moving khojaly massacre film screened to a london



moving khojaly massacre film screened to a london
Also in this issue:
French religious leaders visit Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani and Armenian sides discuss economic collaboration
IDP documentary screened to Parisian cinephiles
Mugham to be heard at BBC Promenade Concerts
IFC to invest $28.8m in Azerbaijan
05 / 2013
May 2013
Welcome to The European Azerbaijan Society
The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) is a pan-European organisation dedicated to promoting Azerbaijani culture, business and public affairs to
international audiences. TEAS is also actively involved in helping create a sense of community amongst expatriate Azerbaijanis.
TEAS was launched in November 2008, having initially been established as the London Azerbaijan Society four years earlier. The organisation now
has offices in the UK, Belgium, France and Germany, together with a representative office in Azerbaijan.
TEAS has three main façets 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 region.
Public Affairs – TEAS works to increase awareness about Azerbaijan amongst key opinion formers, key decision-makers and other
political, academic and civil society stakeholders.
TEAS is focused on achieving the following:
The establishment of strong links between key Azerbaijani and European stakeholders, thereby helping Azerbaijan to integrate fully
into the European family of nations.
Strengthening ties between Azerbaijan and key economic, political and social structures across Europe.
The promotion of Azerbaijan as a modern, secular, Western-facing country with tremendous economic opportunities and a strong
cultural heritage.
Creating a community spirit amongst expatriate Azerbaijanis in Europe.
Increasing awareness of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the plight of the 875,000 refugees and Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs).
TEAS is always bringing the latest news, views and interviews on all aspects of Azerbaijan, and
is launching a biweekly free e-newsletter. To find out more, please sign up at
Forthcoming Azerbaijani event
For full details of all TEAS events, go to
24–28 June 2013
Azerbaijan Through the Lens: Photography Exhibition (Belgium)
European Parliament, Rue Wiertz 60, B–1047 Brussels | Mezzanine Yehudi Menuhin (2nd floor), Paul Henry Spaak Building
09.00–18.00hrs. Free admission.
Following the successful Azerbaijan Through the Lens presentations in London, Paris and Berlin, featuring photographs from TEAS’ photography competition
of the same name, the exhibition continues its European tour at the heart of Europe – in the European Parliament in Brussels. The photographs give an excellent
introduction to Azerbaijan, showcasing many aspects of Azerbaijani life, culture, nature and history.
Organised in collaboration with Katarína Neved’alová MEP (S&D, Slovakia).
For more information, e-mail: [email protected]
Outreach and Engagement
The TEAS Facebook page is your chance to learn about the
latest TEAS news, events, campaigns and other items of interest
to the Azerbaijani community. Please ‘like’ the page at
Latest Members
TEAS offers a range of corporate and individual membership
packages, providing such benefits as advertising, networking,
travel discounts and assistance with visas. To find out more,
e-mail: [email protected]
Media Partner
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Please see website for more members
May 2013
Politics and News
Head of the Mountain Jews Community in
Baku; and Catholic Father Vladimir Fekete.
The French religious leaders meet Shneor Segal, Great
Rabbi, Ashkenazi and Georgian Jews of Azerbaijan
(third from left) during their visit to the Synagogue for
Ashkenazi and Georgian Jews in Baku
French religious leaders
experience secularism
and religious tolerance
A delegation of religious leaders from
Bordeaux, France, travelled to Azerbaijan
from 14–19 April to experience Azerbaijan’s
longstanding secularism and religious
tolerance, as part of a visit organised by
TEAS. This delegation was headed by Tareq
Oubrou, Head, Bordeaux Mosque, and
Mufti to the South-Western region of France.
The delegation also included Mouslim
Charaffedine, Secretary-General, Muslim
Federation of Gironde; Khadija Oubrou,
Secretary-General, Islam Relief France and
Head of its Bordeaux office; Didier Guedj,
Representative, Regional Antenna Bordeaux
Aquitaine Council of French Jewish Institutions
and Central Consistory, administering Jewish
worship in France; and Guy-Antoine Castex,
Co-founder, Fils de France think-tank. The
visit was designed so the French delegation
could understand Azerbaijani religious
tolerance, particularly relating to the Jewish,
Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim communities.
During the visit, the delegation met Elmar
Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign
Affairs, who presented the current state of
Azerbaijani–French relations. He described
the Azerbaijani separation between faith
and state, stressing the need to maintain
a peaceful atmosphere where all religious
communities can coexist. The delegation also
met Elshad Iskandarov, Head, Azerbaijani
State Committee for Work with Religious
Organisations. He answered practical
questions regarding the implementation
of secularism in Azerbaijan, including an
explanation of the framework provided for the
training of Imams.
The delegation also participated in the
conference CIS Muslims for Peace and
Sustainable Development, where Mr Oubrou
had the opportunity to meet Allahshukur
Pashazadeh, Head of the Caucasian Muslims’
Council and Sheikh-ul-Islam for Azerbaijan
and the Caucasus. During a lunch organised
by H.E. Pascal Meunier, French Ambassador
to Azerbaijan, the delegation went on to meet
other religious representatives, including
Alexander Ishein, Orthodox Bishop of Baku
and Azerbaijan; Yevdayev Milikh Ilhanovich,
A trip to Quba was also organised, where the
Bordeaux representatives met local authorities
and visited the Red Settlement, a neighbourhood
mainly populated by the Mountain Jews
community, headed by Boris Simonduyev, who
accompanied the delegation during a visit to
the neighbourhood and local synagogues. This
trip is a preliminary step towards a series of
conferences that will be organised by TEAS in
France during the coming year focusing on the
Azerbaijani model of secularism and religious
way, simply put, to where they shouldn’t be.”
A key factor in nonproliferation, Suleymanov
said, is to ensure that no dangerous materials
“become available to destructive forces, be
they states or nonstate actors.”
Ambassador Suleymanov continued: “We
have worked very closely with regional
partners and the US regarding the
nonproliferation issue, along our maritime
and land borders. Azerbaijan is no longer just
a consumer of security. It’s now a provider
of security and an equal partner in that.
Azerbaijan is a non-permanent member of the
UN Security Council, so we face these kinds
of global issues on a daily basis and deal
with these, together with the US and other
partners, trying to minimise potential damage
by biological weapons.”
TEAS screens Xoca in
H.E. Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US
US Defence Department
successful co-operation
The US Defence Threat Reduction Agency
(DTRA) has hosted H.E. Elin Suleymanov,
Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US, to discuss
its collaboration with Azerbaijan over the Cooperative Threat Reduction. Following the
meeting, Kenneth Myers, Director, DTRA,
spoke to the American Forces Press Service,
commenting: “Azerbaijan has some very
difficult and unique security challenges, and
many of the processes we use here could be
of help, providing additional opportunities for
partnership.” He added that ongoing work
on a central reference laboratory has been
facilitated by the unique US–Azerbaijani
relationship. He said: “It’s a real model for the
future. We’re there to provide some technical
expertise, and they’re providing the funding
for the construction. It’s a true partnership...
and an opportunity to take an important step
forward on the threat posed by biological
issues and pathogens. Our relationship with
Azerbaijan on these projects is very good,
and we have a long record of success.”
Ambassador Suleymanov replied: “Azerbaijan
is a strong supporter of the nonproliferation
issue. My government’s commitment to this is
absolute and unshakeable. We need to work
with the Americans and, of course, with the
international community as well, to ensure
that no weapons of mass destruction find their
On 30 April, the new Azerbaijani film Xoca
(Khoja) was screened in two auditoria at the
Soho Hotel to over 130 Londoners during an
event organised by TEAS and the ANS Group.
The Khojaly Massacre remains the single
greatest tragedy of the Armenian–Azerbaijani
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On the night of 26
February 1992, 613 civilians were massacred
in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly, NagornoKarabakh, when it was forcibly occupied by
Armenian armed forces, supported by the No.
366 Soviet Infantry Regiment.
Although numerous documentaries have
been made about this tragedy, Xoca (Khoja),
directed by Vahid Mustafayev, is the first
feature film to focus on this event. Telling a
personal story, the film’s protagonists are
Aliakbar and Gunel, a young couple betrothed
for marriage in Baku on 25 February 1992.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is raging, and
Aliakbar is an officer who has been posted
to his hometown of Khojaly. As he is about to
leave for Baku, it becomes apparent that the
Armenians are about to surround Khojaly and
he must remain to protect the townspeople.
The film clearly depicts the chaos and
confusion of war, and the frantic efforts of the
Azerbaijani authorities and military to save
the lives of as many civilians as possible.
