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Azerbaijan British relations, Heydar Aliyev

Great Britain is one of the most important and powerful countries in the world. Today, relations between Azerbaijan and Britain are at a high level. Of course, the high level of relations is not accidental and it has historical roots. During the period of independence, Azerbaijan attached special importance to relations with Britain. National Leader Heydar Aliyev had invaluable services in establishing and developing relations.Although the first cooperation relations between Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland coincided with the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, bilateral political relations were established in 1991. Great Britain recognized the independence of Azerbaijan on December 31, 1991. An agreement on diplomatic relations was signed between Azerbaijan and Great Britain on March 11, 1992. The embassy of Azerbaijan in the UK has been operating since January 1994.

In 1993, Heydar Aliyev met with the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Great Britain to Azerbaijan. The meeting was held during the peak of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, during the attacks of Armenian armed forces on Azerbaijan's Aghdam region. In addition to stating the need for the British permanent ambassador to Azerbaijan to start working, Heydar Aliyev, also informed the British diplomat about that issue. Ambassador Thomas Young told Heydar Aliyev that the British government recognizes the inviolability of Azerbaijan's borders and said that the United Kingdom, as the chairman of the UN Security Council at that time, would use its powers to help solve the issue. According to Thomas Young's statement, the British government protested the occupation of Aghdam by Armenia on July 27, 1993. A day later, as a result of discussions in the UN Security Council, under the influence of Britain, which presided, Resolution No. 853 was adopted against the occupation of that region.

On February 22-25, 1994, the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev paid an official visit to that country for the first time. In an interview with journalists, the national leader spoke about Azerbaijan-England relations: "The visit of the President of Azerbaijan to England aims to establish and develop relations between our republic and Great Britain. Because after gaining independence, Azerbaijan could not establish interstate relations with influential and large country like Great Britain, the ambassador of England came to Azerbaijan several months ago. Our ambassador went to London only recently. So, diplomatic relations are just being established. As far as concerned to broad relations between states, primarily political and economic relations, as well as scientific and cultural relations, as a young country, the Republic of Azerbaijan was in great need of wide relations between the states, first of all, political and economic relations, as well as scientific and cultural relations. England is one of the great countries of the world. It is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and one of the seven most developed countries in the world. England is a country that has a very strong influence on world politics and economy, both because of its past history and its position today. Therefore, the establishment of close relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and England was, first of all, very important for the national interest of our country.  At the same time, we are aware that England also very interesting in Azerbaijan and want to establish economic relations with Azerbaijan. In general, England's historical interest in the Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, is known. At the current stage, that is, at the end of the 20th century, England want to establish economic relations with Azerbaijan in a new quality. Certain works, or rather preparatory works, have been done in this area. Now it is necessary to complete all of them there."

During the visit, he met and held talks with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, John Major, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Affairs, Douglas Hurd. During the visit, Heydar Aliyev and John Major signed the main agreement regulating issues of cooperation between the two countries - the "Joint Declaration on Friendship and Cooperation" between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Great Britain. During his first visit to Great Britain, Heydar Aliyev expressed the main goal of Azerbaijan's cooperation with the United Kingdom: "... Great Britain is a country with a significant political weight in world politics, a country with a very important place in the world economic system, a country with rich history and traditions, and a country where it is possible to learn something more by creating comprehensive cooperation.

During the visit of the National Leader, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, world famous politician Margaret Thatcher also met with the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. In this meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, Heydar Aliyev gave Margaret Thatcher detailed information about the real reasons and nature of the war: "Azerbaijan did not want war, the people of Azerbaijan and our army fighting a just war to remove the occupying troops of Armenia from our territory and would continue this fight without irreversibly."

The national leader also touched upon interesting issues in his speech before British industrialists: “...the main purpose of my visit to England was to expand and develop relations between the independent Republic of Azerbaijan and Great Britain. By expanding its relations with England, Azerbaijan pays special attention to the establishment and development of economic relations. By informing you about this, I would like to inform you that the Republic of Azerbaijan has a great economic potential, rich underground and surface resources. Therefore, Azerbaijan can undoubtedly be a very valuable partner in relations with other countries, including England, in all fields.

In addition to Azerbaijan's economic potential, underground and surface resources, scientific and intellectual potential, one of the aspects that create more favorable conditions for its economic cooperation with other states is the geographical and political position of our country.

We, wish the British businessmen, famous firms and companies to come to our country. I want to inform you that all necessary conditions can be created in Azerbaijan for businessmen to do joint business, to invest and to carry out other such activities.

I invite all businessmen of Great Britain to Azerbaijan and I want to assure you that there are ample opportunities to invest capital, do business, and create joint ventures in Azerbaijan. I hope that the business people of England will use these opportunities effectively”.

Heydar Aliyev's second official visit to Great Britain took place on July 19-24, 1998. The visit played a fundamental role in the development of bilateral relations between the countries. Thus, during Heydar Aliyev's official meeting with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Queen told the President of Azerbaijan that his activity in the field of legal and democratic state building in Azerbaijan was being carefully monitored. During the visit, the President of Azerbaijan also met with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair. Tony Blair declared that Great Britain recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

In December 2004, during Ilham Aliyev's visit to Great Britain as the president of Azerbaijan, the "Declaration on friendly relations and partnership" signed in 1998 was reaffirmed in the meeting of the country's prime minister Tony Blair.

As a result of the efforts of the National Leader, Great Britain's interest and attention to Azerbaijan has increased.

During his visit to Great Britain in February 1994, at his meeting with the president of "British Petroleum" company Heydar Aliyev said that he was in favor of establishing close relations with this prestigious western company, that these relations would have a positive effect on the oil industry of Azerbaijan, as well as on the fundamental development of social fields in the republic. In 1994, a Production Sharing Agreement was signed with the Azerbaijan International Operating Company headed by "BP" for the development of the "Contract of the Century" - Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field.

Since the "Contract of the Century" was signed, the British company "BP" continues to be the operator of the main oil and gas projects implemented in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. As a continuation of this cooperation, a new Agreement was signed on September 14, 2017 in Baku, between SOCAR and BP's operator, the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), which envisages the development of the Azeri, Chirag, and Guneshli fields located in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea until 2050. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Shah Deniz gas project, and the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields are considered to be the major foreign projects of the British Petroleum company.

On November 28, 1995, Heydar Aliyev made a business trip to the United Kingdom to participate in the conference on "Investment opportunities in Azerbaijan" organized by the Adam Smith Institute and held a number of important meetings. During the conference, a Memorandum on the establishment of the Azerbaijan-Great Britain Trade-Industry Council was signed.

This policy established by the National Leader was successfully continued by the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan. President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited Great Britain at different times. Bilateral relations have reached the highest level. Britain has not spared Azerbaijan's political support in the cause of justice. In the Patriotic War of 2020, France especially wanted to create obstacles for Azerbaijan. It was Britain that vetoed the move against Azerbaijan in the UN Security Council. Today, the close relations of both Azerbaijan and Turkey with Britain serve to strengthen the positions of our countries in the international world...

Ramin Ahmadov

Chairman of Turkic Elders Union, Head of Mission Media Group

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