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HISTORIC VISIT TO BAKU BY FRENCH PRESIDENT HOLLANDE Also in this issue: Azerbaijan chairs Council of Europe Committee of Ministers 20 years since the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire James Warlick’s six keys to peace New terminal for Heydar Aliyev International Airport Ed Kashi explores IDPs’ unresolved dreams www.teas.eu

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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.

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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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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: membership@teas.eu.

Win £100 of Amazon vouchers!

Congratulations to Lala Aliyeva, Enquiries and Admissions Unit, University of South Wales, who won the April 2014 competition! To stand a chance of winning £100 of Amazon vouchers, simply answer the following 10 questions, the answers to which will be found in this issue of the TEAS Magazine. In the case of a tie, a draw will be made. Previous winners are ineligible to enter, as are TEAS employees and their families. Please send all entries to editor@teas.eu by 9 June: 1. During which months will Azerbaijan chair the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers? 2. What type of cars race in the City Challenge Baku? 3. When will the European Games take place? 4. How many tonnes of aid have been supplied by Azerbaijan to help Afghan flood victims? 5. When did Yvonne Botto emigrate from France to Azerbaijan? 6. How many hectares does Baku Shipyard cover? 7. When were the Molokans forced to flee Russia? 8. Whose work is showcased in the Azerbaijan – Land of Tolerance exhibition? 9. Approximately how many photos and video clips did Ed Kashi take in Azerbaijani IDP camps? 10. How many years have passed since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict ceasefire?

Upcoming Events For full details of all TEAS events, go to www.teas.eu/upcoming-events 6–29 June Exhibition: Five Roads Back Home (Istanbul) Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Centre, Mimar Sinan University, Boğazkesen Caddesi Defterdar Yokuşu 2, Tophane, Beyoğlu, Istanbul 10.00–1800hrs. Admission free. This outstanding TEAS-organised exhibition in the 14th Century Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Centre will feature the faces of some of the estimated 875,000 Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs, captured by the renowned German photographer Philipp Rathmer. All those portrayed are the ongoing victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The 50 photographs were taken in Azerbaijan during the same week of July 2012, in the IDP camps of Takhtakorpu and Guzanli, near the Armenian border, and Darnagul and Gizilgum, located north of Baku.

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Politics and News

Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS

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Azerbaijan has outlined its priorities for the next six months (Photo: CoE)

From the TEAS Director Azerbaijan chairs CoE Committee of Ministers Azerbaijan takes over the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers at a crucial time. The crisis in Ukraine has shaken nerves throughout Europe, and even the attention of the US has been dragged away from its Asian Pacific pivot. At no time during the past two decades has Azerbaijan’s emphasis on territorial integrity been more relevant, and the issue of European energy security is now shooting up the political priority list.

Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, has outlined the priorities of Azerbaijan during its inaugural period as chair of the Committee of Ministers at the Council of Europe. The comments were made in Vienna during a meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers from the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. Azerbaijan will retain the chair from May–November 2014.

French President François Hollande also made an official visit to Baku. Focusing on the expansion of political and business relations, he acknowledged the development of the country, its geostrategic role and the opportunities for French companies – both in and out of the hydrocarbons sector.

James Warlick’s spelling out of six factors that will dictate peace terms in resolution of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over NagornoKarabakh and the seven surrounding districts has certainly helped concentrate minds. It is possible that peace talks are entering a more dynamic phase as we mark the 20th anniversary of a ceasefire that is broken on a daily basis. Even as NATO troops continue their drawdown and withdrawal from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan is quietly increasing its nonmilitary assistance. In response to the recent earthquake in the country, 122 tonnes of emergency aid were despatched. As the new British-designed and built terminal opens at Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Baku starts to gear itself up for the 2015 European Games. Eurovision was a dressrehearsal for the logistical challenges that will be posed by hosting this massive event. In this issue we feature the work of the award-winning photojournalist Ed Kashi. His unerring eye has picked out the details that define the lives of refugees and IDPs, and his compassion shines through in these extraordinary photographs. Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS

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According to the Council of Europe website, priorities will include: • •

strengthening the rule of law through enhanced co-operation in combating corruption consolidating culturally diverse societies, based on mutual respect and understanding ensuring social cohesion and social sustainability by promoting the human rights of vulnerable groups youth education in human rights and democratic citizenship – nurturing a generation of educated and responsible youth, ensuring their access to rights.

To complement this, several conferences will be held in Baku, including a conference on combating corruption (30 June–1 July), Council of Europe Annual Exchange on the Religious Dimension of Intercultural Dialogue (1–2 September), Regional Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of European Higher Education (October) and a conference on the Council of Europe Neighbourhood Policy (18–19 September). For full details, go to http://bit.ly/bakucofe.

F1 Grand Prix fires up in Azerbaijan

Bernie Ecclestone, Chief Executive, Formula 1, has revealed that Azerbaijan is to replace Korea on the F1 calendar. According to a report in Motor Sport magazine, it is anticipated that a city street race in Baku during 2015 will be announced later this month. Earlier this week, Mr Ecclestone indicated that Baku would take the place on the calendar formerly occupied by South Korea. Speaking to Christian Sylt, F1 business journalist, The Independent, Mr Ecclestone said: “Baku has been signed. It will start in 2015 and will replace Korea.They (Korea) did a good job with the track, but they forgot to build all the things they wanted to construct.” According to Mr Sylt, the Azerbaijani deal was brokered by Flavio Briatore, the ousted former Renault boss and close friend of Mr Ecclestone. A source stated: “Briatore put the idea in the mind of the President of the country and that got things going.” During the past two years, the City Challenge Baku has been held for GT3 cars, which have raced on a 4.4km street circuit, attracting crowds of 50,000 fans. Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijani Minister of Youth and Sports, commented: “We have signed the deal with Bernie Ecclestone and will soon announce this officially with an event in Baku.”

