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AZERBAIJAN


  
  

 

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)

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Update No: 360 - (24/12/10)

Russia the peace-maker
Russia hosted a new round of Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations in Moscow on December 9, in an apparent bid to salvage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

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 Clinton.

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 (Heritage) party.

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 Armenian-controlled territories 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 obligations.

Regarding the minuses of the economy, Gregory Jedrzejczak highlighted the economy’s low competitiveness and flexibility.

He said the Government must develop a variety of government programmes to tackle the issue.

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 for 2010-11.


 

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