Greetings from the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Washington, DC. In this edition of the News Digest, you will find articles about President Aliyev’s plans for further economic growth as he begins his new term, celebrations of Azerbaijani Independence Day on Oct. 18 and coverage of Baku’s stunning modern architecture in The New York Times. To learn more about the Embassy’s activities, please remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
October 22, 2013
Diversification– priority for Azerbaijani economic development
In his recent inaugural speech, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev outlined priorities for the country's development in the coming years. He stressed that a diversification policy will continue to be pursued in the economic sphere. Today, while the energy sector still plays an important role in the country's economy, President Aliyev set a goal to increase the non-oil economy by twofold over the next ten years (this figure increased by 10 percent in 2012). This will allow making Azerbaijan's economy more flexible, sustainable, as well as significantly decrease the dependence on the oil sector.
Who’s Winning the Architecture Arms Race?
The New York Times
Answer: Baku, Azerbaijan, where the government is spending an estimated $6 billion a year on architecture projects. As we wrote in February, Azerbaijan’s leaders want to make their capital city a destination for the rich and fabulous. The latest example: the Heydar Aliyev Center designed by Zaha Hadid, for whom it offered the rare opportunity of nearly total design freedom. Every roof and ceiling panel is different, Hadid says.
Op-Ed: Azerbaijan piles up the building blocks of democracy
By: Elin Suleymanov, The Washington Times
The election produced no political surprises, as the incumbent, President Ilham Aliyev, won a landslide victory on Oct. 9. Mr. Aliyev’s victory was universally predicted by an overwhelming majority of pundits as well as by numerous pre-election surveys and polls. The incumbent’s undisputed advantage over the opposition comes, among other things, as a result of Azerbaijan’s rapid social and economic growth — the nation’s gross domestic product grew threefold over the past decade — and Mr. Aliyev’s steady leadership chartering a pragmatic, independent course in a complicated region of the world.
Ambassador: US looks forward to close cooperation with Aliyev
The United States of America looks forward to close cooperation with President and Azerbaijani government during his next term of presidency, said US ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar while commenting on Ilham Aliyev’s inauguration that took place on 19 October.
“Like between any partners, we also have both differences of opinion and common interests. We will continue cooperation with government and civil society to promote democratic values and principles. We will also intensify cooperation with the Azerbaijani government to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the ambassador said in a statement. “We hope to expand and deepen our ties with the people and government of Azerbaijan over the next five years.”
Azerbaijan celebrates Independence Day
Azerbaijan celebrated Independence Day on October 18. Twenty-two years ago, the collapse of the Soviet Union provided Azerbaijan with an opportunity to restore the lost independence. The Azerbaijani Parliament adopted the Constitutional Act on the restoration of the state independence on October 18, 1991. In keeping with this document, Azerbaijan was declared the successor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which existed in 1918-1920. According to the Constitution Act, all citizens are guaranteed full equality regardless of ethnicity or religion.
You can view photos of Azerbaijanis celebrating Independence Day in New York here.
Op-Ed: The true essence of the Azeri elections
By: Dr. Elnur Aslanov, New Europe Online
Irony is that the true essence of the elections has been distorted and the firm will expressed by the people of Azerbaijan at the elections has been deliberately sidelined and only sporadic technical irregularities and violations, such as inadvertent activation of mobile apps of elections in test regime, has been blown out of proportions without proper investigation. As if that is not enough, such cases have been generalized, misused for certain political objectives and have been unfairly attributed to the whole outcome of elections.
It needs to be recalled that at the elections the people of Azerbaijan voted for the achievements that the country has made in recent years, and the future that it aspires to build. Active participation of voters is yet another testimony of the importance attached by the people of Azerbaijan to this election.
Avigdor Lieberman praises close Azerbaijan-Israel ties
At a recent event celebrating the 22nd anniversary of Azerbaijani independence in Afula, Israel, former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman praised the rising role of Baku in world politics, and highlighted to the special importance of the Israel-Azerbaijan relationship.
