Culture | Public Affairs Business | Philanthropy
TEAS CELEBRATES ITS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY IN STYLE Also in this issue: Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents meet after more than two years EU Eastern Partnership Vilnius Summit brings Azerbaijan closer to Europe Azerbaijani Day at the EBRD ‘The Incomplete Manuscript’ launched in London ‘Azerbaijan Through the Lens’ travels to Istanbul www.teas.eu
12 / 2013
www.teas.eu December 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 districts 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 produces films • Facilitates fact-finding trips by politicians and business people.
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
The TEAS Facebook page is your chance to learn about the latest news, events, campaigns and other Azerbaijan-related items. Visit and ‘like’ our page at: http://bit.ly/TEASFB.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Events For full details of all TEAS events, go to www.teas.eu/upcoming-events 24 February Khojaly Commemoration Concert (France) Église St-Roch, 296 rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris, France. Doors open: 19.00hrs. Free admission. 26 February Khojaly Commemoration Concert (UK) St. John’s, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA Doors open: 18.30hrs. Free admission.
The Khojaly Massacre was the worst single incident of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. This took place during the night of 25–26 February 1992, when Armenian forces killed 613 civilian men, women and children in Khojaly, a large town in Nagorno-Karabakh. This remains occupied by Armenian military forces. This year, TEAS will commemorate the victims of this massacre with concerts in Paris and London, featuring the FeMusa String Ensemble, under the direction of the London-based Azerbaijani violinist Nazrin Rashidova. They will perform a rich mix of Azerbaijani and European classical music.
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LE MAGAZINE DE CEUX QUI BOUGENT
Politics and News
Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS
From the TEAS Director
TEAS has just celebrated its fifth anniversary at a reception in the grand setting of the Locarno Suite of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During the course of the last five years, TEAS has branched out from its London roots and opened offices in Baku, Brussels, Berlin, Paris and Istanbul. Further office openings are planned for next year. Our mission is to promote Azerbaijan, and foster closer links between that country and the remainder of Europe. We promote closer trade connections, and showcase Azerbaijan’s rich and varied culture. Central to our thoughts and our activities, however, are the plight of approximately one million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) located within Azerbaijan’s borders. So long as the conflict simmers, and Armenia insists on maintaining its illegal military occupation, then those people will be unable to return to their homes and ancestral lands. The refugees and IDPs feature strongly in the Azerbaijan Through the Lens exhibition, which made its way to Istanbul this month – having already visited London, Paris and Brussels. Next year we will be launching another exhibition by the world-famous war photographer Ed Kashi, who visited the front line and captured the living conditions of the IDPs. Finally, TEAS staffers attended the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. Azerbaijan, once again, demonstrated its determination to look west and to co-operate with the EU. Armenia and Ukraine, however, appear to have chosen a different route.
Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS
(from left) Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev; Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė; Herman Van Rompuy, President, European Council; and José Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission, at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit
EU Visa agreement signed in Vilnius The EU and Azerbaijan have signed a landmark visa facilitation agreement in Vilnius, on the margins of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit. The move was described by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, as “a step further in bringing Azerbaijan closer to our Union.”
The agreement will make it easier and cheaper for Azerbaijani citizens, particularly frequent travellers, to acquire short-stay visas, allowing them to travel quickly and freely throughout the EU. A short-stay visa remains valid for 90 days during any period of 180 days. For some frequent travellers and under certain conditions, member states issue multipleentry visas with validity from one to five years. It is unnecessary for holders of diplomatic passports to have visas. Under the agreement, the visa handling fee will not be collected for certain categories of applicants, including members of official delegations, children below the age of
12 years, pensioners, researchers and students. The agreement will now pass to the EP for final ratification. It will become effective on the first day of the second month, following the date when the two parties notify each other that the internal procedures have been completed, or on the day when the EU-Azerbaijan readmission agreement becomes effective, if that is later. Visa facilitation agreements are usually complemented by readmission agreements between the EU and third countries. The readmission agreement with Azerbaijan will be signed soon, after the three-month deadline for opt-in of the UK and Ireland expires and the relevant European Council decision is adopted. These specify clear obligations and procedures for EU member states, authorities and third countries on how to take back people who are illegally residing on their territories. To date, the EU has signed visa facilitation and readmission agreements with 11 countries.
Politics and News
The Locarno Room was packed with over 300 friends of Azerbaijan (Photos: Neale Atkinson)
TEAS celebrates its fifth anniversary in the FCO
On 3 December, TEAS celebrated five years since its foundation during a glittering event in the stunning setting of the Locarno Suite in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – scene of the signing of the Treaty of Locarno in 1925.
Initially founded by Tale Heydarov during his studies at the London School of Economics, the society evolved into the London Azerbaijan Society, before becoming TEAS in 2008. TEAS is dedicated to increasing awareness across Europe on the business opportunities and culture of Azerbaijan, and developing understanding of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the plight of the refugees and IDPs. Over 300 guests attended the event, including Peers, MPs, diplomats, businesspeople and friends of the country. Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, opened the event. Tale Heydarov, Chairman, TEAS, set the context by describing the achievements of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic of 1918–20, which gave all women equal voting rights 10 years before the UK. Landmarks in the modern era were the signing of the Contract of the Century between the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) and BPled Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) in 1994. This was due to the work of former President Heydar Aliyev, who was responsible for steering the country from post-Soviet chaos to stability. Current President Ilham Aliyev went on to continue this policy by strengthening the
economy and transforming the country’s appearance and infrastructure. Mr Heydarov said: “TEAS is five years old and has offices in six countries. It promotes Azerbaijani culture, and fosters trade and investment between our country and Europe. We highlight Azerbaijan’s religious tolerance, and ensure that the West realises the help that Azerbaijan has provided to the campaigns in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. TEAS also points out the role that Azerbaijan plays in securing European energy security. “In return, we ask only that the West does not forget around one million refugees and IDPs who are the ongoing casualties of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and that they help us work towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Armenia, based on the principles of international law and the outstanding UN Security Council Resolutions. “TEAS is proud of its country’s achievements. Of course there are also those with other agendas, determined to be negative, and who have a strange blind spot when it comes to the human rights of our refugees and IDPs – how can they be true friends of Azerbaijan? We, on the other hand, see many points of common interest of benefit to Azerbaijan, to the UK and other European countries. We seek only to promote knowledge about our country, including the business opportunities it offers to the wider world.”
