Today.Az Covering Azerbaijan inside and outside Today.Az World oil prices jump ahead of OPEC+ meeting Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 18:04:00 +0400 By AzernewsWorld oil prices jumped during Asian trading on September 22, ahead of the OPEC + meeting at the ministerial level.Brent crude is up 0.04 percent at $56.41 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is 0.14 percent up at $50.62 per barrel, Reuters reported.OPEC and other major oil producers such as Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan reached an agreement in December 2016 to remove 1.8 million barrels a day from the market.  The deal was later expanded till March 2018, as the oil cartel and its allies step up their attempt to end a three-year supply glut that has savaged crude prices and the global energy industry.The OPEC+ plans to discuss the issue of the further prolongation in November in Vienna.Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that the level of execution of the OPEC+ deal for 8 months of 2017 equaled to 99 percent.The minister stressed that OPEC+ deal contributed to a decrease in volatility in the oil market, while oil prices are 30 percent higher than in the first half of the year. Novak further said that it is too early to talk about including Libya and Nigeria in the OPEC + agreement, but there is always the opportunity to take this decision.Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, in turn, signaled a willingness to extend cuts into next year.“OPEC members are trying to target a figure of close to $60 a barrel. We’re not too far away from that,” Kachikwu said in an interview with Bloomberg television. “If we get to March and find that there’s a need to do more, I think we will.”Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum Eulochio del Pino, for his part, noted that it necessary to discuss the response to economic attacks by the U.S. and other countries in the framework of the meetings of the OPEC+.He underlined that this meeting is very important for joint work on various issues with other countries.U.S. President Donald Trump introduced new sanctions against Venezuela in August to put financial pressure on President Nicolas Maduro's government, over its plan to rewrite the country’s constitution through a National Constituent Assembly, a new body elected in late June. The new legislature has not been recognized by the country's opposition, the EU or the U.S.Moreover, the market eyes the referendum on the independence of Kurdistan, which is scheduled for September 25. The authorities of the region announced the possibility of additional benefits for foreign oil companies developing its fields. SOCAR commissions new well in Caspian Sea Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:41:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe state-run oil company SOCAR will produce additional 69.35 million cubic meters of gas and more than 1,800 tons of condensate annually due to commissioning of the well at the Gunashli offshore field after a major overhaul.SOCAR reported that gas with a debit of 190,000 cubic meters per day and condensate with a debit of 5 tons per day are extracted in the interval of 2,291-2,234 meters.The Gunashli field plays an important role in the oil and gas industry of Azerbaijan. The field is located 120 kilometers east of Baku, 12 kilometres southeast of Oil Rocks and its deep water section is a part of the larger Azeri–Chirag–Guneshli (ACG) project.A contract for development of ACG block of oil and gas fields was signed in 1994 for 30 years. Thirteen companies from 8 countries [Azerbaijan, U.S., Great Britain, Russia, Turkey, Norway, Japan, Saudi Arabia] have participated in signing of the "Contract of the Century".BP and Azerbaijan agreed last week to extend to 2050 the contract to develop the country’s biggest oilfields - Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG), a deal dubbed “the Contract of the Century” when first signed in 1994 until 2024.The proven oil reserves of the block amounts to approximately 1 billion tons.SOCAR is wholly owned by the government of Azerbaijan. SOCAR participates in joint ventures (including ventures in Georgia and Turkey), consortia, and operating companies established with SOCAR’s participation.It produced at its own expense 6.27 billion cubic meters of gas from offshore and onshore fields of the country in 2016, against 6.87 billion cubic meters produced in 2015. The total volume of gas produced from contracted and independently developed fields in 2016 amounted to 29.37 billion cubic meters, as compared to 29.05 billion cubic meters produced in 2015.The company produced at its own expense 3.46 billion cubic meters of gas in offshore and onshore fields of the country in January-July, 2017, against 3.69 billion cubic meters produced during the same period of last year. Azerbaijan to cooperate with Russia, Estonia in audit sphere Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:14:00 +0400 By TrendThe Chamber of Auditors of Azerbaijan will cooperate with auditors of Russia and Estonia.The relevant memorandum on cooperation was signed during the scientific conference, titled “Strategic road map of Azerbaijan’s economy: accountability and transparency issues”.From the Azerbaijani side, the document was signed by Chairman of the Chamber of Auditors of Azerbaijan Vahid Novruzov, from the Russian side – by Board Chairman of the Russian Union of Auditors Lyudmila Kozlova, and from the Estonian side – by Sergei Tsistjakov, member of the Board of Directors of the Estonian Auditors’ Association.The scientific conference, titled “Strategic road map of Azerbaijan’s economy: accountability and transparency issues”, is being held in Baku.The event is attended by representatives of private and public sectors, including Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ), Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA), Ministry of Taxes, Ministry of Economy, various associations, and others.Representatives of auditor chambers of Belarus, Russia, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and others are also participating in the conference. Logistics center for persimmon producers to be completed by late October Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:50:00 +0400 By AzernewsA logistics center for the Association of Persimmon Producers and Exporters is planned to be constructed till the end of October.The construction of logistics center was previously planned to be completed by late 2017, but the Economy Ministry decided to accelerate the construction by providing an additional concessional loan.Moreover, construction of a factory for processing persimmons is underway in the Goychay region, Chairman of the Association Gadir Yusifov told Trend on September 22.Yusifov said that both construction works run in accordance with the schedule.The Association of Persimmon Producers and Exporters was created upon the initiative of local entrepreneurs in August 2017.The main task of the Association, supported by the Economy Ministry, is to increase production of competitive and export-oriented products under the brand "Made in Azerbaijan".Persimmon is widespread in the tropical and temperate climatic zones. Homeland of persimmon is considered to be the northern part of China, but now persimmon is grown in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, the Crimea, Australia and other countries. In general, there are more than 500 kinds of persimmons.The fruit is available in Lankaran, Goychay, Agdash, Agdam, Ganja and Zagatala regions of Azerbaijan.Persimmons can be eaten raw, tossed in salads or served alongside dishes. They are a good source of vitamin C and contain dietary fibre.The fruit helps to fight weakness, anemia, vitamin deficiency, and chronic gastrointestinal diseases. The fruit is the perfect source for fiber, phytonutrients, flavonoids, and antioxidants. The amount of fructose is high in persimmon, which is why people should enjoy it carefully and not eat too much.Provitamins contained in persimmon favorably affect the body with malignant formations and in the treatment of leukemia. These same substances help restore normal brain activity in encephalitis and hemorrhage, calm the excessively nervous system, increase efficiency.Moreover, it enhances the activity of the digestive process, regulates metabolism, as well as has a good effect on the treatment of diseases of the cardiovascular system. Azerbaijani freestyle wrestlers rank 3rd at World Military Championship [PHOTO] Sports Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:47:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe city of Klaipeda, the third largest city in Lithuania located on the Baltic Sea coast, has hosted the 32nd edition of the World Military Wrestling Championship.The Championship brought together 241 athletes from 22 countries.  Azerbaijan’s freestyle wrestlers have finished 3rd in the overall medal table of the 32nd World Military Championship in.The Azerbaijani wrestlers won a gold, silver and four bronze medals.Galib Aliyev claimed a gold medal in the 61kg weight category. Female wrestler Turkan Nasirova has captured a silver medal.Other Azerbaijani wrestlers Afgan Khashalov (57kg), Aghahuseyn Mustafayev (65kg) and Joshgun Azimov (70kg) took bronze medals of the tournament.Russia topped the medal table, followed by Iran.Wrestling remains the most popular sport in Azerbaijan and is overseen by the National Wrestling Federation, which was established in 1993. Maiden Tower Festival kicks off in capital [PHOTO] Arts & Entertainment Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:29:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe “Maiden Tower” International Art Festival, on the most colorful and brightest festivals in the capital city, kicked off on September 22.The 8th edition of the Art Festival is being held in front of the Maiden Tower with organizational support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Administration of State Historical - Architectural Reserve “Icherisheher”.During the three-day event, young artists, representing various creative centers, will create works reflecting synthesis and mutual exchange of distinct culture and traditions by decorating small dummy of the tower with national style.The festival aims primarily to contribute to the promotion of the Maiden Tower in Icherisheher (Old City), one of the most ancient and mysterious monuments in Azerbaijan, which is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000. It also helps to familiarize international artists with Azerbaijan's art and culture. Azerbaijani wine awarded bronze medal at Korea Wine Challenge Society Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:02:00 +0400 By AzernewsAzerbaijan’s “Savalan” wine has been awarded a bronze medal at Korea Wine Challenge.The Korea Wine Challenge, being Korea’s first international wine competition, is hosted by the most prestigious monthly wine magazine in Korea, «Wine Review». Employing objective assessment to introduce trusted wines to the domestic wine market in Korea, KWC has been a driving force in the development of this growing market.This year 810 wines from 23 countries were registered in total at Korea Wine Challenge. Savalan Syrah Special Edition wine by Aspi Winery won a bronze medal.In 2016, Savalan received the award at exhibition Interwine China 2016 in Guangzhou. Also, Savalan Syrah 2013 wine won gold medal at the "Black Sea Wines" competition held on the sidelines of IV Black Sea Winemaking Forum.In April this year, Savalan wines were presented during a trade missions to Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan.A