122 tonnes of aid for Afghanistan

Azerbaijan has airlifted 122 tonnes of humanitarian aid to flood victims in Afghanistan. According to Major-General Ilham Abdullayev, Commander, Civil Defence Forces, the aid comprised such foodstuffs as vegetable oil, macaroni, sugar and rice, in addition to blankets, clothes and other items. The floods on 2 May in Badakhshan province claimed the lives of 2000 people, with hundreds more being injured and becoming homeless.

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04

Politics and News

The stunning new terminal in Baku

Heydar Aliyev International Airport gets new terminal On 23 April, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev opened the new terminal at Heydar Aliyev International Airport, accompanied by Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady, and other family members. Information about the new terminal was outlined by Jahangir Asgarov, President, Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL).

President Aliyev said: “The opening of a new terminal is a great event. This grand building evidences the development of our country and the power of Azerbaijan. This airport is one of the most beautiful airports in the world, a unique architectural work featuring interior design that is pleasing to the eye. All work is of high quality and indicates great taste. This is the airgate of the country, demonstrates the development of modern Azerbaijan, and serves to beautify Baku. “The airport features a very comfortable lounge area, public

President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehiban Aliyeva tour the state-of-the-art facilities

spaces and large halls. From the top, this building resembles a large bird with open wings. Similarly, today Azerbaijan is developing with wide-open wings, moving forward, and is ranked first in the world in terms of economic development. The creation of such grandiose buildings and transport infrastructure is our state policy. “Air transport development ranks amongst the priority issues in Azerbaijan and receives state support. It would suffice it to say that this airport will serve 6m passengers a year. Built 15 years ago and recently overhauled, the old airport building can receive 3m passengers. Altogether, 9m passengers will now be able to use the airport per year. “New airports are being built in other Azerbaijani cities and seven airports have been constructed over the past decade, five of which have international status. The airports in Baku, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Lankaran, Gabala, Zagatala and Yevlakh have been built and commissioned. All planes are new and meet the highest standards. Today, the AZAL fleet comprises Airbus, Boeing and Embraer aircraft. The fleet now contains 25 aircraft, and the process continues – in the near future we plan to purchase the largest passenger aircraft. Even the world’s biggest aircraft – the Airbus A380 – can land and be serviced here. The Heydar Aliyev International Airport is one of the best airports in the world in terms of beauty, design, amenities, and services. The Azerbaijani government will continue to support air transport development.” President Aliyev went on to comment on Azerbaijan’s burgeoning role as a hub for air cargo. He commented: “We will make the most of our geographical position and transform Azerbaijan into a regional transport centre. This work is progressing well. This increases the value of our country, and strengthens our economic potential. I believe that, by taking additional measures in this direction, we will further expand our capabilities.”

Azerbaijan and the UK boost civil society development

The Azerbaijani government has unveiled proposals to host reciprocal study visits between representatives from Azerbaijani and British civil society. The initiative was proposed during a meeting between Azay Guliyev MP, Chairman, Council on State Support to NGOs under the auspices of the Azerbaijani President and H.E. Irfan

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Siddiq, UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan. Mr Guliyev explained that the Council has financed more than 2,500 NGOs, to date. He also stated that the Council provides organisational and technical support to civil society organisations. Mr Guliyev noted that the Law on Voluntary

Activity and the Law on Public Participation have been adopted in Azerbaijan at the council’s initiative and these serve as a legal framework for the formation of civil society. He also recognised that the UK already has extensive experience in civil society building and that Azerbaijani NGOs could benefit from this experience.

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Politics and News

05

French President Hollande makes landmark visit to Baku

French President François Hollande undertook an official visit to Azerbaijan from 11–13 May, as part of a South Caucasus tour that also took in Armenia and Georgia. Following the official welcoming ceremony, the French President recognised: “Azerbaijan has been showing confidence in France for many years. France is well aware of Azerbaijan’s extensive development. This visit is not just a courtesy visit, and goes beyond the relations between senior officials and two presidents. This visit should produce results and contribute towards increasing our economic exchanges and investment.” Speaking to the French community later in his visit, he went on to acknowledge that Baku is the biggest, most populous city in the Caucasus, and has been experiencing great change. He said: “Baku will soon take its place amongst the most prestigious great cities of the world. France would like to be close to Azerbaijan, and to support it in the implementation of its projects. In short, France is ready to provide its support for Baku and other Azerbaijani cities to become models in all sectors of sustainable development. This is the biggest goal in the relations between our countries.” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev commented during the opening of the Azerbaijani–French Business Forum: “French–Azerbaijani relations are playing a very important role in the development of EU–Azerbaijani relations, as France is a leading European country and plays a special role in the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the EU.” During the Forum, 11 documents were signed between the countries, worth $2–2.5bn (£1.2–1.5bn). President Aliyev remarked: “As for the economic sector, I am very glad that Azerbaijan is the premiere trading partner of France in the South Caucasus, and our turnover is now approaching $2bn (£1.2bn). Due to the agreements reached and the contracts to be signed, this figure will further increase. More than 50 French companies operate in Azerbaijan as investors and contractors, and I believe this will develop in the coming years. We invite French companies to invest in Azerbaijan and participate in our projects as contractors. So far, French companies have been actively involved in several very important projects for our country, demonstrating high professionalism, and the projects they have completed serve to diversify the Azerbaijani economy.” He continued: “In the coming years, our main priority will be development of the non-oil sector. The experience of French companies and their contribution are very important to us. I know that there are plans to sign new contracts in the transportation sphere, and French world-class experience in this sector is renowned. Another priority is the development of information and communications technology (ICT). We are currently co-operating in this area and will continue to do so in the future. “Azerbaijan is currently engaged in development of the space industry. Last year, Azerspace–1, the first Azerbaijani satellite, was put into orbit, and this was made possible by the French Arianespace company. France is likely to become Azerbaijan’s number one partner in this field.” He also acknowledged the role of French companies in the agricultural and tourism sectors, and invited further participation in energy projects. A far-reaching joint statement was signed between the two Presidents, covering co-operation across scientific, agricultural, transportation, energy, family and higher education areas.