(from left) Tale Heydarov, Chairman, TEAS; Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS; Alex Aitken, Executive Director, Government Communications; and Lord Taylor of Holbeach
H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, acknowledged: “This is a magnificent venue, and TEAS has done a great job in promoting Azerbaijan during the past five years. I was at the launch myself, and I am pleased to say that relations between the UK and Azerbaijan are becoming stronger every day. In particular, TEAS has made an invaluable contribution through person-to-person relations. I am very pleased that Azerbaijan has TEAS to support it in the UK and across Europe, and look forward to the next five years.”
Ambassador Gurbanov acknowledged the contribution of TEAS to pan-European awareness of his homeland
Edmund Hosker, Director, International Energy, EU & Energy Resilience, commented: “Azerbaijan is a major energy producer, and is where mechanised oil extraction and modern oil transportation began. It is excellent that the planned Southern Corridor will bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. Azerbaijan will play an integral role in ensuring European energy security, both as a producer and as a transit route. This year has been important, as it has seen the protocols signed regarding the construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) that will facilitate delivery of these resources from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea. The UK remains the greatest contributor of Foreign Domestic Investments (FDI) into Azerbaijan. Over 300 UK businesses are now in this country, and this figure is set to grow.” Christopher Pincher MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Azerbaijan and Member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee said: “It is a great
Politics and News
Sabina Rakcheyeva and the Deco Ensemble provided an atmospheric musical accompaniment to the celebrations
pleasure for me to celebrate with TEAS. During the past 22 years of Azerbaijani independence from the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan has developed immeasurably. However, there remains one outstanding issue – the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – and the UK seeks a peaceful resolution of this situation. “Azerbaijan presents tremendous opportunities for western companies – the Shah Deniz gas field is the second largest in the world. Azerbaijan is a secular and tolerant nation – one only needs to see the mosques, synagogues and churches in Baku. It is a stable nation in a geopolitically sensitive part of the world. It is incumbent on the APPG for Azerbaijan to promote the
NEWS FROM BRUSSELS
TEAS Belgium has organised a high-level seminar in the European Parliament (EP), attended by several members of the EP Friends of Azerbaijan Group. The aim of the meeting was to exchange information and ideas concerning Azerbaijan’s NATO commitment and highlight the main challenges for the mid-term future. Azerbaijan ranks amongst NATO’s most reliable and committed partners, and is currently involved in providing support for ISAF in Afghanistan. This underlines the importance Baku attaches to transatlantic co-operation.
The host, Katarina Nevedalova MEP (S&D, Slovakia), commented: “During the past few years, many MEPs have become aware of developments in the South Caucasus and particularly in Azerbaijan. It is a real honour for me to participate in this dialogue and facilitate information exchange between Europe and Azerbaijan. Today, we are placing emphasis on a topic that is possibly lesser-known – that of EU–Azerbaijani rapprochement.” H.E. Khazar Ibrahim, Head of the Azerbaijani Mission to NATO, outlined the current relationship, saying: “NATO and Azerbaijan are actively co-operating on democratic, institutional and defence reforms. During the past decade, they have also focused on such
country in cultural, political and business terms. I look forward to celebrating further successes for TEAS and for Azerbaijan in five years’ time.” Following the speeches, there was a screening of a short film, demonstrating how London-headquartered TEAS has evolved over the past five years, including the launching of branches in Baku, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Istanbul. Altogether, TEAS has organised over 50 events since its foundation, attended by more than 27,000 guests, thereby substantially raising awareness of the country throughout Europe. To this end, it has also conducted extensive academic research and launched educational initiatives.
e-mail: email@example.com areas as civil emergency planning, scientific exchange, environmental co-operation and public information. Azerbaijan is perceived as one of the most constructive partner countries to NATO.” He continued: “Azerbaijan’s dialogue with NATO concerns more than a purely political commitment regarding the delivery of human and logistical support to various missions. It is about bridging the South Caucasus and the world. Azerbaijan is legally and morally engaged in participating in future challenges, and remains committed to NATO ambitions.” Ambassador Ibrahim also gave a clear picture on Azerbaijan’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO, which will be effective for the next two years. In their comments, H.E. Fuad Isgandarov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Belgium and the EU, and Inese Vaidere MEP (EPP, Latvia) acknowledged the links between Azerbaijan’s Euro-Atlantic co-operation and EU security policy. Ms Vaidere said: “Azerbaijan is seeking to achieve EuroAtlantic standards and to draw closer to Euro-Atlantic institutions.” Twice a year, TEAS Belgium also organises roundtable events for Azerbaijani students in Belgium. The main objective is to discuss a
The event continued with a vibrant exposition of Azerbaijani traditional and classical music, together with evocative tangos by the Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, performed by Azerbaijani violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva, Arts and Cultural Advisor, TEAS, with the Deco Ensemble.
Christopher Pincher MP spoke of the secularism, tolerance and relevance of Azerbaijan to Europe
specific socio-economic topic, and this also enables Azerbaijanis to meet informally. The event attracted considerable interest from Azerbaijani students in Belgium, who had the opportunity to meet Katarina Nevedalova MEP, who is particularly interested in educational exchange. She commented: “Education is a key policy area where the future is built. In other words, it is of incredible importance for the future of Europe. Azerbaijan has been participating in the EU Tempus Programme since 1995, which has implemented more than 50 projects to modernise higher education in the country. The Erasmus Mundus Programme, which is the EU’s most successful academic mobility initiative, has enabled more than 100 Azerbaijani students and researchers to visit EU universities.” Ms Nargiz Taghizade, Representative, Azerbaijani Embassy to the EU, said: “I am pleased to see so much talent gathered around one table. By undertaking this type of initiative, TEAS does a great job in promoting Azerbaijan in the European environment. Indeed, these young people are the future ambassadors of Azerbaijan, its culture and its people. The Azerbaijani government is facilitating educational and research programmes through numerous projects.”
