Azerbaijan: A bright and fiery land

Thu 11 January 2018 05:29 GMT | 09:29 Local Time

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News.Az reprints from Leaders League the article titled 'Azerbaijan: a bright and fiery land'.

In December 2017, Leaders League’s Regional Manager, Benjamin A. Fellous was officially invited by the Republic of Azerbaijan in order to discover its great culture, history, society, economy and institutions. After five intensive days, during which everything was professional organized way by the Embassy of Azerbaidjan in France, its Embassador and Consul, respectively S.E.M. Elchin Amirbayov and Zaur Farxadov, he came to the conclusion that this was a stunning country that’s just waiting to be discovered.Flame Towers, Baku.
In December 2017, Leaders League’s Regional Manager, Benjamin A. Fellous was officially invited by the Republic of Azerbaijan in order to discover its great culture, history, society, economy and institutions. After five intensive days, during which everything was professional organized way by the Embassy of Azerbaidjan in France, its Embassador and Consul, respectively S.E.M. Elchin Amirbayov and Zaur Farxadov, he came to the conclusion that this was a stunning country that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Upon arrival in the country, one can’t help but be impressed by the scale and sophistication of the infrastructure and technology in the capital, Baku.  

A city with everything you could possibly need and more besides: a stunning modern airport, cutting-edge architecture, high-speed internet, amazing highways, AI incorporated devices in buildings and beautifully arranged museums such as the Heydar Aliyev.

Running counter to the preconceived notion some may have, Azerbaijan is a highly developed country with a charm all of its own. This Caucasian country has a multi-faceted culture featuring both western and oriental customs. Azerbaijan succeeds in blending the seemingly impossible.  From intricate carpets to oil & gas productionthe Azeri economy is rich and varied.

With two-thirds of the country’s landmass available to be exploitedit should come as no surprise that Azerbaijan has such a highly diverse economy. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has the largest agricultural basin in the region, with farmland covering around 55% of its territory. The country is reputed for it caviar, among other delicacies.

Key facts:

Capital:  Baku

Political system: Semi-presidential system, former member of the USSR

Location: Southern-Caucasus

Borders with: Armenia, Iran, Georgia, Russia and Turkey

Language: Azerbaijani (Official language, a Turkic Language), Russian (not official but widely spoken)

Population: 9.8 million

GDP (PPP): $174,628bn (total) ; $17,857 (per capita)

Religion: No official or state religion, majority of people are secular Islamic
Principal export: oil and gas

I must admit, I did not expect a country with an Islamic background to be so open and inclusive, but as the saying goes “travel broadens the mind”and lets us see and experience things in a different way.  What we French call laïcité or secularism, is a cherished idea in our country and I was amazed to see that religion was even less visible in the public sphere in Azerbaijan than in France.

In Baku, few women wear Islamic veils and most dress in a very modern way.  Women in Azerbaijan have the same rights as men a real sense of equality can be felt and seen in this country.    .

During my stay I was  interviewed on TV and could directly experience the pride those in the media and culture fields take in both preserving their classical heritage and promoting western culture. From traditional Mugham folk music to the latest Western hits everything is there to create the perfect mix.

Furthermore, as we were explained the geopolitical challenges faced by Azerbaijan, including its border conflict with Armenia over disputed lands; we could still perceive and understand the rationality with which the people of Azerbaijan deals with its foreign and internal politics.

Against all odds, a huge population of Armenians live in harmony in Baku, welcome and whole-heartedly accepted by Azerbaijanis with little discernable resentment about the ongoing conflict on the Karabagh region. 

A member of  the  International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank; Azerbaijan is building strategic partnerships right, left and center, trying to be a country with a balance approach in the region. A member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Azerbaijan has solid relationship with Israel, which is seen as a strategic partner and has an embassy in Baku.

All in all, Azerbaijan is an amazing country to discover with a deep history and a very modern approach to politics and society. Far from the clichés conveyed by those with an axe to grind, Azerbaijan is a country where everyone can thrive and enjoy his or her difference irrespective of race, color or religion. A promising economy and the cornerstone of geopolitical stability in a complex region, Azerbaijan is indeed the Land of Fire, shedding light and hope for countries wishing to develop.

News.Az

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