijani policymakers try to maintain cordial relations with their rival’s closest ally.

“If it wanted to disrupt the flow of strategically important natural gas to America’s European allies – or simply assert its pugnacity in a geopolitically contested region – Moscow could at any moment reignite the Karabakh conflict, plunging Iran’s northern border and Turkey’s east into tumult. Such a move is not without precedent: on the pretext of intervening in a similar such conflict, Russian forces invaded neighbouring Georgia in 2008.”

He goes on to state that Secretary Kerry is personally in a strong position to broker peace, as Azerbaijan is a strong US partner, and he already has the faith of the Armenians, as he represented Armenian–American interests as a Massachusetts senator. Mr Peterson comments that the final status of the district remains the main stumbling block, and that “trying to find some, informal at least, agreement on final status as a pretext for negotiations is a nonstarter. This is putting the cart before the horse.” He says that a breakthrough can only be achieved if: “Secretary Kerry brokers high-level negotiations and makes some tangible progress on the ground without preconditions. Following two decades of discussion, a number of well-known plans are on the table for the settlement’s final status. The two sides already have opinions on them and will not agree as long as the status quo persists. There is no better Secretary of State in recent memory to convene such talks than Kerry.”

Kerry names new US OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair representative

Secretary Kerry has named James Warlick as the new US Co-Chair representative in the OSCE Minsk Group to mediate in achieving a negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He will sit alongside representatives from France and Russia. In a statement, Secretary Kerry said: “Ambassador Warlick brings extensive experience in Europe and Eurasia to this position. The US remains firmly committed to helping the sides reach a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

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Mr Warlick previously served as deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and lead negotiator for the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan. He was US Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2009–12, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisation Affairs from 2006–09, and Director of the US Office of European Security and Political Affairs from 2005–06. Secretary Kerry commented: “He is a first-rate diplomat, and I am confident that he will do a tremendous job in this critical post.” He will take up his new role in September.

James Warlick will be tasked with establishing a negotiated peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan as the US OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair representative (Photo: US Embassy in Sofia)

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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Dialogue between

communities: an OSCE initiative

Official Baku has welcomed the initiative of Leonid Kozhara, OSCE Chairman and Ukrainian Foreign Minister, to initiate dialogue between the Nagorno-Karabakh communities. Elmar Abdullayev, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, stated that Azerbaijan is calling upon the international community to establish confidence measures between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh to enable inter-community dialogue. An Armenian sniper, seen near the ‘contact line’ (Photo: Photolur)

24-year-old soldier killed by Armenian fire Armenian forces shot an Azerbaijani soldier on 29 July on the ‘contact line’ near the village of Chayli in the Terter district between Azerbaijan and the occupied territories, according to the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. Eldar Sabiroglu, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, said: “A soldier from the Azerbaijani army died due to a ceasefire

violation from the Armenian side.” The soldier was named as Kainat Abdullayev, aged 24 years, a warrant officer of Military Unit N. The Ministry also reported that Azerbaijani armed forces in the Munjuglu village in the Tovuz district were subjected to fire from Armenian forces located in Aygedzor in the Berd district of Armenia.

De Waal: Nagorno-Karabakh enters intractability phase

Writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Thomas de Waal, author of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War and Senior Associate for the Russia and Eurasia Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has given a pessimistic perspective on the hopes for peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (http://bit.ly/dewaalkarabakh). After commenting on the indifference of the media to the statement at the G8 Summit by the Presidents of the US, France and Russia – the three OSCE Minsk Group CoChair countries – Mr de Waal states: “The protracted struggle over Karabakh must rank as Europe’s most dangerous and most forgotten conflict. It has now entered a new phase of intractability.” Mr de Waal outlines the ongoing volatility of the situation, explaining: “Karabakh is not a ‘frozen’ conflict. It is not Cyprus, where the situation could easily stay in the same place for a number of years and there is almost no chance of new fighting. Here there are a number of factors that keep this conflict ‘stably unstable’, and suggest that the status quo must break at some point – in favour of either peace or war.” He addresses the issue of the districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, which are also under Armenian occupation. Mr de Waal says: “When the dispute turned into a fullscale war, the Armenians captured, in part or whole, seven Azerbaijani regions outside August 2013