imaginative work of
Azerbaijani literature in London
Modern Azerbaijan is acknowledged as a hotbed for the creative arts, and the new book The Incomplete Manuscript, in its English translation, represents the depths of imagination of one contemporary author – Professor Kamal Abdulla, Rector of Baku Slavic University. The novel was launched at the Fifth View at Waterstone’s flagship store in Piccadilly, London, during an event organised by TEAS. The launch was attended by around 100 people – both from Azerbaijan and bibliophiles from across cosmopolitan London. Taking the medieval Book of Dada Gorgud, a Turkic epic chronicling the exploits of the Oghuz tribe, as his point of departure, Professor Abdulla has devised a first, incomplete, draft of the tales. This represents an account by the bard Dada Gorgud of an investigation to unmask a traitor amongst the Oghuz. In turn, this has been interwoven with another tale, that of Shah Ismayil Khata’i, founder and poet-ruler of the Safavid state in the early 16th century. The book has also been published in French, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, German and Japanese. The event was introduced by Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, followed by H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, who commented: “I have a personal interest in literature, which is greatly valued in my country. Books take us to different places in new worlds. Professor Abdulla’s work is extremely important, and takes us to a past era of history, before Azerbaijan became part of the Russian Empire. The book encapsulates Azerbaijani thinking, and demonstrates their true colours. “Azerbaijani people are optimists and are looking forward to a bright future. It is most apt that this launch takes place in the heart of London – there are excellent relations
Professor Abdulla signs copies of The Incomplete Manuscript for two admiring readers
between the UK and Azerbaijan, particularly regarding oil and gas, but also in the fields of engineering, education and information and communications technologies (ICT), amongst other sectors.” Professor Kamal Abdulla explained his work, saying: “I am very pleased about the positive manner in which my work has been received. It concerns Azerbaijani history from long before our present time. The text of the Book of Dada Gorgud is at the heart of my book. It enables readers to understand the ancient connections between Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey, and the history of my country. The characters of the book are considered heroes in Azerbaijan, but I have described them all in a realistic manner, showing their human flaws. The Incomplete Manuscript is, in fact, the first part of a trilogy. The second volume has already been translated, and the third is currently being translated.”
Anne Thompson, English translator, contextualised the book, explaining: “The work of translating The Incomplete Manuscript was extremely enjoyable for me. I had to understand the book, which is deeply rooted in Azerbaijani history, and help create the atmosphere for English-speaking readers. It has different narrators. In the sections about Shah Ismayil, Professor Abdulla frequently uses very grand phrases in elaborate language, which are most appropriate in the original Azerbaijani, yet can be difficult to translate into English. It was often tricky to know what to explain or include as a footnote, but between us we got there in the end!” Following this, members of ALOFF Theatre gave some dramatised readings of passages from The Incomplete Manuscript. The evening concluded with a question-and-answer session and book signing. The book is available from http://bit.ly/kamalabdulla.
Khojaly work nominated for major musical award
Pierre Thilloy, seen after the premiere of his work Khojaly 613 in Paris, flanked by Eliza Pieter, TEAS (left) and Senator Nathalie Goulet, Head, France–Azerbaijan Working Group, French Senate
French composer Pierre Thilloy has been shortlisted for his TEAS-commissioned piece Khojaly 613 by the judging panel for the ‘Best Composer’ category in the Victoires de la Musique Classique Awards, placing him amongst the final eight composers out of 160 candidates. In his submission, Mr Thilloy explained the background to this piece, which commemorates the killing in 1992 of 613 civilians by Armenian military forces in Khojaly, the second largest town of
Nagorno-Karabakh. The shortlist will be further reduced to four contenders, with the awards ceremony finally taking place live on France 2 television before an estimated audience of 2m viewers. Khojaly 613 was premiered in February this year during a concert at the Church of Saint-Roch in Paris to commemorate the victims of the Khojaly Massacre, followed by its UK premiere during a similar concert at St. John’s, Smith Square, London.
Azerbaijan Through the Lens wows an Istanbul audience
More than 250 diplomats, celebrities and business people packed the Riff Art Projects gallery in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul for the opening of the Azerbaijan Through the Lens exhibition. Organised by TEAS, this showcased 100 photographs of contemporary Azerbaijani people, culture, landscapes and architecture. Attendees included Ms Ece Vahapoglu, the celebrated Turkish author, journalist and television personality; Rena Effendi, acclaimed Azerbaijani photographer; and Asim Talib, winner of the competition. Rena Rzaeva, TEAS Turkey representative, initially welcomed the guests.
The many varied images of Azerbaijan attracted a capacity audience
Ece Vahapoglu said: “The winner was Asim Talib for his photo Old Men. Asim has been a well-known professional photographer in Azerbaijan for many years, focusing on landscapes and people. Certain regions of Azerbaijan are renowned for being home to some very elderly people. Taken in 1985, this picture shows a group of elders enjoying a joke. It was photographed in Kelbajar, which has now been under Armenian occupation for 20 years. Turkish celebrity Ece Vahapoglu appreciates some of the stunning photographs
“Another photographer whose work is showcased in this exhibition, and who joined us tonight from Cairo, is Rena Effendi. Her first monograph Pipe Dreams, focused on the lives of ordinary citizens in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey along the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline. Ms Effendi has also produced photographic essays from Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster of 1986 and the Russo–Georgian war of 2008. Indeed her work was displayed earlier this year, just five minutes from here, at the Istanbul Modern Gallery. There is certainly a wide choice of photographs for us to enjoy.”
Rena Rzaeva remarked: “Today’s exhibition will introduce you to the wonderful beauty of my homeland – Azerbaijan – and its rich cultural heritage, where Eastern and Western values unite. The photographs range from historical monuments, architectural gems and stunning landscapes, to cities and remote villages, capturing the warmth of the people. “Indeed, given the strong historical and cultural bonds between Turks and Azerbaijanis, some of these images may
already be familiar to you, such as the gentlemen playing backgammon or images of the tea houses. We hope that the natural beauty and charm of Azerbaijan, as captured in these photographs, will inspire those who have not visited the country to do so.” Concluding its tour of the cities where TEAS has offices, the photographs were selected from around 750 submissions received from photographers based in Azerbaijan and across the world that were entered for a TEAS-run competition. A selection of the images can be seen at www.teas.eu/Aida
Azerbaijan House in London marks its fifth anniversary
More than 70 people attended a concert to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Azerbaijan House Culture and Friendship Centre in London. Speakers included H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK; Dr Ali Tekin Atalar, Chairman, Azerbaijan House; and Farida Panahova, Board Member, Azerbaijan House. The event began with a minute of silence to remember the life and contribution of Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, former Chairman of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society, who passed away in June, who had opened Azerbaijan House alongside Ambassador Gurbanov.