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French President François Hollande and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a joint statement at the Azerbaijani–French Business Forum

President Hollande went on to visit the newly-constructed French Lyceum in Baku, where he commented: “You are receiving me in one of the corners of France in Azerbaijan.” He explained that the Lyceum would admit French youths and those from overseas, including Azerbaijanis, holding over 350 students. President Hollande also met leaders of the Azerbaijani political opposition, and representatives from civil society and media. Following his visit to Azerbaijan, President Hollande moved to neighbouring Armenia, where he acknowledged its close ties with Russia. During his meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, he called for the development of an “exceptional formula” to facilitate links between Armenia and the EU due to its “aspirations, values and interest”, but said it should not be forced to withdraw from the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union because of its “special” geographic and political situation. The discussions also covered Armenian support for the de-facto attachment of Crimea to Russia, which has been condemned by the West. President Hollande refrained from direct criticism of his statement, simply saying that France is “attached to a principal in international law – respect for territorial integrity.” He also urged Armenia to accept “messages of appeasement”, making reference to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s expression of condolences to the “grandchildren of Armenians killed in 1915.” On a humanitarian level, one of the highlights of the Caucasus trip was a meeting between President Hollande and 86-year-old Yvonne Botto, a French emigrant who came to live in Azerbaijan in 1947. Remaining in the country for the sake of her son, TEAS and the French Embassy in Baku collaborated to facilitate a visit by Yvonne to her homeland after an amazing 64 years in 2011. President Hollande himself recounted her story, making reference to “the great story of Yvonne Botto” in a speech soon after his arrival in Baku.

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06

Politics and News

British Embassy opens Visa Application Centre

The Visa Application Centre of the British Embassy in Azerbaijan has been formally opened by H.E. Irfan Siddiq, UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan. The Ambassador explained that the initiative was undertaken to expedite the processing of visas to the UK for Azerbaijani citizens. He explained that some misinformation had been spread in the media: “Some people say that the Embassy is closed, that they cannot obtain a visa, and that travel to another country is now necessary. However, this is untrue – the visa procedure remains unchanged. Instead of coming to the Embassy, applicants should now come to the office, where the documents can be submitted. This office will be able to accept more applications than was previously the case with the Embassy. The new centre was established to render better quality service to Azerbaijani citizens.” Ambassador Siddiq explained that the UK government has the objective of rendering services expeditiously to Azerbaijani citizens and that the new Visa Application Centre should be able to offer improved customer service.

Ambassador Siddiq explains the reasoning behind the opening of the new Visa Application Centre (Photo: gun.az)

Ambassador Siddiq explained that a visa would be issued within 15 working days. He said: “We want more people from Azerbaijan to travel to the UK. Nothing has changed – visas will be issued expeditiously, and this constitutes a major step towards strengthening the relations between peoples.” The address of the UK Visa Application Centre is 3rd Floor, Demirchi Tower, 37 Khojaly Street, Khatai District, Baku.

European Games will be ‘significant and memorable’ The inaugural European Games, to be held in Baku in 2015, will be ‘significant and memorable’, commented Gianni Merlo, President, International Sports Press Association, during a Congress of the organisation in Baku on 28 April. Mr Merlo thanked Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani Ministry of Youth and Sports for organising the event. He commented: “Holding such events is important for the life of the country.”

He was followed by Thomas Bach, President, International Olympic Committee, who explained the significance of the event. He commented: “This Congress will be fruitful in terms of decision-making.” Altogether, more than 250 delegations and observers from 110 countries participated in the event. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev explained that Azerbaijan has achieved a great deal during its 22 years of independence, saying: “Much has been done during this period to develop sport

NEWS FROM BRUSSELS

On 28 April, Europeans followed the inaugural televised debate between presidential candidates to the European Commission. Four candidates – Martin Schulz (S&D), Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), Ska Keller (Greens) – debated the European Union’s future, economy and foreign policy, including the latest events around Ukraine. Socialist candidate Martin Schulz called for diplomatic solutions to improve the EU’s relations with Russia. He believed that the EU had to increase financial support to Ukraine and help its government with the implementation of comprehensive reforms.

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and support the Olympic movement. Numerous international events have been hosted in Azerbaijan, including European and World Championships. Our athletes achieved good results in the international arena.”

He continued: “We participated in the Summer Olympic Games in 1996 and achieved only one medal. During the most recent edition in London, we achieved 10 medals, two of which were gold. This ranked us in 30th position amongst 200 nations. This reflects Azerbaijani sports development, and the attitude of the state and public institutions towards this.” President Aliyev explained that considerable investments were being undertaken to develop sports infrastructure, and that 40 Olympic centres were under construction around the country. When commenting on the hosting of the inaugural European Games, he said: “This is a great responsibility and a big challenge, yet is simultaneously an important opportunity for us to present our country. We plan to organise this at the level of the Summer Olympic Games.”

e-mail: brussels@teas.eu Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker condemned Russian behaviour in Ukraine and supported further sanctions. Nevertheless, he also warned against escalating the situation. Another candidate, Liberal Guy Verhofstadt, supported the development of a genuine common European defence policy, whilst the Green Ska Keller warned against using Cold War rhetoric in the context of the Ukraine crisis, going on to call for a peaceful solution. If the 28 Member States cannot find an agreement on debating candidates, there is a possibility that the European Council might propose another candidate. Two key

players in the EU – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande – have clearly been leaving doors open for such a solution. Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen (EPP-affiliated), Christine Lagarde (EPPaffiliated), Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S&D-affiliated) are frequently mentioned as potential compromise candidates. Following its excellent co-operation with the previous European Commission, TEAS will continue to help strengthening relations between the EU and Azerbaijan, promoting mutual dialogue in all relevant spheres.

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Business News

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French Alstom signs €150m locomotive supply contract

Alstom International is to supply 50 KZ8A freight locomotives to Azerbaijani Railways, following the signing of a €150m (£122.3m) contract in Baku during the Azerbaijani–French business forum in the presence of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and French President François Hollande. The locomotives will be assembled between 2016 and 2018, and the contract has a total value of €300m (£244.7m), of which Alstom’s share accounts for half. The contract also includes the construction of a depot, technical assistance and maintenance, in addition to personnel training. These are subject to negotiation within the next six months.