Tale Heydarov, Chairman and Founder, TEAS,
said: “This is the most important film to be
made about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
during the past decade. It tells the truth about
what happened at the time of the Khojaly
Massacre in 1992. Many women and children
were brutally killed, and this is shown in the
film. However, unlike the conflict in the former
Yugoslavia, the perpetrators were never
brought to justice. The occupation of NagornoKarabakh and the seven surrounding regions
continues to this day.”
Lord Laird stated: “I have personal experience
May 2013
Politics and News
A television film crew from the ANS Group covered the filming
Lord Laird outlined the Azerbaijani perspective on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue
of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and
understand what has happened in Azerbaijan
regarding territory. During my multiple visits
to Azerbaijan in recent years, I have come to
realise that the ongoing Armenian occupation
of Azerbaijani territory is a far greater issue
than was the case in Northern Ireland. It must
be remembered that four UN Security Council
resolutions have been passed against the
occupation, yet remain unimplemented.”
“Xoca is dedicated to the memory of Vahid’s
brother Chingiz Mustafayev, a television
journalist who covered the conflict. He was
only able to film the aftermath of the Khojaly
Massacre, but his footage showed the reality
of this atrocity. Chingiz was killed in 1992
whilst he was covering the conflict.”
Mirshahin Aghayev explained the factual basis of Xoca and
the significance of the Khojaly Massacre to Azerbaijanis
Details of 2015 European Games
Azad Ragimov, Azerbaijani Sports Minister,
has announced that the inaugural European
Games will be held in Baku from 12–28 June
2015. The General Assembly of European
National Olympic Committees announced
the launch of the games in December
Mirshahin Aghayev, Vice-President, ANS
Group and Main Producer, Xoca, spoke about
the genus of the film and its factual basis.
He said: “This film was directed by Vahid
Mustafayev, who was a military journalist
during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, and
reflects the reality and truth of the Khojaly
Massacre. It also acknowledges the impact of
conflict on everyday lives. Xoca has achieved
considerable success in several festivals
in Turkey, Iran and Egypt, and is the first
Azerbaijani film to reflect the emotions of the
entire nation.
2012, which will complement the Asian and
Pan-American Games. Ragimov went on
to explain that around 6,300 athletes would
participate, and that the featured sports
would be archery, swimming, water polo,
rhythmic gymnastics, judo, karate, shooting,
An expectant audience awaits the screening
e-mail: [email protected]
During his visit to Baku on 3 May, Štefan
Füle, European Commissioner responsible for
Enlargement and European Neighbourhood
Policy, stated that the European Union (EU)
remains committed to the further development
of bilateral relations with Azerbaijan.
In this framework, we have agreed with
President Aliyev to make every effort to raise
the EU–Azerbaijani relationship to an even
higher level and to further enhance its quality
– based on our mutual interests and shared
Commissioner Füle met Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev to discuss the broadening of the
mutual relationship, both in the framework of
the EU Eastern Partnership, and in terms of
supporting Azerbaijan in its modernisation
and reform efforts. The Commissioner
welcomed Azerbaijani efforts to increase its
partnership commitment to EU.
significant trip to the South Caucasus,
as such visits are always the catalyst for
increased co-operation. This should provide
a chance to share ideas and highlight mutual
opportunities for co-operation. During the
visit, many issues were raised, including
visa facilitation, energy and the forthcoming
presidential elections.
May 2013
mountain and road bicycles – gymnastics,
Commissioner Füle stated: “This is an
important year, [...] (as) the Vilnius Summit
in November 2013 will highlight the
achievements of the EU Eastern Partnership.
boxing, canoeing, cycling – including BMX,
Dr Roman Huna, Head, TEAS Belgium,
commented: “The visit of Commissioner Füle
means a great deal for Azerbaijan and its
people. In particular, the negotiations on the
visa facilitation and readmission agreements
appear to be very close to conclusion. This will
permit Azerbaijani citizens to take advantage
of the simplified procedures regarding travel
to Europe. At the same time, the topics of
energy and the presidential elections have
been discussed in a remarkably open way.”
Dr Huna continued: “The visit provided a
great opportunity to raise the issue of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the need
for a quick and sustainable solution of this
conflict at Europe’s border. During his visit,
he stated that continuance of the status quo
remains unacceptable. We do hope that, in
the forthcoming months, this important issue
will be raised again.”
Politics and News
delegation was
led by Martin
British MEP
European Parliament
ECR Group visits
TEAS Belgium reports that the Bureau of
the European Conservatives and Reformists
(ECR) Group in the European Parliament has
recently visited Azerbaijan and its capital
Baku. Azerbaijani President Aliyev received a
delegation led by Martin Callanan MEP, Chair,
ECR Group, European Parliament. Callanan
stated that the European Union (EU) remains
interested in expanding its co-operation
with Azerbaijan, and the current state and
prospects for resolving the Armenian–
Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were
The delegation was also received by Ogtay
Asadov, Speaker, Azerbaijani Parliament (Milli
Majlis), who said that Azerbaijan remains
supportive of the EU Eastern Partnership and
is currently implementing measures to assist
with its expansion, particularly regarding
trade relations. Callanan said that Azerbaijan
remains an important partner for the EU, and
that the organisation is interested in extending
its co-operation with the country.
with the members of the International and
Interparliamentary Relations Committee of
the Milli Majlis. Sevinj Fataliyeva, Deputy
Chairperson, Interparliamentary Relations
Committee, went on to speak about
Azerbaijan’s rapid development and the
reforms currently being implemented. She also
stressed the significance of political stability
in the achievement of economic development,
and attributed Azerbaijan’s leading economic
position in the South Caucasus to its ongoing
global energy projects.
Dr Roman Huna, Head, TEAS Belgium,
commented: “The latest visit to Baku by the
ECR Bureau is a sign that European officials
are showing an increased interest in the
country. We can only welcome this type of
visit, as they contribute to a constructive
exchange of ideas and information.”
Association Agreement
continues momentum
During his meeting with the ECR Group,
Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister of
Economic Development, commented that
Azerbaijan has now gained international
recognition as a reliable partner in ensuring
European energy security. Mustafayev said
that implementation of a successful social
and economic policy had ensured political
and macroeconomic stability in Azerbaijan,
resulting in the creation of a favourable
business and investment climate. Mustafayev
also pointed out that Azerbaijan attaches
great importance to its co-operation with
overseas countries, and particularly those in
the EU.
He noted that Azerbaijan is actively involved
in global energy and transport projects, and
stressed the importance of interparliamentary
ties and reciprocal visits in boosting bilateral
The ECR Group also exchanged dialogue
Ambassador Roland Kobia acknowledged the strength of
EU–Azerbaijani relations
H.E. Ambassador Roland Kobia, Head, EU
Delegation to Azerbaijan, has revealed that
progress in EU–Azerbaijani relations across
a range of sectors has been achieved at
the plenary session on the EU–Azerbaijani
Association Agreement. Ambassador Kobia
stated that developments were made in
relation to legal issues, in particular, and
that negotiations will be completed at the
EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in
November. Ambassador Kobia added: “We
have also made progress in the economic
field, and some questions have been closed.”
He stressed that negotiations on foreign
policy and security are still underway.
developed under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in
1996 and came into effect three years later.
In 2009, the EU passed a decision to sanction
negotiations regarding bilateral association
agreements with all the South Caucasus
countries. Azerbaijan is also part of the EU
Eastern Partnership Programme, aimed at
developing political and economic relations
between the six post-Soviet states and the
Military systems to
be upgraded to NATO
Ambassador to Azerbaijan and NATO Coordinator in Azerbaijan, has urged Azerbaijan
to upgrade its military systems so they are
commensurate with NATO standards. The
comments were made during a conference
jointly organised by the Azerbaijani Centre for
Strategic Studies and the Romanian Embassy
in Azerbaijan.
He said that Azerbaijan and NATO are cooperating in the military sphere, and this will be
intensified during several projects. Ciobanu
said: “Baku is interested in co-operation with
NATO and, in turn, NATO supports and will
support Azerbaijan with its projects in the
military sphere.” Ciobanu acknowledged that
the successful Azerbaijani–NATO relationship
is indicative of successful integration into
Euro-Atlantic organisations. He commented:
“Calls to ensure security, including cyber
security and the fight against terrorism, are
the most important issues within NATO.
Azerbaijan has established very active cooperation with NATO, and defence and
security reforms are being supported.”
