Baku – APA. On 22 September, the spirited music of Azerbaijani violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva and the Deco Ensemble entranced more than 200 delegates, including Peers, MPs, Shadow Ministers and trade unionists attending this year’s Labour Party conference in Brighton. Sabina was the first Azerbaijani graduate from the Juilliard School in New York and is the Arts and Culture Advisor to The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). The talented musicians performed a vibrant mix of standards, tangos and their own compositions, TEAS told APA.
This TEAS event was organised to increase awareness of the ongoing close relationship between the Azerbaijan and the UK. The UK remains the leading Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) contributor to the country, chiefly through the operations of BP regarding gas and oil exploration in the Caspian Sea. This year, Azerbaijan has added relevance to the EU, as the agreements to facilitate construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) have been finalised. Scheduled for completion in 2018, this will bring Azerbaijani gas from the European border of Turkey to Italy, ensuring EU energy security and permitting supply diversity.
Gerry Sutcliffe MP (Bradford South) and former UK Minister for Sport and Tourism, said: “The UK is the biggest investor in Azerbaijan, and there are strong economic, cultural and sporting ties. I have been to the country twice, and met some refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who are the casualties of the ongoing conflict with Armenia, as well as opposition MPs, human rights groups, and trade unionists. This is a young country making its way towards becoming a fully-fledged democracy in the Western European mould. It wants and deserves our support, and it is only by engaging that we can ensure that they continue to look west and develop along European lines.”
Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, commented: “Azerbaijan is a country rich not only in energy resources, but also in culture – some of which you are experiencing tonight. We attend all of the main party conferences, and we are proud to have supporters in all of the UK political parties.”
The reception complemented an article from TEAS in The House Magazine, distributed to thousands of Labour members at the conference. This contains information about the expanding relationship between Azerbaijan and the UK, both in and outside of the energy sector.
The article initially concentrates on the impact of the Contract of the Century in 1994, brokered by the current President Ilham Aliyev, when the BP-led Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) decided on extraction agreements for Caspian resources. It then outlines the future impact of TAP.
The article concludes that Azerbaijan is an “economic powerhouse” and presents opportunities in many other sectors, including ICT, financial services and tourism, and that the “future looks bright” in the “Land of Fire” for UK companies.