The musical concert began with two duets by violinist Nazrin Rashidova and pianist Ayyan Salahova, who performed arrangements of Our Orchard by Azerbaijani film composer Tofig Guliyev and Gara Garayev’s Aisha’s Dance by (from The Seven Beauties Ballet) and the lilting Waltz from The Tale of the Caspian Mineral Oil Workers Suite. Azerbaijan House reaches out to Azerbaijanis living in Iran, and ashiq
Babak Bakhtava performed two passionate songs, accompanying himself on the saz, followed by tenor Farhad Nishat who sang Yasha Konul and Sene de qalmaz, originally made famous by Rashid Behbudov.
The concert concluded with a performance by Jeffrey Werbock, Chairman, Mugham Society of America, who explained: “I am not a performer. But this music – mugham – does not give me any peace, so I agreed to play in public. It has remarkable power and energy.” He went on to perform an improvisation on the Shur mugham on oud; a classic version of Shushter and improvisation on Dilkesh on tar; and an improvisation on Shur on kamancha. He concluded by remarking: “On behalf of all westerners, thank you Azerbaijan for the gift of mugham.” The celebration ended with traditional songs and dances. To see a slide show of photos from the first five years of Azerbaijan House, go to http://bit.ly/azhouse.
Personalities – Aida Mahmudova
Aida Mahmudova seen during the Love Me, Love Me Not exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2013, produced by YARAT (Photo: Tim Roberts; Courtesy: YARAT)
Aida Mahmudova – heading up the Baku contemporary art scene Mahmudova is an artist and the founder of YARAT, a dynamic contemporary art organisation, which places her at the heart of the burgeoning contemporary art scene in Baku. To date, YARAT has organised nearly 30 events since its establishment in late 2011. In the Azerbaijani language, YARAT means ‘create’, and it is a not-forprofit organisation whose mission is to raise an understanding of contemporary art in Azerbaijan and promote the work of Azerbaijani artists, both nationally and internationally. As an artist, Aida’s work has been exhibited across Europe, and her public commission,
entitled Recycled, can be seen in the Baku waterfront Park Bulvar Shopping Centre and was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale for YARAT’s collateral event Love Me, Love Me Not: Art from Azerbaijan and its Neighbours. This work is derived from ornate windows taken from a traditional building due to be bulldozed as a result of the urban renewal project in Baku. Aida decided to preserve the windows, and several years later she produced some mirrored and reflective pieces to extend the window patterning and represent its negative space. In fact, Baku is a city of numerous overlapping architectures, containing two designated UNESCO world
Pirshagi (Absheron series) by Aida Mahmudova, 2012 (Courtesy: The Artist and YARAT)
heritage sites and various architectural styles. What originally fuelled your interest in the contemporary art world? Growing up in Baku has been a huge inspiration for my work. As the city lies on the intersection of East and West, it has strong traditions in the applied arts and contains a broad range of architectural styles that reflect its history. As a young artist, I found this to be a primary source of inspiration. Baku continues to develop at an astonishing rate around me. You studied Fine Arts at the Central St. Martins College in London. How would you describe your own artwork? Is this ever exhibited at YARAT? The semi-derelict sites on the city peripheries have particularly influenced my own artwork. For a recent series, I made large-scale sculptures incorporating salvaged architectural relics, which are by-products of the evolution of the urban landscape. My piece entitled Recycled, displayed as part of YARAT’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale this year, was derived from ornate windows from a condemned building – I saved the windows years ago
Veranda (Absheron series) by Aida Mahmudova, 2012, acrylic ink, pencil, oil pastel on linen (Courtesy: The Artist and YARAT)
Personalities – Aida Mahmudova and had wanted to use them in a work since then. Recently I have been working in a range of media for works on canvas that are evocative of a softer side to Baku’s cultural landscape. What led to the creation of YARAT in 2011? I realised that there is a need for an organisation entirely dedicated towards nurturing an understanding of contemporary art within Azerbaijan and creating a platform for Azerbaijani art – one that put artists first. Three boards run the organisation – the administrative board, creative board and executive board, all of which are comprised of practicing artists. Does YARAT solely concentrate on Azerbaijani artists? This is not the case – one of YARAT’s primary motivations is to create links with artists from across the world. Our exhibition at the Venice Biennale this year comprised works by artists from Azerbaijan and some of its neighbouring countries. We also run an ongoing programme of residencies with international artists and educators who have been coming to Baku during autumn to deliver talks and workshops. Wishing You The Same by Samir Salaxov, installed in an abandoned airconditioning unit factory (Courtesy: YARAT)
What are the aims and objectives of YARAT? YARAT primarily aims to educate. It is always looking to the future, and will encourage and assist the next generation of Azerbaijani creative talent in achieving its goals. The organisation exists in order to develop an internationally respected profile for Azerbaijani art, launching emerging Azerbaijani artists to both a global and national audience. It is always seeking to participate in local and international artistic networks and to establish partnerships with institutions and foundations worldwide. How are the artists promoted by YARAT decided upon? All decisions go through the three boards that I mentioned, which operate on administrative, creative and executive levels with some crossover. The practising