Alstom went on to sign a Memorandum of Mutual Co-operation with the Baku Metro to develop modern metro cars for new lines and to gradually replace the existing Baku metro fleet. A final

A KZ8A locomotive recently supplied to Kazakh Railways (Photo: Alstom Transport – CAPA Pictures – F. Clement )

agreement will be ratified by July. Alstom, headquartered in Levallois-Perret, is a global manufacturer of equipment for electricity generation and railway

$1.8bn Shah Deniz contract awarded

The BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium has awarded an offshore transport and construction contract worth $1.8bn (£1.1bn) on the Shah Deniz II project to the Saipem, Bos Shelf, and Star Gulf consortium. Gordon Birrell, President, Azerbaijan–Georgia–Turkey region, BP, commented: “This is a huge contract award and it marks a major milestone for this historic project.” The contract relates to offshore transport and installation of jackets and topside units, subsea production systems, subsea structures, and includes the laying of over 360km (225 miles) of subsea pipelines, diving support services, and the upgrading of three

installation vessels. The work will be completed by the end of 2017, and follows the awarding of another $750m (£444.7m) contract to the same three companies by the Shah Deniz Consortium in early April. In December, the Shah Deniz Consortium signed a $974m (£577.5m) contract with a consortium including Turkish construction firm Tekfen Insaat to build two offshore platforms for the project. Earlier this year, it also awarded construction and engineering contracts worth $841m (£498.6m) and a $394m (£233.6m) contract for the supply of subsea production systems.

Baku Shipyard receives $378m contract

Baku Shipyard has secured a contract worth $378m (£224m) from BP Exploration (Shah Deniz) Ltd to design and build a subsea construction vessel. This will be used to realise subsea structures during 2017–27. The 5000-tonne vessel will incorporate dynamic positioning to permit work in 2.5m-high waves, a 750-tonne main crane extending to 600m, an 18-man twobell diving system, two work-class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and a moonpool.

President Aliyev discusses the new Baku Shipyard with Rovnag Abdullayev, Chief Executive, SOCAR, during the opening ceremony in late 2013

The subsea vessel will be designed by Marine Technology Development, the

SOCAR to acquire Total’s Shah Deniz shares The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) has expressed an interest in acquiring the shares held by Total in the Shah Deniz II project.

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infrastructure. The company operates in the markets of around 100 countries, and has been active in the Azerbaijani market for over 20 years.

The comments were made Suleyman Gasimov, Vice-President for Economic Affairs, SOCAR. Total has not yet officially confirmed its intention to sell its shares.

ship design and development division of Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M). It is expected that this will be launched in April 2017. The recently-opened 62ha. shipyard is able to construct a wide range of specialised vessels and merchant ships, including subsea vessels, anchor handling tug/ supply vessels and multi-purpose offshore support craft, such as platform supply ships, in addition to tankers and cargo vessels. The yard also incorporates ship repair and conversion capabilities.

If they become available, the Shah Deniz Consortium participants, including SOCAR, have the priority right to purchase the shares.

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08

Personalities – Suad Garayeva Art at the Crossroads – a

conversation with Suad Garayeva

Sotheby’s is one of the foremost auction houses, headquartered in London, with branches located across the world. Last year, it organised a groundbreaking exhibition – At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia – its first selling exhibition of contemporary art from Central Asia and the Caucasus. Comprising 50 pieces, artists were drawn from many of the region’s republics – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Following this success, Sotheby’s went on to organise a second edition of 59 works with a wider scope – At the Crossroads 2: Contemporary Art from Istanbul to Kabul – including Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey. The curator for both Sotheby’s exhibitions was Suad Garayeva, Specialist, Contemporary Art: CIS, Sotheby’s, and TEAS spoke to her at the press call: How was the original At the Crossroads exhibition received last year? The first exhibition was held in March 2013, and proved to be very well-received and commercially successful. It became evident that there was great potential for future growth of this market. The exhibition received excellent critical reviews from art specialists and the media, and sales exceeded the value of $1m. This edition includes Iran and Turkey, both of which have had a significant cultural impact on the region, as a whole. The inclusion of Afghanistan is particularly exciting. To what extent do art experts already know those artists? Some are very well-known, and most are known to some extent on a local level, although they may not have so much of a reputation in the west. Several have been exhibited internationally and participated in biennales. I believe we have established a balance between young, emerging and established artists. What are the aims and objectives of the At the Crossroads 2 exhibition? Its purpose is to continue introducing art from across the region to the London market. We need to continue the process of market consolidation, and hopefully it will become stronger in itself. A new collector base is emerging out of these economies, and this is booming at the moment. Of course, art is also an investment – and we are seeing interest from local and international collectors, both representing institutional and private galleries. Paintings from the region have been acquired by some of the top collections in the world, to date. What do you feel makes this region particularly interesting for collectors of contemporary art? Many collectors regard the region as being quite exotic – and they have already seen some of the artists exhibited at international art events. In fact, the art world is becoming increasingly international. Also the quality of the art is very strong, and there are some world-class pieces available here.

Suad Garayeva at the opening of the At the Crossroads exhibition

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How did you select the artists whose work is included in the exhibition? I travelled around the region, and made a very careful selection of works, as the art needs to be the best representative of what is happening locally in these geographies. We also need to take into account the tastes of western collectors – some pieces that would be well-received by local collectors would not be

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Personalities – Suad Garayeva

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and metal to create shadows, so they are complete opposites with regard to approach and technique. Does Azerbaijani contemporary art contain any uniquely national themes that set it apart from that emanating from other countries? Other than Faig Ahmed, who takes deconstruction of the Azerbaijani carpet as his point of departure, this is not really the case. The older artists, such as Toghrul Narimanbeyov and Tofiq Javadov, painting the Bazaar in Sheki and Portrait of an Oil Worker, presented very traditional themes. However, the works of Aidan Salahova, for example, are completely international.

