U.S – Azerbaijan Relations: Shared Goals for a Stable, Prosperous Future

U.S – Azerbaijan Relations: Shared Goals for a Stable, Prosperous Future

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb.22

Trend:

Op-ed by U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Robert F. Cekuta

One year ago, I had the great honor of presenting my credentials to President Ilham Aliyev as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan. In one of my first meetings afterward with other government officials, I was asked a straight-forward question, "Are we friends, or not?" I instantly answered "yes," however the question is a reminder to me that relations between countries, just like relations between individuals, need continued effort and attention.

With that in mind I would like to report on my activities over this past year and review how relations between the United States and Azerbaijan are growing.

Over the last year, I have enjoyed learning about the natural beauty, fascinating history, and cultural traditions of Azerbaijan. My wife, Anne, and I have visited many parts of the country, exploring sites both on and off the beaten path. Whether at the ancient rock carvings at Gobustan, the Palace of the Sheki Khans, or hiking in Azerbaijan's countryside, I find there is so much to see and learn I feel that I am barely scratching the surface. My engagements are wonderful opportunities to interact with Azerbaijanis and to learn about their concerns and expectations. Some of the most moving encounters have been with communities of internally displaced persons (IDPs), where I have heard firsthand about the hardships they still face and the pain they feel at being separated from their homes. These encounters have given me a clear understanding of what people care about, where the country is headed, and also of what they think about the United States.

As I have said many times, there are three main fronts in our relationship - security, democracy, and economy/energy - and I say those in no particular order. They cannot be placed in order because they cannot be separated. A healthy economy is basic to a country's security. Economies reach their fullest potential when rule of law and respect for the individual are guaranteed, and democratic societies flourish when citizens feel secure. All of those ingredients are necessary for Azerbaijan's long term stability and prosperity.

The United States has always firmly supported Azerbaijan's long term stability and prosperity. Moreover, Americans want a long lasting relationship with Azerbaijan and

are with Azerbaijanis for the long haul. A stable and prosperous Azerbaijan is essential for advancing those same goals of stability and prosperity regionally and globally, whether in terms of fighting terrorism, building corridors of trade and economic prosperity along both new and old routes, or working to increase the stability and diversity of global energy sources and supply routes. In a region that is seeing rapid change in very uncertain times, Azerbaijan's importance as an anchor of stability is as crucial as ever.

Helping Azerbaijanis strengthen that stability and prosperity is one of the most important aspects of the U.S. relationship with Azerbaijan. How we have done that over the last 25 years has changed as Azerbaijan has changed, as the country has become more prosperous and has come to face new challenges. Twenty-five years ago our assistance focused on direct humanitarian aid to a country in conflict. Today we are working with Azerbaijanis in helping women and youth become more successful entrepreneurs and to support the country's efforts to boost agricultural production and other paths to increased economic diversification. Through one of the U.S. Agency for International Development's, (USAID), programs, the Socio Economic Development Activity, (SEDA), for example, we are working with the Azerbaijani government to support community-based projects joining local governments, citizens, and NGOs to identify local challenges and find solutions to them. Among the 59 projects completed are actions to bring potable water to villages, to rehabilitate roads, and to build medical clinics in 52 communities. Over 85,000 Azerbaijanis in the last three years benefitted, and have gained the skills to address their own social and economic needs in partnership with their government representatives in future.

Other parts of the U.S. government are active on this front as well. The U.S. military's European Command expertise has benefited numerous communities, including IDP settlements in the Barda and Aghjabadi districts, with programs to help improve water supplies and rebuild local schools. In fact, the United States has provided over $115 million in support for IDPs since 1993, and remains committed to this segment of Azerbaijani society, just as we remain committed to working through the Minsk Group process to help realize a lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh that will enable all IDPs and refugees to return to their homes and open the door for further prosperity and stability in Azerbaijan as well as for the entire region.

Other U.S. supported programs, including Peace Corps, educational scholarships, and English-language training programs, have provided individual Azerbaijanis with skills that they are using to help their country. Over 5,000 alumni of various exchange programs are working all levels of Azerbaijan's government and private sector, employing what they learned to strengthen Azerbaijan's capacity in areas such as business, governance, and social welfare. I was particularly happy to see the many U.S. exchange program alumni who volunteered and contributed to the success of the 2015 European Games. All told, the United States has provided over $1.3 billion in assistance since 1992 to Azerbaijan, and that engagement evolves and continues.