Elnur Aslanov, Head, Political Analysis
and Information Provision Department,
said that relations between Azerbaijan and
NATO had developed dynamically, and that
the expansion of relations with NATO ranks
amongst the foremost priorities of his country’s
foreign policy, commenting: “Azerbaijan is
interested in bringing its army up to NATO
standards.” Aslanov continued: “According
to reports produced by the World Economic
Forum, Azerbaijan’s economy ranks at 46th in
the world, and first amongst CIS countries.”
May 2013
This told the life story of Lev Nussimbaum (1905–
42), an Ashkenazi Jewish author who converted
to Islam in 1922. After having spent his childhood
in Azerbaijan, he and his father fled the country
in 1918, the remainder of his life being spent in
Germany and other European countries. Writing
in German, his first book was entitled Blood and
Oil in the Orient (1929). He also wrote under the
pseudonym of Kurban Said, who was the author
of the acclaimed Ali and Nino: A Love Story
Enfield resident Fidan Hajiyeva will team up with Gochag Askarov for the historic mugham performance at the Royal
Albert Hall (Photo: BBC/Mark Allan)
Mystical mugham at
the Proms
As listeners to BBC Radio 3 will be aware, World
Routes is the leading ‘world’ music programme
in the UK, and is also broadcast internationally
from the BBC website. In 2009, the World Routes
team, led by broadcaster and academic Lucy
Duran, recorded and broadcast two special
programmes from Azerbaijan. Since that time,
recordings of Azerbaijani mugham and ashiq
music have been regularly featured, particularly
focusing on the performances of mugham singer
Gochag Askarov.
The programme also organises the World Routes
Academy, where an established singer is paired
with a young singer of the same genre who is
resident in the UK. In January, a concert took
place at the BBC Radio Theatre, where it was
announced that the 18-year-old Enfield resident
Fidan Hajiyeva would be this year’s protégé,
studying under the tutelage of Gochag Askarov.
The development of her talent has subsequently
included two trips to Baku.
On 22 August, the Royal Albert Hall will resonate
to the captivating sound of Azerbaijani mugham
for the first time, when Fidan and Gochag team
up for a late night concert in the BBC Promenade
Concert series. Regarded as one of the most
prestigious classical music concert series in
the world, the season now includes a diverse
strand of ‘world’ and jazz music. All concerts are
broadcast ‘live’ on BBC Radio 3 and televised
on BBC 4. To book tickets, call the box office on
020 7070 4408, where tickets can be purchased
for £12–16, with groups of ten people or more
receiving a 10 per cent discount.
IDP documentary
screened in Paris
TEAS France organised a screening of the new
documentary, The Waiting, directed by Lucy
Bailey and Andrew Thompson, which addresses
the ongoing tragedy of Azerbaijani Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs). The film was shown
as part of the L’Europe autour de l’Europe
(Europe around Europe) festival. The audience
included historians and MPs, such as Deputy
Thierry Mariani, President, France–Azerbaijan
Friendship Group, French National Assembly.
May 2013
Eliza Pieter, Head, TEAS France, congratulated
the festival organisers for this initiative and
stressed the importance of such events for
the promotion of diverse European culture.
She reminded the audience of the plight of the
Azerbaijani IDPs who were forced to flee their
lands and homes during the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and remain unable to return home, due
to the lack of an international settlement. She
then introduced Chingiz Abdullayev, Executive
Producer, The Waiting, who travelled from
Azerbaijan to attend the event. He is a writer,
Secretary of the Union of Azerbaijani Writers and
President of the PEN club.
About 350 people attended the screening, which
was introduced by Nourida Ateshi, Chairwoman,
Ganjavi Institute for Azerbaijani Culture. Ralf
Marschalleck, Director, Die Schmerzen des
Essad Bey, outlined the background to the film,
and explained that it took six years to complete.
Following this, German saxophonist Conny
Bauer, who composed some of the soundtrack
music, gave an astonishing solo performance
that attracted great applause.
The film included impressive scenes of
contemporary Azerbaijan, juxtaposed with
footage from the beginning of the 20th Century,
showing the hard, dangerous work of oil
extraction. The film focused on the places
in which Essad Bey resided during his short
lifetime, including Postano, Berlin and Vienna.
In interviews, many contemporary witnesses
recalled their encounters with Essad Bey,
remembering his immense psychological
Chingiz Abdullayev introduced the film alongside Eliza
Pieter (left) and Ulkar Muller, TEAS France
Irena Bilic, Director, L’Europe autour de l’Europe
Festival, said: “It is important to show such films
where the producers try to present the realities of
a complex situation through artistic expression.”
Abdullayev added: “Around the world, millions
of people are displaced within their own country.
We often see articles and films about refugees,
but less attention is given to IDPs, whose living
conditions can sometimes be extreme. With this
film, I wanted to put a spotlight on the situation
of the IDPs in Azerbaijan, which is particularly
critical, as there is no prospect of them returning
home whilst the conflict remains unresolved.”
Following the screening, Chingiz Abdullayev
signed copies of his books for some of his avid
readers. Go to to view
the trailer.
Mohammad Essad
Bey documentary
screened in Berlin
The documentary Die Schmerzen des Essad Bey
(The Sufferings of Essad Bey) was premiéred at
the Babylon Cinema in central Berlin on 2 May.
A first edition of Ali and Nino: A Love Story, together with
part of Essad Bey’s original manuscript
The audience learnt that, through his many
books, Essad Bey tried to construct bridges
between Europe and Asia during a very volatile
period. As a child, he experienced the impact of
the Bolsheviks in Azerbaijan. He then moved to
Germany in the early 1920s, and began to think
of himself as a German author, although he was
eventually forced to leave the country due to his
Jewish ethnicity. All of those in attendance were
delighted to learn more about the life and work
of this cosmopolitan author. Much of his work is
only now being translated into Azerbaijani, and
it is hoped his books will receive widespread
appreciation across Azerbaijan.
replacement of the seats and other furniture,
and reconstruction of the rotating stage.
All offices, dressing rooms, and rehearsal
rooms have also been refurbished. To see the
programme for the theatre, go to
This surreal and humorous production captured the paranoia of the immediate post-Soviet period
Madman acclaimed in
The UK premiere of My Favourite Madman has
taken place at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent
Garden, London, directed by Matthew Gould
and produced by ALOFF Theatre. Written
by the prolific Professor Elchin Afandiyev,
Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister and author
of over 100 books since 1959, this absurdist
play is set in a newspaper office in the wake
of the news that a mentally ill person has
escaped from an institution. Set in Baku in 1995,
Azerbaijan had only regained its independence
four years earlier, and the play captures some
of the paranoia and altered state of reality
that pervaded during the post-Soviet period.
Working on numerous levels, ranging from a
secretary who is convinced she transforming
into a pheasant, through to a journalist who
claims that everyone – including Bill Clinton
and Fidel Castro – are actually KGB agents in
disguise, this was a frantic and most enjoyable
The evening generated considerable critical
acclaim, achieving several four-star reviews. A
reviewer on the Views from the Gods website
commented: “At 90 minutes the play feels just
right; the intensity of the script means that much
longer, and the audience may also be joining
the birdlike-flapping, conspiracy-theorising,
poetry-writing characters onstage.” Karl
O’Doherty on The Public Reviews site said: “It is
a funny play, one that shows off cracking talent
and will entertain. Between them, Afandiyev
and the director Matthew Gould have created
a funny, memorable and worthwhile farce with
depth. If this is an example of the humour and
theatre that can come from Azerbaijani–UK
collaboration, then we should welcome more
examples like it with open arms.” My Favourite
Madman is now set to travel to the Edinburgh
Elchin play receives UK
premiére in Camden
Another play by Professor Elchin Afandiyev
is also set to receive its UK premiére in July,
produced by Whtye Tracks Allting Ltd. Written
in 2007, Citizens of Hell is set in Baku during
the Stalinist purges of 1937. In this era of
paranoia, a woman awaits the return of her
husband to celebrate the New Year, and a
reveller from the streets talks his way into
her life. During the course of the evening, he
manages to extract numerous confessions.
The UK premiére run of this remarkable
work will take place at Theatro Technis, 26
Crowndale Road, London, NW1 1TT from 24–
27 July. Early bird tickets may be purchased by
28 June for £5 by PayPal at [email protected] Standard adult tickets are £10 (£8
concessions), and children’s tickets are £5.
They may be purchased on the door.
The neoclassical exterior of the reconstructed Azerbaijan
State Musical Comedy Theatre
Musical comedy
theatre reopened after
extensive renovation
The 460-seater Azerbaijan State Musical
Comedy Theatre building in Baku has been
reopened, following an extensive overhaul
and reconstruction project. On 25 January
1908, the theatre hosted the premiére of the
opera Leyli and Majnun by Uzeyir Hajibeyli,
which was the first opera of the Muslim East.