Toghrul Narimanbeyov’s bustling Bazaar in Sheki (1987) dominated a main exhibition room at Sotheby’s

widely appreciated further afield. I would describe the selection being made using local expertise, but with an international outlook. Sotheby’s has an excellent team of international experts to provide advice. Do you select the artworks and submit them to a panel, prior to inclusion in the exhibition? At Sotheby’s, we work closely as a team when selecting works. For this exhibition, I collaborated with Elif Bayoglu, our specialist in Modern Turkish, Arab and Iranian art. ‘Severe style’ pioneer Tahir Salahov’s evocation of the sunbleached buildings in the Spanish city of Granada (c.1970)

Rendevous (1983) by Javad Mirjavadov encapsulates his rebellion against Socialist Realist convention

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The Azerbaijani contingent of 10 artists is particularly strong – Tahir Salahov, Mirnadir Zeynalov, Aida Mahmudova, Tofiq Javadov, Aidan Salahova, Toghrul Narimanbeyov, Javad Mirjavadov, Faig Ahmed, Rashad Alakbarov and Rauf Mamedov. How would you describe their artworks – is there any connection, or they very individual? Some of them have a shared background, as they come from the same artistic school – the Absheron School of Colourists – that gave rise to such artists as Tofiq Javadov, Javad Mirjavadov and Toghrul Narimanbeyov. However, the latter has a unique, very idiosyncratic style. Tahir Salahov, one of the pioneers of the ‘severe’ style, is more redolent of the Soviet Socialist-Realist aesthetic, as is Mirnadir Zeynalov. However, despite there being some dialogue, the more contemporary artists have a disparate approach. For example, Aida Mahmudova paints large-scale works in acrylics, whereas Rashad Alakbarov produces installations with concrete

Are there any issues about exhibiting Azerbaijani and Armenian artists alongside each other? Is this a conscious attempt to bring the communities together in a small way? We try to distance ourselves from these political aspects. The show covers the entire region, and excluding one country would be unfair. We are on neutral ground in London. There are sometimes big issues connected to politics and art, but many artists share the same frustrations when it comes to conflicts. Viewing these artworks together results in interesting dialogue, and this is important.

Rashad Alakbarov’s ingenious Shabaka (2011) combines a metal structure with a spotlight to create a magical effect (Photos: Sotheby’s)

What do you feel can be done to provide further opportunities for Azerbaijani contemporary artists to have their work exhibited and sold on an international level? In recent times, there have been many more opportunities for Azerbaijani art to be seen internationally, particularly due to the work of organisations such as the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and YARAT, as well as galleries such as the Yay Gallery and Gazelli Art House, which show young Azerbaijani and international artists. This is a very exciting time for artists from the countries covered in this exhibition. To see all the artworks in the At the Crossroads 2 exhibition, go to http://bit.ly/ atthecrossroads2. Sponsor: Pasha Bank.

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10

Culture

Stark images of Azerbaijani IDPs come to Istanbul

The faces of 50 internally displaced persons (IDPs) – the ongoing victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – will be exhibited at the historic 14th Century Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Centre (Mimar Sinan University) in Central Istanbul from 6–29 June, during an event organised by TEAS Turkey.

The renowned German photographer Philipp Rathmer took the portraits during the same week of July 2012 in the IDP camps of Takhtakorpu and Guzanli, near the Armenian border, and Darnagul and Gizilgum, located north of Baku. The exhibition was previously presented in Berlin and Paris. During the opening of the exhibition in Paris, Philipp Rathmer explained his approach to the subjects: “I photographed the people on a black background in order to highlight their faces, and only their faces, which all tell a story. Their faces show the pain and suffering, but also capture their hope of returning home one day, using one of the five roads that lead to the occupied districts – one of the Five Roads Back Home.” To see a short promotional film about the project, go to http://vimeo.com/52167713.

Philipp Rathmer is quizzed about his portraiture technique at the opening of the Paris edition of the exhibition

YARAT continues the BacarArt project Following its successful launch in October 2012, it has been revealed that the BacarArt project – which aims to support the creativity of economically disadvantaged children and those deprived of parental care – will now be held on an annual basis. The concept is the result of a collaboration between YARAT, a notfor-profit organisation, and the Azerbaijani State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs. The project is aimed at developing the creative potential of gifted children from various regions across Azerbaijan. During the 2012 edition, several prominent Azerbaijani artists participated, including Orkhan Huseynov, Farid Rasulov, Rashad Alakbarov, Faig Ahmad, Jemma Sattar and the photographers Fakhriya Mammadova, Sanan Alasgarov and Sitara Ibrahimova. Under their guidance, the BacarArt participants developed the necessary skills regarding the fundamentals of composition, drawing, collage and

fine art photography. The paintings and photographs created by the children were later exhibited and sold during a silent auction at the Kempinski Badamdar Hotel. The proceeds were subsequently distributed to the families of BacarArt artists. In 2014, 50 children from 11 regions will participate, with masterclasses being given by such artists as Ramal Kazimov, Vusal Rahim, Nazrin Mammadova, Sitara Ibrahimova, Farkhad Farzaliyev and Reza Khazare. Participants will also attend summer art schools in Guba, Zagatala, Nabran or Sheki. The final exhibition and sale in November will be one of several events organised to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yarat was founded in 2011 by Aida Mahmudova to promote interest in and provide a platform for contemporary Azerbaijani art.

Euronews camera pointed at Molokans’ life Shown across 155 countries, Euronews has broadcast a documentary on the Molokan religious community in the Ivanovka village of the Ismayilli region in its Azerbaijan Life series. The Molokans were forced into exile from Russia in 1834 by Catherine the Great due to their refusal to conform to Orthodox Church liturgy. The descendants continue to speak Russian and maintain Russian traditions. Matvei Ermolov, an 86-year-old village elder in Ivanovka, commented: “In their traditional ‘praying house’, there are no icons, no candles, no decoration and no priests. Euronews was granted rare permission to film their prayers. The elders sit at the top of the room. If there’s a question that needs resolution we, the men, stay after the ceremony and think about how to solve it.” Most houses are also equipped with traditional Russian stoves, and the village is home to the only collective farm (kolkhoz) remaining in Azerbaijan.

