Books on Azerbaijan
Update No: 360 -
Russia hosted a new round of
Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations in
Moscow on December 9, in an apparent bid
to salvage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
held a trilateral meeting with his
Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on
the sidelines of a regular gathering of
the foreign ministers of ex-Soviet states.
Neither the Russian Foreign Ministry, nor
official sources in Baku and Yerevan
reported any details of the talks. The
Armenian Foreign Ministry said only that
the three men “continued discussions on
topical issues pertaining to the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s resolution.”
The talks came just over a week after the
failure by Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s
presidents to reach any agreements on the
margins of the OSCE summit held in Astana
in December. Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev had expressed hope that they will
iron out their remaining disagreements on
the basic principles of a Karabakh
settlement proposed by the Russian, U.S.
and French mediators.
Contrary to expectations, President Serzh
Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev did not even
meet in Kazakhstan’s capital. They only
pledged “more decisive efforts” at
Karabakh peace in a joint statement with
Medvedev, French Prime Minister Francois
Fillon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
In Yerevan, meanwhile, the National
Assembly finally rejected an opposition
bill that would oblige Armenia to formally
recognize the self-proclaimed
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) as an
independent state. Only 13 deputies of the
131-member parliament voted for the motion
put by the opposition Zharangutyun
Leaders of the parliament’s pro-government
majority reiterated their view that a
formal Armenian recognition of Karabakh
would be counterproductive at this
juncture. “Not only is our view unchanged
but it has become even stronger,” said one
of them, Galust Sahakian.
Speaking at the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan,
Sarkisian warned Yerevan will recognize
the NKR if Azerbaijan tries to win back
the disputed enclave and other
surrounding it by force.
The Azeris are going home
When other nations dithered about joining
the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, the
Republic of Azerbaijan did not hesitate.
Saddam Hussein was the cause of
innumerable deaths and maimings amongst
the 13 million Iranian Azeris in the
1980-82 war between Iraq and Iran, for
which he was of course infamously
responsible, along with the Reagan
Administration - Defence Secretary Cheney
to the fore!
For more than five years, Azerbaijani
soldiers have provided security for the
Haditha Dam in Anbar province, guarding
the perimeter, searching the 630 Iraqi
employees as they arrived at work and
keeping a watchful eye on Lake Qadisiya to
the north and the Euphrates River to the
south. With 11 rotations, more than 1,000
troops from the Caspian Sea nation served
at the dam, a major source of
hydroelectric power and thus a tempting
target for insurgents. Highly disciplined,
the Azerbaijani troops marched to and from
the chow hall.
But now the Marines are decamping from
Anbar, turning security chores over to the
Iraqis. In a ceremony in early December,
Marine officials thanked the Azerbaijanis
as their nation's flag was lowered.
The Azerbaijanis sang their national
anthem: "Azerbaijan! Azerbaijan!/Cherished
land of valiant sons/We are ready to give
our heart and life for you."
The anthem's lyrics were written in 1918
by poet Ahmad Javad, who was executed in
1937 as a "counter-revolutionary."
Azerbaijan restored the anthem after it
broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Too much of a good thing?
The big issue for Azerbaijan right now is
the economy. The world downturn, and above
all the collapse in the global oil price
from $147 to $47 per barrel, a quite
unprecedented plunge, is posing problems
for the Azeri Government.
GDP growth has been astronomical recently,
in the 25-35% range. This sort of
performance is over – not necessarily such
a bad thing. For hectic growth brings its
own problems, inflation, graft and
overcrowding. Everybody has only one
thought in their minds in a madcap boom –
how to get one's hands in the till. Not a
spiritually uplifting state of affairs!
Free rider riding
Azerbaijan is, along with Russia, Norway
and (curiously enough) Oman, is a free
rider on OPEC. None of them are members.
They are not obliged to cut output now,
when it would obviously be in the
collective interests of global oil
exporters to do so.
Azerbaijani Banks Association (ABA) has
held a meeting on its performance in the
2000s, plans for 2009-11 and the global
financial crisis, bringing together
representatives from the World Bank (WB),
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the
National Bank of Azerbaijan (NBA) and
commercial banks in the country.
The World Bank Country Manager for
Azerbaijan, Gregory Jedrzejczak, said the
Azerbaijani economy is able to confront
the world financial crisis.
Commercial banks are now very cautious in
lending loans and take a more serious
approach to risk management, with an
individual screening of customers.
According to him, the high level of
foreign reserves in Azerbaijan is a
positive factor and banks have enough
resources to repay their external debt
Regarding the minuses of the economy,
Gregory Jedrzejczak highlighted the
economy’s low competitiveness and
He said the Government must develop a
variety of government programmes to tackle
APA President Eldar Ismayilov said that
the world financial crisis has started to
affect the real sector more; but the
Azerbaijani economy is well-prepared for
this. The second part of the meeting was
held behind closed doors to discuss plans