American engagement with Azerbaijan is not confined to government channels. The activities and interest of U.S. companies has also been important to building prosperity and stability and to strengthening our friendship. The successful U.S. trade mission last year brought to Azerbaijan 14 major U.S. companies who made important connections with Azerbaijani businesses that can enhance the already significant economic ties between our countries. There are numerous American companies working here in Azerbaijan, creating jobs and boosting the economy.

We also continue to engage on democratic development. All democratic countries, including the United States, are always evolving. What is important is that we constantly reassess our progress and maintain an open conversation within our societies about how we can improve. Democratic principles, such as an accountable government and embracing the rule of law, are critical for long-term stability, prosperity, and success. As Azerbaijan confronts a global economic situation that is challenging many countries right now, public discussion on how to remove barriers to economic development, including corruption, will be important to making Azerbaijan stronger, more stable, and more prosperous.

I want to take this opportunity as well to express deep appreciation for what Azerbaijan is doing on security, particularly within the region. Azerbaijan remains an important partner for the United States and NATO, through its support of transportation routes to Afghanistan and its ongoing peacekeeping mission there. Azerbaijan is developing into an increasingly important transit hub, with several successful demonstrations of the ability to move goods between China, Central Asia, and Europe through the Alat Port. Those are important steps toward the regional vision for the New Silk Road, which like the ancient route, will also be a catalyst for entrepreneurship, innovation, and individual

creativity. Azerbaijan is also a core partner in the global fight against terrorism and, given its long-standing and strong traditions of inter-ethnic and inter-religious tolerance, is an important example to other countries around the world.

In sum, friends share mutual interests, values, and goals. Friendships often have ups and downs, yet friends stay the course. A true friend is happy for another friend's success, and is also honest and ready to help when that friend is struggling. I think all of those aspects apply to the United States' relationship with Azerbaijan. The answer to the question, "Are we friends or not?" has been "yes" for each of the 25 years since Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union. I am certain it will always be "yes" for the next 25 years and beyond.

