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Monday July 15 2024

Azerbaijan-UK historical ties span strategic partnerships & economic cooperation

16 June 2024 08:30 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan-UK historical ties span strategic partnerships & economic cooperation
Nazrin Abdul
Nazrin Abdul
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The relationship between the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan is deeply rooted in history and holds significant strategic importance.

The modern diplomatic ties between the two countries date back to the early 1990s, with the UK being among the first nations to recognize Azerbaijan's independence on December 31, 1991. Formal diplomatic relations were established on March 11, 1992. Over the years, these relations have seen remarkable milestones, fostering a robust partnership.

National Leader Heydar Aliyev's political acumen and foresight in regional developments played a pivotal role in cementing these ties. His visits to the UK in 1994 and 1998 and President Ilham Aliyev's subsequent visits have significantly contributed to strengthening bilateral relations. President Ilham Aliyev continues to uphold and enhance the high-level relationship established by Heydar Aliyev.

The partnership between Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom is characterized by long-term, successful, and multifaceted cooperation. The strong political relationship between the two countries has positively influenced economic ties, with the UK remaining the leading foreign investor in Azerbaijan. This economic partnership is particularly evident in the oil and gas industry, where bp has played a crucial role.

Since the signing of the "Contract of the Century" in September 1994, BP has been the operator of major oil and gas projects in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. This cooperation was further solidified with a new agreement signed in Baku on September 14, 2017, extending the development of the "Azeri," "Chirag," and "Gunashli" fields until 2050.

This collaboration underscores the strategic significance of Azerbaijan in the global energy market and highlights the importance of foreign investment in bolstering its economy.

Azerbaijan's Minister of Energy, Parviz Shahbazov, emphasized the pivotal role of the United Kingdom as the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan, with investments exceeding $35.9 billion and highlighting the strategic partnership between the two nations.

"Great Britain has always been a strategic partner, significantly contributing to our country's development by supporting investments and the energy sector. The United Kingdom remains the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan, with total investments surpassing $35.9 billion. As our cooperation expands, both investments and trade turnover are increasing. In the first three months of this year alone, trade turnover rose by 16 percent," Shahbazov stated.

He underscored the importance of the long-term and productive cooperation between Azerbaijan and the UK in ensuring global energy security. Shahbazov highlighted the beginning of energy cooperation in 1994 with the "Contract of the Century," which has led to the success of several large-scale projects.

One notable achievement is the "Southern Gas Corridor," which has solidified Azerbaijan's status as a key energy supplier to Europe. Additionally, the commencement of production at the "Central East Azeri" field marks another significant milestone in their partnership.

Currently, around 600 British companies are operating in Azerbaijan, reflecting the diversification of the economic partnership. The focus on developing non-oil sector relations is also evident.

On March 2, 2015, the governments of Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Trade Cooperation, establishing a Joint Intergovernmental Commission to enhance economic ties. This initiative aims to explore new avenues for economic collaboration beyond the energy sector, fostering sustainable growth and development.

Economic cooperation, especially in the energy sector, forms the foundation of the bilateral relationship between Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom. bp, a leading UK oil company, has been active in Azerbaijan since 1992, participating in key projects such as the "Contract of the Century" (Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli - ACG) and the Shah Deniz projects. bp is also a main technical operator and a key participant in the Shah Deniz 2 project.

As Azerbaijan continues to develop and diversify its economy, the strategic partnership with the UK is poised to play an increasingly important role. By exploring new avenues for cooperation and building on the strong foundation of existing relations, both countries can look forward to a prosperous and mutually beneficial future.

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