Karabakh. They were ordinary regions of Azerbaijan that just had the misfortune to be strategically-important geography in the battle over Karabakh. They constitute twice as much territory as Nagorno-Karabakh, and were home to around 550,000 Azerbaijanis, compared to just 40,000 in Karabakh itself.” He goes on to comment that Azerbaijan will never accept a loss of sovereignty over these seven occupied regions, writing: “Much of the Armenian public now calls these seven districts not ‘occupied’, but ‘liberated’ territories. And the distinction between Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions is gradually blurring on the ground. There are no longer signposts to tell you where one begins and the other ends. This factor alone is enough to keep the conflict smouldering.” He goes on to cite that the reconstruction and proposed reopening of Khojaly Airport represents a particular challenge to peace, which the Azerbaijanis have described as a ‘red-line issue’ that contravenes the Chicago Convention. Mr de Waal writes: “Both sides have boxed themselves in on the airplane issue. The Armenians have a newlyrefurbished airport and seem determined to use it, even if this provokes a military response. One possibility is that they might use some kind of incident – perhaps a ‘medical emergency’ in Karabakh – to launch an inaugural flight from Yerevan to their new airport. “The Azerbaijani government has backed

He said: “We, in Baku, consider this initiative to be an attempt to establish confidence-building measures between the parties.” Mr Abdullayev recalled that Azerbaijan has supported the initiatives to organise inter-community meetings in European cities for several years, although the Armenian community never attends such meetings. He commented: “Representatives of the Azerbaijani community always came to meetings organised in a third country, although official Yerevan blocks such dialogue.”

Leonid Kozhara, OSCE Chairman and Ukrainian Foreign Minister (left), responds to questioning alongside Edward Nalbandian, Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister

Caucasus expert Thomas de Waal expressed his ongoing concern about the volatile state of the conflict (Photo: Eurasia Foundation)

down from an initial threat to shoot down an airplane, but will feel compelled before its public to make a response to an Armenian flight. They might decide to fire a missile at the air-strip in the middle of the night or launch mortars across the ‘contact line’. In short, it could get very dangerous very quickly – and also expose how limited are the international instruments of response. All of this shows that the current Minsk Group model, both at the negotiating table and on the ceasefire line, is insufficient.” www.teas.eu


Personalities – Günay Mirzayeva Günay Mirzayeva and Francesco Maggio have combined forces to create a remarkable ‘visual concert’

Günay Mirzayeva – a cataclysmic combination of power and passion

Now aged 28 years, Günay Mirzayeva is evolving into one of Azerbaijan’s most extraordinary musical exports. Coming from a musical family, she began to learn the piano at the age of six years. She studied musical theory at the Baku Music College, whilst simultaneously studying composition at the Baku Music Academy under Professor Khayyam Mirzazadeh and Professor Ismayil Hacibeyov. To date, she has written for many musical ensembles, and her First Symphony was premiéred late last year.

music. Prior to this project, he composed some pieces dedicated to Azerbaijan. One of these, named Bayraq (dedicated to the Azerbaijani flag) was premiéred at the Bergamo Theatre in Italy together with another piece, composed by myself, entitled Bahar Yagishi. This was our first project together. Francesco has always told me that Azerbaijani music should be heard across the world. After completing this, we decided to create some other projects bridging Europe and Azerbaijan.

Having been awarded a scholarship under the Presidential State Programme for Azerbaijani Youth Studies, Günay studied composition at the State Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany, under Professor Caspar Johannes Walter, from which she graduated in 2011. She is currently studying in both Rome and Karlsruhe, residing in Stuttgart.

How would you describe the work? The project Il Fiore del Fuoco was developed in co-operation with the International Mugham Centre and the Italian ensemble Contempoarte, with the support of the Italian Embassy in Azerbaijan. The media partner was the Azerbaijan State Television and Radio Company, and the director of the project was Etibar Babayev, Artistic Director, AzTV.

Günay recently collaborated with Italian composer Francesco Maggio on a ‘visual concert’ entitled Il Fiore del Fuoco (Flower of Fire) for an ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, viola, piano and mugham trio. This was premiéred in the International Mugham Centre in Baku and later travelled to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence. TEAS spoke to her in Stuttgart to find out more: What was the impetus behind the Il Fiore del Fuoco concert? This premiére was made possible by a grant from the Azerbaijani Youth Foundation and the Azerbaijani Ministry of Youth and Sports, which were the main sponsors of the Il Fiore del Fuoco visual concert project in Baku. How did you come to collaborate with Francesco Maggio? Francesco Maggio is an Italian composer in love with Azerbaijani culture, art and

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was subsequently performed in Florence at the historic Palazzo Medici Riccardi. It was sponsored by the Municipality of the Region of Tuscany, the Province of Florence, the Italian Ministry of Culture, the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Italy, and the Made Group Florence Consortium. The audience reaction in both Baku and Florence was absolutely amazing. The concert halls were full in each case, and the programme attracted a great deal of applause. The Mayor of Florence has invited us to repeat this project in Italy and Azerbaijan. At the International Mugham Centre, Mario Giorgio Stefano Baldi, the Italian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, said that the evening played an important role in the development of cultural relations between the two countries. Intigam Babayev, Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, acknowledged that the concert would help promote Azerbaijani culture in Italy. Gulu Novruzov, Azerbaijani Deputy Education Minister, recalled that the Presidential State Programme for Azerbaijani Youth Studies was approved in 2007, which enabled the continuance of my education in Europe.