total of 21 Azerbaijani wine making companies presented their products to potential buyers in China during export missions to Hong Kong and Guangzhou last year, resulting in the signing of an agreement under which Savalan wine is now being exported to China.Nearly 10 wineries and vineyards are engaged in wine production in Azerbaijan and more and more countries such as China are showing interest in the national brandy.Five major wine-growing regions of the country are Shamakhi, Ismayilli, Gabala, Ganja, Tovuz. Local grape varieties in Azerbaijan include White Shani, Derbendi, Nail, Bayanshire, Gamashara, Ganja Pink, Bendi, Madrasa, Black Shani, Zeynabi, Misgali, Khindogni, Agdam Kechiemdzheyi, Tebrizi, and Marandi.Among the grape sorts used to produce Azerbaijani wine are Pinot Noir, Rkatsiteli, Pinot Blanc, Aligote, Matrassa, Podarok Magaracha, Pervenets Magaracha, Ranni Magaracha, Doina, Viorica, and Kishmish Moldavski.The ministries of agriculture and economy are working to develop a wine culture program.Today, Azerbaijani wines are exported to Russia, Ukraine, Baltic States, Poland, Belarus and the UAE. Erdogan-Putin meeting to discuss Syrian issue, S-400 acquisition World news Fri, 22 Sep 2017 15:33:00 +0400 By AzernewsTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as the two countries are expected to fix positions over regional issues. The meeting scheduled for September 28, right after Turkish leader’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, piques international community’s interest."On Monday, we will have a telephone conversation with Mr. Putin, and we will have dinner together next Thursday in Ankara," Erdogan said at a business forum in New York, Anadolu reported.The agenda of the upcoming meeting is expected to include situation in Syria, as well as Turkey's purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia.Reportedly, the two leaders will consider a plan agreed by Russia, Turkey and Iran to reduce the fighting in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province which was chosen as a de-escalation zone.Russia, Turkey and Iran - had agreed on May 4 in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to establish "de-escalation zones" in war-torn Syria. The zones would cover the city of Idlib and certain parts of Latakia, Homs, Aleppo and Hama as well as Damascus, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and Quneitra.Syria has been locked in civil war since March 2011. According to UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, around 400,000 people have died in the conflict while half the population has been driven from their homes.Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the upcoming meeting between Putin and Erdogan, said that the meeting is being worked out and the details will be disclosed later.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu , in turn, noted the importance of the forthcoming meeting."It is good when the leaders meet as they have the opportunity to discuss bilateral issues, the international agenda," he said.The last time the heads of the two countries met in July at the G20 summit in Germany. They discussed the conflict in Syria and the Akkuyu project.Erdogan previously said that his country, a NATO member, is “achieving a result’’ by working with Russia in Syria. Turkey together with the U.S. backs the rebel side in the Syrian war while Russia supports Bashar al-Assad’s regime. However, Ankara has increasingly been co-operating with Russia and Iran to stabilize the country.Moreover, Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian missile-defense system posed a question on Turkey’s position in the Western alliance.The deal on S-400 raised eyebrows among Ankara’s fellow NATO members and caused concerns as they are supposed to only buy compatible weapons systems from other members. Turkey explains the move saying that the country has to ensure it security and no other country from the NATO alliance has agreed to provide it with necessary arms. CBA to switch to inflation targeting regime Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 15:04:00 +0400 By TrendThe Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) will switch to an inflation targeting regime in medium term, Alim Guliyev, deputy chairman of the CBA, told Trend on September 22.He said this will be a logical continuation of transition to the floating exchange rate for the Azerbaijani manat. Armenia sees rapid decline in economic indicators World news Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:41:00 +0400 By AzernewsFor a very long time, ordinary Armenians believed that there was going to be an economic growth somehow in future.  But, the authorities failed to fix social and economic situation, instead doubling the problems.While the Armenian government brags of its “suspicious” achievements, the pace of economic growth in the country began to decline quickly.The National Statistical Service has revealed the summary data for January-August 2017, which showed the real socio-economic situation in the country, newspaper Zhoghovurd notes.The data says that the economic activity index in August equaled to 5.5 percent, while the figure was 6.2 percent in July.The growth rate of industrial production has slowed down –a decline of 0.9 percent. Electricity generation in August compared to the previous month decreased by 9.2 percent, and the turnover – by 2.2 percent.Meanwhile, the decline in agricultural production and construction sector also continued in August – falling by 9.4 and 8 percent, respectively.The only economic indicator that showed growth is the state debt of Armenia.  The figure already exceeded $6.2 billion, according to the National Statistical Service. In comparison, last year the state debt was considerably less – $5,849 billion.Another one of Armenia’s persistent socio-economic problems is unemployment. Its rate in the country is still the highest among the CIS countries, making up 19 percent, and due to the wrong structure of national economy, new vacancies do not seem to come up in near future. Moreover, Armenian employees are suffering from delay in salaries, non-payment of salaries for the holiday period and unlawful dismissal.The Armenian economy could have been revived if the government was able to attract foreign investment, but this option is unreal enough. Both foreign investment in the Armenian economy and net inflow of private transfers into the country have been sharply declining in recent years. Trump, Erdogan meet amid U.S.-Turkey tensions World news Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:13:00 +0400 By AzernewsU.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in New York, where Trump praised Erdogan as a friend despite tensions in two countries’ relations over a number of issues.Trump highly assessed Erdogan’s leadership in Turkey stressing that he “has become a friend of mine.”“He’s running a very difficult part of the world. He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks. And he’s also been working with the United States,” he said.Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation to resolve regional issues and continue the fight against all terror groups with determination, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.They also expressed their objection to the independence referendum by the Kurdish Regional Government scheduled for September 25, stressing that such a move would have "serious consequences", the statement added.The Iraqi government opposes the poll, claiming it will affect the war against Daesh, cause instability and violate the Iraqi Constitution. Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all backed Baghdad in speaking out against the referendum.In May, people organized protests against Erdogan’s state visit to the United States. Turkish leader’s security officials tried to disperse the protesters.  However, this resulted in street fight with protesters. As many as 15 Erdogan's guards were charged for attacks on protesters in Washington. Ankara blamed the violence on groups linked to Kurdish militants.Earlier, Turkish leader said in a PBS interview that he was "very sorry" for the violence in May.Erdogan informed that he had a telephone talk with U.S. President a week ago. Trump also said he was sorry, and that "he was going to follow up about this issue when [Erdogan and his people] come to the United States within the framework of an official visit."On Thursday, during his appearance with Erdogan, Trump was asked about the conversation with the Turkish leader, however, he did not respond.The incident aggravated the already tense relationship between Washington and Ankara. The two countries have clashed over the U.S. support for Kurdish rebels in Syria as well as Turkish demands that the United States extradite Fethullah Gülen, a cleric whom Ankara blames for a military coup attempt of last July.In addition, Ankara’s rapprochement with Russia and purchase of S-400 missiles become the subject of criticism by the U.S. Women’s EuroVolley kicks off Sports Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:47:00 +0400 By AzernewsAzerbaijan and Georgia will jointly host the Final Round of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship.The teams of the two host countries will open the program of the 2017 Women’s EuroVolley on September 22 when they take on Hungary and Italy in Baku and Tbilisi, respectively.A Group C game of the current European champion team of Russia with the Ukrainian team at the National Gymnastics Arena will also be held on September 22.After the game, the solemn opening ceremony of the European Volleyball Championship will be held.The Championship will last for 10 days. The competition – which coincides with the most high-profile Volleyball event ever organized in these countries – will continue through to October 1 when the new European champions are set to be crowned at the iconic National Gymnastics Arena in Baku.Sixteen best teams of the Old World, divided into 4 groups will participate in the competition. Teams of Azerbaijan, Germany, Poland and Hungary will compete in the Group A, while the teams of Georgia, Italy, Belarus and Croatia – in the Group B, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Bulgaria – in the Group C, and Serbia, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Belgium – in the Group D.The games will be held in Baku (National Gymnastics Arena, Groups A and C), Goygol (Olympic Sports Complex, Group D) and Tbilisi (Sports Palace, Group B). GUAM Foreign Ministers Council eye political, sectoral cooperation Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:18:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe foreign ministers of the member states of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) discussed the development of political and sectoral cooperation.The talks were held within the framework of the regular meeting of the Foreign Ministers Council of the GUAM in New York on the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, the organization's secretariat reported.The ministers considered, in particular, the expansion of cooperation in the areas of trade, transport, combating crime, combating illegal migration and human beings trafficking.In addition, the Foreign Ministers Council discussed the issues of GUAM cooperation with other statesThe issue of preparation of jubilee events on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the organization was also considered.New York also hosted ministerial meetings in the formats GUAM-U.S. and GUAM-Japan on the margins of the UN General Assembly.The GUAM format was