One of the interviewees is John Howarth from the UK, who came for a one-day visit. He decided to remain, and now runs a guest-house with Tatiana, his wife, going on to explain: “We often get people here coming on the Silk Way route from Europe or the East. They come through Ivanovka, and all stop at our house, and we welcome all nationalities.” To see the full film, go to http://bit.ly/ivanovka.

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Molokans in Azerbaijan, as photographed by pioneering colour photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii around 1910

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Culture

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Azerbaijani film enters Cannes competition An Azerbaijani–Georgian co-production – Sonuncu (The Last One) – by the Russian director Sergei Pikalov, has been entered into the competition for short films at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival. This contest has now received 3,450 submissions from 128 countries, from which ten films will be selected to compete for the Palme d’Or. Mr Pikalov is known for his work on such popular Russian television series as Not Born Beautiful.

Sonuncu is a philosophical parable, shot in a small Azerbaijani village, focusing on two Azerbaijani protagonists – a lonely old man who is a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, and a 15-year-old peddler. The Festival will take place from 14–25 May, where Iranian director and screenwriter and former Palme d’Or winner Abbas Kiarostami will head the jury.

First Azerbaijani–US diplomatic meeting celebrated in Los Angeles

A concert of Azerbaijani music has been performed at the Skirball Cultural Centre in Los Angeles as part of a concert to commemorate the first Azerbaijani–US diplomatic meeting. Nasimi Agayev, Consul–General of Azerbaijan, recalled that the meeting took place in Paris on 28 May 1919 between US President Woodrow Wilson and Alimardan bay Topchubashov, Foreign Minister of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), on the first

anniversary of its foundation.

Mr Agayev recalled that the ADR was the first secular democracy in the Muslim East, and its achievements included granting suffrage to all Azerbaijani women aged over 18 years much earlier than their counterparts in the US, UK and several other western countries. He

also

emphasised

the

importance

of promoting the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the US, acknowledging that Azerbaijan remains a reliable ally of the US. Following the presentation, attendees listened to a concert by Namiq Sultanov (piano), Rovshan Mammadquliyev (guitar), Aytan Maharramova (mugham singer), Jeyhun Muradov (kamancha) and Rovshan Gurbanov (tar). To see footage of the concert, go to http://goo.gl/EpwRDa.

Azerbaijani tolerance exhibited in Israel

The Azerbaijan – Land of Tolerance exhibition, featuring photos by the acclaimed South Azerbaijani photographer Reza, a Fellow of the National Geographic Society, has opened in the Israeli city of Nesher, which is home to around 150 people of Azerbaijani origin. It was organised by the Israel–Azerbaijan International Association (Aziz), in partnership with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The exhibition incorporated the screening of a documentary film entitled Azerbaijan Through the Eyes of Israeli Journalists, followed by a concert given by Caucasian musicians.

The exhibition provoked considerable interest from the Israeli audience (Photo: Heydar Aliyev Foundation)

Yegana Salman, Director, Azerbaijani Cultural Centre under Aziz, explained that the exhibition had been organised to raise the awareness of Azerbaijan’s multifaith and multiethnic tolerance. She commented: “Many people have discovered Azerbaijan due to such events. The exhibition in Nesher has also aroused widespread interest, and visitors view photos of the historic mosques, churches and synagogues that coexist in Azerbaijan with great curiosity.”

Exhibition by Butunay Hagverdiyev to open in Baku An exhibition entitled Crossing by the 25-year-old Azerbaijani artist Butunay Hagverdiyev was held at the Q Gallery in Baku from 17–30 April, featuring paintings completed in Moscow and Baku. This young, promising artist is a member of the Azerbaijani Artists’ Union. His career began at the age of 14 years, when he completed a painting of the Orthodox Church of St. Bartholomew.

After studying at the British Higher School of Design in Moscow, his exhibitions and curatorial projects were subsequently organised in Baku, and his work was displayed in the Azerbaijani pavilion at the Venice Biennale last year. His works

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can now be found in private collections in Australia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, the UK and US. Taking the Renaissance as a point of departure, Mr Hagverdiyev encapsulates the world heritage of fine art in his works, although they are synthesised from a contemporary perspective. Many of his works demonstrate that people live in visual space, rather than specific countries. His artistic techniques include engraving, painting and drawings. He is also renowned for his portrayals of architecture, construction machinery, trains and underground stations. To see some examples, go to http://bit.ly/ butunay.

Ornamentation by Butunay Hagvderdiyev, as displayed at the Venice Biennale in 2013

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Personalities – Ed Kashi Photographer Ed Kashi explains how he captured intimate moments in his subjects’ lives

Ed Kashi – capturing Azerbaijani IDPs’ and refugees’ ‘unresolved dreams’

New York-based Ed Kashi ranks amongst the world’s leading photojournalists, working regularly for the National Geographic, Newsweek, Time and The New York Times. Co-founder of the VII Photo Agency, he has spent his life documenting areas of the world impacted by human tragedies. Commissioned by TEAS, Ed recently pointed his lens towards a handful of the estimated 875,000 Azerbaijani internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees who are the ongoing casualties of the Armenian– Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Some of these photos were subsequently displayed in an exhibition entitled Unresolved Dreams at London’s iconic Oxo Tower on the South Bank. TEAS spoke to Ed during his whistlestop trip to London to learn more about the project.

What inspired you to take the photos of the IDPs and refugees in Azerbaijan? This was a TEAS commission – I was not previously well-informed about the situation in the country. Being a journalist, I had heard of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and knew it had developed more than 20 years ago out of the ashes of the Soviet Union due to a clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia over this territory. However, I did not cover the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict whilst the situation was ‘hot’. When I had the opportunity to visit Azerbaijan last year, I could see the ongoing situation with my own eyes. I have covered many refugee situations, and it is noteworthy that this particularly protracted conflict has lasted over 20 years. The most striking aspect is that the victims in Azerbaijan are IDPs – not refugees – and that the country has amongst the highest IDP populations in the world. For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is when I receive a commission that becomes something much more personal. In fact, I began to realise that if I had known more, I would have gladly tried to cover this story myself. It was very hard to see the IDPs who have suffered due to this situation over such a long period. One elderly lady had been living in a dugout – literally a hole in the ground – for over 20 years. I saw young and old alike suffering from rheumatism, arthritis and other complaints caused by damp conditions. It was striking to witness the impact of the situation.