In 1922, the building was transformed into the
Academic National Drama Theatre, eventually
becoming the Azerbaijan State Musical
Comedy Theatre in 1938. In 1988, the building
was reconstructed, and the recent renovation
began in 2010, with particular emphasis
being placed upon retaining the unique
historic architectural details. The works have
included installation of the latest audio and
acoustic equipment, air-conditioning systems,
World Forum on
Intercultural Dialogue
comes to Baku
Azerbaijan and the UN Alliance of Civilisations
(UNAOC) have announced a competition
complementing the World Forum on
Intercultural Dialogue, to be held in Baku from
29 May–1 June in support of the concepts
of cultural diversity and coexistence. The
Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism
reported that non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) across the world have been invited
to participate, including members of the
League of Arab States and representatives
from Central Asian countries, charity
organisations, research institutions and
universities, religious organisations, trade
unions, industry associations, foundations
and local communities.
The major partners of the World Forum on
Intercultural Dialogue are UNESCO, the
UN Alliance of Civilisations, the NorthSouth Centre of the Council of Europe, the
Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (ISESCO) and the UN World
Tourism Organisation. The forum will highlight
those issues hindering the development
of intercultural relations, and will facilitate
meetings between cultural ministries of the
East and West. It is expected that more than
100 people will attend the event, including the
heads of international organisations and thinktanks, ministers, experts, and academicians.
For more information, go to
UNESCO session to take place in Baku
It has been announced that the eighth
session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental
Cultural Heritage is to be held in Baku
on 2–8 December. The decision follows
the visit of an UNESCO delegation to the
Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Literature Festival in Ganja postponed
The Open Central Asia (OCA) Book Forum
scheduled to take place at the Nizami Ganjavi
International Centre in Ganja from 3–5 May,
has been postponed. It is anticipated that
the event will be rescheduled for Autumn
2013. For more information on the new dates,
e-mail: [email protected]
May 2013
Personalities – Chingiz Abdullayev
create their works, they produce a unique
synthesis of both worlds, which amounts to
something new.
You are particularly known for your
detective and spy fiction. Did your
experiences in the Soviet intelligence
service have an immediate impact on your
My whole life experience has shaped my
writing – it could not have been otherwise.
Chingiz Abdullayev, the best-selling Azerbaijani contemporary author
Chingiz Abdullayev – a
literary success story
Chingiz Abdullayev is an Azerbaijani writer,
and Secretary of the Azerbaijani Writers’
Union. He has a legal background, and
gained a Doctorate in Law from Baku State
University in 1991, having graduated from
there a decade earlier. He previously worked
in intelligence for the Soviet Defence Ministry,
where he received the Order of the Red
Banner, Order of the Red Star and other
Abdullayev wrote his first novel in 1985, which
was banned from publication for three years
due to the secrets it revealed. By 1988, Soviet
censorship was relaxed, and his book was
published. He quit the intelligence service a
year later. Since then, Abdullayev’s writing
has been very successful, particularly in the
former Soviet Union, and he has sold around
20,000 books, to date. He does not earn any
money from speeches or lectures, preferring
to donate any payments to Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) who cannot
return home due to the continuing Armenian
occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the
seven surrounding regions. Abdullayev
travelled to Paris to attend the screening,
organised by TEAS, of a new documentary
film entitled The Waiting, for which he was the
Executive Producer. The directors were Lucy
Bailey and Andrew Thompson.
You are visiting Paris to attend the
screening of The Waiting, concerning
the plight of IDPs and refugees from the
Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani region of
Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding
regions. What prompted you to become
Executive Producer on this film? What is
the significance of this film?
This is not my first time in Paris, as my
books have been published here, and I have
frequently visited France for other reasons.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started more
May 2013
Why did the Soviet authorities ban your
first book?
My book was not published for three
years, as the authorities considered that it
shed too much light on many aspects that
should remain hidden. After three years of
negotiation, it was finally published.
than 20 years ago. The Khojaly Massacre
claimed the lives of over 600 victims, and The
Waiting will play an absolutely essential role
in increasing awareness of what happened
in Azerbaijan and the ongoing impact of its
To what factors do you attribute the
success of your works?
I would say because I am an Easterner with
a Western style of writing and thinking. The
critics also frequently notice this, and it
probably attracts them to my works.
You are also Secretary of the Azerbaijani
Writers’ Union. How does this organisation
support Azerbaijani writers?
The Azerbaijani Writers’ Union is a voluntary
organisation, the 1800 members of which
include writers, poets, literary critics and
translators. There are currently around 2000
pending Union members. We issue eight
journals and newspapers, publish our authors
frequently, provide them with salaries, and
support them on regular basis.
Was the narrator character of Drongo
based on a particular person?
He is a character combining many personas.
To a certain extent, my own personality
transcended into him, such as his height,
habits, family history and clothing style, for
What is the Union doing to promote
contemporary Azerbaijani literature, both
in the original language and in translation?
We have an extensive translation centre which
handles works by Azerbaijani and foreign
authors. We have established a benefits
system to assist writers in need, making it
possible for them to work and be creative.
Are there any particular Azerbaijani
authors that you feel are worthy of greater
acclaim on an international level?
Rustam Ibragimbekov is one of the Azerbaijani
authors who received such acclaim. He wrote
the screenplay to Burnt by the Sun, which
received an Oscar for the Best Foreign
Language film of 1994. Several writers’ works
have been translated into foreign languages,
including a number of authors who aspire
towards international recognition.
contemporary literature is maintaining a
unique national voice, or is it absorbing
influences from the West?
Please be assured that our authors are
maintaining their own unique voice. Our
authors have an Eastern mentality, combined
with Western thinking. When these writers
Do you still write every day? To what extent
do you plan and rewrite your books?
I do not currently write every day, but continue
to write a lot. I have already published more
than 170 works. I enjoy the writing process,
and am delighted that people are interested
in this and that they buy and read my books.
Have you been involved in the film
treatments of your books, and what
challenges does this present?
Two television serials have created from my
books, of 13 and 20 episodes, respectively,
in addition to seven film adaptations. In each
instance, I have almost always created or
assisted in writing the screenplay. However,
screenplay writing is very different from the
actual writing of the book. It is necessary to
trust the director of the film to interpret your
Do you have any advice for young authors
who are starting on their literary careers?
It is necessary to work a lot and believe in
yourself. The Azerbaijan Writers’ Union
can help promote young, talented authors.
Success comprises an immense amount of
work, talent and a drop of luck.
To find out more on the Azerbaijan Writers’
Union, go to (in
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
Mammadyarov meets
OSCE Chairmanin-Office Special
All perspectives were presented during the course of the debate
Economic collaboration
suggested for conflict
All perspectives regarding the NagornoKarabakh conflict were highlighted during an
event at the headquarters of the Royal United
Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall, London,
attended by around 50 delegates. The event
was jointly organised by TEAS and RUSI.
The discussion centred on the previously
unexplored option of Azerbaijani–Armenian
economic collaboration as a conflict
resolution method. This year marks the
twentieth anniversary of the passing of four
UN Security Council Resolutions against
the Armenian occupation, yet these remain
unimplemented. In his initial address, Dr
Jonathan Eyal, Director, International Security
Studies, RUSI, said: “Nagorno-Karabakh is
sometimes described as a ‘frozen’ conflict
but, as the conflict between Russia and
Georgia demonstrated, such conflicts can
easily reignite. The Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict remains a threat to European security,
and is currently blocking the economic
development of the South Caucasus.”
In the keynote address, Dr Marat Terterov,
Principal Director, European Geopolitical
Forum (EGF), examined whether economic
incentives could provide the key to bringing
about an end to the impasse. He referred to
the new EGF Research Paper A Pragmatic
Review of Nagorno-Karabakh Resolution:
Could Economic Incentives Help Break the
Current Stalemate? in which the results of
questioning 50 international experts and
other stakeholders are published. Dr Terterov
said: “Azerbaijan clearly considers the
conflict to be ‘unresolved’ and not ‘frozen’,
and the OSCE Minsk Group, tasked with
attaining a negotiated peace, has achieved
little progress over nearly 20 years. Similarly,
I am not optimistic about achieving a political
settlement on the basis of the Madrid
“Economic drivers need to enter the equation,
as both Azerbaijan and Armenia continue to
build their nations. It has been proven that
conflict does not necessarily stop economic
co-operation, and economic pragmatism is
essential. The total economic development
of the region – benefiting both countries
– should be supported, and economic
incentives should be provided. However,
such incentives cannot achieve movement
alone – they must be combined with a political
settlement – although they can serve to ‘tone
down’ the heat.”