created by four post-Soviet states in 1997 during the summit of heads of states of the EU in Strasbourg. The member states of the organization are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the format and four years later withdrew.In 2006, Ukraine and Azerbaijan announced plans to further increase the GUAM member relations and established its headquarters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.The GUAM plays an important role in ensuring regional security, as it contributes significantly to the development and strengthening of dialogue between the countries of the region.Currently Georgia is chairing the organization. Defense Minister: President’s remarks at UN – order for Azerbaijani army [PHOTO] Politics Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:51:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe remarks made by Azerbaijani President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev in his speech at the UN are an order for the Azerbaijani army, Defense Minister Colonel General Zakir Hasanov said.Hasanov made the remarks at a meeting dedicated to the military and moral-psychological training, as well as the results of large-scale exercises held recently, the Defense Ministry reported on September 21.A number of officials delivered reports at the meeting. Hasanov presented his report titled "Results of Combat Activities of the Armed Forces in the Winter Training Period in 2017."Four days ago, the Azerbaijani Army started large-scale military exercises that involved up to 15,000 military personnel, more than 150 tanks and armored vehicles, up to 120 missiles and artillery systems of different calibers, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, 20 combat aircrafts for various purposes, as well as new types of electronic warfare assets and unmanned aerial vehicles.Summing up the results of the drills at the meeting, Zakir Hasanov noted that all goals and objectives set at the exercises were successfully achieved.Commending the combat readiness and moral-psychological training of army personnel, the minister noted the importance of holding drills and notified the command staff of the objectives set by Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.Hasanov also drew the meeting participants’ attention to Ilham Aliyev’s speech at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, where the head of state touched upon another war crime of the Armenian Armed Forces on the contact line, liberation of a part of the occupied territories following a successful counter-offensive of the Azerbaijani army, and a number of other issues.President Ilham Aliyev, speaking before the UN, has renewed his calls for just resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.The Azerbaijani leader has urged introduction of a mechanism of sanctions against Armenia for non-compliance with UN resolutions demanding withdrawal from the occupied territories and return of refugees and IDPs.The defense minister further said the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have the most modern and high quality weaponry and equipment, adding that this is a manifestation of much attention and care of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief for the army.The army building process is of particular importance for Azerbaijan, as twenty percent of the country's territory is under Armenian occupation and the country is in a state of war with Armenia.Touching upon the current situation on the frontline zone, Hasanov gave specific instructions to the commanders of units stationed there to be always ready for the most active fighting, constantly monitor the enemy activities, as well as promptly and decisively suppress any enemy activity, inflicting maximum damage.Not a day goes by without Armenia’s ceasefire breaking and provocations with the use of large-caliber machine guns, mortars and other weapons. The Armenian side periodically shells Azerbaijani settlements located in the frontline regions, thus trying to threaten the lives of peaceful Azerbaijani citizens living there. However, the enemy receives strong rebuff from the Azerbaijani Army. Entrepreneurs receive 628M manats for development of livestock Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:26:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe National Fund for Entrepreneurship Support (NFES) has granted concessional loans worth 628 million manats ($369.4 million) to more than 23,700 entrepreneurs engaged in the livestock sector since early 2017.The funds are directed for construction of 4 livestock complexes, while 20 complexes have already been commissioned.Within the framework of the latest business forum held in the Shamakhi region, entrepreneurs received preferential loans in the amount of 277,000 manats ($162,940) for livestock projects.The implementation of these projects will open more than 30 new work places.In general, entrepreneurs of the Mountainous Shirvan economic region received loans in the amount of 69.3 million manats ($40.76 million), including 23.2 million manats ($13.65 million) entrepreneurs of Shamakhi.About 150 million manats ($88 million) will be issued for granting preferential loans to entrepreneurs in 2017.Entrepreneurs can apply to the Fund through authorized banks and non-bank lenders, in accordance with the rules for using the funds of the NFES. Small projects can be fully financed through concessional loans.The main goal of the Fund, which was established in 1992, is to provide preferential loans from the state budget for small and medium business, in order to develop entrepreneurship in the Republic of Azerbaijan.Allocation of funds by NFES is aimed at the mitigating of the impact of global economic crisis to the national economy and minimization of its dependence on the oil sector. The country takes steps in its bid to diversify the national economy and provide for the development of entrepreneurship in the country.  The Mountainous Shirvan region is located in the central part of Azerbaijan — on Shirvan plain and covers Agsu, Ismayilly, Gobustan and Shamakhi administrative regions. The total area of region makes 6,060 square meters.The region is specialized on agriculture, wine growing, winemaking and cattle breeding. Grain growing occupied a leading place in the agriculture sector.Shamakhi, which is one of the ancient cities of Azerbaijan, is a recognized center of winemaking and carpet weaving.  Shamakhi has beautiful nature with mild climate and mineral wells and also has an ancient history.Right near Shamakhi there is an amazing place called Pirkuli famous for its snowy hills. It is probably the only place in sunny Azerbaijan where you can enjoy active winter pastime: skiing and snowboarding. Trump accepts challenge of Armenian establishment Politics Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:02:00 +0400 By Alan Hope / TrendRecent US rapprochement with Azerbaijan is really disturbing and annoying the outraged Armenian establishment, compelling it to launch yet another onslaught against the United States President Donald Trump and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev.This campaign, which is an exact copy of the one commenced by the Armenian establishment in line with its identitarian politics during Trump’s election campaign, was comprised of a new wave of political lobbying, orchestrated public protests, followed by the spiteful smear media campaign, reinforced by the continuous online attacks and the copious spread of misinformation.It should be noted that the Armenian establishment is founded on the agile, rich and influential Western-oriented Armenian diaspora and cunning, corrupt, right-out criminal and the ever-so-lost in the foreign affairs’ ocean the Armenian ruling regime. Throughout the years these two elements have proven to sustain a symbiotic “love-hate” relationship amalgamated by the topic of so-called Armenian “Genocide” and the “Great Armenia” project.Nonetheless, taking the sheer size (claimed to be 12 compared to the country’s local population of mere three million), as well as its immense financial and political capabilities, the Russia-oriented Armenian ruling regime is obliged to swat at the pleasure of its foreign donor from time to time. The perfect example of the latter was witnessed in Sargsyan’s speech at the Putin-absent UN General Assembly, supposedly reorienting Armenia’s foreign policy towards the West, by promising the consignment of the EU partnership deal in November.Less asked question – Why?Yet, the question of the origin of Armenian establishment’s concern and outrage over the US-Azerbaijan rapprochement arises. Well, it’s related to the fact that the mentioned establishment has been gradually losing its grounds to Azerbaijan on all fronts, including military, financial, informational, and, as of late, in the international politics.Stroll through the Reagan to Obama eraInitially, the Washington, due to a variety of objective, but mainly subjective factors, was totally pro-Armenian. Ronald Reagan had perceived the so-called Armenian struggle for independence, as well as the so-called “Genocide” card, as time bombs for destabilization of the “Empire of Evil” (aka Soviet Union). Close-knitted to the US Intelligence community George Bush Sr. had utilized weakening political stance and governing ability of then Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev in tandem to the Armenian diaspora sponsored separatist movement in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region to topple the adversary and bring an end to the bipolar world.Thus, come Bush Sr. era, many Americans of Armenian origin, falsely called as partners or even allies in the Cold War, were appointed to numerous positions in administration, as well as the Pentagon and the State Department, greatly increasing diaspora’s influence on the American foreign policy making.Parenthetically, Armenian-American organizations, falsely stating the congruence of the Armenia’s interests in line with the US national ones, had endorsed and financed such distinguished politicians of the time as Sen Bob Dole, Clay Pall, Joe Biden, Ed Kennedy and John Kerry, which led to the adoption of a numerous pro-Armenian initiatives by the Congress.Kerry not funny as CarreyIt’s noteworthy to mention that, after the collapse of the USSR and on the brink of the former Soviet states' independence formation, the Democratic hopeful in the 2004 US Presidential elections, John Kerry, who later on became the Secretary of State in the Obama administration, had authored and lobbied section 907 of the US Freedom Support Act, effectively restricting any aid to Azerbaijan, supposedly “to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh."Meanwhile, Kerry’s section was initiated on the background of Armenia’s blockade of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR – geographically separated enclave of Azerbaijan), which was followed the meticulous occupation of the 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s mainland.Suffice to say that 90’s had bared a witness to the strained US-Azerbaijan relations on the backdrop of Armenian diaspora fueled dynamically developing relations between the Washington and Yerevan.Clinton AffairEnjoying a wide network of agents strategically placed within the US government, Armenian diaspora had an impeccable ear to the American political playground and promptly switched the camps, aligning itself with Democrats in 1992. Thus, Clinton administration, infiltrated and influenced by the Armenian establishment, had initially followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, showing a pro-Armenian stance.This was