On May 28, 1918, independent Azerbaijan emerged as the first parliamentary republic in the Muslim world. It was crushed in 1920 by the Bolshevik invasion, yet during its short existence the country became the symbol of the Azerbaijani identity and the nation’s aspirations. In 1918, Azerbaijan already granted its citizens equal rights regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation, and equal voting rights to both men and women. In fact, Azerbaijan granted full voting rights to women before many other nations, including the United States. US President Barack Obama recognized this unique legacy, describing Azerbaijan as “an example for the international community as a first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world.”
As a member of both the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Azerbaijan is in a unique position to bridge divides and promote greater understanding. Home to a vibrant and centuries-old Jewish community, Azerbaijan has developed strong relations with Israel. Azerbaijan’s leadership in promoting tolerance and intercultural dialogue is widely recognized and highly valued by world leaders.
US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Azerbaijan’s “commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and a commitment to diversity and pluralism.”According to Secretary Kerry, “Azerbaijan is a wonderful statement about the ability of different religions, different sects to come together and live together and to find a way forward.”
In recognition of Azerbaijan’s tremendous global strides, an overwhelming number of United Nations member-states elected the country to serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2012-13
Azerbaijan and the United States: Partners in Peace
Azerbaijan and the United States enjoy shared values and interests. Both nations are at the forefront in promoting regional security, economic and energy development, diversity and inclusiveness. Under President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership, Azerbaijan has emerged as America’s reliable regional partner at one of the world’s most unique and critical crossroads.
In Afghanistan, Azerbaijani servicemen serve shouldertoshoulder with American soldiers and Azerbaijan provides specialized training for Afghani police, border guard officers and civilian and military doctors. President Aliyev stated Azerbaijan’s intention to expand its partnership with Afghanistan’s national institutions beyond 2014, highlighting the long-standing friendship between the Afghan and the Azerbaijani people.
As a key component in NATO’s Northern Distribution Network, Azerbaijan provides a secure route for 40 percent of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) multi-modal transit intoAfghanistan.Working closely with the US Transportation Command and the US Air Mobility Command, Azerbaijan has aided important over-flight clearance, medical evacuation flights as well as landing and refueling operations for US and NATO efforts supporting the ISAF.
The roots of US-Azerbaijan joint operations run deep; over the yearsthe Azerbaijani military also assisted in American-led efforts in Iraq and in the Balkans.
Azerbaijan is an active participant of international anti-terror efforts. Azerbaijan and the United States work together to counter nuclear proliferation and narcotics trafficking, and to promote security in the wider Caspian region and beyond. In addition, Azerbaijan’s military partnered directly with Oklahoma’s National Guard as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.
Azerbaijan also enjoys strong relations with Capitol Hill. The Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus plays an important role in fostering the growing partnership between the United States and Azerbaijan and advancing US interests in the pivotal Caspian region.In recent years, Azerbaijan has intensified its outreach at the state and local levels.
Today, in addition to the Embassy in Washington, DC, Azerbaijan operates a Consulate General in Los Angeles and an Honorary Consulate in Santa Fe.
Azerbaijan and the United States: Partners in Trade and Commerce
Azerbaijan enjoys being America’s largest trade partner in the South Caucasus and has successfully pursued major mutually beneficial trade deals. For example, Azerbaijan signed a major contract with Boeing – worth $1 billion – for the purchase of eight civilian airplanes, including the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner.”In total, trade with Azerbaijan helps to support more than 11,000 jobs throughout the United States.
In June 2010, Azerbaijan signed a $205 million contract with Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation to design, build and deliver a state of the art communications satellite. Azerbaijan successfully launched the satellite in February 2013.
The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan has invested approximately $3 billion in the United States, including in the US Treasury, Federal Home Loan Bank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds, as well as in US corporate debt and equities. In 2012, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) established a representative office in Washington, DC, and announced plans to expand its presence elsewhere in the United States.
With the increasing importance of natural gas, a more abundant and more environmentally friendly hydrocarbon, Azerbaijan is working with partners in the region and beyond, including the United States, to expand direct export routes of Caspian natural gas to European markets.The recently announced Trans-Anatolian (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic (TAP) natural gas pipelines, which are essential for Europe’s Southern Gas Corridor, highlight the strategic importance of Azerbaijan’s natural resources, including its major Shah Deniz gas field. These pipelines, along with other Azerbaijani Caspian initiatives, strengthen global energy security and cement Azerbaijan’s role as a key partner in Europe’s energy future.