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AZERBAIJAN


  
  

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 7,124 6,090 5,600 102
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 810 710 650 146
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Azerbaijan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
86,600

Population
7,868,385

Principal ethnic
groups
Azeri 90%
Russian 2.5%
Armenian 2%
Dagestani 3.2%
other 2.3

Capital
Baku

Currency
Azeri Manat

President
Ilham Aliyev



President
Ilham Aliyev
 


Update No: 296- (26/08/05)

The Baku-Washington axis
The US is interested in good relations with Azerbaijan for more reasons than one. The obvious reason in of course oil, of which it has an abundance, while becoming the main conduit to the West of Kazakstan's Caspian Sea oil output too, as a spur is being added across the sea to join up with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.
But Azerbaijan is actually in a vital strategic situation from a geopolitical point of view. With Russia to the north, Georgia, Armenia and Turkey to the west and Iran to the south, it is the hub of the region linking the Caucasus to the wider world.
Azeri foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, paid a visit to Washington in early August that could prove a watershed in bilateral relations. Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan are due on November 6th and the US is pressurising the Azeris to make them more free and fair than previously. Given the democratic revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan recently, this is seen as an immensely sensitive issue in Baku. 

'US-Azerbaijani relations at a turning point'
The need for better electoral credentials in Azerbaijan has been insistently stressed in recent months by the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and was repeated during July's visits to Baku by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and current Deputy Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky. But Washington's insistence on democratisation in Azerbaijan is not merely an end in itself. It stems from a broader American 'neo-con' conviction that democratisation is essential to domestic stability and regional security. It also reflects a new tool in the global war on terror, although it remains to be seen if this "muscular Wilsonian" approach will yield better results, Radio Free Europe has reported.
For Azerbaijan, this priority for democratic elections has sharply raised the threshold for the regime of President Ilham Aliyev. But preparations for the election have fallen far short of the shared expectations of the international community and the Azerbaijani opposition. Specifically, Azerbaijan's electoral reforms remain incomplete, with shortfalls in both the composition of electoral commissions and the planned monitoring of the ballot. American disappointment with election preparations to date was also a central message in Mammadyarov's talks with his American hosts.
The second component was the establishment of several "Cooperative Security Locations," tactical facilities with pre-positioned stock that provide contingency access but, unlike a traditional base, have little or no permanent US military presence. These locations are designed to increase the mobility of US military forces and, most importantly, facilitate counter-proliferation missions along Azerbaijan's southern border with Iran and northern borders with Georgia and Daghestan.
In line with the US military need to project military power rapidly, the US presence in Azerbaijan may be further expanded from the existing Cooperative Security Locations to Forward Operating Sites, host-country "warm sites" endowed with a limited military presence and capable of hosting rotational forces. These forward operating sites can also serve as centres for bilateral and regional training.
Thus, while the utility of a permanent, traditional military base in Azerbaijan is seriously limited, the expansion of the forward stationing of forces is likely. (Azerbaijani presidential aide Novruz Mamedov's recent statement to Interfax that Azerbaijan will not host "US military bases" may draw a fine semantic line between "bases" in the traditional sense and forward operating sites). Yet even the military relationship is in the final analysis contingent on Azerbaijan's ability to meet the new, more stringent US standards of democracy and free elections. The steadfast refusal by the Azerbaijani authorities to amend the composition of election commissions and their reluctance to permit the marking of voters to preclude multiple voting cast doubt on President Aliyev's repeated assertions that the ballot will indeed be free, fair, and transparent.

RV Investment to inject 600m Euro in Azeri gold fields 
In fact Azerbaijan has another means of leverage over Washington than black gold, namely gold itself.
US company RV investment group services will invest at least 600 million Euro in developing gold fields in Azerbaijan, the company's president announced on August 5th in Baku. He said 50 million Euro would be invested in geological and exploration work. 
The industrial mining of gold is expected to start at fields in Ordubad by the second half of 2007, said Gerald Phillips, operational director at the Azerbaijan mining company, the operational company to develop the oil fields. He said that a plant to process gold-bearing ore is expected to be built in Ordubad and will produce 250,000 ounces of gold a year. Work will simultaneously begin on developing the Kadabek and Gosh fields, he said. 

Azerbaijan plans to double GDP
With a gold boom in the offing to augment the existing oil boom, Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev announced on May 12th that his country plans to double its GDP. Aliyev said, while addressing the implementation of the nation's poverty reduction and economic development programme: "We have set the goal of doubling the volume of GDP. And we will do our best to meet this objective within the shortest possible period of time."
According to Aliyev, the programme has helped reduce poverty levels from about 50% in 2003 to 40% this year. "Taking account of high GDP growth rates, the number of poor people will continue to decrease in the future. In particular, industrial production expanded by 15% in January-April 2005, the highest growth rate over the whole period of our independence," Aliyev explained.
"Using the oil sector, we should diversify the economy to stop being dependent on oil," the president said. In 2005 education spending will see a 25% rise, while healthcare spending will be increased by 44%, he said.

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ENERGY

Azerbaijan, Georgia ink natural gas deal 


Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Noghaideli, and Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliev, signed an agreement in Baku recently according to which Azerbaijan will send new stocks of natural gas to Georgia, New Europe reported. 
The details of the agreement will not be worked out until August at which time Aliev will announce the amount of Azerbaijani natural gas that Georgia will receive in the winter.
During the talks, the most important item on the agenda for the discussion was the search for an alternative to Russian natural gas and Georgia preferred Azerbaijan as the ideal partner. 
At the same meeting, there was another discussion on whether Georgia will get an additional two billion cubic metres of natural gas from the Shah Deniz-Erzrumi natural gas pipeline, according to the reports.

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