followed by a more restrained approach in the US Transcaucasian policy, as the rapport between Bill Clinton and then Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev was building up. The initial steps in mitigating and eliminating tensions between two countries were taken by the US president, who, in despite to section 907 and in line with his Azerbaijani counterpart’s personal request letter, had ordered American humanitarian aid’s delivery to Nakhchivan.The relations had magnified as an American transnational corporations actively participated in the Caspian oil related 1994 "Contract of the Century." The abovementioned wasn’t greeted well by the Armenian establishment, as it started a covert campaign aiming to impeach Clinton, who in turn had started the in-house clean-up right after dodging the bullet.Bush Junior’s Fight on TerrorEight years of George Bush Jr. administration had seen globally engulfing economic crisis, followed by devastating unfold of terrorism, radicalism and separatism. In that retrospect, Bush Jr. had firmly outlined the US foreign policy, basing it on the sincere partnership and cooperation in the energy and security sectors.While the Armenian lobby had senselessly tried to ensure its own agenda, Azerbaijan had promptly reacted to the US needs, amplifying its economic ties, by ensuring the delivery of the Caspian energy resources to the West, its political support of US in the international fora, by joining US stance on the world arena and its military cooperation, by attending in the US-led peacekeeping missions and providing its air and soil in support of US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.Azerbaijan’s deeds didn’t go unnoticed, as the country was frequented by the top-notch US officials, resulting in the official visit of US Vice President Dick Cheyne to Azerbaijan and the reciprocal trip of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to the US.This, of course, wasn’t well-digested by the Armenian establishment, which failed to build any sustainable grounds with the Bush Jr. administration, due to the historical lack of a vision for the military-political cooperation with the US. At the same time, self-alienated Armenia’s regime, in the absence of alternatives, was forced to the policy of vassalage, by strengthening and expanding its political “dialogue” with Russia.Obama Care notThe Obama period had marked another revision of the US Transcaucasian policy, attuned to the pro-Armenia and anti-Azerbaijan melody. The Armenian establishment did its best to decrease Azerbaijan’s political importance as a partner, premising it on the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the reduction of the military presence in Afghanistan and the diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear program.Furthermore, it seemed that Obama, who wasn’t particularly in-love with Armenia, had carried some type of a personal grudge against Azerbaijan, which had probably originated during his first trip to the country in 2005 as a freshman senator. Spearheaded by the well-established Armenian-cause lobbyist John Kerry the Obama administration’s criticism concentrated exclusively on the “human rights violation and corruption” in Azerbaijan used very loud undiplomatic language, which was viewed by many as borderline insulting and obscene.Nonetheless, in view of ongoing Syrian crisis and the fight against ISIS (aka Islamic State, Daesh) the White House couldn’t ignore the importance of a stable, secular, but Muslim country and ill afford to lose another partner. Thus, Obama had tried the cautious rapprochement of Azerbaijan, bringing the bilateral relations to somewhat tolerable state.The “Genocide” cardThe latest three abovementioned presidents all had played the “Genocide” card in the elections campaigns. Clinton stopped short of the potentially explosive move by calling the 1915 events a tragedy in view that it could endanger US relations with Turkey. Likewise, George Bush Jr. intimated that he would move for tougher language on the 1915 events as a candidate, but also didn’t fulfill his promise. "As president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide," then-Sen Barack Obama said while campaigning in 2008, but as president he undertook no such effort, which outraged the Armenian establishment yet again.Enter the game changerAs Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States the bilateral relations with Azerbaijan have reached a new height, which had deepened the concerns of the already troubled Armenian establishment.First of all, the Armenian establishment betting on the wrong horse, endorsing Hillary Clinton and setting up super PAC’s for her campaign financing, didn’t expect the self-financed underdog, unjustly ridiculed by the mass media and the opportunist politicians, could be elected by the majority of true American population.Secondly, though Republican by affiliation, but quite unconventional in his political essence, Trump as a characteristically pragmatic businessman has a new vision for the US foreign and fiscal policies, excluding the future and limiting the present US involvements in the overseas conflicts, as well as eradicating or downsizing the unnecessary US budget expenditures to other countries and entities.Finally, Trump is a businessman that owes nothing to the Armenian establishment and on the contrary has a very positive view of Azerbaijan. This view was not formed by Trump’s pragmatism or his good rapport with Azerbaijani businessmen alone, it was founded on the genuine assessment of Azerbaijan, as a self-sustained country that has been and still is a steadfast strategic partner of the US since its independence and represents exactly the kind of a secular and pragmatic partner America needs today.On the other hand, Armenia, constantly mimicking but not implementing changes in its political orientation, times-and-times again had proven itself to be as an unreliable, as they come, of a "partner." On top of that, any businessman-minded person would right away notice that Armenia is a country built upon the “cronyism, arbitrary treatment and unequal competition,” as mentioned in the World Bank’s report. Thus, Trump didn't want US budget money to go to a deviant “partner” and cut the US aid to it by almost 70 percent, causing a new mayhem in the Armenian establishment.It’s safe to assume that in the view of the abovementioned, Trump had accepted the challenge and stands strong against the Armenian establishment and its enraged lynching mob. In anticipation of Trump’s victor as a definitive game changer, a hopes of a new foundation for the US foreign policy making, not based on lobbying, but laid on a sustainable, long-lasting, mutually beneficial and respectful format of bilateral and multilateral relations between the US and its partners, has definitely arisen. President Aliyev inaugurates Balakhani Industrial Park [PHOTO] Politics Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:40:00 +0400 Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of Balakhani Industrial Park in Baku on September 22, Azertac reported.Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev informed the head of state of the Balakhani Industrial Park.The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the Industrial Park.President Aliyev viewed the industrial enterprises created here. He then familiarized with a solid domestic waste neutralization site.A number of residents have already registered in the Balakhani Park.Main objective of the establishment industrial parks in the country are the creation of favorable conditions in Azerbaijan for further development of industrial production, provision of support to entrepreneurs, and increasing employment of population in the sphere.   ACG extension to contribute to deepening of Azerbaijan-Japan relations, envoy says Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:23:00 +0400 By TrendThe extension of the contract on the development of Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli oil fields in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea will make good contribution to the future development of relations between Japan and Azerbaijan.Japanese Ambassador Teruyuki Katori announced about this while talking to Trend.Katore pointed out that oil from Azerbaijan doesn't directly come to Japan, but the extension of the contract until 2050 will be very helpful for both countries, as well as the Japanese companies participating in this project.The PSA on the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) block of oil and gas fields was renewed on September 14.The Azerbaijan government and the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), together with BP, Chevron, INPEX, Statoil, ExxonMobil, TP, ITOCHU and ONGC Videsh signed the amended and restated agreement on the joint development and production sharing (PSA) for the ACG in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea until 2050.The contract is now subject to ratification by the Azerbaijani Parliament.Japan was one of the first countries to support Azerbaijan's forward-looking oil strategy. Today two major Japanese companies ITOCHU and INPEX are involved in the Contract of the Century. The envoy further said that opening of direct flights between Azerbaijan and Japan will help to boost the tourist flow between the two countries.“Last year we had only 5,000 tourists from Japan to Azerbaijan. The problem is that we don't have a direct flight. This year we started talks on opening direct flights. After launching direct flights, the number of tourists will increase sharply,” said the ambassador.Baku hosted negotiations between delegations of aviation authorities of Azerbaijan and Japan in July.During the negotiations, which were held for the first time between the two countries’ civil aviation administrations, the sides discussed the issues of opening regular flights between Azerbaijan and Japan.The parties agreed to grant the designated airlines the right to carry out direct passenger and cargo flights, as well as to conclude agreements on the joint use of codes.Azerbaijan, working hard to develop its tourism sector, now targets on attracting Japanese tourists. In this regard representatives of the major Japan tourism association with more than 10,000 members visited Baku last year.Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Japan were established in 1992. A number of important projects are being implemented in Azerbaijan through the financial support of Japan.    Cabinet considers draft state budget for 2018 Business Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:58:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe Cabinet of Ministers under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Artur Rasizade have considered the draft state budget and draft consolidated budget for 2018, as well as consolidated budget indicators for the next three years.The draft state budget and draft consolidated budget for 2018 were submitted to the Cabinet in early this week.  The Cabinet participants also mulled the draft concept of Azerbaijan’s socio-economic development for 2018 and the next three years, as well as drafts of a number of legal documents included in the budget package.Finance Minister Samir Sharifov and Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev delivered reports on issues in the agenda.The speakers stressed that the draft state budget for 2018 is based on the success achieved thanks to the successful economic policy pursued in Azerbaijan under the leadership of the country’s president, and given the ongoing global financial and economic processes.