Dr Elkan Nuriyev, Counsellor, Caucasus
Institute for Democratic Integration, Tbilisi,
and former Director of the Centre for Strategic
Studies (SAM), Baku, said: “We need to involve
local and international business leaders
on both sides, amidst fears of reigniting
hostilities and a potential economic decline
across the region. Economic gain would
reshape mindsets. An Armenian–Azerbaijani
should be established, and a new-found
economic pragmatism must be pursued. A
free economic zone in Nagorno-Karabakh
should be established, with the Armenian and
Azerbaijani communities working together on
internationally-supported projects.”
Dr Sevak Sarukhanyan, Deputy Director,
Noravank Foundation, Yerevan, replied:
“Azerbaijan and Armenia were economically
linked during Soviet times. However, there
are questions as to what Armenia would
gain economically. Actual projects must
be discussed. Armenian gas pipelines are
under Russian ownership, so any profits
from collaboration on energy projects with
Azerbaijan would go to Russia. The Armenian
economy has insufficient resources to invest
in joint ventures. The EGF report should form
the basis of further research, which would
indicate the rationale behind Armenian and
Azerbaijani economic collaboration and the
type of projects that could be undertaken.”
The presentations concluded with a questionand-answer session. The remainder of the
day’s polemical discussions took place
behind closed doors, enabling a frank and
honest exchange of views to take place.
Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Foreign
Minister has received a delegation in
Baku led by Andrii Deshchytsia, Special
Representative of the OSCE Chairman-inOffice for Conflicts. During the meeting, they
exchanged views on the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and discussed the planned visit
by Leonid Kozhara, Ukrainian Minister for
Foreign Affairs and OSCE Chairman-in-Office
to Azerbaijan, amongst other items on the
OSCE agenda.
Mammadyarov stressed that the protracted
conflict remains the main barrier to efforts
aimed at restoring durable peace and stability
Andrii Deshchytsia was briefed on the current state of
Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations (Photo: OSCE/Igor
in the region. He reiterated that Armenian
armed forces must initially withdraw from the
occupied Azerbaijani territories to facilitate
final resolution. Mammadyarov remarked that
the Armenian political leadership retains an
unconstructive stance at the peace talks,
underlining how important it is for OSCE
to increase pressure on the sides, towards
resolving the conflict. Commenting on the
proposed reopening of Khojaly Airport by
the unrecognised authorities in NagornoKarabakh, Mammadyarov explained that
this move would contravene the Chicago
Convention, and that international law
reflects the Azerbaijani position in this issue.
Previously, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
has highlighted that this reopening also
represents an open violation of the Convention
on International Civil Aviation (ICAO), with the
ICAO and European Civil Aviation Conference
(ICAC) supporting the Azerbaijani position on
this issue.
May 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
Question on arms race Azerbaijani Lieutenant
raised in UK House of and soldier seriously
Didier Burkhalter has stressed continuing Swiss support for
Nagorno-Karabakh settlement via the OSCE Minsk Group
Swiss support for
OSCE Minsk Group
Speaking to Trend News during the spring
session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe (PACE), Didier Burkhalter,
Swiss Foreign Minister, commented that
Switzerland supports Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict settlement via the OSCE Minsk
Group negotiations. The comments were
made in advance of the Swiss chairmanship
of the OSCE in 2014. He said: “It is clear
that Switzerland will be able to play a more
significant role during its chairmanship of
the OSCE. In other matters, the direct role
of Switzerland in the South Caucasus will be
linked with the idea of Russia’s interests in
Georgia and Georgia’s interests in Russia.
“The OSCE Minsk Group is engaged in
settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
and it is important not to create a new format
that is parallel with this process. We support
the process within the framework of the OSCE
Minsk Group.” Burkhalter said that security
and stability in Europe and the neighbouring
regions would be the main priorities for
Switzerland during the next four years.
Lord Hylton has posed a question in the
UK House of Lords highlighting the steps
being undertaken by the UK Government to
prevent an Azerbaijani–Armenian ‘arms race’
and whether other governments are being
alerted to the risks involved. An answer was
provided on behalf of the government by
Lord Newby, Deputy Government Chief Whip,
who explained that the OSCE countries have,
for many years, implemented an embargo
on the delivery of weapons and munitions to
both sides in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He commented: “The UK Government strictly
implements this arms embargo, and will issue
licences for export to Armenia or Azerbaijan
only where these are consistent with the terms
of the OSCE embargo.
“The Government continues to call on all sides
to use diplomatic means to reach a peaceful
settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
and urges them to refrain from behaviour
and rhetoric which would increase tension. It
strongly supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk
Group Co-Chairs to mediate in negotiations
between Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at
finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
Provocative military
exercises undertaken
in Nagorno-Karabakh
On 12 April, Bako Sahakyan, so-called
President of the unrecognised occupying
authorities in the Azerbaijani region of
Nagorno-Karabakh, was present during
military exercises undertaken by several
subdivisions of the occupying army in the
eastern part of the territories. In a provocative
comment, Sahakyan stressed the importance
of such activities, noting their contribution
towards the maintenance of the armed forces’
combat readiness. The Central Information
Department of the unrecognised republic
went on to reveal that Seyran Ohanyan,
Armenian Acting Defence Minister, was also
present during the exercises.
TEAS has strongly condemned a visit to
On 13 April, the Armenian army seriously
wounded Ramil Huseynov, a Second
Lieutenant of the Azerbaijani army. Reports
from the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry
indicated that he was caught in a hail of bullets
fired by Armenian large-calibre machine
guns, resulting in a severe gunshot wound
to his lower body. He was subsequently
transferred to hospital in Baku by helicopter,
where he was described as being in a ‘severe’
condition. Three days earlier, the Azerbaijani
Defence Ministry revealed that 19-year-old
Farhad Shikhsafiyev had been wounded by
an Armenian sniper near the Fizuli region. His
condition was described as ‘serious’.
Presidential meeting
with Minsk Group
planned for May
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair country
representatives – Igor Popov (Russian
Federation), Jacques Fauré (France) and
Ian Kelly (USA) – met Elmar Mammadyarov,
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, and Edward
Nalbandian, his Armenian counterpart, in
Krakow on 17 May. Ambassador Andrzej
Kasprzyk, Personal Representative of the
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, was also
present. Throughout, the Co-Chairs and
methods of advancing the peace process.
They also exchanged views on the current
situation and reaffirmed their commitment
towards promoting regional peace.
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs stressed
the need to avoid actions or rhetoric that could
raise tensions or damage the peace process.
They also discussed numerous confidencebuilding measures aimed at creating an
atmosphere conducive to reconciliation.
Later in May, the Co-Chairs will travel to
the region to undertake further discussions
of these issues with the Azerbaijani and
Armenian Presidents.
E-mail: [email protected]
Kyriakos Triantaphyllides (EUL/NGL, Cyprus).
of Azerbaijan, which is an important partner
of the EU, and a member of the UN Security
Nagorno-Karabakh on 26 April by several
Dr Roman Huna, Head, TEAS Belgium, said:
(MEPs). TEAS regards this provocative visit
“Over the past few years, the European Union
as detrimental to the peace process, since
Dr Huna said: “TEAS remains committed to
it undermines the work of the OSCE Minsk
they are constructive partners. In particular,
its goal – a peaceful settlement – as the one
Group, which calls on Armenia to leave
they have established constructive dialogue
and only guarantee for the economic and
Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding
regarding energy security, cultural exchange
social stability of the entire South Caucasus
and political rapprochement. We believe
region. In the meantime, TEAS will continue to
headed by MEP Eleni Theocharous (EPP,
that the recent MEPs’ mission to Nagorno-
contribute towards a constructive exchange
Cyprus), and included MEPs Frank Engel (EPP,
Karabakh is contrary to international law, and
of information between its stakeholders in
Luxembourg), Ewald Stadler (NI, Austria) and
shows disrespect to the national sovereignty
Azerbaijan and European institutions.”
May 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
During his recent visit to Turkey, Kerry and
Ahmet Davutoǧ l u, Turkish Foreign Minister,
discussed the strengthening of the OSCE
Minsk Goup. He said: “The OSCE Minsk
Group process should be provided with
invaded territory of Azerbaijan is an issue
that requires certain advancement.” He
added that Turkey and the US would
continue to discuss these issues.
