By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijan's capital city Baku hosted a forum on Azerbaijani-British cooperation on October 9.
Marking the 20th anniversary of the Contract of the Century, the forum was opened with the welcome speech of the vice president of Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR, Rafiga Huseynzade.
She stressed the importance of the forum in terms of deepening Azerbaijani-British relations and cooperation in the energy field.
The event brought together Members of House of Representatives and House of Lords of the British Parliament, as well as Azerbaijani Ambassador to UK Tahir Tagizade, representatives of SOCAR and British Petroleum (BP) Company.
Addressing the event, Ambassador Tagizade said there are great opportunities in other sectors of economy, along with the oil and gas sector for the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Great Britain.
He said there are also great opportunities for expanding cooperation between the two countries in various areas of the economy within the framework of the implementation of plans for the development of Azerbaijan's non-oil sectors.
Tagizade also noted that about 10,000 Azerbaijanis live in the United Kingdom according to various estimates.
Speaking about bilateral relations between the two countries in the sphere of politics, he said the UK is one of the most important partners of Azerbaijan.
Tagizade said Azerbaijan highly appreciates the support of the UK in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the territorial integrity of the country and other relevant principles of international law.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since a lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.
On the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the ambassador stressed that Azerbaijan stands for its constructive resolution under international law, which Armenia violated by occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan.
Addressing the forum, British Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy, House of Lords member Lord Risby also noted the importance of resolving the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Lord Risby said Azerbaijan - a modern secular state - is developing successfully, despite the situation in the region.
He added that the economic relations between the two countries are developing, and the basis of these relations is cooperation in the oil and gas sector, which will be developed in the future.
Lord Risby further said co-operation between countries also covers other areas, and more than 300 British companies are operating in Azerbaijan in various fields.
Azerbaijan and the UK have benefitted from close bilateral partnership and cooperation since 1992, in the framework of international organizations such as the United Nations, OSCE, Council of Europe, and NATO. The relations have covered a wide range of issues, from high-level political dialogue to growing trade and investment, as well as strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties.
Economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the energy sector, is at the core of the relations between Azerbaijan and the UK. The UK is the largest foreign direct investor in Azerbaijan, followed by the U.S. and Japan.
Azerbaijan cooperates with the UK in the exploration and transportation of oil and natural gas from the Azerbaijani part of the Caspian Sea.