artists who sit on these boards are Faig Ahmed, Rashad Alakbarov, Orkhan Huseynov, Farid Rasulov, Sitara Ibrahimova, Nazrin Mammadova and Ali Hasanov. The combination of these creative minds has served to create a dynamic team. What type of exhibitions, installations and events has YARAT organised, to date? Projects range from solo exhibitions at our own YAY Gallery in Baku to citywide festivals. For example, the collaborative show, entitled Merging Bridges, included works by such international contributors as Idris Khan, James Turrell and Sarah Lucas. YARAT frequently uses experimental and alternative spaces to host its cultural activities, and is currently hosting an exhibition at a cavernous abandoned factory for air-conditioning units. Past locations include a dockyard, the platform in front of the central bus station and a construction site in the Ganjlik area. In addition, YARAT has organised exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Baku and the Venice Biennale. Does YARAT encompass all artistic modes – painting, sculpture, film and photography? Yes, in addition to performance, video work and installations! Its artists work in a diverse range of media – part of the reason I started YARAT was so that artists could be inspired by each other and the different techniques they could harness to create new work. Who participated in the Public Art Festival in Baku? There were ten artists altogether, half of which were international and half being Azerbaijani, all of which came to Baku to make work that involved direct audience participation. Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands installed his largescale Rubber Duck in the city, Sabina Shikhlinskaya created a travelling recyclestation, and Group Bouillon came from Georgia to perform a work from their Apartment series. Another very popular project was Rebar Group’s Parkcycle, which comprised a series of mobile parks that could be cycled through the city. How is the YAY Gallery used? We founded the YAY Gallery in a commercial gallery space to provide local artists with the opportunity to exhibit in a professional context. All proceeds from sales are shared between the artist and YARAT to support a range of creative activities – as you may know, YAY means ‘share’ in Azerbaijani. Who speaks at your lectures and masterclasses? To date, YARAT has arranged residencies
for Jordan Baseman, Head of Sculpture, Royal College of Art; Mark Dunhill, Dean of Art, Central St Martin’s (Sculpture); and Paul Coldwell, Professor of Fine Art (Printmaking), all of which have headed out to Baku during the Autumn. We have opened for applications to the 2014 programme and are already receiving some very exciting proposals. One of Ali Hasanov’s exquisitely detailed drawings, as exhibited in the YAY Gallery in October 2013 (Courtesy: YARAT)
How was YARAT involved in selecting works for the Azerbaijani Pavilion at the Venice Biennale? YARAT produced its own event at the Venice Biennale. This was an exhibition entitled Love Me, Love Me Not, which was one of its biggest undertakings to date. We brought together works by 17 Azerbaijani, Russian, Iranian, Turkish and Georgian artists. The title was chosen to reflect the vacillating relationships between these countries that have shared so many rulers, religions and traditions, and yet coexist with culturally distinct identities. To what extent does YARAT support and promote young artists? We have a dedicated Young Artists’ Project called ARTIM, meaning ‘progress’ in Azerbaijani – this runs alongside YARAT’s general educational programme. ARTIM is specifically focussed on encouraging the next generation of Azerbaijani creative talent to seek artistic careers. One of its main initiatives is to give young practitioners the opportunity to exhibit their works in a professional context. How do you see YARAT’s future development? YARAT will soon open a second space, in addition to the YAY Gallery. The idea is to establish this new space as a central ‘hub’ for exchange and creativity, expand our reach to include more people and build an awareness of YARAT and its activities. I am personally very excited about next year’s Public Art Festival, which will be led by an international curator that we haven’t announced yet. Watch this space! For more information, go to www.yarat.az
Personalities – Gyunel Rustamova and Ian Drummond
The famous Lovers statue at St. Pancras Station surrounded by sunflowers
Azerbaijani artist Gyunel Rustamova and garden designer Ian Drummond
Gyunel Rustamova and Ian Drummond combine forces to embrace nature
Living with Nature was a landmark site-specific exhibition set amongst the Victorian splendour of the refurbished St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel and St. Pancras International Station that ran during October. Combining the talents of the established indoor garden designer Ian Drummond with those of Azerbaijani artist and fashion designer Gyunel Rustamova, this unique installation was heralded with a private view attended by more than 400 artists, fashionistas, critics and journalists. TEAS spoke to Ian and Gyunel to find out more:
How did you become an indoor garden designer over 20 years ago? Where have you worked? I have always enjoyed working with plants, and this began when I looked after my aunt’s garden at the age of eight years. I love being with nature and looking after plants – from that point, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I left school at 16 years, and subsequently worked in a florist’s shop for four years. I also studied horticulture at Capel Manor College, and then went to work for a garden centre in Primrose Hill, where I worked in the field of exterior landscape gardening for a year. I then decided that I preferred being inside, and that led me towards interior gardening. I have worked in the field of indoor garden design for more than 20 years, starting as a technician. I am now the creative director of the company and also the co-owner – I feel very lucky indeed to be doing what I love, where my talents can be applied.
Each piece is a real, living, diary of my life – my childhood and my career. For me, it was such an exciting project to undertake, because this really is the story of my life through plants and nature. I grew up in Camden, as did four generations of my family, so to have my first exhibition in the Borough of Camden, housed in my favourite building, was simultaneously incredible and humbling.
story told through plants.
How did you collaborate on the installation? The perspex boxes (referred to as the ‘curiosity boxes’) individually house examples of the plants that have most inspired me and been significant throughout my career. Gyunel included fabric samples that complemented and connected with the plants within the boxes. We also collaborated on the private view, as Gyunel staged a presentation of her work as a couture designer.
What media coverage has it attracted? The coverage has been excellent and far-reaching – including BBC News, national and international newspaper and magazine coverage and online and social media.
What brought about your collaboration with Gyunel Rustamova? I was introduced to Gyunel through a mutual friend, who felt that there was a connection between our works, with the potential for creative chemistry.
Please explain the films and installations that are incorporated within your artwork. The film was of a sunflower field, and was a speeded record of the plants slowly ‘turning’ towards the light. It is a visual reference that highlights nature in an urban space, and can be experienced at http://bit.ly/sunflowersdrummond. Each installation is personal to me, and is my
The Living with Nature exhibition is autobiographical. Please explain the exhibits’ significance to your own life.
Over what period were they devised? For several years, I have wanted to stage my own exhibition, and express the importance of nature in my life. At the beginning of this year, the opportunity presented itself. Effectively I had been working on the presentation and the installations for seven months.
