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Azerbaijan Time zone UTC+04:00

 Capital City Baku

 Currency Azerbaijani manat AZN

National Day 28 May

His Excellency Mr Elin Suleymanov
Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan
4 Kensington Court
London W8 5DL
T: 020 7938 3412
F: 020 7937 1783
E: london@mission.mfa.gov.az

“THANK GOODNESS for the British tradition to drink tea every day!” declares Azerbaijan’s new Ambassador His Excellency Mr Elin Suleymanov. “On my travels around the world, I’ve always struggled to get a good cup of loose-leaf tea.” A career diplomat, he arrived in the capital with his family in August.

Studying at Moscow State University, Ambassador Suleymanov witnessed first-hand the break-up of the Soviet Union. “It was a turbulent time. But now the Republic of Azerbaijan is 30 years old – it’s almost twice as young as me! As part of the first generation of people representing the country, we are proud of our nation’s successes and how vibrant and independent Azerbaijan society is.” The first Azerbaijani recipient of the Muskie Fellowship, a graduate programme sponsored by the US government that brought students from former Soviet Union countries to study in the US, he completed his master’s at the University of Toledo, Ohio. Despite studying abroad, he says “I was ingrained with a commitment to my homeland,” returning to Azerbaijan in 1997 to work at the UN Commission for Refugees. “There I saw enormous devastation: the occupation of our land and a million people displaced.” He continues, “I was so impressed by the wisdom of our late President and his knowledge of what the country needed. I realised it would be a great honour to join that effort.”

A role as Press Officer at the Embassy in Washington followed before he became the first Azerbaijani to graduate from the Fletcher School of Diplomacy, preparing him to work in the President’s office as an advisor on foreign policy. From there, he was sent to Los Angeles, and became Azerbaijan’s first Consul General for five years. “It was an amazingly fulfilling time. The governor was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I love California.”

This too was good preparation for his next challenge: a decade as Azerbaijan’s Ambassador in the United States. At the time, “the unresolved conflict with Armenia was the major issue. The fact the US is one of the three chairs of the Minsk Group, the negotiating body, was important. The US and Azerbaijan have developed a strong partnership. Azerbaijan was one of the first nations to offer full support to the US government within hours of the 9/11 attacks. Azerbaijan was one of the first non-NATO nations to send troops into Afghanistan, and the last to leave.”

Now in London, he notes that “the UK is Azerbaijan’s main partner in Europe. The UK is the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan, and although mostly focused on the energy sector, we can see that there’s more potential.” He observes that today, his government’s focus is on “the restoration of lands and the integration of the whole region, including Armenia. We are appreciative of the UK being a key partner in Azerbaijan’s demining efforts, but we also want to work with our strategic partner, the UK, to develop the whole region.  It’s a good sign of progressive cooperation that BP has been working with Azerbaijan on alternative energy sources.” Furthermore, he continues: “I do hope to see more educational exchanges – especially English language training.”

He’s also keen to highlight “the role Azerbaijan plays in intercultural and inter-civilisation dialogue. Azerbaijan is a secular, progressive and predominantly Muslim nation, defying stereotypes. My country has always been a meeting place for people to come together and speak to each other.”

On Brexit, the Ambassador says, “Now the UK has left the EU, we expect a more flexible and intense trade relationship with the UK in the upcoming years. Also, as the UK intends to become an even stronger force for good in the world, we expect it will pursue more active foreign policy in South Caucasus amid the changing security situation in the region, following the 44 days of war fought between Armenia and Azerbaijan last year and Trilateral Agreement signed on 10 November 2020.”

The Embassy looks forward to receiving a delegation from Baku for COP26. “We greatly support the initiative and are grateful to the UK government for the invitation,” he says. “As an oil and gas producing nation with various environmental challenges, we have to be careful on how we move forward. But we are members of the Paris Agreement, and by 2030 we have a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent.”

“The experience of Afghanistan has demonstrated that the greatest threat to the region, and indeed to the globe, is failed states,” opines Ambassador Suleymanov. “It’s important to work with partners to develop sustainable, independent sovereign states.” Accordingly, Azerbaijan is involved in various regional cooperation projects; “so Azerbaijan can live in prosperity, as can its neighbours.” He reminds us that Azerbaijan is the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. “Our focus so far has been on matters of practical concern involving member states and the wider international community, presently concentrating on equal and fair vaccine distribution. Azerbaijan is committed to contribute  towards a peaceful, secure and sustainable future for everyone.”


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