Der Spiegel: Azerbaijan is a country of economic miracles

Der Spiegel: Azerbaijan is a country of economic miracles

Der Spiegel

It seems to be a calm process of evolution: when the Soviet Union collapsed 20 years ago and segmented into small unknown republics, nobody could imagine the changes which could happen in the far Caucasus. Many people in Germany saw only numerous risks and few opportunities in this region. But these events became a blessing in disguise for Azerbaijan, which is situated on the Caspian Sea, south of Russia and north of Iran. Since that time this country, possessing huge oil and gas resources, has increased the volume of its GDP by several times and today is one of the most rapidly developing countries.

Unlike other post-Soviet states, Azerbaijan has been developing peacefully. We can say that the majority of Germans have learned about this country and its kind people recently due to a qualifying match with the national team of Azerbaijan and the holding of the Eurovision musical contest in Baku in May. At the same time, many German companies have long stable relations with the Baku government, for example, BASF, Bosch, Commerzbank, and Siemens.

About a million new jobs have been created in Azerbaijan in the last 8 years (its population is 9.3 million people). While Europe fears problems with the euro, this Caucasian country is proud of its stability: people’s incomes twice surpass inflation.

In early July the president of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, visited the South Caucasus and met President Ilham Aliyev in Baku. He said that the fast development of Azerbaijan impressed him positively. Rompuy mentioned that some success had been achieved between Baku and Brussels within the “Eastern Partnership” programme.

“We have a huge potential for further development of ties,” Van Rompuy said, emphasizing that Azerbaijan is a secular state, and the EU appreciates its religious values and cultural tolerance. Even though this South Caucasian republic is an Islamic country, its population is proud of existing religious freedom, transparency and tolerance.

Azerbaijan, which is characterized by inter-cultural dialogue, intelligence and strong economic development, is not only a progressive country, but also a balanced state.

The Heydar Aliyev Fund supports many projects in the spheres of education, culture, science, technologies, environment, and sport. The Fund has offices in Russia, the US, Turkey and Romania. The aim of the Fund is to find common ground between various cultures and to create conditions for peaceful life in the globalizing world.

Residents of Baku like to repeat that Azerbaijan is a bridge between Europe and Asia. It is true that various points of view and lifestyles cross in this country, which is located in an important geostrategic position between two continents.

Azerbaijan is full of historic monuments and new architectural pieces. The Heydar Aliyev Fund suggests a unique balance of conservatism and reformation. The Fund is aimed at preserving cultural heritage and supporting international mutual understanding. In 2009 the Fund sent money for the reconstruction of the ancient stained-glass windows of Strasbourg Cathedral. The Cathedral is one of the major medieval monuments.

The Heydar Aliyev Fund acts as a non-governmental organization and, together with UNESCO, has supported various educational programmes since 2004. In Azerbaijan the Fund initiated the program “New School to New Azerbaijan,” 300 new schools were built as part of the programme.

The president of the Fund, Mehriban Aliyeva, considers the revival of charity in Azerbaijan the best result of the work done. Mrs. Aliyeva said that Baku is an architectural treasure: “It is great that the tradition continues in tolerant and secular Azerbaijan, which is situated on the crossroads of East and  West and has an ancient history. The past and the present exist in perfect balance.”