Why did you decide to house the exhibition in St. Pancras Station? It is my favourite building, and I’ve grown up in the shadow of this wonderful architectural monument to the industrial age. Which current projects are you working on? Will you collaborate again with Gyunel? I am currently working on projects surrounding Christmas – this is a very important time for our retail and hotel clients. If another opportunity arises, Gyunel and I will certainly discuss another partnership.
Personalities – Gyunel Rustamova and Ian Drummond
The exhibition also included a new surreal large oil painting, where the famous gargoyles from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris are sipping coffee tête-à-tête inside an apartment, whilst the heads of media personalities are built as exterior sculptures, posing the question as to who decides what is really grotesque? The figures in the painting are painted in grisaille tones, my signature style of recent years. Some of the ‘curiosity boxes’, combining Ian’s favourite plants with materials selected by Gyunel
What brought about your collaboration with Ian Drummond? Ian and I were introduced through some mutual friends, and collaboration had been discussed for a while. I have been an admirer of his incredible work over a long period, and thought that collaboration with an artist working in a completely different field would be very interesting. What is the concept behind the Living with Nature exhibition? Living with Nature originated with the idea of living in an urban environment and the nature that can be found within our cities, showing how the two can coexist and the beauty that can be found there. How did you collaborate on the installation? Ian and I mainly collaborated on an installation in the Royal Suite, comprising a 6m-long table with a model at the head wearing a velvet cape (a replica of one I’d designed for my A/W 13 couture collection). The cape ran the length of the table, and included a laser cut leather shoulder panel that then wound its way down the table, through a jungle of exotic plants and Vanda orchids, beautifully arranged
Fashion inspired by St Pancras Station’s neogothic architecture, set against a backdrop of her latest painting, featuring gargoyles from Notre Dame in Paris
by Ian. The installation also included elements of my artwork, and pieces taken from past collections that were worked into the greenery. Also, in the hotel foyer, the 25 ‘curiosity boxes’ were positioned, containing selected elements of the work by both Ian and myself, harmoniously creating a showcase with which we were immensely pleased. What was the inspiration behind the artworks? The cape’s laser-cut leather panel actually derived inspiration from the beautiful surroundings of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel – the patterns were inspired by the neogothic architecture and patterns found in the ceiling vaults. Also, on a table, we positioned silver gargoyles from our jewellery line, peeking through plants and pleated fabrics that again showed the connection between St. Pancras’ interior/exterior and our brand’s signature aesthetics. Do any of the works incorporate designs from Nagorno-Karabakh? As I mentioned in the January 2011 edition of the TEAS Newsletter, I witnessed episodes from the war in Nagorno-Karabakh as a child, so I cannot avoid reflecting my memories in the artwork. Such occurrences do not pass by without leaving an indelible mark on your character and mood as an artist. Generally, people do comment a lot on the darkness of the themes they see in my paintings. Did you create many new artworks for the exhibition? In addition to the cape installation that we created with Ian, many of the dresses we showcased really incorporated nature within their concept. Our muse was Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations, who was deserted on her wedding day and grew old, alone in her mansion. The table was designed as if Miss Havisham could never leave it, with all the plates, cups and jewellery being intertwined with the flowers, causing her to become inextricably attached to it.
Was this your first fashion collection? Our first collection was the ready-to-wear couture Autumn/Winter 13 (A/W 13) range. How did your own DNA inspire the fashion designs? As I am used to expressing myself through paint, I initially paint even the smallest details of my collections, which are then translated to our digitally printed fabrics – including representations of my own DNA code. I try to keep my previous artworks and fashion as separate as possible, so I never allow myself to use details of paintings that have been exhibited as prints on fashion fabrics. Which current projects are you working on? Will you collaborate again with Ian? I am currently finishing the Spring/Summer 14 (S/S 14) collection at the moment – currently being showcased in New York. I am then moving straight onto the Autumn/ Winter 14/15 (A/W 14/15) line. Ian and I have discussed the prospect of working together again, and hopefully there will be something in the pipeline soon! Ian is a pleasure to work with, as he is easy-going, down-to-earth, and very talented. For more information on the work of Gyunel Rustamova and Ian Drummond, visit: www.gyunel.com www.indoorgardendesign.com.
One of Gyunel Rustamova’s fashion creations
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict The Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after a hiatus of nearly two years
Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents meet in Vienna Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Vienna. This marked the first time the premiers had met for nearly two years. Elman Abdullayev, Spokesman, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, gave a cautious welcome to the latest meeting. Speaking to the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), he commented: “The meeting is definitely seen as a positive step. The question of the territorial integrity of our country has never been a subject for discussion, and that will never be the case. The main aim of the talks is the restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.” He reiterated Azerbaijan’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Novruz Mammadov, Deputy Head, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, explained the reticence of the sides to comment on the content of the meeting, saying: “There have been two years during which the Heads of State have not met, and the talks process has stagnated. Of course, this stagnation is connected with Armenia’s stance. As time has passed, the Armenian government has realised that this position will bring them no benefit, and hence another meeting between the presidents has taken place.” Mr Mammadov said that the organisation of the meeting was positive in itself, and Armenia’s subsequent response marked an improvement. He commented: “Armenia
always behaves well at such meetings, so as to show its best side to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. After the meeting, it always starts making provocative, even accusatory statements. However, so far, we have not seen any of these customary Armenian statements. All the same, it is hard for us to fully believe the Armenians.”