“When preparing the draft, social orientation of the state budget was taken as a basis, and attention was paid to factors such as constant improvement of the material well-being of the people, ensuring the defense power and security of the state, supporting development of the non-oil sector,” a message of the Cabinet reads.“Drafts of state budget and consolidated budget of Azerbaijan for 2018, and consolidated budget indicators for the next three years” and “The concept of economic and social development of Azerbaijan for 2018 and the next three years, and projections”, prepared based on state programs jointly with ministries, committees, departments and organizations, were approved following discussions.The documents included in the budget package will soon be submitted to the President of Azerbaijan in line with the Law on Budget System.The government of Azerbaijan has based its projections for the 2018 state budget on an oil price of $45 per barrel, a source in the government earlier told Trend.The Azerbaijani Parliament [Milli Majlis] approved the amendments to the Law on State Budget of 2017 on June 30.Revenues in the revised state budget are forecast at 16.8 billion manats ($9.9 million), which is 511 million manats ($300.3 million) or 3.1 percent more than the initially approved forecast. Expenditures are expected to stand at 17.9 billion manats ($10.5 billion), 1.04 billion manats ($611 million) or 6.2 percent more than the initial forecast.Deficit of the state budget is forecast to stand at 1.2 billion manats ($705 million) [an increase by 530 million manats ($311.4 million)], which is 1.8 percent of expected GDP of Azerbaijan in 2017. Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan Politics Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:35:00 +0400 By TrendOver the past 24 hours, Armenia’s armed forces have 128 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported on September 22.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. President Aliyev congratulates President of Mali Politics Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:12:00 +0400 By TrendPresident of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory letter to President of the Republic of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.“On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I extend my congratulations to you and all the people of your country on the occasion of the national holiday of the Republic of Mali – Independence Day,” said President Aliyev in his letter.“I hope that Azerbaijan-Mali bilateral relations will continue expanding and developing in the best interests of our countries and nations,” noted the president.“On this joyful day, I wish you the best of health, success in your activities, and the friendly people of Mali peace and prosperity,” he added. Maiden Tower festival ahead Arts & Entertainment Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:19:00 +0400 By AzernewsEnjoy Baku’s one of the biggest art festivals as the “Maiden Tower” International Art Festival returns to the capital city.The 8th edition of the Art Festival will be held in front of the Maiden Tower on September 22-24, with organizational support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Administration of State Historical - Architectural Reserve “Icherisheher”.Young artists, representing various creative centers, will create works reflecting synthesis and mutual exchange of distinct culture and traditions by decorating small dummy of the tower with national style.Bahruz Kengerli, Javid Ilham, Orhan Garayev, Rashad Nuri and Vusala Agaraziyeva will represent Azerbaijan.The artists will also help a group of children with disabilities from the Republican Center for the Development of Children and Youth, the children's homes of the Khatai, Nizami and Surakhani districts of Baku, as well as the Rehabilitation Center for Children with Down's syndrome.At the end of the festival, 10 models of the Maiden Tower will be presented in various art centers.Everyone visiting the square in front of the Maiden Tower will be able to watch the creative process and be in contact with the artists.The festival aims to promote the Maiden Tower, one of the most ancient and mysterious monuments in Azerbaijan, through the art.Maiden Tower located in the territory of Icherisheher is a symbol of the capital.  The Tower contributes to familiarization with ancient history and rich traditions of the nation, enrichment of worldwide cultural heritage and cross-cultural dialogue by serving as a piece of Azerbaijani architecture.Baku is fast developing and expanding with modern structures, but Icherisheher or the Old City remains popular for visitors and locals alike.The buildings here date back to at least the 12th century, a melting pot of different cultural influences. Often referred to as an open-air museum, the Old City joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2000. Water management - greatest challenge for Central Asian nations World news Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:59:00 +0400 By AzernewsWater remains one of the greatest challenges for Central Asian nations due to the lack of cooperation and regional dialogue on resource management between the upstream and downstream countries.Central Asia’s main sources of water are two rivers - the Amu Darya and Syr Darya - both of which are tributaries of the Aral Sea, once the largest lake in the world.The Amu Darya originates in Tajikistan, flows along the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and goes through Turkmenistan before returning to Uzbekistan and falls into the Aral Sea. Together, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers have about 77 cubic kilometers of water, 96 percent of which is used for irrigation.The impact of climate change on water problems in Central AsiaGlaciers are the main source of clean drinking water in Central Asia. Almost one third of the Central Asian glaciers are expected to disappear by 2050 due to the effect of climate change and global warming. Such disasters are devastating for the countries whose agricultural sector is the key contributor to the state’s GDP. Moreover, the key transport infrastructure might be washed away taking long time for further restoration.It is forecasted that due to the melting of mountain glaciers, the river runoff in the Amu Darya river basin will be reduced by 30 percent, compared with the average annual runoff over the past 10 years. This will lead to increased spring runoff, causing more flooding, as well as dramatically reduced water availability in the summer, causing more droughts.Such situation will negatively impact the agricultural sphere that dominates in the economies of Central Asian nations.Controversies over water issues among Central Asian nationsThe reason for poor water management lies in the fact that downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) have conflicting interests in how these water resources should be used.Downstream countries are strongly dependent on irrigated agriculture while upstream countries are more focused on expanding reservoir capacity and hydroelectric power generation. In summer the downstream countries want water for irrigation while the upstream countries want to accumulate it for winter power generation.In the Soviet times a system of compensation for the upstream countries with oil and gas from the downstream countries was introduced, but currently all five countries have their own national interests.International community’s efforts to solve water-related issues in Central AsiaA number of international institutions including the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, the Interstate Coordination Water Commission of Central Asia, and the Research and Information Centre have been established in the region to fight with water scarcity.These organizations, as well as a number of water management projects, have received financial and technical assistance from international agencies, such as Swiss, German, and American international development agencies, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Union.Another high-level event 'Towards Implementation of the International Decade for Action 'Water for Sustainable Development' 2018-2028' within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly was held on September 19.Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon attended the event. He expressed the confidence that the realization of these goals and tasks is possible only if cooperation and mobilization of the necessary resources - human, financial and scientific - is enhanced.Rahmon said that efforts and aspirations in the framework of the UN and other organizations and institutions undertaken during this forty-year period contributed to the expansion of the process of access to safe drinking water, improvement of knowledge and skills in the field of broad water resources management, strengthening cooperation and integration in the water sphere, formation of new views and bases for consideration of world and regional problems connected with water resources.Despite these advances, the Tajik President in his speech suggested to take into account those factors that narrow the arena of further cooperation. Effective transnational cooperation can promote sound and sustainable management and use of water resources, and lead to a reduction in unjustified costs and a balance between different forms and uses of water resources, according to the president.Concluding his speech, Rahmon noted that as the initiator of the International Decade of Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ Tajikistan intends to create a Special Center to ensure coordination of activities for its implementation. Also in order to implement the National Action Plan to promote the International Decade, he proposed to hold an international conference on this topic in Dushanbe in 2018.The fate of hydro energy projects in Central AsiaBoth Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are involved in construction of hydro power plants aiming to provide energy security in their countries. Lack of electricity in these two states remains an extremely important issue.In 2007, Kyrgyzstan resumed construction of the Kambarata-2 project, abandoned in the 1990s. The first unit of the Kambarata-2 hydroelectric project will allow Kyrgyzstan to produce an additional 500 million to 700 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity. Kyrgyzstan's ambitions to control the flow of its rivers in order to generate more hydroelectric power are of particular concern to Uzbekistan as it relies on rivers that originate or pass through Kyrgyzstan and its mountainous neighbor, Tajikistan, to irrigate its cotton fields.The Kambarata project is only the first of several projects planned along the Naryn River, which rises in the Tien Shan Mountains and is dammed at Toktogul, the largest reservoir in Kyrgyzstan, before running on to merge with another river to become the Syr Darya. The power plant has received critique from energy experts who argue that the Kambarata dams are too expensive.The construction and exploitation of Kambar Ata HPP and the Upper-Naryn cascade will allow Kyrgyzstan to produce about five billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year and cover the growing needs of the population.However, the implementation of Kyrgyz ambitious project to construct the Upper-Naryn cascade remains questionable due to inability to attract foreign investment.Representatives of the Czech company Liglass Trading, which was the surprise winner of a tender last summer, acknowledged on September 18 that they do not have