Conservatives highlight Azerbaijan’s essential role at party conference
Press Release: On 7 October, leading Conservatives highlighted Azerbaijan’s ongoing partnership with the UK at the Baku to Birmingham reception, organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) at the Hyatt Regency, Birmingham, during the annual Conservative Party Conference.
Demand for the event was so strong that hotel staff insisted on turning away some delegates. Speaking to an audience of over 150 Conservatives, Leon Cook, Director of Communications, TEAS, said: “The UK is still the largest contributor of foreign domestic investment (FDI) to Azerbaijan, and we want to see much more engagement from the Foreign Office and Members of Parliament with this strategically important country and region. 2012 has seen Azerbaijan elected as a non-permanent member to the UN Security Council, the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest, and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is currently being played there.”
Laura Sandys, MP for Thanet South, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Greg Barker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change; member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee; and a founding member of the Conservative Women’s Muslim Group, first became aware of Azerbaijan’s extensive energy resources when she visited the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. Opened in 2006, this conveys Azerbaijani oil to from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish coast. She continued: “Azerbaijan is an important partner, not just to UK, but to the west as a whole. Azerbaijan and the Caspian basin will play a crucial role in ensuring energy security.” Ms Sandys went on to recognise how Azerbaijan is a friend to the west in a geopolitically challenging environment, and emphasised the importance of bilateral trade between Azerbaijan and the UK.
Christopher Pincher, MP for Tamworth; member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee; and Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Azerbaijan, continued: “Azerbaijan is vital to ensure European energy security, and construction of the Southern Corridor is necessary to diversify supply routes away from Russia. However, there is much more to Azerbaijan than the energy sector. Tourism in the country is developing, and there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and skiing. Baku now boasts some excellent new hotels, and there are already around 5000 British expats working in the country.
“Senior cabinet members should visit Azerbaijan to demonstrate our high regard for relations with Baku. In particular, I believe that a visit to the country by William Hague, Foreign Secretary, would be very beneficial.
“We should also remember that Azerbaijan’s success has occurred despite the forceful occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions by neighbouring Armenia. This has caused 875,000 citizens to become internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, and remains a major concern for the Azerbaijani people. It is necessary for swift, peaceful, resolution to be achieved through diplomatic means, and the UK should be more active in supporting the Azerbaijani position.”