Anakhanum Khidayatova
Correspondent

Armenia reports 233 new COVID-19 cases
Armenia reports 233 new COVID-19 cases
Defense Ministry: Azerbaijan destroys another Armenian tactical UAV
Defense Ministry: Azerbaijan destroys another Armenian tactical UAV
Peter Tase: Open Society Foundations' headquarters in Armenia - real political risk for Caucasus region
Peter Tase: Open Society Foundations' headquarters in Armenia - real political risk for Caucasus region
Loading Bars
Latest
Turkey reports 1,153 new COVID-19 cases
Ireland says rise in COVID-19 reproduction rate 'a serious concern'
Iran's 1st aid cargo in Beirut to help affected Lebanese people
PM Gakharia: 'we are entering a long-term, deep economic crisis'
Turkey conducts nationwide inspections of COVID-19 measures
West Kazakhstan closes COVID-19 hospital
Kazakhstan increases export to Canada during COVID-19
U.S. Senate votes to ban TikTok app on government devices
U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook stepping down as key U.N. arms embargo vote looms
Armenia reports 233 new COVID-19 cases
Kyrgyzstan, Russia discuss resumption of air service
Georgia among 4 states UEFA may hold neutral matches
Iran to stand by Lebanese government, people: Velayati
Azerbaijani ambassador to US: Armenia’s actions undermine realistic prospects for peace process
Lukashenko says he regards Putin as his elder brother
Turkey's seven-month steel export figures announced
Azerbaijani-Turkish large-scale military exercises continue in Nakhchivan (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Turkey discloses 1H2020 cargo shipment via its Tekirdag port
Defense Ministry: Azerbaijan destroys another Armenian tactical UAV
Volume of cargo transportation up in Georgia
Iran eyes to increase petrochemical production
Turkey's seven-month export of grain, legumes to int'l markets revealed
Aegean Airlines to carry out flights on Tbilisi-Athens route
Industrial output increases in Kazakhstan in 1H2020
Turkey's 1H2020 trade with France declines
State property to be put up for auction in Azerbaijan
Georgia to open first lead processing plant
Rouhani inaugurates 3 new petrochemical projects in Iran
Georgian banks reveal losses in 2Q2020
Minister: Agrarian sector dynamically developing in Azerbaijan
Liebherr-MCCtec Rostock to deliver cranes offshore Azerbaijan
Export of wood, furniture from Turkey to world markets down
Pipeline natural gas imports to Europe to remain below 2019 level by late 2020
Kazakhstan's crude oil export volume to Russia down year-on-year
Azerbaijani oil prices continue to rise
Southern Gas Corridor has impact on PNG-LNG competition in EU
Gold, silver prices in Azerbaijan show growth
Ministry: Kazakhstan has potential to increase pork exports
Azerbaijani labor ministry reveals transfers from state budget for pensions
Azerbaijan shattering myth of “invincible Armenian diaspora”
Azerbaijan confirms 435 more COVID-19 recoveries
Turkmenistan’s Turkmengas announces tender for general equipment purchase
Georgian companies set to cut investment in 2020
Russia postpones flights to Uzbekistan
Georgia announces third phase of its anti-crisis plan
Azerbaijan invests significant funds in Turkey's petrochemical complex
Uzbekistan takes additional measures to restore tourism industry
IMF reveals data on official gold reserves of Uzbekistan
Data on carpet products' sales at Turkmen State Commodity Exchange for July 2020 revealed
Transition to "green economy" directly affects coal consumption in Kazakhstan
Monument in Hague to victims of genocide against civilians in Azerbaijan's Khojaly moved to spacious area
Entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan exempt from rental fee till 2021
Georgia has great opportunity to invest in Japanese business
Data on transactions in national currency on Turkmen State Commodity Exchange in July 2020
Agroindustry & Food Security Agency of Uzbekistan buys automatic syringes via tender
Uzbekistan increases production of electrical products
Ministry: Germany allocates funds to Georgia for number of projects
Lebanese MP: Azerbaijan represented by Ilham Aliyev demonstrates Islamic solidarity by providing financial assistance to Lebanon
Sale of tickets for Baku-Nakhchivan flights to be carried out in the new fashion
Pool sales skyrocket as consumers splash out on coronavirus cocoons
Turkmenistan imports various types of tools from Russia
Agreement on visa-free regime between Azerbaijan, Turkey to enter into force soon
Kazakhstan's export to Vietnam down manyfold amid COVID-19
Volume of aluminum, lead products import to Turkmenistan from EAEU revealed
Ukrtransnafta starts unloading Azeri Light oil for Belarus
Kazakhstan’s postal service operator to buy accumulators via tender
Central Bank of Azerbaijan raises its currency reserves
Amendments to state budget for 2020 adopted by Azerbaijani parliament in second reading
Turkmenistan to implement new projects with Denmark's Haldor Topsoe
President Ilham Aliyev chaired meeting in a video format on measures taken to combat coronavirus and on socio-economic situation (PHOTO)
Kyrgyzstan - main exporter of fertilizers to Uzbekistan among EAEU countries
Iran to export face mask production equipment
Azerbaijan's Qala Hayat Sigorta insurance company completes 1H2020 with profit
Iran and Venezuela can expand cooperation
Latvian AirBaltic resumes regular flights to Georgian Tbilisi
Uzbekistan plans to launch environmentally friendly project in co-op with S.Korea
Slovenian Railways interested in developing cooperation with Azerbaijani Railways: ministry
Azerbaijani currency rates for August 6
Slovenia offers Azerbaijan to use Port of Koper
Large Azerbaijani bank increases its expenses
Turkmenistan amends legislation to attract more foreign companies
Uzbekistan to announce several tenders for tunnel construction
Spunbond production growing in Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan to pay compensations to COVID-19 infected medical workers
Former EBRD President talks measures taken by Uzbekistan to combat COVID-19
Total liabilities of Azerbaijan's Bank BTB show 1H2020 rise
How will BP’s new strategy affect business in Azerbaijan?
Iran to dispatch two aid shipments to Lebanon
BP to focus exploration on existing basins, not to enter new countries
Turkmenistan changes flight rules to prevent coronavirus outbreak
Int'l organizations helping Uzbekistan to develop transparent cotton production
BP still eyes $9B into its oil & gas business per year in 2030
Georgia reports 9 new cases of COVID-19
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 35 times
Iran boosts non-oil export
Uzbekistan eyes transferring its airports to investors on package principle
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry's securities attract significant demand
Iran launches first rail ambulance
Kazakh uranium fields exploring venture to buy welding equipment via tender
Russia, Azerbaijan to ensure unimpeded cargo traffic
All news