the money to proceed with the project.Tajikistan is also suffering from poor management of water resources, as during the winter months the country faces electricity shortages and severe cold.One of the most controversial dam projects is the Rogun HPP on Vakhsh river. This project also caused tensions with Uzbekistan because it claims that water flows will be seriously decreased.The Rogun HPP is seen as a solution to the energy independence and a tool for economic growth in Tajikistan. By implementing the project, Tajikistan will be able to generate about 13 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. This will not only help the country to meet its domestic needs but will also make Tajikistan a major exporter of electricity.The HPP is being constructed on the upper reaches of the Vakhsh River in the Pamir mountain ranges. The project is being developed by OJSC Rogun Hydropower Plant on behalf of the Government of Tajikistan.Approximately $4 billion is needed to complete the country's main energy project - Rogun HPP. About 2 billion somoni have been allocated from the state budget for the completion of the hydroelectric power station this year.The Rogun HPP construction project was developed during the Soviet era. Construction of the plant was initiated in 1976, but stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The dam should form a large Rogun reservoir with a total volume of 13.3 cubic meters.The project is criticized because of the location in the zone of high seismicity, landslide and mudflow processes, and the presence of a tectonic fault filled with rock salt under the base of the dam.Central Asian nations have to unite effortsIn order to find solution to the key water problems in the region, all five Central Asian nations should unite their efforts and begin constructive dialogue. The first attempts have already been made during the recent meeting between Kyrgyz and Uzbek leaders Almazbek Atambayev and Shavkat Mirziyoyev.Both sides stressed that one of the key factors of the Central Asia’s well-being is the integrated use of water and energy resources, taking into account the interests of all the states of the region.They also agreed on the rational use of water resources in accordance with the common interests.Although it doesn’t mean that Uzbekistan supports the construction of HPPs in Kyrgyzstan, the country demonstrated its readiness for open dialogue and compromise.  CBA announces manat rate for September 22 Business Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:51:00 +0400 By  TrendOfficial exchange rate of Azerbaijan’s national currency, the manat, against the US dollar was set at 1.7008 AZN/USD for Sept. 22, the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) said.Thus, the AZN/USD rate decreased by 0.0001 manats compared to the rate on September 21. President Aliyev extends condolences to Mexican president Politics Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:59:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has sent a letter of condolence to President of the United Mexican States Enrique Pena Nieto.“I was deeply saddened by the news of heavy casualties and destructions as a result of a terrible earthquake that hit your country,” Ilham Aliyev said in his letter.“On the occasion of this tragedy, on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I extend my deepest condolences to you, families and loved ones of those who died, and all the people of Mexico, and wish those injured the soonest possible recovery,” the president added.The quake struck the country shortly after 1pm local time on September 20, toppling dozens of buildings and killing at least 225 people.The 7.1 magnitude earthquake is deadliest to hit country in more than 30 years and has brought down buildings in the capital, Mexico City. CIS Economic Council approves number of joint projects World news Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:46:00 +0400 By Sara IsrafilbayovaMoscow has hosted the 75th meeting of the Economic Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).The agenda included a wide range of issues of interaction of the CIS countries in the economic sphere. The meeting participants approved the drafts of the Concept of Cooperation of the Commonwealth States in the field of land reclamation and the Concept of Cooperation of the CIS Countries in the field of oil and gas engineering.Moreover, the protocol on amendments to the agreement on the rules for determining the country of origin of goods in the CIS, the protocol on amendments to the agreement on the harmonization of requirements for additional training and the professional competence of international road carriers of the Commonwealth States was adopted.The meeting participants discussed the preparations for the census of the population in the Commonwealth states in 2020.A number of budget, financial and organizational issues were discussed.The next meeting of the CIS Economic Council is scheduled for December 15.The Economic Council of the CIS was established in April 1999.The Council is the main executive body ensuring the implementation of agreements adopted within the framework of the CIS, decisions of the Council of Heads of States and the Council of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth on the formation and functioning of a free trade zone and other issues of socio-economic cooperation.The main functions of the Economic Council of the CIS are developing proposals for the creation of a system of mutual settlements and payments for trading and other transactions; creation of legal, economic and organizational conditions for the transition to higher levels of economic cooperation based on the free movement of goods, services, labor and capital; assistance in the entry of the CIS member states into the world economic system, etc.The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is free association of sovereign states formed in 1991 by Russia and 11 other republics that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. The CIS’s functions are to coordinate its members’ policies regarding their economies, defense, immigration policies, environmental protection, and law enforcement.The CIS united Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. However, in 2008 Georgia withdrew its membership. ASAN Volunteers restarts 'Parliament of Volunteers' Society Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:30:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe ‘Parliament of Volunteers’ project will be launched in Azerbaijan once again with the financial support of the Youth Foundation under the President of Azerbaijan, the organization of "ASAN Volunteers" and the Training Center of the Taxes Ministry.During the four-day project, which will take place in Shamakhi region, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their political analysis skills through discussions on various topics.The main objective of the project is to involve the youth in public and legislative life of the country, as well as promote constructive approach in solving problems.The ‘Parliament of Volunteers’ project will simulate the work of the Parliament of Azerbaijan. As many as 80 young people will be in Shamakhi to attend the four-day sessions of the Parliament’s simulation. Young people will also participate in various social activities.Young people who want to become participants of the "Parliament of Volunteers" project can register following the link selected candidates will participate in special training on topics such as political analysts, political scientists and MPs on October 6-8.Following the training on October 10, participants will demonstrate the information they learned in a written version. The selected individuals will be eligible to participate in a simulation exercise in Shamakhi.ASAN Volunteers was established in 2009. The main mission of the organization is to support young generation and create opportunities for volunteers to improve their self- development. Azerbaijani wrestlers shine at World Military Championships [PHOTO] Sports Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:48:00 +0400 The top wrestlers from a number of countries came together to compete in the CISM World Military Wrestling Championships in Klaipeda, Lithuania, on September 18-25.Azerbaijani wrestler Galib Aliyev has claimed a gold medal at the 32nd World Military Championships. He secured the medal in the 61kg weight category.Other Azerbaijani wrestlers Afgan Khashalov (57kg), Aghahuseyn Mustafayev (65kg) and Joshgun Azimov (70kg) took bronze medals of the tournament.In women’s event, wrestler Turkan Nasirova has captured a silver medal.She sealed the medal in the 48kg weight category. Baku to host 2019 UEFA Europa League final Sports Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:31:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe Baku Olympic Stadium has been named a venue for the 2019 UEFA Europe League final. The decision was made at a UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Nyon on September 20.To be held on May 29, 2019, the final will be the first such decider played in the Azerbaijani capital, according to UEFA.The 69,870-seats Olympic Stadium was ready in March 2015, and in June 2015 it served as the main venue for the 2015 European Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletic games.In May 2017 the Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, as well as the athletics games of the event. The stadium will also host three group games and a quarter-final of UEFA EURO 2020. The facility consists of the main and auxiliary stadiums, an auxiliary building, as well as sections for VIP, CIP, media and disabled spectators.In August 2015, the Engineering News Record magazine declared the Baku Olympic Stadium the best sports facility of the year. The Baku Olympic Stadium was also recognized as "The best new stadium in the world" by the World Congress of Stadiums-2017 at its gathering in the capital of Qatar, Doha.As for the 2019 UEFA Champions League final, it was entrusted to the home ground of Atletico Madrid FC - Wanda Metropolitano stadium, and the UEFA Super Cup will take place in Istanbul at Vodafone Park stadium.Baku had put forward its candidacy to host the finals of either the Champions League or Europa League in 2019. Azerbaijan, Iran agree on funding for Rasht-Astara railway construction Business Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:59:00 +0400 By AzernewsA multi-million dollar project on Rasht-Astara railway route, a part of the International North-South Transportation Corridor, is expected to be launched this year.The construction of the section of Resht-Astara will cost Iran $1.1 billion. Azerbaijan will provide Iran with a loan of 500 million euros to complete the construction of the railway section.The two countries, within the International North-South Transport Corridor [a multi-model route to link India and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe], are making efforts to connect their railways through the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara route, connecting Iran’s northern city of Astara to its namesake in the Azerbaijan.  Nourollah Beiranvand, the deputy for planning and investment at Iran Railways, told Trend that Azerbaijan agreed to allocate this fund.“Taking into account the mutual benefit of the Rest-Astara railway for the two countries, the Azerbaijani government agreed to finance the project,” Beiranvand said.He denied the recent rumors that Baku will fully finance the construction of the Resht-Astara, saying that half of the required amount will be provided by Azerbaijan, and other half by Iran.