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I also saw children who were growing up in this limbo state with very little opportunity for development, despite the work of the Azerbaijani government. However, the older generation will end up dying in this less-than-perfect situation, where their lives are compromised. Due to the work of the government, hopefully the young IDPs and refugees will have more opportunities. During my time in one of the camps, I witnessed graduation day from school. When looking at the photos, it would have been impossible to immediately tell that these were IDPs and refugees, as the young adults were so happy and well-dressed. Often, when we think of IDPs and refugees, we think of tents without running water, but the reverse is true in Azerbaijan, and most of the people live in reasonably fixed dwellings. I gained the impression that the new generation growing up in the camps expects to have a better life than their parents or grandparents. In what kind of dwellings do the IDPs and refugees live? Those living in dugouts experienced the worst conditions – there weren’t many living in that situation, but certainly more than a few. Others were living in abandoned farms, tin shacks, rail trucks, and disused dormitories, originally constructed for factory workers. New perfunctory single-family housing, equipped with plumbing and electricity, is being widely constructed. The people are now living in less compromised housing conditions, and the programme of new housing development seems robust.

72-year-old Teymur Amirov and Hirjah, the 35-year-old wife of his dead son, live together in an IDP camp in Taxta Korpu, Aghjabedi region

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Personalities – Ed Kashi

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peeling the layers of the onion, so you make one pass, and keep whittling the selection down to 50 images. My aim is to produce as many images as possible, and to trial a range of compositional styles, subjects, places and exposure, as it’s impossible to tell what will be effective. I am playing with many different elements in my mind, particularly in terms of the subject and visual language. Total surprises and gifts can arise when looking at the photos. I am creating a sense of narrative in terms of context for these IDPs and refugees, their longstanding displacement, and how this has developed into a semi-permanent situation.

The mother of nine-year-old Fariz Badalov, shot dead by an Armenian sniper in 2011, poses with his photo

How did you get the subjects of the photographs to appear relaxed and naturalistic? I work with ‘candid intimacy’, where I establish my presence with the camera and explain the objectives of my work. This was explained in Azerbaijani by the TEAS team, and they also stated how the photos would be used. It’s imperative to make people feel comfortable with your presence – the subjects can read your level of sincerity. I have taken photos for more than 30 years in over 80 countries, and am aware that, in a very short space of time, I can make people feel happy – or not – with my presence. This is sometimes easy, but equally it may necessitate a great deal of convincing and cajoling, and sometimes proves impossible to persuade people to be photographed. Fortunately, I have a very high success rate, and they understood I was there to tell their story. My photos serve to empower those people without a voice, and in Azerbaijan they certainly understood I was there to help and not hurt them.

Sisters Samangul and Cicek Ismaylova comb wool in their small home in Taxta Korpu

You have covered many conflict zones and situations where there are refugees. Have you previously come across refugee situations that have lasted over 20 years? Undeniably, the Palestinian situation in the Middle East has continued for much longer. Large areas of territory have also been occupied in Syria and Jordan. When I recently photographed the Kurds in Northern Iraq I realised that, 22 years earlier, I had been in exactly the same town photographing newly-returned Kurds from Turkey and Iraq in the wake of the first Gulf War. To what extent will Unresolved Dreams raise awareness of the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia? When undertaking my advocacy work, I have realised that it is imperative to partner with the correct person or organisation. I’m a photographer – not an activist – I take photos that tell stories. It’s then down to the activist to take that work, advocate and that’s what the Unresolved Dreams exhibitions in London and Paris are about.

IDP children, filled with hope, celebrate school graduation in their camp in the unoccupied part of Aghdam

Did the IDPs and refugees tell any stories about their experiences during expulsion from Nagorno-Karabakh? We interviewed some people, and they stated how difficult it was to lose their homes, and how they had to flee and abandon their personal possessions. There was an acknowledgement of losing their homeland, belongings and way of life. I have obviously never visited Nagorno-Karabakh, but I hear that it is supremely beautiful. In fact, I try to avoid talking to my subjects more than necessary as it can interrupt their everyday lives, which I aim to capture. During the short timescale of this project, it was important to make the acquaintance of the IDPs and refugees, gain their approval, and let them continue with their lives so I could photograph them in a candid, genuine way. How many photos did you take, and how did you decide what to include in the exhibition? Altogether, I made around 3100 photos and video clips during the course of one week. The editing was very difficult – this is like

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Energetic young boys play leapfrog in Taxta Korpu

Were you inspired to return to Azerbaijan to take further photos of other areas or aspects of the country? I would certainly like to return – architecture in Baku is amazing and represents three periods – the first oil boom, Soviet era and ultramodern period. The landscape in the regions is remarkable, and I experienced some excellent food and hospitality. For more information on Ed Kashi’s work, go to www.edkashi.com.

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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

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UK strongly supports peaceful resolution to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Responding to questioning from the 1news.az website, H.E. Irfan Siddiq, UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan, reiterated the UK position on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. He commented: “The UK strongly supports a swift, peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in mediating to help the parties achieve resolution. Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent territories are recognised by the international community as Azerbaijani territory. “But it is clear that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh remains disputed by Armenia and the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, in practice this means that an agreement about the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh must be reached, based on the core Helsinki Principles – non-use of force, respect for territorial integrity and for the equal rights of peoples and their right of self-determination. This is the most difficult element of the conflict, and something that must be agreed between all parties. “It is crucial that any resolution of the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh must only be achieved through peaceful means. The status of the territories adjacent to NagornoKarabakh, which Armenian forces continue to occupy as a result of the military conflict, is not disputed in the same way. These are Azerbaijani territories and, as part of any peaceful solution, Armenian forces must withdraw from these territories.