The piece was premiéred at the International Mugham Centre in Baku

To what extent was the section for the mugham trio improvised? In both pieces, the mugham trio improvised on the mugham modes that we considered. Sometimes they improvised alone, and sometimes the ensemble and trio collaborated, yet still worked within the mugham modes.

During Il Fiore del Fuoco, the Contempoarte Ensemble, together with a mugham trio, performed two new works Atesgah (Fire Temple) by Francesco, based on the Chahargah mugham mode, and Alovun Sesi (The Sound of Flame) by myself – based on the Shur mugham mode. The project was dedicated to the fire symbols of Azerbaijan. Whilst the Ensemble performed the pieces, footage of Atesgah and Yanar Dag (Fire Mountain) and other beautiful videos of Azerbaijan were shown. It is no accident that the music is dedicated to fire, as flames are symbolic to both Azerbaijanis and Italians. The piece was called Il Fiore del Fuoco, as flowers are the symbol of Florence, and fire symbolises Azerbaijan.

What projects are you working on at the present time? I am currently working on a setting of Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, poet, composer, and cultural critic. Following this, I will compose two further pieces. The first of these will be for string quartet and vocal ensemble, and the second will be for an ensemble.

Where has it been performed? The project was premiéred at the International Mugham Centre in Baku, and

To contact Günay, e-mail: gunaymirzayeva@hotmail.de

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Business News (from left) Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Turkish President Abdullah Gül at the groundbreaking ceremony for the BTK railway in 2007

SOFAZ allocates $435m to regional rail project The State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOFAZ) has allocated some $435m (£279.7m) towards the construction of the Baku–Tbilisi– Kars (BTK) railway, making funds available from 1 July. During 2012, $151.5m (£97.4m) was allocated. The funds will be provided to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport through the International Bank of Azerbaijan, in accordance with the agreement signed by the governments of Azerbaijan and Georgia. The project has also seen the establishment of Marabda-Kartsakhi LLC to undertake the design, construction, upgrading and operation of the Marabda

railway section in Georgia, which borders with Turkey. Azerbaijan has allocated a loan worth $775m (£498.3m) towards construction of the Georgian section of the railway. As part of the project, a new 105km railway will be constructed, and upgrading work will be carried out on the Akhalkalaki–Tbilisi–Marabda railway, increasing its capacity to 15m tonnes of cargo per year. Around 30m tonnes of cargo will be transported via the BTK railway per year, which will become a direct route to the European rail network.

World Bank: support for Azerbaijan as regional ICT hub

Last year, Baku played host to the Internet Governance Forum

Ali Abbasov, Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and Information Technologies (ICT) has exchanged dialogue with Mona Prasad, Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia: World Bank; and Larisa Leshchenko, Country Manager, World Bank. According to the ICT Ministry, Ms Prasad acknowledged how Azerbaijan was diversifying its economy, and underlined that effective work in the Azerbaijani telecommunications, internet, and satellite industries had been successfully implemented, and that developments in this sector were not only benefiting Azerbaijan, but the entire region.

EBRD to expand Azerbaijani co-operation Speaking in Baku, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has expressed the willingness of the EBRD to expand co-operation with Azerbaijan across several sectors. He said that one of the many opportunities for engagement between the EBRD and Azerbaijan relates to efficient energy use. He also said that the EBRD is working to support businesswomen, commenting: “There are now specialised loan products for businesswomen in Turkey and other neighbouring countries.” Sir Suma went on to remark that Azerbaijan has great opportunities for development in the nonoil sector, such as in agriculture.

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To date, the EBRD has delivered loans worth $2.1bn (£1.4bn) to Azerbaijan under 134 projects. Around $1.4bn (£900.1m) of these funds have been used to support 125 projects in the private sector. Sir Suma went on to highlight the economic achievements made by Azerbaijan during the past decade. He said: “Azerbaijan’s economy has experienced a tough transition process, which resulted in significant reduction of the poverty level in the country from 50 per cent in 2001 to the current 6 per cent. I congratulate the Azerbaijani people and government on this success. As one of the largest investors in the non-oil sector of the Azerbaijani economy, the EBRD is proud to play a role in poverty reduction in the country.”