John Kerry (right) points to the Bosphorus alongside Ahmet
Davutoğlu, Turkish Foreign Minister
Armenian lobby
criticises Kerry
The Armenian National Committee of
America (ANCA) has criticised John Kerry,
US Secretary-of-State, for recognising the
need to expand the Turkish role in resolving
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenpress
claimed that Kerry’s support for greater Turkish
involvement was having a negative impact on
the prospects for conflict resolution, and he
was “pouring fuel on the fire”, according to
The comments came in wake of Kerry’s
statement in the US House of Representatives
on 18 April that Turkey would be a constructive
player in the settlement of the NagornoKarabakh and Cyprus issues. According
to the Anadolu News Agency, Kerry said:
“Turkey is holding talks with us on the two
unresolved conflicts – the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and resolution of the Cyprus problem.
Turkey plays a constructive role in resolving
these issues.”
US rules out military
solution to NagornoKarabakh
The US, an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair,
has again dismissed the possibility of
any military solution to the NagornoKarabakh conflict. During a briefing in
Washington D.C., Patrick Ventrell, Acting
Deputy Spokesman, US State Department,
commented: “The tragic loss of life in the
war between Azerbaijan and Armenia
reminds us that there cannot be a military
solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
He went on to say that only a peaceful,
lasting settlement could bring stability,
prosperity, and reconciliation to the region,
saying: “The US is an OSCE Minsk Group
Co-Chair, and remains firmly committed
to working with both sides to achieve
peace.” After taking up his position in
February, John Kerry, US Secretary-ofState, reiterated that the status quo in
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains
unacceptable, and the US will continue
its commitment towards establishing a
peaceful, sustainable settlement through
the OSCE Minsk Group.
Foreign Minister during a press conference
in Moscow, then Armenia must immediately
withdraw its troops from the occupied
territories of Azerbaijan. Abdullayev said: “The
OSCE Minsk Group called for the withdrawal
of occupying forces from the territory of
Azerbaijan in its resolutions of 1993.”
EU indicates
lack of unanimity
over occupation
Fuad Isgandarov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to
Belgium and Luxembourg and Head of the
Azerbaijani Mission to the European Union
(EU) has stated that the EU institutions lack a
uniform position on the future resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Speaking to Trend
News, he said: “The European Commission
(EC), which is the executive structure of the
EU, in addition to operating its External Action
Service, which is responsible for issues of
EC foreign policy, generally say that they
support the mediatory efforts of the OSCE
Minsk Group regarding conflict resolution. As
for the legislative structure in the European
Parliament, the situation is different.”
He said that the numerous European
Parliament resolutions, such as those in
connection with the South Caucasus region
adopted in 2010, and the negotiations on
Association Agreements with Azerbaijan and
Armenia held last year, acknowledge the
Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories
and state the need for immediate withdrawal.
Parliament, voiced his position to a local
news agency, saying: “Our position is respect
for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan within internationally recognised
borders. Therefore, the European Parliament
has repeatedly demanded the withdrawal
of forces from the occupied territories, in
accordance with the resolutions of the UN
Security Council. I believe that this open
position of the European Parliament may
become an impetus, leading the executive
structures of the EU to take a more active
position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
Baku urges Yerevan
to follow OSCE Minsk
Group calls
Speaking to Trend News, Elman Abdullayev,
Spokesman, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry,
commented that if official Yerevan’s position
reflects that of the OSCE Minsk Group, as
stated by Edward Nalbandian, Armenian
Elman Abdullayev reminded Armenia of its commitment to
withdrawal from the occupied territories
Abdullayev acknowledged that Yerevan must
remember that the heads of the OSCE Minsk
Group Co-Chair countries – the Presidents
of France, the US and Russia – repeatedly
reaffirmed that maintaining the status quo in
the region is unacceptable in their statements
signed in L’Aquila, Moscow and Deauville.
MP Mirzazade
acknowledges OSCE
Speaking to Azernews, Aydin Mirzazade,
Azerbaijani MP, has indicated Azerbaijan’s
frustration with the lack of movement towards
peace achieved by the OSCE Minsk Group CoChairs, stating that Azerbaijan does not support
the organisation of meetings with no obvious
objective. The comments were made following
the proposal by the Co-Chair representatives
to organise a meeting of the Azerbaijani and
Armenian Foreign Ministers in the near future, the
purpose being to advance the peace process.
Meanwhile, Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani
Foreign Minister, has accepted the invitation
to attend such a meeting, saying: “There were
no new proposals during the recent visit to
the region, other than that regarding holding
a meeting of Foreign Ministers. Baku gave a
positive response to this proposal.”
According to Mirzazade, the organisation of
this meeting is indicative that the visits by
the Co-Chair representatives are of a political
character, and that OSCE is more interested
in organising meetings without a discernible
outcome, rather than achieving any serious
movement. He said: “The Co-Chairs’ efforts
to organise meetings and to bring together
the conflict sides can be evaluated as solely
diplomatic activity. In fact, the key task is not
to normalise the relations between the conflict
sides, but to end the Armenian occupation of
Azerbaijani lands.”
May 2013
Personalities – Arif Aziz
Arif Aziz stands against a backdrop his work at the opening of the Transmutations exhibition (Photos: Stylin’CO)
Arif Aziz – force
of nature in
contemporary art
Born in the Absheron region of Baku in
1943, Arif Aziz remains one of the leading
Azerbaijani contemporary artists. He
initially studied at the Azim Azimzadeh
State Art School, from which he graduated
in 1962, and then went on study graphic
design at the Count Strogonov University in
Moscow and at the College of Fine Arts in
Warsaw. His work was first exhibited during
his studies, and he became a teacher in
1971 at the University of Culture and Art in
Baku, where he was the Vice-Director from
1983–2001. From 2005–09 he taught at the
Beykend University in Turkey. Since 2010,
he has chaired the Decorative Arts division
at the University of Culture and Fine Arts in
Baku. In 2011, he became a member of the
New Era World Academy for Artists, and has
headed the Azerbaijani branch since 2012.
He has exhibited extensively in Azerbaijan,
Bangladesh, Belarus, Finland, Germany,
India, Iran, Lithuania, Russia, Senegal,
Sri Lanka, Turkey and the USA. Arif was
appointed in Azerbaijan as an Honoured
Art Worker in 1985. His work, much of which
features unique abstract forms, can now be
seen in public and private collections around
the world. TEAS caught up with Arif at the
opening of his exhibition Transmutations at
the Galerie RTR in Paris.
What prompted your initial interest in
becoming an artist? Do your works
incorporate any symbolism taken from
your Azerbaijani heritage? Is there a
narrative in your works?
I drew my inspiration from my childhood –
from the patchworks and embroideries of
my mother and grandmother, the tales of
my childhood, and the work of my greatuncle, who was a stonemason. I have also
been greatly inspired by my life in Absheron,
which is the region where I was born and
raised. I loved to contemplate the sea, the
May 2013
wind, the landscapes, and the golden sand
of Absheron.
What tuition do you undertake as Professor
at the Azerbaijan State University of Art
and Culture?
At the end of my studies in 1971, I decided to
return to Baku – the city I love the most, and
am very attached to. Since my return from
Moscow, 42 years ago, I have been working
at the University of Culture and Art, where I
have taught graphic design and advertising.
I’ve trained dozens of students, some of
whom have since become renowned artists.
I also taught in Istanbul, Turkey, for five years.
Did you come from an artistic family?
I didn’t come from an artistic background, and
there were no painters, sculptors or architects
in my family. However, my three daughters
became painters, and exhibit regularly.
You began your studies in the late 1950s
at the Azim Azimzadeh State Art School.
Were you forced to embrace Social
Realism under the Soviet regime? When
and why did you decide to move towards
Social realism was an academic style, and
everybody drew in this manner at that time at
university. I admired works of Picasso, Dali,
and Matisse but, after my return from Moscow,
I started to seek my own way and create my
own artistic style, as I had no wish to imitate
other artists. Thus, since the 1990s, I have
used a great deal of white in my work – this
symbolises the purity of the human being, in
my opinion. As you will notice in my paintings
exhibited here, this colour is omnipresent in
my work. I have also painted many portraits,
but abstract dominant white paintings are
more characteristic of my style.
Do you take inspiration from music whilst
you are painting?
I always listen to music whilst I paint. I love
listening to traditional Azerbaijani music and
also to jazz. In my opinion, no artist can work
without music.
Where have you exhibited?
My work has already been exhibited in Russia,
Turkey, Senegal, India and Bulgaria, amongst
other countries. This is the first time that I have
had a solo exhibition in France, although six
of my works were exhibited in France during
the Soviet era, as part of a group exhibition.
