He fondly recalled his association and appreciation for a dynamic journalist of the Indian print media, described him as a very well-dressed person and then the discussion moved to other subjects. The Ambassador of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ibrahim Hajiyev had another meeting after the interview with THE BLUE MOON Editor, Amit Mittal who was delayed for this appointment, but the Ambassador obliged after the apologetic Editor blamed the traffic on Delhi roads during rush hours for the delay. We bring you some excerpts of what the Ambassador had to say about Azerbaijan and relations with India.
The Azerbaijani-Indian relations have deep historical roots. The Great Silk Route connected Azerbaijan and India from time immemorial. Temple of Fireworshipers – Ateshgah in Baku attracts many tourists from different countries, including India.
Historical interaction throughout the ages has contributed to cultural enrichment of both countries. President of India Radhakrishnan, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other high level officials visited Azerbaijan last century.
Bilateral cultural and humanitarian ties developed during this period. Outstanding actors and film producers of Azerbaijan and India have been cooperating to popularize each other’s culture, among them we may recall Rashid Behbudov, Elmira Rahimova, Raj Kapoor, Nargis and others. The elder generation in Azerbaijan still remembers Days of Indian Culture in Azerbaijan held in 1970.
Azerbaijani scientists and oil engineers had significantly contributed to oil and gas exploration in India. Famous Azerbaijani geologist Eyyub Taghiyev is regarded as one of the first to find commercial oil in India. Young Indians used to study at Oil Academy of Azerbaijan in the middle and second half of 20th century.
People’s artist and one of the famous painters of Azerbaijan Mikail Abdullayev visited India in 1957 and created series of paintings named “About India”. He was awarded International Jawaharlal Nehru Prize in 1969.
Prominent Azerbaijani composer and conductor Niyazi composed music for the Rabindra Nath Tagore’s “Chitra”. He was awarded International Jawaharlal Nehru Prize in 1974.
India recognized the independence of Azerbaijan in December 1991.
Azerbaijan and India established diplomatic relations on 28th of February 1992. India opened its Embassy in Baku in March, 1999. Azerbaijan opened Embassy in New Delhi in October, 2004. Both countries are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. In March, 2007 Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Kh. Khalafov conducted political consultations in New Delhi. The next round of political consultations was held in September 2011 in Baku. Azerbaijan and India have shared challenges and concerns as UN SC non-permanent members and have close cooperation on taking decisions against terrorism and aggressive separatism.
Economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and India has recently been on the rise. During the period January – October, 2012 trade turnover between the two countries was $ 1.46 billion.
In April 2007 Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of India J. Ramesh visited Baku for setting up the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Azerbaijan and India. The first session of the Inter-Governmental Commission co-chaired by H. Baghirov, Minister for Ecology and Natural Resources and J. Scindia, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry was held on 26th November 2009 in New Delhi. The second session was held in Baku on 16 April, 2012.
The Embassy of Azerbaijan participated in the India International Trade Fair in November last year. A CII delegation visited Azerbaijan in February last and held meetings in Ministry of Economic Development of Azerbaijan and AZPROMO.
The Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) has reached an agreement to buy 2.72 % stake held by Hess in Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli(ACG) oil-field, the largest oil-field in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian sea and 2.36 % interest in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline for USD 1 billion.
Natig Aliyev, Minister of Industry and Energy of the Republic of Azerbaijan participated in “International Seminar on Energy Access” in October, 2012 in New Delhi.
Azerbaijan registered foreign direct investment of 4.4 billion USD in 2011 and during the same period our exports rose to 26.6 billion USD while imports stood at 9.7 billion USD . Azerbaijan has rich oil reserves of 15 billion barrels and gas reserves of 2.5 trillion cubic metres.
Cultural ties between the two countries are very strong. Eminent Indian vocalist, performing in the Carnatic music tradition V.Badrinatan has participated in International Mugham Festival in March, 2009 and International Baku Jazz Festival in October the same year. She collaborated with Azerbaijan’s well known Jazz group- Bakustic Jazz.
The Ensemble of Ancient Musical Instruments from Azerbaijan participated in the International Sufi Music Festival in Kolkata in February this year.
S. M. Khan, General Director of Doordarshan, S.S. Mahdi, ICCR vice-president and V. Badrinatan, Professor of Mumbai University participated in the second International Humanitarian Forum on October 3-4 in Baku.
An International Conference “Revisiting the Silk Road” was held jointly with the Embassy of Azerbaijan and Jawaharlal Nehru University in November last at JNU.
A conference and exhibition dedicated to 870th birth Anniversary of Nizami Ganjavi, great Azerbaijani, oriental poet, thinker and philosopher was held recently at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. The conference was organized in the framework of the 20th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and India.
An exhibition of paintings “Colors of Azerbaijan” by Ashraf Heybatov was organized jointly by Embassy of Azerbaijan and ICCR recently. A Youth group led by Ajay Maken, Minister of Youth and Sports, visited Azerbaijan as part of the 20th Anniversary celebrations in July 2012. A Hindi language department has also started functioning in Azerbaijan State University of Languages since October last.