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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: 299- (28/11/05)

Built on oil
Azerbaijan has roughly eight million people who speak a Turkic language and are mostly Shia Muslims
In 1900, the oil wells built by the Nobel brothers in Baku supplied half the world's oil.
Azerbaijan's was the world's first Islamic state when it declared independence in 1918, but was taken over by the Soviet Union two years later. There are 15 million ethnic Azeris living in Iran.
Energy reserves include at least 31bn barrels of oil. The US$3.6 billion BTC oil pipeline, opened this year, will bring in US$50 billion for the Government over 20 years.

To plant reforms, Azeris need stable soil
November 26th's parliamentary elections were substantially less than perfect, but marked an improvement over previous votes. One point of view is that the priority now is to prevent the country from slipping into violence -- still a possibility -- and to ensure Azerbaijan's transition toward lasting democracy, stability and economic prosperity. This is always likely to be a lengthy process.
If successful, Azerbaijan could serve as a proponent of reforms in Central Asia and even in the Middle East. Much is at stake for Azerbaijan as well as the European Union, Russia, the US and the wider region.
If stability in Azerbaijan deteriorates, any resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem would be postponed indefinitely. This would be truly unfortunate given how close this has come to resolution.
Azerbaijan sits at the centre of the Caspian Basin, which some believe holds the richest gas and oil fields after the Middle East and Russia. Profound instability in Azerbaijan could complicate the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, thus depriving the global economy of one million barrels of oil per day. The viability of the BTC pipeline is particular important for Europe's energy diversity.
The government in Baku has a historic opportunity to capitalize on Azerbaijan's energy resources just as global oil prices are at record levels. Azerbaijan will soon be awash with extra money, which it could use to improve its infrastructure, invest in human resources and build alternative sectors of the economy. But long-term economic progress will remain elusive unless supported by rigorous political reforms, stability and overall security.
It is important to remember that change is a complex process. Reforms also entail capacity-building and infrastructure adjustments. In the case of Azerbaijan, this change could yet be achieved rapidly and reforms be promoted decisively. But nothing will happen overnight. And yet, without stability, it is pointless to speak of reforms at all.

West baulks at backing revolution in oil-rich state
However, there is another point of view entirely, expressed below by a deeply patriotic Azeri.
As a student at the London School of Economics, Murad Gassanly spent his spare time hanging around with the sons and daughters of Azerbaijan's post-Soviet elite. They cruised in sports cars, dined out at The Ivy and thought nothing of spending £2,000 on a night at a Mayfair club, says Jeremy Page in Baku. 
Gassanly, an Azeri who moved to Britain with his family in 1993, assumed that they were living off the legitimate profits of Azerbaijan's resurgent oil industry. But when he returned briefly to Azerbaijan in 2002, he found a country mired in poverty and corruption and dominated by a handful of super-rich government officials - many of whom were the parents of his friends. 
He is now in the front line of a campaign to stage a peaceful revolution in Azerbaijan like those that rocked Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine last year. "Azerbaijan is run by a corrupt, authoritarian regime," he told The Times. "I'm here to try to make sure that people here have the same freedoms I enjoyed in Britain." 
As a political consultant to the opposition Azadliq (Freedom) bloc, he is co-ordinating its efforts to win Western support for the opposition if the Government rigs parliamentary elections. 
It is, however, a far more formidable task than in Georgia or Ukraine. The Government of Azerbaijan is determined to prevent any repetition of those revolutions and the West's priority is to maintain stability in a country where it has key strategic interests. 
Azerbaijan is rated as one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the region, with more than 40 per cent of its people living below the poverty line. It has been ruled most of the time since its independence from Russia by Heydar Aliyev, a hardline former KGB chief who was succeeded by his son, Ilham, in 2003. 
But this secular Islamic state on the Caspian Sea is also a key element of the United States's strategy to contain Iran and secure access to the Caspian's huge oil and gas reserves. 
A staunch US ally, Azerbaijan was one of the few Muslim states that sent troops to Iraq. The US has built radar stations near its border with Iran. Western companies have also invested billons of dollars in building a pipeline to take Caspian oil from Baku, via Georgia and Turkey, to the Mediterranean. President Aliyev says that there is no cause for a revolution because his country is on the crest of an oil boom that will eradicate poverty and unemployment. Ali Hasanov, a senior presidential aide, told The Times: "Even if the US wanted a revolution here, it would be impossible, because the people do not want it." 
The opposition accuses President Aliyev of trying to pack Parliament with his friends and relatives and had threatened to bring tens of thousands of people on to the streets after the elections. 
"If there are massive falsifications, we will call on the people to fight, within the bounds of the constitution," said Ali Kerimli, one of Azadliq's leaders. 
But the opposition has failed to come up with a coherent platform or to unite behind a single leader, as Ukrainians did behind Viktor Yushchenko. Some opposition leaders fear that Western governments may tone down their criticism of electoral abuses for the sake of their strategic interests. "Our wealth is our poverty," Sardar Jalaloglu, another senior Azadliq figure, said. "Our revolution will not be as easy as in Georgia or Ukraine." 
Over the past few months the Government has repeatedly used riot police to break up opposition rallies in the centre of Baku, injuring dozens of people. It has also broken up youth groups that tried to emulate movements in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. When Rasul Guliyev, an exiled opposition leader, tried to return to Azerbaijan this month after nine years of self-imposed exile in the US, the Government refused to let his plane land and detained hundreds of opposition supporters. 
Two days later Mr Aliyev sacked a dozen senior officials and had two of them, the economy and health ministers, arrested for allegedly planning to stage a coup with Mr Guliyev. The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concern. But President Bush sent a letter to Mr Aliyev, welcoming his "commitment to a free and fair election." He added: "I look forward to working with you after these elections." 
Under Western pressure, Mr Aliyev issued a decree allowing the use of indelible ink to mark voters' fingers and permitting foreign-funded NGOs to monitor the vote. But critics dismiss that as too little, too late. 
Gassanly's final comment was that he was driven by fear that Azerbaijan's people may lose faith in the ideals of democracy and free markets and embrace Islamic extremism. "The West is making a mistake thinking that short-term stability is more important than long-term democracy," he said. "Next time the flags won't be orange. They'll be green."

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ENERGY

SOCAR calls 12th Azeri light tender 


Azeri state oil company SOCAR announced a tender for this year's twelfth consignment of Azeri Light oil produced at Azerbaijan's Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) fields, a source at SOCAR said, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The consignment of one million barrels will be shipped from the port of Supsa on November 18-19. Switzerland's Glencore bought this year's first consignment of Azeri Light. Arcadia bought the second and sixth, UniPetrol bought the third, Total - the fourth and R-Trading - the fifth, and Select Energy - the seventh and eighth, Turkey's Tupras - the ninth, BP - the tenth and Select Energy - the eleventh. SOCAR has a 10 percent interest in the ACG project. Profitable oil is distributed among shareholders in proportion to their participation in the project. Participants in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli contract currently include British Petroleum - 34.1367 percent, the US companies Unocal - 10.2814 percent, ExxonMobil - 8.0006 percent, Devon Energy - 5.6262 percent, and Amerada Hess -2.7 percent, Japan's INPEX Corp - 10 percent and ITOCHU Oil - 3.9205 percent, Norway's Statoil - 8.5633 percent, and Turkey's TPAO - 6.75 percent.

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