Azerbaijan is located in a strategic region at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Middle East and borders Russia, Georgia, Turkey and Iran. The country is becoming an increasingly important transportation and energy hub along the historic Silk Road, bringing together Western and Asian markets. Azerbaijan is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and is firmly committed to building a self-sufficient, democratic and prosperous society.
Azerbaijan and the United States enjoy a strong partnership founded on shared interests in global and regional security, energy and economic development, democratic reforms and respect for human rights. Secretary Clinton, during her July 2010 trip to Azerbaijan, stressed that “the bonds between the United States and Azerbaijan are deep, important, and durable.”
Since 2004, the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus has played an important role in fostering the growing partnership between the United States and Azerbaijan and advancing the U.S. interests in the pivotal Caspian Sea region. Congressmen Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Dan Boren (D-OK) serve as Co-Chairmen of the Caucus, which currently includes 41 Members of the 112th Congress.
Azerbaijan’s Achievements and Vision
- Azerbaijan is a stable ally in a difficult region. Over the two decades since restoration of Azerbaijan’s independence Azerbaijan established a strong political system, a vibrant civil society and a market based economy. Azerbaijan transformed into an economically and politically dynamic modern state, consolidated its global and regional position and has become an important – and in many cases a decisive – partner in the South Caucasus and Caspian regions.
- Azerbaijan is a Western-facing nation. Azerbaijan sees its future as a part of the European family of democracies. As a recognized leader in the region, Azerbaijan utilizes rich Caspian resources and the South Caucasus vast potential and opportunities for strengthening good-neighborly relations, integrating the region into European and global markets and promoting Euro-Atlantic security and stability. Active engagement of the United States and the European Union in the region will help Azerbaijan consolidate these achievements.
- Azerbaijan transparently manages its natural resources. Azerbaijan is rich in natural resources. Since 1999 revenues from oil and gas sales have been used by the State Oil Fund to invest in human capital, social programs and large infrastructural projects. Azerbaijan has been recognized as a pioneer in the transparent management of its extractive resources. In 2007 the State Oil Fund won the 2007 UN Public Service Award and, in February 2009, Azerbaijan became the first country to achieve compliance under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
A Global and Regional Security Provider
- Azerbaijan enjoys a strategic partnership with the United States. The U.S.-Azerbaijan partnership is a key factor for regional security. Based on shared values and common goals, its foundation is strong and built to last. Azerbaijan and the United States cooperate in countering terrorism, nuclear proliferation and narcotics trafficking and promoting security in the wider Caspian region and beyond.
- Azerbaijan contributes to U.S. military operations. Azerbaijani troops have served shoulder to shoulder with U.S soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. In Afghanistan, Azerbaijan provides specialized training for Afghani police, border guard officers, de-miners and civilian and military medical doctors. As a key component to the Northern Distribution Network, Azerbaijan provides ground and naval transit for roughly 40% of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition’s supplies bound for Afghanistan. Azerbaijan has been extending important over-flight clearance, landing and refueling operations for U.S. and NATO flights to support ISAF.
- Azerbaijan stands for peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains the main obstacle for full-scale integration of the South Caucasus into the Euro-Atlantic community (See attached map). Under the aegis of OSCE Minsk Group, the United States, Russia and France serve as peace negotiators. Azerbaijan remains committed to finding a soonest political resolution to the conflict.
- Azerbaijan supports Israel’s security. Azerbaijan maintains close, friendly ties with Israel. An ancient 35,000 strong Jewish community has resided in Azerbaijan for 2,500 years without persecution. Arye Gut, Executive Director of the Congress of Azerbaijanis in Israel has stated that “no country in Eurasia has closer or warmer ties with Israel than Azerbaijan.” Israel’s leadership who visited Azerbaijan described the country as Israel’s strategic partner. Israel is Azerbaijan’s third largest trading partner, accounting for 6.5% of Azerbaijan’s total foreign trade. In 2010, the trade between the two countries was $1.8 billion, representing a 37% increase as compared to 2009. Azerbaijan supplies 40% of Israel’s oil demand and the two countries have deep cooperation on matters of defense.
- Azerbaijan plays a prominent role in global intercultural dialogue. Azerbaijan is a secular country with a predominantly Muslim population that enjoys a centuries-long tradition of peaceful co-existence between Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities. Azerbaijan is both member of European multilateral institutions, such as the Council of Europe and OSCE, and also member of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), uniting 56 Muslim countries around the world.Accumulating a rich blend of diverse values, Azerbaijan is viewed as a natural bridge that connects various civilizations and remains a strong partner in promoting diversity.
Securing World Energy Supplies
- Azerbaijan’s sound energy policy brings stability and development for the South Caucasus. Energy contracts signed by Azerbaijan with U.S. oil companies in the early 1990s secured U.S. interests in the region and greatly helped Azerbaijan consolidate its independence and revive its economy. Firm support by successive U.S. Administrations to construct the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline contributed to liberalization of European and global energy markets. The wide network of pipelines delivering Caspian resources and diligent implementation of contractual obligations transformed Azerbaijan into a key and reliable partner for global and European energy security. This has created a completely new environment and has generated many opportunities in both Azerbaijan and the wider Caspian region.
- Azerbaijan and the United States continue to share a common vision for future development of Caspian Sea energy resources. Azerbaijan is helping to develop an independent Southern Corridor energy supply route. Azerbaijan pledged to provide additional substantial volumes of gas to European markets, continues to increase its transit capacity and is consolidating cooperation with European consumers on a long-term basis. Successive U.S. Administrations strongly support opening a new Southern Corridor to bring Caspian natural gas to Europe. The development of the Southern Corridor is key for Europe’s energy security and diversification, as well as its overall strategic interest. The Corridor will form long-term bonds between the countries of the Caspian region and Europe. Accordingly, on January 13, 2011 the Presidents of Azerbaijan and the European Commission issued a Joint Declaration in Baku, which is an important step in the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor and the diversification of Europe’s energy supplies. The recently announced Trans-Anatolia Gas Pipeline project once again illustrates Azerbaijan’s commitment to European energy security by bringing Azerbaijani gas to European markets.
Azerbaijan Contributes to U.S. Economic Growth
- Bilateral trade is increasing. In 2010, Azerbaijan signed a contract with Boeing – worth US$1 billion – for the purchase of eight civilian airplanes. According to the New York Times, a US$1 billion contract with Boeing will help support more than 11,000 American jobs across the United States.
In June 2010, Azerbaijan signed a contract with Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation to design, build, and deliver a communications satellite. This contract is worth US$205.3 million and will create 1500 new American jobs.
- Azerbaijan is investing in the United States. The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan has invested approximately US$3 billion in the United States, including in U.S. Treasury, Federal Home Loan Bank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds, as well as U.S. corporate bonds and equities.