INDEPENDENCE DAY MESSAGE
by Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the Court of St James’s
His Excellency Elin Suleymanov
When citizens of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic established the first ever republic with a predominantly Muslim population, they changed history far beyond Azerbaijan in the ways that would have been hard to foresee in 1918. The achievements of our first independent republic and aspirations of its founders continue to inspire the people of Azerbaijan some 105 years later. Although the Independence of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was interrupted by a Bolshevik invasion, this experience of independent nationhood became an important part of national identity once the Republic of Azerbaijan restored its independence in 1991. Therefore, Azerbaijan’s State Flag, National Anthem and State Coat of Arms reflect the symbolism and the legacy of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Similarly, the policy focus on diversity, inclusivity, intercultural dialogue and equality for all members of Azerbaijani society today also builds on the legacy established in 1918.
Since the early 1990s, when Azerbaijan emerged as an independent nation from the USSR, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom established a strong partnership formed on a shared vision for the future of our wider region based on an international law-based order, sustainable development, social reforms and economic prosperity. As the UK is the largest single foreign investor with some 600 British companies operating in Azerbaijan, it has led successful and transformative international cooperation with Azerbaijan – along with Georgia and Turkey and private sector partners – and has changed the energy map of Europe by bringing Caspian Sea resources to European markets via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the ambitious Southern Gas Corridor. With green energy rising to the top of our cooperation agenda in recent years, Azerbaijan and the UK have developed ambitious plans for producing alternative energy, while Azerbaijan has agreed with its Black Sea partners to deliver green electricity to South Eastern Europe. Azerbaijan’s multi-faceted ties with the UK, include, to name just a few examples, thousands of Azerbaijani students attending and graduating from leading British universities, the spectacular Azerbaijani musical performance at the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Prince’s School for Traditional Arts in the Old Town Baku that has been patronised by His Majesty King Charles III.
Azerbaijan’s multi-faceted ties with the UK, include, to name just a few examples, thousands of Azerbaijani students attending and graduating from leading British universities, the spectacular Azerbaijani musical performance at the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Prince’s School for Traditional Arts in the Old Town Baku that has been patronised by His Majesty King Charles III.
A key pillar of regional cooperation and connectivity is the Middle Corridor bringing together Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia through the Trans-Caspian transportation link. Increasingly important, this global connection has recently acquired an even greater strategic value given the turbulence around our region.
The foundations of the robust Azerbaijan-British partnership were laid during the early days of Azerbaijan’s independence by the late President Heydar Aliyev. In fact, it is hard to imagine the success of our region and modern Azerbaijan without his visionary leadership. Therefore, as Azerbaijan marks Heydar Aliyev’s centennial this May, our nation remembers his legacy with gratitude, perhaps reminiscent somewhat to the respect British citizens paid to the memory of Her Late Majesty Elizabeth II.
Today, Azerbaijan, led by President Ilham Aliyev, deepens and promotes regional integration and cooperative initiatives, widely supported by the international community. Having restored its territorial integrity after three decades of conflict with neighbouring Armenia, Azerbaijan insists on signing a peace agreement and normalisation to ensure a lasting peace for the South Caucasus. In a world full of violent conflict and volatility, President Aliyev’s agenda for peace is a basis for the prosperous and secure future for our entire region.
As Azerbaijan revives its lands, British companies are among key partners again, as Chapman Taylor develops urban plans and BP works on green energy facilities towards fulfilling Azerbaijan’s pledge for turning the liberated territories into a net zero emissions zone. The UK also contributes to making the once-occupied lands safe for civilians and economic activity by supporting demining efforts. In this important endeavour, the UK is a long-standing and trusted partner.