She said: “The evolution of the ICT sphere is playing a role in ensuring economic diversification. The World Bank supports this for three reasons, as it seeks to reform physical capital, human capital and state institutions. Such developments will serve to ensure the durability of the country’s economy.” With reference to the ICT industry in Azerbaijan, Ms Prasad noted that development of the sector was focusing on the expansion of internet penetration, Azerbaijan’s role as a regional ICT centre, and the evolution of the regulatory environment.

Sir Suma said that around €6.7bn (£5.8bn) had been invested in the projects implemented with EBRD involvement in Azerbaijan during the past two decades. He said: “Last year was very successful for us. Around 16 projects worth €90m (£77.5m) were financed, all of which are in the private sector. We aim to provide Azerbaijan with comprehensive support, particularly with regard to economic diversification. This is yielding results, and the non-oil sector growth rate hit 10 per cent in 2012.” During his meeting with Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister of Economic Development, Sir Suma hinted that Baku could be selected to host the annual meeting of the EBRD Board of Directors in 2017.

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The route for TAP will convey Azerbaijani gas across Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy (Copyright: TAP)

TAP decision applauded on Capitol Hill

Ambassadors from Azerbaijan and Albania, Greece and Italy, whose countries stand to benefit from construction of the Southern Gas Corridor, held an important joint briefing at the Longworth House Office Building in Washington D.C., used by the US House of Representatives. This focused on the strategic significance of the decision by the Shah Deniz Consortium on 28 June to opt for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), an integral element of the Southern Gas Corridor, which will convey Azerbaijani gas to Europe. It is expected that this will deliver up to 10bn m3 (bcm) of gas each year from the European border with Turkey, continuing the route from the end of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). It is scheduled for completion in 2018. H.E. Gilbert Galanxhi, Albanian Ambassador to the US, together

with Ambassador Elin Suleymanov and Christos Panagopoulos, his Azerbaijani and Greek counterparts, and Lorenzo Galanti, Italian Counsellor, shared the stage with Elshad Nasirov, Vice-President: Investments and Marketing, SOCAR; and Greg Saunders, Senior Director of International Affairs, BP. All the speeches acknowledged that TAP would bring essential energy diversity and security to Europe, open up key investment opportunities for the region, and promote additional energy growth in Europe and beyond. In addition to TAP, additional volumes of Azerbaijani gas will be supplied to the areas outside TAP transit countries through a network of interconnectors, the first of which will bring Caspian gas from Greece to Bulgaria.

Italy and Azerbaijan firm up their relationship Enrico Letta, Italian Prime Minister, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Baku to discuss the implications of the TAP agreement. During a press conference, Mr Letta said: “We have made this decision regarding the energy pipeline. The decision on TAP is, of course, very important for Italy and a large part of Europe. May I take this opportunity to say how important it is for us today to strengthen our joint relationship. Following agreement on energy issues, we will develop and elevate our

co-operation on economic and political issues. Our troops are already undertaking excellent co-operation in Afghanistan and, of course, we would like to further expand our economic collaboration.” During the visit, the two sides signed a joint declaration. Mr Letta noted that a high-level delegation from Italy would arrive in Baku during early November to strengthen the links between the two countries.

Italian Prime Minister Letta spoke of the importance of the TAP decision

Azerbaijan to launch country-wide broadband

The project on broadband internet development in Azerbaijan is being agreed with the executive authorities, according to the Azerbaijani ICT Ministry. Booz & Co, a leading telecommunications consultancy, has already assessed the project concept. Scheduled to begin this year, this includes modernisation of the entire telecommunications network across all populated areas by 2015. A public computer terminal in Khachmaz, provided by IREX under the USAID-funded Azerbaijan New Media Project (Photo: USAID)

During the past three years, Azerbaijan has maintained its leading position amongst

CIS countries regarding broadband internet penetration, which increased from 65 to 70 per cent in 2012. Work has also been undertaken to improve the quality of data transmission services. The capacity of international communication channels has more than doubled, when compared to 2011, and fees reduced by 35 per cent since that time. At present, broadband fees for 1Mbit/s account for about 3 per cent of the average wage in Azerbaijan, whereas they can amount to 20 per cent of wages in developing countries.

Gigantic cargo airport to be constructed in Baku Namig Hasanov, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, has revealed plans to open a new airport for cargo planes in the Alat district of Baku. Mr Hasanov said: “The construction of the airport will complement the Baku Sea Port, which is currently

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under construction nearby. Alat will be transformed into a logistics centre. A 7.5km long-channel has already been constructed for the Baku Sea Port.” The Baku Sea Port will be completed in 2014, and the website is www.bakuport.gov.az.

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