Ambassador Siddiq outlined the UK position on conflict resolution (Photo: gun.az)

“The continued occupation of these territories is one of the obstacles to the achievement of peace, and the UK supports the swift return of these territories to Azerbaijan, as part of a comprehensive peace deal.”

Warlick speaks on conflict settlement James Warlick, US Co-Chair, OSCE Minsk Group, has presented his view on the key elements required to resolve the NagornoKarabakh conflict at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. According to the US State Department website, he said: “There are six elements that will have to be part of any peace agreement if it is to endure. While the sequencing and details of these elements remain the subject of negotiations, they must be seen as an integrated whole. Any attempt to select some elements over others will make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution.” According to Mr Warlick, the keys are as follows: 1.

2.

3.

4.

5. 6.

should be returned to Azerbaijani control. There can be no settlement without respect for Azerbaijani sovereignty, and recognition that its sovereignty over these territories must be restored. There should be a corridor linking Armenia to NagornoKarabakh. It must be wide enough to provide secure passage, but cannot encompass the entire Lachin district. All internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees have the right of return to their former places of residence. A settlement must include international security guarantees that include a peacekeeping operation, ensuring confidence from all sides.

The Azerbaijani and Armenian sides should commit to determining the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a mutually-agreed, legally binding expression of future will. This would not be optional, and the interim status would be temporary. The area within the boundaries of the former NagornoKarabakh Autonomous Region that are not controlled by Baku should be granted an interim status that, as a minimum, provides guarantees for security and self-governance. The occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh

James Warlick has outlined six steps for the achievement of lasting peace

Armenian army wounds two soldiers OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to visit in mid-May

Two Azerbaijani soldiers – Elmirad Gurbanalizadeh and Asim Guliyev – were wounded by Armenian sniper fire on 14 April. According to the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, both were immediately hospitalised. The casualties came when Armenian forces opened fire near the villages of Yusifjanli, Shirvanli, Novruzlu, Bash Garvand, Kengerli, Shuraabad and Shikhlar in the Aghdam region and Kuropatkino in the Khojavend region.

Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, has revealed that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, tasked with establishing a negotiated peace to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, will travel to the region during mid-May. They will initially visit Armenia, followed by occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, and finally Azerbaijan.

Since the beginning of 2014, Armenian snipers have become increasingly active in breaching the ceasefire, leading several Azerbaijani soldiers to be shot dead on the ‘contact line.’ The majority of incidents have taken place in the Fuzuli, Aghdam, Terter, Goranboy, Khojavend, and Jabrayil districts.

Mr Mammadyarov explained that the purpose of the visit is to investigate claims that Armenian refugees from Syria have been relocated to Nagorno-Karabakh. He recently communicated with Didier Bürkhalter, Chairman, OSCE, expressing concern about this issue.

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David Lidington recognised the ongoing risk of the conflict reigniting

UK Europe Minister calls for renewed effort

Speaking on 12 May – the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan – David Lidington, UK Minister for Europe, stated: “Today marks 20 years since the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement. While it brought an end to the fiercest fighting, real peace is yet to be achieved. Sniper fire continues to take lives on both sides – often the soldiers fighting are younger than the ceasefire itself. A humanitarian crisis continues as hundreds of thousands of displaced people still lack an adequate resolution to their plight. Peace will only be possible through compromise on both sides. “A generation now exists who only know of conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, yet these two peoples have a long, shared history of living together peacefully. Peace will only be possible once both sides have created a situation where an agreement is acceptable to their populations. Unfortunately, this is not the case today.” Mr Lidington went on to explain the value of people-topeople interactions between the communities affected by the conflict, and to express UK support for the work of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

Ex-Armenian PM Sargsyan to become Ambassador to US A report in the Hraparak newspaper has revealed that Tigran Sargsyan, former Armenian Prime Minister, will replace Tatul Margarian as Armenian Ambassador to the US after a decade in the role. The report continued: “Tigran Sargsyan’s agrément

has already been sent to the US, and will not take long for confirmation, according to our sources. Tigran Sargsyan is now undergoing a medical check-up and will go on vacation to Nagorno-Karabakh before taking up his position.”

Hollande: France appreciates and supports Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity

Speaking in Baku on 12 May during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, French President Hollande stressed his support for the Azerbaijani position, saying: “You are already aware of the position of France and Europe – Europe and France always support Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. We are making the effort to solve the existing conflict through negotiations. This is also the main goal of our visit to the Caucasus.” He went on to explain that he would travel to Armenia the following day.

President Hollande continued: “20 years have passed since the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement was signed and entered into force. During this period, no steps of any magnitude have been achieved. As an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, France also has great responsibility. We should make an effort to settle this conflict, together with restoring confidence.”

French President Hollande reiterated the ongoing support of his country

Morningstar and Kasprzyk: Ukraine demonstrates need for resolution Speaking to journalists, H.E. Richard Morningstar, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, commented: “The Ukrainian events show that it is necessary for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be settled once and for all. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a source of instability in the Caucasus, and resolution will be beneficial for the entire region.”

Andrzej Kasprzyk, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairpersonin-Office expressed similar views, saying: “The reports reflect a relatively high number of shooting incidents, and also more serious violations with casualties,

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each of which is a tragedy for the families of the victims.” He went on to explain that his office continues to monitor the situation along the ‘contact line’ with the full support and assistance of the relevant authorities, and reports are passed to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and OSCE Minsk Group.

When quizzed over the impact of the Ukrainian crisis, he commented that the OSCE should pay more attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and that it is important that it is not overshadowed by events elsewhere. He continued: “The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs are

continuously presenting ideas to the sides in order to move the settlement process forward. During the past month, they met twice with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers, and once with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents. All this work is done with the aim of moving the process forward and de-escalating tensions.” He concluded: “My team and I continuously travel to all areas affected by this conflict in order to liaise with stakeholders and ensure that up-to-date information is provided to the OSCE Chairperson-inOffice and OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.”

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