Givami Rahimli: “I saw how frank, knowledgeable and decisive Heydar Aliyev was in action” – AZERTAC
Baku, May 9, AZERTAC
Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the first years of independence were difficult due to the war in Karabakh, the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the decline of the economy. Despite various crises, Azerbaijan’s rich natural resources and strategic location have always made the country attractive to major powers. Finding a balance between the interests of the influential powers to overcome the pressure from certain political circles in these powerful countries was a major challenge.
BP’s Guivami Rahimli pays tribute to Heydar Aliyev, sharing memorable moments about the Azerbaijani national leader with AZERTAC.
Azerbaijan, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, occupies an important geopolitical position where major powers and regional players have strong economic and political interests. The country attracted the attention of major players in the oil and gas sector, particularly from the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, France and Japan in the early years of its independence.
In these hard times, Heydar Aliyev, once one of the most influential leaders of the USSR with a wealth of political experience and who returned to the political scene in 1993, introduced a pragmatic foreign policy. This meant building constructive relationships with powers like the US, the EU, and a wise partnership with players like Russia and Iran, thereby balancing relations with major global and regional powers. Azerbaijan’s multi-vector policy has become a state strategy, avoiding allying itself with a geopolitical bloc but opting for economic, energy and military cooperation with both parties. Heydar Aliyev had a clear vision of relations with the main players and, despite the crisis the country was going through, Azerbaijan signed the Deal of the Century with foreign oil majors in September 1994, to develop hydrocarbon deposits in the part Azerbaijan from the Caspian Sea. He brought in 11 foreign oil companies from 7 countries. It was an unprecedented multi-billion dollar production sharing agreement and the largest such contract ever signed in the former USSR.
On November 7, 1997, the first oil was produced from the Chirag platform, and the Azerbaijani government celebrated the start of oil production from the offshore field on November 12. The ceremony was attended by many foreign dignitaries, including First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Shafranik, US Energy Secretary Federico Pena, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Prime Turkish Minister Mesut Yilmaz.
It was President Heydar Aliyev’s day. He was the one who had the vision to see the benefits that oil developments and the balance of interests among world powers would bring to Azerbaijan. The first oil from the Chirag field was the embodiment of his vision. The results followed when the Azerbaijani economy recorded the fastest growth in the world.
I was honored to have had several opportunities to meet Heydar Aliyev as President of the Azerbaijan-Norway Friendship Society established in 1995. Despite his busy schedule, Heydar Aliyev received Norwegian guests invited to the events of the society. Among them were world-renowned explorer and archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl, Minister of Industry and Energy Jens Stoltenberg (currently NATO Secretary General), Arne Olav Brundtland (husband of former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland ), leading foreign affairs specialist at the Oslo Institute of Foreign Studies and Norwegian parliamentarians. President Aliyev appreciated the work of the Friendship Society to improve relations between our two countries and included me in his government delegation as someone who had made a strong contribution to the bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Norway. during an official visit to Western European countries in 1996. I was responsible for organizing Heydar Aliyev’s meeting with the Azerbaijani diaspora in Norway and neighboring Scandinavian countries.
During the meetings, I could see how frank, knowledgeable and decisive Heydar Aliyev was in his actions. He possessed the phenomenal personal qualities essential to power politics: a strong argument and the ability to bring people, including opponents, to his side.
Heydar Aliyev’s balanced and mutually beneficial relations with world powers have brought great benefits to Azerbaijan in diplomatic and political spheres.
Today, the close ties with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and their support for Azerbaijan, the mutually beneficial cooperation with Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, the United Kingdom, the italy and other EU countries show how much the geopolitical landscape in the region has changed.
This was seen once again during the military conflict with Armenia in the fall of 2020. During the 44-day war, Azerbaijan won not only on the battlefield, but also in terms of diplomatic, restored its internationally recognized territorial integrity, liberating the Karabakh region of the country from occupation. A peace agreement was reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan to establish lasting peace in the region.
Today, looking back, we can see the huge success Azerbaijan achieved in building a prosperous nation thanks to Heydar Aliyev’s oil strategy. The country is widely known as a successful model and maintains a delicate balance in foreign policy, while developing its economy and building increased stability. From a geopolitical point of view, today’s Azerbaijan has become the undisputed champion of Caspian energy exports to European markets. The Southern Gas Corridor offers an alternative source of energy to Europe, ensuring greater diversification and increasing security of supply for EU countries.
Heydar Aliyev’s balanced multi-vector policy has played an outstanding role in the development of Azerbaijan, bringing great economic benefits, as well as political dividends to Azerbaijan and making it a notable member of the world community.
PhD, Professor at Baku State University
Senior Government Affairs Advisor, BP Azerbaijan
AZERTAG.AZ :Guivami Rahimli: “I saw how frank, knowledgeable and decisive Heydar Aliyev was in action”
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