Armenian President Sargsyan expressed cautious optimism. Speaking on television, he said: “I saw, in the President of Azerbaijan, a desire to solve the problem, but that isn’t enough. We have the same desire. I personally want this problem to be resolved in as short a timescale as possible. However, the issue is the terms on which the Azerbaijani President wants to solve the problem, and the terms on which I wish to do so.” Speaking at the EU Eastern Partnership meeting in Vilnius, he went on to say: “It is still early to talk about results, since the fact that the meeting took place itself is a positive occurrence. A successful outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh talks is dependent on how people will be prepared for peace, and the easing of tensions on the ‘contact line’.” The meeting was applauded by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who commended the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for their efforts in facilitating the resumption of toplevel meetings. She said: “The Presidents’ agreement to advance negotiations and meet again in the months ahead is encouraging.” Baroness Ashton went on to
Armenian use of landmines condemned in Geneva
The use of landmines by the Armenian forces in the occupied regions has been condemned during a meeting of the States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Geneva. Hafiz Safikhanov, Director, Azerbaijani Campaign to Ban Landmines, represented Azerbaijan at the conference. This focused on the problem
stress her readiness to engage in renewed efforts towards political settlement of the conflict and further contribute towards peace-building efforts, thereby supporting and complementing the work of the OSCE Minsk Group. Her views were reiterated by David Lidington, UK Minister for Europe, who said: “This meeting, facilitated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and the first since January 2012, marks a positive step towards restarting regular and substantive discussions between leaders. We encourage both Presidents to build on the Vienna meeting and work actively towards a peaceful and long-lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” The US also commented on the development. Jen Psaki, Spokesperson, US State Department, said: “We commend the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for this first step, and are encouraged they have agreed to a follow-up meeting in the months ahead.” According to Psaki, as their first meeting in almost two years, this summit marks an important step towards restarting dialogue, demonstrating the leaders’ shared commitment to bring an end to the conflict. Eric Rubin, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, stated: “We welcome the courage and wisdom of the heads of state. We also welcome the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and believe that these talks are important in resolving the conflict.”
of anti-personnel mines, and the nonproliferation of such mines amongst the Convention signatories.
international campaign. He commented: “This fact was also condemned in the message of the UN Secretary General.”
Mr Safikhanov claimed that, due to his organisation’s efforts, the use of mines in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region had been included in the report of the
During his address to the plenary session, Hafiz Safikhanov spoke about the work being undertaken in Azerbaijan regarding the non-proliferation of mines.
Assembled Foreign Ministers and Heads of Delegation during the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, including Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister (front row, far right) next to Edward Nalbandian, his Armenian counterpart (Photo: OSCE/Sergey Gladkevich)
Foreign Ministers maintain momentum in Kiev
During the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Kiev, the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries (Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister; Thierry Repentin, French Minister for European Affairs; and Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs), Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister and Edward Nalbandian, his Armenian counterpart, pledged to continue working together to achieve a
peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Heads of Delegation welcomed the recent resumption of high-level dialogue between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents. The Foreign Ministers agreed to meet again in early 2014 under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
Romania stipulates need for Armenian withdrawal Titus Corlatean, Romanian Foreign Minister, has called for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian military forces from NagornoKarabakh and the seven surrounding districts. He wrote: “The South Caucasus is a strategically important region, neighbouring the EU, which is challenged with a security deficit that cannot be ignored. At the same time, it is also a region with many promising prospects. It has a growing economic potential, especially regarding the diversification of energy supplies and the development of transport trade routes. “The consequences of these so-called ‘frozen’ conflicts are as comprehensive as the responses they are claiming. Unfortunately, issues critical to everyday life for the population in the affected areas, including Nagorno-Karabakh, became hostages to political approaches. The only thing that froze with them was political dialogue. “With regard to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan concerning NagornoKarabakh, we support the peaceful and
negotiated settlement of the conflict, in full observation of the principles and norms of international law, respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as of all the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and OSCE decisions. The observance of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is a key issue that should be taken into account in all political and diplomatic moves regarding settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “Given the peculiarities of the regional process, the OSCE Minsk Group has earned itself the status of an indispensable body in helping find a politically negotiated solution to this conflict. This does not rule out, however, a positive input on behalf of the EU with regard to its Eastern Neighbourhood, particularly as far as confidence-building is concerned.” “In its resolutions, the UN Security Council has repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a position that we fully support as a member state of the EU, situated in
(left) David Lidington MP, UK Minister for Europe, stands alongside Titus Corlatean, Romanian Foreign Minister (Photo: UK in Romania)
direct proximity of the EU Eastern border and with a vested interest in seeing our neighbourhood become prosperous, secure, stabilised and at peace. We therefore call for a withdrawal of the military forces of Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts.”
Albanian government recognises territorial integrity
Ditmir Bushati, Albanian Foreign Affairs Minister, has strongly condemned the ongoing Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory. He said: “The Albanian government recognises Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, backs the peaceful settlement of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh within international law, and Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, and calls on Armenia to withdraw its armed forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Albania shares the position of the international community that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan. This is a position based on international law and, as such, we subscribe to it in full.”
Hendry: UK remains the biggest investor
Speaking at a press conference in Baku, Charles Hendry MP, Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, commented on the continuing strength of trade and investment relations between Azerbaijan and the UK, which is responsible for over half of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the oil and gas sector. He recognised: “Even in the non-oil and gas sector, the UK is the biggest source of investment into Azerbaijan.” Mr Hendry predicted that the decision by the Shah Deniz Consortium to opt for the TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP) to convey Azerbaijani gas from the European border of Turkey to Europe would provide great opportunities Charles Hendry MP outlined the ongoing and expanding trade relations between the UK and Azerbaijan (Photo: British for new investment from the UK and other Embassy in Baku) countries into Azerbaijan. He said: “We support companies looking and the UK remains well-developed, and there are many other to make those decisions that will be milestones in the contacts areas in which co-operation could also be strengthened. The UK is between the two countries. We want to see many other companies interested in investing in those areas that the government considers also coming to Azerbaijan.” to be the priorities of Azerbaijan.” The landmark Baku White City project, when complete, will constitute a new modern centre for During his visit, Mr Hendry visited the Baku White City project, Baku. The architectural partners in the project are the UK-based during which he said: “Economic co-operation between Azerbaijan Atkins and Foster + Partners, and US-based F+A Architects.