At that time, group exhibitions were very
common. Last December, I came to Paris with
my family to celebrate my forthcoming 70th
birthday, and an exhibition was proposed.
This exhibition has been realised with the
help of my friends Ayten Gracco and Kamala
Was Wassily Kandinsky a major influence
on your work?
Of course, Kandinsky has had a great
influence on my work, and I’ve also been
interested by other artists, such as Picasso
and Vrubel. However, I’ve always tried to
follow my own artistic style. I’ve been inspired
by their works, without trying to imitate them.
Arif Aziz’s evocation of the Colours of Absheron
When and where were your works first
My first exhibition took place in Baku, during
my studies at the Azim Azimzadeh State Art
Have you always focused on painting,
or have you undertaken sculpture and
I had a keen interest in photography, when I
was 12–13 years old. However, I subsequently
turned to painting and have always used this
medium since that time.
My Village, painted in 2006
Personalities – Anmary
times, and each of these was an adventure.
In particular, the Old City (Icheri Sherer) of
Baku is amazing! Have you paid attention to
the doors? They are real art works, featuring
wonderful engravings.
The cover of Sari Gelin, Anmary’s CD of Azerbaijani songs
Sari Gelin – Anmary
sings the Azerbaijani
Classically-trained Anmary ranks amongst
the leading Latvian pop singers. Following
her graduation from the Jazeps Vitols
Latvian Academy of Music, she became a
star after winning a television talent show.
Subsequently, she was the lead singer in two
Latvian groups. In 2012, she won the Latvian
Eurovision National Selection Contest and
performed the entry Beautiful Song in Baku.
Anmary developed an appreciation of
Azerbaijani music, and gave her first solo
concert in Azerbaijan on 27 November,
followed by a performance at the Gochay
Pomegranate Festival. She has now recorded
a CD, which includes such well-known
favourites as Sari Gelin (Blonde Bride), Gel ey
Seher (Come Morning) and Üzüyümün Qasi
(The Gemstone of My Ring). TEAS spoke to
her at home in Riga to find out more:
Did you have any prior experience of
Azerbaijan or Azerbaijani music before
you visited the country as the Latvian
Eurovision entry?
Naturally, I had ideas about Azerbaijani
music and the country itself prior to my first
visit. I first became aware of the country
during my childhood in Latvia, when I was
exposed to Azerbaijan’s fairy tales during
the Soviet period. For me, these stimulated
my awareness of the landscape and natural
beauty of the country, combined with the
hospitality and wisdom of the Azerbaijani
people. Books, films and television programes
formed my knowledge of Azerbaijani culture,
music, architecture and nature.
What was the reaction to the country when
you first saw it?
I became aware that the country was familiar
and close to my consciousness, yet with
many unexpected aspects. I flew to Baku at
night, and I can only describe it as magical,
akin to a fairytale. My emotions exploded with
joy and amazement, and it is hard to describe
my feelings in words. There is so much to
explore in Azerbaijan. The culture is very rich,
and each time I visit Azerbaijan, I discover
more. Last year, I visited the country four
The cities of Gabala, Gobustan, Masalli and
Gochay are real pearls of nature. Each is
very different, but has its own brilliance. The
people I have met in Azerbaijan are extremely
attentive and lovely. I have some friends in
Azerbaijan, and am really happy that our
paths crossed. I fell completely in love with
What do you think of mugham and ashiq
It is wonderful that Azerbaijan has retained
its ancient musical traditions and maintained
their popularity. Mugham is a great challenge
for any singer.
Which is your favourite song on the CD?
I believe you have predicted the answer – it is
Sari Gelin, of course. I also like Sen Gelmez
Oldun (You Have Not Come). We made new
arrangements of all the Azerbaijani songs,
and Sen Gelmez Oldun is now a tango.
Was it recorded in Azerbaijan with
Azerbaijani musicians?
The CD was recorded in Latvia, and Latvian
musicians played all the instruments.
The arrangements of the songs were also
undertaken in Latvia.
What was the reaction to your first concert
in Azerbaijan on 27 November?
Music is my oxygen, and I am delighted
that I could perform my concert in Baku
and share my happiness and emotions with
the audience. I felt that people liked my
performance, and the concert generated
considerable applause. The audience
seemed very happy, and joined in with the
Azerbaijani songs and other well-known
songs, including international hits, songs by
Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls, and other
compositions. I received many plaudits for the
Sari Gelin concert, and the entire audience
responded very positively.
Did you write the song entitled Your Voice?
Yes, I wrote this song, although I am a singer,
and not a composer. However, I write when
inspiration comes to me. My friends have
indicated their appreciation of Your Voice.
Anmary and Aqshin Nazarov, Director of the Sari Gelin music video
How did you come to make the video for
Sari Gelin? When was it shot in the Old
I love this song, and it means a great deal
for me. I would like to thank thank Ismayil
Omarov, Director, Ictimai Television (ITV) for
his support in making this lovely music video.
Have you performed Azerbaijani songs in
Yes, I have done so, and my performances
were well-received, particularly regarding the
song Sari Gelin. I gave my CD of Azerbaijani
songs to my Latvian friends, and they advised
that they liked this. I hope I will record further
Azerbaijani songs – as Azerbaijanis say:
“Inshallah (God willing).”
Inese Krumina, my manager, had the initial
concept for this video. Then Aqshin Nazarov,
Director of Music Videos, ITV shot a fantastic
video clip. This was filmed in Autumn 2012
at the Shirvanshah’s Palace, Baku and I have
the warmest memories of our co-operation.
I greatly appreciate the professionalism of
these people.
Who suggested that you should make a CD
of Azerbaijani songs?
The CD of Sari Gelin is a present for my
Azerbaijani friends – it is not commercially
available, and can only be obtained as a gift
from myself. As Martin Luther King said: “One
of the most beautiful and marvellous presents
of God is music.” I am happy to welcome
people with singing and music. The CD also
contains some other Azerbaijani songs that
were included in my solo concert programme.
My first Azerbaijani concert – also entitled
Sari Gelin – took place in November at the
Heydar Aliyev Palace in Baku.
Anmary in one of the scenes from the Sari Gelin video
Anmary’s promotional film for Sari Gelin may
be viewed at
May 2013
Business News
Actor, a mixed-use office and retail complex,
located on Pushkin Square in Moscow,
which sits in its portfolio alongside an office
complex in London’s West End, purchased for
£177.4m, and a €135m (£113.7m) property in
According to the SOFAZ investment strategy,
a maximum of five per cent of the investment
portfolio may be placed in stocks, real estate
and gold, respectively.
Johann Schneider-Ammann, Swiss Economics Minister,
acknowledged the extent of SOCAR investment in the
Azerbaijani economy
Swiss companies
invest over $87m in
non-oil sector
Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister of
Economic Development, commented: “More
than 70 companies with Swiss capital are
registered in Azerbaijan, and they have
invested $87.7m (£56.3m) in the Azerbaijani
non-oil sector.” Speaking in Baku alongside
Johann Schneider-Ammann, Swiss Economics
Minister, he explained that the two countries
have signed over 20 agreements, to date.
During the meeting, Mustafayev stressed
the interest of Azerbaijani companies in the
Swiss economy. He explained that SOCAR
had already invested CHF380m (£261.8m) in
the country, and that a SOCAR representative
office is already active in Switzerland. He stated
that, when compared year-on-year, Swiss–
Azerbaijani trade turnover grew 2.9 times
during January–February 2013.
Mustafayev said: “Azerbaijan is actively
co-operating with the State Secretariat for
Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO). To
date, SECO has undertaken 25 projects in
Azerbaijan, of which 17 are now complete. In
2012, SECO launched four new projects in the
SOFAZ funds equate
to half of Azerbaijani
Speaking at the World Economic Forum
(Davos Forum) in Baku, Shahmar Movsumov,
Executive Director, SOFAZ, announced that
the volume of funds in SOFAZ now equates
to half of all Azerbaijani GDP. Movsumov
said: “The economic strategy of the country is
directed towards investment in infrastructure
projects.” SOFAZ has recently indicated its
interest in purchasing real estate in Turkey,
Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
SOFAZ is currently focusing on the purchase
of office real estate in order to obtain
revenues from property leasing. Recently, it
has purchased the $133m (£85.5m) Gallery
May 2013
One of the major projects to be financed
this year by SOFAZ will be the development
of broadband internet across Azerbaijan,
creating opportunities for the private sector.
