Greetings from the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Washington, DC. In this edition of the News Digest, you will find stories about Azerbaijani leadership on the UN Security Council, greater cooperation with the European Union and the inclusion of a traditional Karabakh horse-riding game on the UNESCO heritage list. To learn more about the Embassy’s activities, please remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Azerbaijan’s successful journey as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council
This month Azerbaijan completes its two-year non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. Elected with the overwhelming support of the UN member states back in October 2011, Azerbaijan has contributed to upholding the United Nation’s fundamental values and principles in this role over the past two years.
However, gone are the days when peace and security – a key UN objective – were understood purely in military terms. These days, sustained and lasting peace and stability can only be achieved by properly understanding their intrinsic link to political, humanitarian, development and inter-cultural ties. With that in mind, in October 2013 Azerbaijan initiated a special session on the issue of strengthening cooperation between the UN Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the very first session dedicated to UN-OIC cooperation. As most of the issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council relate to the OIC, the second biggest intergovernmental organization representing all Muslim nations after the UN, it is important that these two organizations strengthen cooperation and partnership in tackling common issues. The session provided an opportunity to
discuss the current state of this partnership and ways to reinforce this in the years ahead.
Sen. Wicker: Azerbaijan’s partnership with U.S. fosters democracy, security in difficult region
The Washington Times
At the end of this month, Azerbaijan will conclude its first-ever term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. This elected role as the representative for Eastern European nations underscores an important transformation over the past two decades. Today, Azerbaijan is an increasingly influential leader in the Caucasus region.
Soderberg: A vital link for US interests and allies – Azerbaijan – needs more support
The Christian Science Monitor
The new Azerbaijani pipeline will free much of Europe from the threat of unstable supplies dependent on Russia. This good news is the culmination of decades of hard work by US and European officials. Some had hoped the pipeline would have stretched further to Eastern Europe to further ease dependency on an increasingly autocratic Russia. Perhaps that’s to come.
But Azerbaijan serves US strategic interests beyond energy diversification and supply. Bordered by both Iran and Russia, Azerbaijan is a reliable American ally that provides logistical support to our military commanders in Afghanistan, including important over-flight clearance that saves American lives. Azerbaijan provides more than 40 percent of Israel’s oil and provides a vital counterweight to rising Russian influence in the Caspian.
Rep. Bridenstine: Caspian energy equals American security
The Washington Times
Rather than opt for a state-controlled top-down system, Azerbaijan became the first country to open the Caspian to U.S. energy companies. American and Western energy firms are major partners in resource exploration and production and also development of an expanding pipeline network. EIA notes that Azerbaijan’s state oil company only accounts for 20 percent of total petroleum output. U.S. companies such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil, among others are big shareholders in the Shah Deniz field consortium and pipeline network.
Italy Prime Minister to visit Azerbaijan next week to sign agreement on TAP
Italian media reports that Prime Minister Letta will attend a ceremony next week in Baku, where an intergovernmental agreement on TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) will be signed. Officials of Greece and Albania – the other countries participating in TAP project will also attend the ceremony.
On June 28, Azerbaijan officially announced the selection of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) for natural gas deliveries to Europe. TAP pipeline will deliver Azerbaijan’s gas to Italy through Turkey, Greece and Albania. Total cost of the project is approximately $2.2bn.
Azerbaijan to diversify exports to EU
Azerbaijan intends to diversify its exports to EU countries, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said at a recent press conference following the 14th meeting of the EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council in Brussels.
"The EU is one of the largest trading partners of our country," he said. "More than 40 percent of Azerbaijan's foreign trade turnover falls to the EU countries. Of course, most of the trade turnover with Europe comes from oil and oil products. We also hope that there will be gas in the future. Azerbaijan intends to develop and diversify exports to increase share of the non-oil sector of the national economy in the general trade turnover with the EU."
Embassy hosts meeting with members of American Jewish community
A meeting with representatives of ACCESS, the youth wing of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), recently took place at the Azerbaijani embassy in the US.
At the meeting, Ambassador Elin Suleymanov noted that close relations between Azerbaijan and Israel are characterized by historical links between the two nations. The diplomat also said that Azerbaijan is an example of tolerance in the world. The republic's leadership pays special attention to promotion of ethnic and religious diversity. The Jewish community of the country throughout history took an active part in the life of Azerbaijani society, he said.
US pleased with restoration of Azerbaijan-Armenia dialogue
We are pleased with the resumption of a dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in recent months said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Eric Rubin. "Commenting on the meeting of presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, we stated that 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 we believe that these talks are important to resolve the conflict," he said. Rubin also noted that the U.S. co-chairman James Warlick will do everything possible to find a solution acceptable to all parties.
Elements from Azerbaijan inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, holding its 8th session until 7 December, recently inscribed two new elements on the List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. UNESCO aims to mobilize international cooperation and assistance to ensure the transmission of this heritage with the participation of the concerned communities.
Chovqan is a traditional horse-riding game played on a grassy field by two competing teams of five riders mounted on Karabakh horses. Players use wooden mallets to drive a small leather or wooden ball into their opponents’ goal. The game is accompanied by instrumental folk music called ''janghi''. Chovqan strengthens feelings of identity rooted in nomadic culture. The practice and transmission of Chovqan have weakened, however, due to socio-economic factors leading to a shortage of players, trainers and Karabakh horses.
Istanbul hosts Caspian Forum 2013
The third Caspian Forum kicked off in Istanbul on December 4. The Forum brought together senior officials, representatives of companies, and leading experts from over 30 countries.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the event, Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici said the resource-rich Caspian Sea region is very attractive for investments. The countries continue to strengthen economic ties and increase their mutual trade that guarantee the maintenance of peace, stability, and growth in the region's welfare, Yazici said.
In a congratulatory message to the event’s participants, President Aliyev said Azerbaijan, as a developer of rich hydrocarbon resources, plays an important role in ensuring the energy security of not only its neighboring countries, but also Europe.
"I believe that these important events which involve official representatives of governments, politicians, men of science, and representatives of civil society and business, can make a significant contribution to the deepening of cooperation between the region's countries, growth of mutual investments, revival of the historic Silk Road, and realization of new large-scale trans-national projects that are capable of changing Europe's energy map," the Azerbaijani president said in his message.
Azerbaijan plays important role in facilitating land and air transit to and from Afghanistan
The U.S. is deeply grateful to the people and government of Azerbaijan for their efforts in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Eric Rubin said in Baku on Dec. 5. "Azerbaijan plays a very important role as a key ISAF partner. It also plays a very important role in facilitating land and air transit to and from Afghanistan," Rubin said. He went on to say that the U.S. believes that Azerbaijan will not only continue playing an important role but also can contribute to mission change and help all the countries involved, as well as train and prepare the Afghan military and security forces.
UN approves progress in fighting violence against women in Azerbaijan
The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, welcomed Azerbaijan’s progress on the issue. "Work carried out to prevent all forms of violence against women in Azerbaijan is commendable, and the results of the mission will be reflected in the report which will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014," said Manjoo recently. She noted that the Azerbaijani government pays special attention to enhancing the empowerment of women in public life, including initiatives on women through seminars and awareness campaigns.