Azerbaijan Day held at the EBRD
The London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has hosted Azerbaijan Day. Organised by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Economy and Industry and the EBRD, the event was supported by the Azerbaijani Embassy to the UK and TEAS. Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister for Economic Development, commented: “The Azerbaijani government is particularly interested in diversifying its economy to achieve sustainable growth. To date, the EBRD has collaborated with the country for over 20 years on 136 projects worth some $2.2bn (£1.3bn). We are now focusing on the private sector, and completing the transition towards a market economy. There is vast international interest in the country. Within a decade, the economy has grown by 19 per cent and poverty has dropped from 50 per cent to 5 per cent. Azerbaijan’s drive towards a diversified economy has yielded positive results – the country recently achieved 39th position in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and was the top reformer country for five years. “Azerbaijan will play an essential role in ensuring future energy security, and the signing of the agreements behind the construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), bringing gas from the Shah Deniz II field, will make the country even more relevant to Europe. Furthermore, the Baku– Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) railway will reinforce Azerbaijan’s role as a freight hub. “More than 2000 Azerbaijani students are studying in the UK, with the support of the Azerbaijani government. They are the entrepreneurs of the future, and this policy will yield long-term benefits.” Rufat Mammadov, Head, Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), commented: “Azerbaijan has been on a long and impressive road to develop a stable market economy based on the private sector. This stability is partially due to the non-oil sector, which accounts for 52 per cent of the
economy, as indicated in reports from such international agencies as Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s. Azerbaijan currently trades with 155 countries. Its business registration systems have been radically reformed, and the government has sought to develop a liberal investment climate for foreign investors. Current large-scale projects benefiting from tax holidays and other incentives are the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park and the Baku Waste-to-Energy Plant.” Dr Kamran Aliyev, Director, Anticorruption Department of the Prosecutor-General, Azerbaijani Prosecutor’s Office, gave a fascinating outline of the recent measures that have been implemented to combat corruption in the country. He explained: “This is a social and legal phenomenon. The anti-corruption laws that are now being introduced are aligned with international conventions against organised crime. Corruption must be combated in the public and private sector. Last year, there were 200 civil cases of corruption, half of which were in the private sector. Attempts are particularly being made to reduce corruption in public governance. There is a strong political will to fight corruption, and this will have a positive impact on the private sector.” Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President, EBRD, praised the strengthening of Azerbaijan’s economy over the past decade, and concluded: “Today’s event has stressed the importance of economic diversification in Azerbaijan. The EBRD has a new country strategy for 2014, and aims for improvements in transparency and corporate governance. The establishment of the anticorruption office shows that the country is responding to the challenge, and the EBRD will support them in this endeavour. The EBRD is also supporting the Azerbaijani government in the development of small- and mediumsized enterprises across a range of sectors.” Other presentations were delivered by Rovshan Najaf, Executive Director, Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC); Rossen Papazov, Director-General, Holcim-Azerbaijan and David Loh, General Manager, Baku Shipyard Company.
Rovnag Abdullayev, President, SOCAR (third from left) sits alongside Taner Yildiz, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister (Photo: HASAN)
Gas exports to reach 50bcm by 2025
Speaking at the Caspian Forum in Istanbul, Rovnag Abdullayev, President, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) estimated that the gas exports could reach 40–50bn m 3 (bcm) by 2025. He explained that the construction of pipelines to bring Caspian gas from the Shah Deniz II field to Italy should be considered as the first stage of exports to Europe. He continued: “Azerbaijan’s gas export potential may boost implementation of projects such as Absheron, Umid and the deepwater gas from the Azeri–Chirag–Guneshli oil fields.”
Greece ratifies TAP hosting agreement The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) cleared an important hurdle when the Greek Parliament ratified a host agreement to permit access via its territory. This move was of great strategic importance for the pipeline, keeping the project on track to begin construction in 2015.
The decision by the Greek government was more about economic development rather than achieving European energy security. The Greek economic crisis is still having an impact, and TAP promises
Speaking at the same forum, Hayati Yazici, Turkish Customs and Trade Minister, stated that the Caspian Sea region remains very attractive for investments. He explained that both Azerbaijan and Turkey are working together to strengthen economic ties and increase mutual trade, which should guarantee the maintenance of peace, stability and economic growth across the region. Shahmar Movsumov, Executive Director, State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOFAZ) explained that Fund coffers had expanded from $270m (£164.9m) to $35bn (£21.4bn) since 1999.
to bring billions of Euros from transit fees into the Greek economy. In March 2013, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras commented: “This is the largest project undertaken in southern Europe… it will bring foreign investment of more than €1.5bn (£1.3bn) to Greece.” TAP still needs approval from the government of Italy, to which it submitted an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in September 2013. Construction is scheduled for 2015, and the 4000km pipeline will make its first deliveries to Turkey in 2018 and to the rest of Europe in 2019.
World Bank to hold high-level forum in Baku The World Bank has announced plans to hold its third High-Level Economic Policy Forum in Baku during Autumn 2014. Larisa Leshchenko, Head, World Bank Baku office, commented: “The forum will
probably be held in Autumn next year. The exact programme has not been approved yet, but issues related to the diversification of Azerbaijan’s economy, the search for a new model of economic growth,
the development of human factors, and institutional development, will probably be discussed.” Ms Leshchenko said that top management from the World Bank is expected to participate in the forum.
4m tonnes of Kazakh oil to be transported in 2014
In an article, Ramiz Rzayev, Head, Investment Department, Azerbaijani Energy Ministry, announced plans to transport 4m tonnes of Kazakh oil through Azerbaijani territory in 2014. He went on to explain that, since 2005, over 230m tonnes of oil has been transported via the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, and around 225m tons of Azerbaijani oil has passed through the port of Ceyhan. The article goes on to explain that the oil pipeline has also played an important role in transporting oil from other Caspian Sea countries, with around 8.6m tonnes of Turkmen oil being transported through the pipeline. Mr Rzayev continued: “The interest of Kazakh and Russian companies in using this pipeline is increasing, and this has been made evident by the decision to transport around 4m tonnes of Kazakh oil through Azerbaijan during 2014.”
$475m to be invested in Turkish refinery
SOFAZ has announced its investment of $475m (£289.9m) to help finance construction of the new Star oil refinery in western Turkey. It has also said that it will provide another $300m (£183m) next year for the $5bn (£3bn) refinery project, which is scheduled to start production in mid-2017 with an annual crude oil processing capacity of 10m tonnes.
SOCAR is currently building the Star refinery in partnership with Turcas Petrol to supply the Turkish petrochemical company Petkim, thereby reducing Turkish dependence on imported refined products. Earlier this year, SOCAR said it would also borrow about $3bn (£1.8bn) on the international markets to finance the project.