In February, it was reported that SOFAZ
allocated around AZN103m (£84.4m) to
implement the ‘fibre-to-home’ project for
developing broadband internet. The main
objective is to provide remote regions of the
country with broadband internet at speeds
ranging from 10–100Mbit/s, expanding
the proportion of web users to 85 per cent,
reaching the level of penetration in developed
countries by 2015.
IFC plans to invest
$28.8m in Azerbaijan
The International Finance Corporation (IFC),
part of the World Bank (WB), is to invest
$28.8m (£18.5m) in five projects in Azerbaijan
during 2013, according to the WB Baku
Office. Since Azerbaijan became an IFC
member in 1995, the IFC has invested nearly
$393m (£252.8m) in 67 projects in Azerbaijan,
together with attracting around $73m (£47m)
from other sources. The IFC mainly invests
in the financial sector, the leasing industry,
small- and medium-sized enterprises, and
trade finance and housing, in addition to the
oil and gas industry, hotel business and retail
trade. To date, SOFAZ has invested $100m
(£64.3m) in the IFC African, Latin American
and Caribbean Fund, and $50m (£32.2m) in
the IFC Catalyst Fund.
project, which is one of the two projects
competing to bring Caspian gas to Europe.
Media reports about the sale were confirmed
by an OMV spokesperson, but no financial
details were disclosed on either side.
The Nabucco West and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
(TAP) schemes are currently competing for
selection to bring gas from Azerbaijan and
Central Asia to Europe, a large proportion of
which will be from the Shah Deniz II full-field
development. The final decision will be made
by the Shah Deniz Consortium during the
next few months. The four other shareholders
in Nabucco West are BEH (Romania), BOTAS
(Turkey), MOL (Hungary) and Transgaz
TANAP described as
‘Energy Silk Road’
Kenan Yavuz, Head, SOCAR Turkey Enerji
and Board Member, Petkim Petrochemical
Holding, has described the Trans-Anatolian
Pipeline (TANAP) as the “Silk Road of the
energy sector”, in comments made to the
Cihan agency. He also commented that
TANAP marks a revolution in Azerbaijani and
Turkish energy history.
It is expected that construction of the
TANAP project will start in 2014, with the first
deliveries of Azerbaijani gas beginning in
2017. Currently, a 20 per cent share in TANAP
belongs to Turkish BOTAS and the Turkish
Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), with 80 per
cent being owned by SOCAR.
The SOCAR partners in the Shah Deniz II
development project have also indicated
their intention to acquire a stake in the
TANAP project. According to preliminary
data, the partners intend to distribute a 29
per cent share in TANAP, with Statoil and BP
receiving 12 per cent each and Total having
five per cent. TANAP will convey Azerbaijani
and Central Asian gas through Turkey to
the borders of Europe. The initial pipeline
capacity is expected to be 16bn m3 (bcm) a
year, of which around 6bcm will be delivered
to Turkey, with the remainder going to Europe
via either the TAP or Nabucco West pipeline.
Oettinger calls for energy resource
Günther Oettinger, EU Energy Commissioner,
OMV has confirmed its purchase of the RWE stake in
Nabucco West (Photo: OMV)
OMV buys RWE’s
Nabucco stake
The Austrian OMV energy group has bought
German utility RWE’s stake of nearly 17 per
cent stake in the Nabucco West pipeline
has reiterated calls for reduced European
dependency on Russian gas resources. He
expressed his support for the construction of the
Southern Corridor, stating that Europe should
be able to purchase gas from Azerbaijan and
Turkmenistan. He commented: “We want to see
Russia as a Russian gas transporter, but not as
a wholesaler of blue gas across the world.”
Business News
schemes and the creation of an e-registration
system for farmers, together with the
enhancement of food security, self-sufficiency,
and the more efficient allocation of subsidies.
The Crans Montana Forum 2012 underway in Baku
2013 Crans Montana
Forum to be held in
The 24th annual Crans Montana Forum will
be held in Baku from 27–30 June, entitled
The Post-Crisis World: Can We Rebuild
Confidence, Dynamism and Entrepreneurship
in a Sustainable Framework? According to the
Forum website, around 600 representatives
from across the world will attend the event.
The programme will include the session
2013 – Year of ICT in Azerbaijan: Challenges
and Opportunities and the plenary session
Azerbaijan and its International Connections:
Towards International and Regional Strategies.
Baku port to become
largest in the Caspian
A CNN television report has highlighted how
the new Baku International Sea Port in the Alat
Settlement is set to become the largest container
port between the South Caucasus and Central
Asia. It will handle goods from Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan and China, amongst other
countries, which will be transported to Georgia,
Turkey and Western European countries.
According to the report, many investors are
currently backing improvements in the transport
infrastructure passing through the region.
The Ministry also reported that the programme
would focus on economic diversification, the
development of healthy competition, domestic
production, the internal market for local
products, increased ICT usage, and personnel
training. Artur Rasizade, Azerbaijani Prime
Minister, explained that AZN4.7bn (£3.9bn)
had been allocated in 2012 to finance the
programme. He explained that over AZN2.1bn
(£1.7bn) had been allocated last year regarding
implementation of the State Programme on the
Social and Economic Development of Baku
and its suburbs. Rasizade explained: “The two
State Programmes on the regional development
implemented in Azerbaijan are yielding positive
results. AZN16bn (£13.1bn) was allocated to
finance the State Programme during 2009–
12, which exceeds the cost of the first State
Programme by 2.4 times.”
Azerspace–1 transferred to Azerbaijani
has been transferred to Azercosmos OJSC,
testing process from 15 March–2 April. The
Azercosmos scientists will control the satellite
The Crans Montana Forum is an international
organisation created in Crans Montana,
Switzerland, in 1986. The Forum is working
closely with such partner agencies as the
UN, UNESCO, the UN Industrial Development
Organisation (UNIDO), the EU, and the Council
of Europe. To find out more, go to
Azerbaijani GDP
expansion driven by
non-oil sector
Reuters reports that the Azerbaijani economy
expanded by 3.1 per cent during the first
quarter of 2013, driven by growth of 11.4
per cent outside its dominant oil sector,
according to official data. The expansion was
considerably faster than that experienced a
year earlier, when the economy grew by a
mere 0.5 per cent and the non-oil sector by
7.7 per cent.
In February, the Central Bank of Azerbaijan cut
its key refinancing rate to 4.75 per cent from
5 per cent, citing such factors as low annual
inflation and “priorities for diversification of
the national economy.” Azerbaijani GDP is
predicted to grow at an annual average rate
of 5.1 per cent during 2013–17, although it
expanded by just 2.2 per cent in 2012.
from the Main Home Ground Satellite Control
Centre, located near Baku. The Alternative
Ground Satellite Control Centre is situated in
the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
Vessels in the current Baku harbour (Photo: Harry Purwanto)
During the report, Larisa Leshchenko, Country
Manager for Azerbaijan, World Bank, stated
that the port would operate as a transit corridor
and cross-border point for the implementation
of customs procedures. In the near future, the
construction of the port will be completed, the
Azerbaijani naval fleet will be updated and
expanded, a transport and logistics centre
will be built, and the Baku–Boyuk–Kesik and
the Baku–Yalama railways will be rebuilt and
modernised, in addition to the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars
railway being made operational. Reconstruction
of the main railway lines will also be undertaken,
and trucks and locomotives will be upgraded.
Regional programme
set for launch in late
Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Minister of
Economic Development, has revealed that the
Third State Programme on Socio-Economic
development of the Azerbaijani regions will
be launched in late 2013. Mustafayev said
that training would relate to intensive crop and
livestock production methods, e-agriculture
First Absheron gas expected in 2020
Christian Giudicelli, General Manager, TOTAL
Azerbaijan, has revealed that his company will
extract its first natural gas from the Absheron
field in the Caspian Sea in 2020, as reported
by Bloomberg. The deposit is expected to
produce 3–5bcm of gas per annum during
its initial phase. Discovered in 2011, the
Absheron field is thought to contain 300bcm
of gas and 4m of condensate, according to
SOCAR estimates. Total and SOCAR each
hold 40 per cent of the project, whilst GDF
Suez has the remaining 20 per cent.
Latest technology to be incorporated
in new steel mill
A new state-run steel production complex is to
be constructed in Ganja, following the launch
of a new joint stock company. The company
will incorporate the entire steel supply chain,
ranging from iron ore mining to steel production.
Dashkesan Mining will extract the iron ore,
and the production process will incorporate
the latest technologies in order to maximise
efficiency. The Azerbaijani government will
prepare the draft bylaws and propose the
company structure by the end of June.
May 2013
May 2013

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