Happy New Year from the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Washington, DC. In this edition of the News Digest, you will find reflections on Azerbaijan’s economic and foreign policy successes over the past year, and articles on the recent International Solidarity Day celebrations and growing support from the Azerbaijani Caucus in the US Congress. To learn more about the Embassy’s activities, please remember to like us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
Washington hosts ceremonial event on Azerbaijani International Solidarity Day
Azerbaijani International Solidarity Day and the new year were both celebrated at a recent ceremonial event in Washington, DC. The event was organized and supported by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and members of the local Azerbaijani community. Ambassador Elin Suleymanov spoke about Azerbaijan's achievements over the past year, thanked the Azerbaijani community for its activity and extended the congratulations of President Ilham Aliyev to the attendees.
Azerbaijan gas pipeline aims to carve out a niche across Europe
Agreements signed in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, will see a BP-led consortium start work on Shah Deniz II – a $28bn natural gas project in the Azeri sector of the Caspian that has been on the drawing board for years. The gas they produce will be sent through two enormous pipelines, one called Tanap and running the length of Turkey, and the other stretching across Greece into Italy, called TAP. The whole endeavour – gasfield, pipelines and all – is expected to cost about $45bn.
“This is a big exercise in diversification, both of routes and source,” says Riccardo Puliti, head of energy and natural resources at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is planning to lend $200m to Lukoil, one of Shah Deniz II’s partners.
US Secretary of State congratulates president
The US Secretary of State John Kerry recently sent a congratulatory letter to President Ilham Aliyev after the signing of the final investment decision for the second phase of Shah Deniz natural gas project. “The 17 December final investment decision is a symbol of an important milestone in the Azerbaijani history,” wrote Kerry. “By making the first step in joining Europe, Azerbaijan is becoming a new reliable member of world energy resources and helps ensure Europe's energy security.”
The mysteries of Azerbaijan: A Shiite nation embraces its Jews
About 4,000 people live in Red Village, every one of them Jewish. That makes Red Village the largest all-Jewish settlement outside the State of Israel.
This entirely Jewish town exists in an almost entirely Muslim country — ancient, placid, prosperous. It is also completely unknown to the majority of the world’s Jews. I had to see Red Village to believe it. I had to figure out: What’s the deal with Azerbaijan?
Three new congressmen join working group on Azerbaijan
Three new congressmen have recently joined the working group on Azerbaijan in the U.S. Congress.
The Azerbaijani embassy in the U.S. reports that Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) became new members of the working group.
Membership in the working group on Azerbaijan has reached 59 members of Congress.
Israeli Ambassador: “I haven’t seen such a tolerance like that in Azerbaijan”
Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan Rafael Harpaz recently sat with APA for an interview on the growing relationship between the two countries. Speaking on the topic of increased economic partnership, Ambassador Harpaz said, “Azerbaijan enjoys very good reputation in Israel as a country to do business with. I see so many serious Israeli companies arriving to Azerbaijan to do business. The areas are diverse. In the past it was mainly agriculture, now it is telecommunication which is a huge area and cyber protection, water technologies, medical technologies, tourism.”
Top official: Azerbaijan’s success led to growth of its influence on international arena
Azerbaijan's development and economic growth contributed to the success achieved in the country's independent foreign policy, head of the Department of Public and Political Issues of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov recently told Trend.
He said that in 2013 Azerbaijan was active within the frameworks of international organizations and also strengthened multilateral and bilateral cooperation. Specifically, during the country’s term on the UN Security Council, Azerbaijan, “established close working relationships and partnerships with the UN member countries, the governing bodies of organizations and other international institutions. The UN Security Council has become a tool for informing the world community about the realities of Azerbaijan and means of preserving attention towards settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict fairly, within international law," Hasanov said.
The food and cuisine of Azerbaijan
The Bald Hiker
As far as travelling with food in mind, Azerbaijan cuisine is up there in the top of my list of favorites. Each visit I always look forward to some traditional favorites as well as seeking out some delicious new dish I haven’t tried yet. With Azerbaijan having 9 of the 11 world climate zones you can imagine this has led to variety, color and flavor. A country where the greens are a very flavoursome joy to eat on their own, or the meat dishes that get my mouth watering every time. Some Azeri dishes have spread around the world and some have taken influence from around the world. This is where East meets West after all.
UNESCO grants enhanced protection status to Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape
Azerbaijan's Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape recently received UNESCO's status of enhanced protection during the eighth session of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, held in Paris on December 18-19.
Being a part of the larger protected Gobustan Reservation, the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape features the remains of inhabited caves, settlements, and burials, all reflecting intensive human use by the inhabitants of the area during the wet period that followed the last Ice Age, from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. This cultural site covers three areas of rocky boulders rising out of the semi-desert of central Azerbaijan, with an outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 40,000 years of rock art.