“Today the relations between our countries are fundamentally on a new stage of development. Our cooperation is no longer limited to strategic areas of the economy, but also covers areas such as high-tech, health care, education, culture, in short, all areas of life,” said Lieberman. “"With all my heart I wish Azerbaijan the same that I wish my native Israel - peace and prosperity, happiness and prosperity under its hospitable air.”
Azerbaijan outlines energy sector priorities for five years
Speaking to journalists about the priorities for Azerbaijan’s energy sector over the next five years, the head of Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR, Rovnag Abdullayev, said, "[a] basic and strategic task is the implementation of projects as part of ensuring the export of Azerbaijani gas to Europe.”
In particular, it covers the second stage of developing Azerbaijan's giant Shah Deniz gas field in the Caspian Sea, expansion of the South Caucasus Pipeline, construction of the Trans Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), Abdullayev said.
Op-Ed: Azerbaijan: A tolerant, democratic Muslim state
By: S. Rob Sobhani, The Hill
The implications of an Aliyev victory for the West are threefold. First, it allows President Obama to invite Aliyev to Washington in order to set the stage for a historic resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. Congress should encourage the White House to extend this invitation. Second, Aliyev’s reelection ensures Azerbaijan’s continued role as a secure, reliable partner for exports of oil and gas from Caspian Sea basin to Western energy markets. Third, Aliyev has provided a model for the Muslim/Arab world – in the end, good governance is key. If a citizenry are provided with the basic needs and opportunity to grow and prosper within a limited political zone then progress has been achieved.
Study: Azerbaijan ranks first among CIS countries in terms of internet penetration
Azerbaijan ranks first among CIS countries in terms of internet penetration among individual users, the State of Broadband Report 2013 study said. The study was prepared by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, created by the International Telecommunication Union and UNESCO. Azerbaijan ranked 25th among developing countries with a 54.2 percent broadband internet penetration among individual users, compared to 27.5 percent globally.
Letter to the Editor: Azerbaijan deserves to be congratulated
By: Former US Congressman Dan Burton, The Washington Times
Azerbaijan deserves to be congratulated for its progress, not criticized. It should be encouraged for the advancements it has made since it was freed from the old Soviet Union. They are now a democratic force in the Caucasus.
Ambassador: Southern Gas Corridor will open new prospects for Balkan counties
In a recent interview with Environment & Energy Publishing, Azerbaijani ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov expressed confidence that "Southern Gas Corridor" will be as meaningful and successful as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and owes its success to the leadership of Azerbaijan and with the support of the United States. In addition, he noted that "Southern Gas Corridor" will open up new prospects for the countries of the Balkan region.
If you are an E&E subscriber, you can read the full story here.
Azerbaijan made great efforts to hold transparent elections
In a recent op-ed in the Spanish-language version of The Huffington Post, Former Congressman Solomon Ortiz reported on his recent trip monitoring the elections in Azerbaijan. Visiting more than 200 polling stations in Baku and surrounding districts, members of the American observation group conducted careful analysis of the electoral process. Ortiz notes that the observers registered high turnout of voters in the vote with appropriate use of identity cards, which proves compliance with international standards for elections.
Two new ministries established in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev recently signed an order to establish two new ministries – the Ministry of Economy and Industry and the Ministry of Energy – to increase efficiency and improve the state management structure.
You can view a complete list of the Azerbaijani cabinet of ministers here.
Azerbaijan launches new phase of charity event to help African children
Two water wells will be dug for Somali refugees living in Kenya with funds raised from charity events in Azerbaijan.A new phase of the charity event "Stretch out your hand to children in Africa" started during Eid al-Adha in 2013, the Eurasian regional center of the OIC Youth Forum for dialogue and cooperation said.According to the report, the main purpose of the charity campaign is to provide the African population suffering from water shortage with water wells.