“The financing will be carried out in the form of a loan. The invested amount will be later deducted from the income of the project,” he said.Beiranvand also touched upon the construction of the Astara railway station and said that Azerbaijan agreed to invest in the construction of the station and cargo terminals.Azerbaijan earlier agreed to provide 60 million euros for developing railway facilities in Iranian city of Astara.“Approximately half of this amount is projected to be used to finance the construction of a 1.4-kilometer railway in Astara, as well as the station building,” Beiranvand said.The remaining half will be spent on the construction of four terminals, according the official.  This rail road link is important as it will significantly facilitate and expedite exchange of good and trade amongst Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia. The agreement signed between Azerbaijan Railways and Iran Railways envisages that Azerbaijan rents the railway line for a period of 15 years, and terminals for 25 years.The transport corridor "North-South" is designed to connect Northern Europe with South-East Asia, including the unification of the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the first stage, along the corridor, it is planned to transport five million tons of cargo per year, increasing later to more than 10 million tons of cargo. Azerbaijan to appoint trade representative to Hungary Business Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:48:00 +0400 By AzernewsAzerbaijan plans to appoint its next trade representative to Hungary, a landlocked country in central Europe.The trade representative will work to expand Azerbaijan’s non-oil exports, promote the ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand in Europe and attract investment into the country. So far, Azerbaijan has appointed trade representatives to Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev said that Azerbaijan is also considering other mechanisms to expand bilateral trade with Hungary, Azertac reportedThe trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Hungary amounted to $ 20.12 million in January-July 2017, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan.The 7th meeting of Azerbaijan-Hungary Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation will take place in Budapest.In October, Budapest will also welcome the export mission of Azerbaijan’s entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs involved in the export mission are specialized in the production of fruits and vegetables, mineral water, fruit juices, sugar and confectionery products, wine and other alcohol products, honey and products from it, tea, hazelnuts and other industrial products.Since early 2017, Azerbaijan has already sent export missions to Qatar, Kazakhstan, Germany, Afghanistan and Pakistan.The export missions play an important role in expanding non-oil exports and promoting the “Made in Azerbaijan” brand.As of today, 92 trademarks of Azerbaijan are protected under the ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand, while the country’s total outputs nears  250 kinds of products in food, light, heavy and construction industries. The brand is highly successful in regional and world markets, and Azerbaijan’s local output meets all the necessary standards.In January 2017, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree “About appointment of trade representatives in embassies and consulates of the Republic”.Under the decree, the country’s economy minister appoints trade representatives in the Azerbaijani embassies and consulates abroad to facilitate business ties and increase the effectiveness of export promotion measures, represent and fully protect the trade and economic interests of the country and expand the delivery of Azerbaijani products to foreign markets.Trade representatives’ main mission is to take measures to expand Azerbaijan`s economic and trade relations with foreign countries, protect economic interests of Azerbaijan, increase export of Azerbaijani goods and services, promote Azerbaijan’s business environment and investment opportunities.Moreover, Azerbaijan opens Trade Houses in foreign countries. Azerbaijan’s first Trade House was opened in the Belarusian capital Minsk and the second one maybe opened in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region. It is also expected to open Trade Houses in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Going underground: Baku Metro expands network Society Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:46:00 +0400 By Azernews Strange as it may sound, the subway is one of those places that say something very special about each city. It remembers thousands of people walking through it every day for years, while they remember very little of the time they spend there.  Opened in 1967, Baku Metro, the first subway system in the East, has transformed the way the city moves, works and travels.  Serving the residents and guests of the capital for 50 years, Baku Metro is the most affordable and safest way to get around the city. With 25 stations on 3 lines -Green, Red and Purple, currently the metro is 36.63 km in length. About 600,000 passengers daily use the train network in Baku, travelling on the underground, to get around the capital, without ever thinking too much about how the system works. But hundreds of meters below the surface, a change is coming - a change that will reshape the transport system. Now, Baku Metro is working on expansion of the lines to make the life of the residents more convenient. Head of the Traffic Service Department Etibar Isayev said that the Metro has started working on expansion of the ‘Green’ line construction. “Work has already begun. The territory for new stations has already been allocated and fenced. But it is too early to speak about any concrete terms for its completion,” he told Trend. The ‘Green’ line of Baku Metro is planned to be turned into a ring road. The ‘Green’ line construction stipulates building of three stations between Khatai and Hazi Aslanov stations, as well as the connection between Darnagul and Hazi Aslanov stations. Nine new stations are planned to be built between the two stations. In the long term, when the tunnels between Jafar Jabbarli and Nizami stations are ready, as well as Y-14, Y-15 and Y-16 stations [between Khatai and Hazi Aslanov] are completed, Khatai station will be intermediate on the Green branch. This line is set to increase the rail capacity, and cut journey times across the capital dramatically, as well as lower congestion at many key points across the network. Isayev said that construction of stations on the ‘Purple’ line of Baku Metro is also underway. The new station, which bears the conventional name B-3, is being built near the Central Military Hospital along Jalil Mammadguluzade Street. The station, which is planned to be commissioned in 2018, is a part of the on the ‘Purple’ line, which also includes Memar Adjemi-2 and Avtovokzal stations.  “The construction work is also underway on the ‘Purple’ line. After their completion, it will take some time to deliver the necessary equipment, after which the new station will be commissioned,” he said. By 2030 it is planned to expand the infrastructure of Baku Metro and create a giant underground transport network. Then, Baku will have a train network consisting of five lines, including three available and two additional, as well as 76 stations and underground  network with a length of 119 kilometers. Korean Food Showcase in Baku Arts & Entertainment Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:57:00 +0400 By AzernewsFans of delicious Asian food do not miss the chance to taste Korean cuisine in Baku.Korean Food Showcase will be organized in the capital city, near the Maiden Tower in Icherisheher between 11:00 and 18:00 on September 27.Organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Azerbaijan, Korean Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Retail Affairs and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the event will feature Korean agricultural product tasting and Korean traditional tea ceremony demonstration.The products showcased at the event will include:Healthy Food : Red Ginseng Tea, Red Ginseng Extracts, Roasted and Ground Powder of Germinated Brown Rice, Super Food Mixed Grain Powder, Ginger Flavored Bellflower juice Ect.Tea and Snacks : Jujube Tea, Green Tea, Citron Tea, Omija Juice, Sweet Rice Puff, Rice Crispy Cookies, Traditional Korean Wheat Honey Cookies EctAlcoholic Beverages : Citron-flavored Soju(korean style vodka), Makgeoli (traditional liquor from rice ), Leegangju Ect.Korean cuisine was influenced by the well-defined four seasons and by the regional characteristics of the Korean peninsula.Local dishes are made from ingredients that reveal the geographical characteristics of each microclimate and region. The recipes reflect the wisdom of living healthily by eating seasonally.Koreans have a high regard for those who prepare food. They believe that one’s hands play an important role in food preparation and in putting one’s heart and soul into the cuisine.In Korea, staying healthy and cool during the summer is all about what you eat. Many Koreans try to beat the heat and counteract summer fatigue by eating cool dishes, as well as warm, healthy foods that are known for their restorative powers.Come to experience the diverse tastes and stories of Korean cuisine, filled with history, meaning and delicious taste! President Aliyev ends U.S. visit Politics Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:59:00 +0400 By AzertacPresident of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva have completed their visit to the United States of America. President Ilham Aliyev met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York [PHOTO] Politics Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:05:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. President Aliyev: For 25 years Armenia holds Azerbaijani lands under occupation [PHOTO ] Politics Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:04:00 +0400 The 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly has opened in New York.President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and Leyla Aliyeva attended the event.Moderator of the event was Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations Dian Triansyah Djani.Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressed the opening of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.Speech of President Ilham AliyevFor more than 25 years Armenia occupies 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 other regions of our country.Nagorno-Karabakh is an ancient and historical part of Azerbaijan. As a result of Armenian aggression almost 20% of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is under Armenian occupation. More than one million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons. Armenia conducted the policy of ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis in Armenia, in Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 other regions of Azerbaijan.Armenia committed genocide against Azerbaijanis in Khojaly. Khojaly genocide is already officially recognized by more than 10 countries. On February 26, 1992 Armenia committed war crime killing 613 peaceful residents of Khojaly, among them 106 women and 63 children. One of those war criminals who committed that terrible crime against humanity is current Armenian President.Leading international organizations adopted resolutions demanding withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. In 1993, United Nations Security Council adopted 4 resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan.Other international organizations, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Non-Alignment Movement, OSCE, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and European Parliament adopted similar decisions and resolutions. Armenia doesn’t implement them. Armenia for 24 years ignores UN Security Council resolutions and unfortunately is not punished for that. In some cases, UN Security Council resolutions are implemented within days. In our case it’s 24 years that resolutions are not implemented. This is a double standards approach. This approach is unacceptable. International sanctions must be imposed on Armenia. One of the important reforms of the United Nations must be the creation of the mechanism of implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council.Armenia does everything to keep status-quo unchanged, blocks substantive negotiations. Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group –France, Russia, USA – on several occasions stated that status-quo is unacceptable.The question is how can this corrupt, failed state ruled by despotic, medieval regime afford to violate international law for so many years and ignore the resolutions of UN Security Council and statements of the leading countries of the world? And the answer is double standards. There is no international pressure on aggressor, no international sanctions imposed on Armenian dictatorship. This policy must be stopped.Such policy towards aggressor is not only demonstration of injustice, it also creates an illusion that Armenian dictatorship can continue their policy of terror.Last April Armenia committed another war crime on the line of contact attacking our cities and villages. As a result of this attack, 6 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, among them one child and 26 civilians were wounded. Hundreds of our houses were destroyed.Azerbaijan had to defend its citizens. As a result of successful counter-attack, Azerbaijan liberated some territories in the 3 occupied regions - Agdere, Fuzuli and Jabrayil and installed its national flag on the liberated territories. Armenian leadership should not forget this lesson. Otherwise, the result of the next Armenian provocation will be more painful for them.Losing on the battlefield Armenia uses its mean policy of attacking our cities and villages. On July 4, 2017 a targeted attack on Alkhanli village in Fuzuli district by Armenia with 82 and 120 mm mortars and grenade launchers killed 2 civilians – 2 years old Zahra Guliyeva and her grandmother.On August 7, 2017, a 13 years old boy in Tovuz region bordering with Armenia was wounded by Armenian soldiers. International community must stop Armenian fascism and terror. Azerbaijan is committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict but at the same time will defend its citizens in line with UN charter if Armenian military provocations continue and if necessary will punish once again the aggressor as it was done in April, 2016.Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved on the basis of international law, relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be completely restored. Despite the enormous difficulties caused by Armenian occupation Azerbaijan develops rapidly and successfully.Azerbaijan is an active member of the United Nations.In 2011, Azerbaijan was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. 155 countries voted for Azerbaijan. Absolute majority of the member states demonstrated their support to Azerbaijan and its policy. For the country which at that time was only 20 years old, that was a great success. Azerbaijan is a stable, modern, democratic country. Development of democracy, human rights protection are among top priorities of our government. All fundamental freedoms are fully provided in Azerbaijan, including freedom of expression, media freedom, freedom of assembly, religious freedom.Azerbaijan is one of the world’s recognized centers of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a state policy in Azerbaijan. Representatives of all ethnic groups and religions live in Azerbaijan in peace and harmony. 2016 was declared the year of multiculturalism and 2017 the year of Islamic Solidarity in Azerbaijan.Unlike Armenia where there are almost no national minorities, which is a mono ethnic country and where xenophobia is a state policy, Azerbaijan is a multiethnic country, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of our society is our big asset. Armenia, where Islamophobia reached its peak, committed many acts of vandalism destroying all our mosques on the occupied territories.Azerbaijan had hosted numerous international events aiming at strengthening interreligious dialogue. Among them are 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, World’s Religious Leaders Forum, 4 times international forum on Intercultural Dialogue, 5 times Baku International Humanitarian Forum and other important events.Being a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan in 2008 launched the Baku Process which is supported by the United Nations. Main goal of the Baku Process is to strengthen dialogue, partnership and cooperation between the Muslim world and Europe.In 2015, Azerbaijan hosted the First European Games. 6000 athletes from 50 countries participated at these Games. In 2017, Azerbaijan hosted 4th Islamic Solidarity Games with almost 3000 athletes from 54 countries.In two years in our capital Baku European and Islamic Games took place. This was also a great contribution to the promotion of multiculturalism. Azerbaijani team took the second place at the First European Games, and the first place at the Islamic Solidarity Games. This shows that Azerbaijan is one of the leading sporting countries of the world. Another proof of our sporting achievement is that Azerbaijan was number 14 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with respect to the number of medals. In total, Azerbaijan won 18 medals.Azerbaijan achieved big progress in social and economic development.Since 2004, Azerbaijan’s economy grew more than 3 times. More than 1 million 600 thousand jobs were created in our country. Level of unemployment is one of the lowest in the world – 5%. One of our priorities was reduction of poverty. In 2004, level of poverty was more than 40%, now it is 5-6%. Hard currency reserves are equal to the country’s GDP. Foreign state debt is less than 20% of GDP.Azerbaijan was assessed as “leading reformer of the world” in 2009 by the World Bank’s Doing Business report. Based on Davos World Economic Forum “Global Competitiveness Report for 2016-2017” Azerbaijan is ranked ?37 among 138 countries.In 2015, Azerbaijan received the 2015 South-South Award in recognition of its outstanding achievements in implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and since 2010 has been classified into the category of countries with high human development.Rapid development of Azerbaijan’s space industry, 2 telecommunication and field observation satellites “Azerspace” and “Azersky” and a third one “Azerspace-2” to be launched soon – made it possible for our country to become a member of the world’s space club.Today Azerbaijan exports not only its industrial and agricultural but also intellectual products. “State Agency for Services and Social Innovations to the Citizens” - ASAN Service is a modern model of public relations and services.251 services under one roof, absolute transparency, zero tolerance to corruption and bribery made “ASAN Service” attractive to many countries.Being purely Azerbaijani brand during 5 years of its foundation ASAN Service provided over 1 million 600 thousand services to 5 million people. The total number of applications is 17 million. The rate of public appreciation of “ASAN Service” is 98 %.In 2015, in recognition of its contribution to excellence, creativity and considerable simplification of the delivery of public services, ASAN received the United Nations Public Service Award.Main goal of our policy is to make the life of our citizens better. Since 2004 salaries grew in our country 5.6 times, pensions 8.2 times.Without any foreign financial support, we built almost 100 new settlements and towns for refugees and IDPs suffering from Armenian occupation. Until today, the living conditions of more than 250 thousand people were improved and they were provided with new houses and flats. 152 schools, 59 medical centers, 60 kindergartens were built in these towns and settlements.In general, since 2004 more than 3000 schools, more than 600 hospitals and medical centers were newly built and renovated. Level of literacy in Azerbaijan is close to 100%. Every year more than 5 million people – half of the country’s population – get their medical check-up totally financed by the state budget.Azerbaijan plays an important role on the global energy market. Being a reliable supplier of oil and gas to the international markets - Azerbaijan is providing energy security for many countries of the world. Today, Azerbaijan together with its international partners is very close to the completion of the “Southern Gas Corridor” project. This project of 40 billion USD of investments is one of the largest infrastructure projects of the world.Another important priority is transportation. Situated between Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan is wisely using its geographical location to become one of the leading transportation hubs in Eurasia.Relatively recently Azerbaijan built 6 international airports, 11,000 kilometers of modern highways and roads. Azerbaijan has the biggest trade fleet in the Caspian Sea with 270 vessels.Modern shipbuilding yard of Azerbaijan is capable to build all types and sizes of ships.Azerbaijan is modernizing its railroad infrastructure. Absolute majority of our territory is covered by railroads. Next year we will inaugurate the international trade sea port which will be the biggest in the Caspian region.Azerbaijan is largely investing in East-West and North-South transportation corridors. Both routes crossing our country will be the shortest routes from East to West and from North to the South.In conclusion, I would like to say that last year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the restoration of our independence. Successful development of Azerbaijan once again shows that only when you are free and independent, when the destiny of the country is in the hands of its people you can achieve success. The biggest happiness of the people of Azerbaijan is that we live in the independent country which conducts independent policy, policy which is based on the national interests of its people. CBA announces manat rate for September 21 Business Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:57:00 +0400 By TrendOfficial exchange rate of Azerbaijan’s national currency, the manat, against the US dollar was set at 1.7007 AZN/USD for Sept. 21, the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) said Sept. 20.Thus, the AZN/USD rate remained unchanged compared to the rate on Sept. 20. Over 2/3 of pipe stringing complete in TAP’s Greek, Albanian sections Business Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:51:00 +0400 By TrendMore than 2/3 of pipe stringing completed in the Greek and Albanian sections of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which envisages transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, TAP AG consortium said on its Twitter page.It accounts for 520km out of 765km of TAP’s section in those two countries.Approximately 95 percent of the total 55,000 pipes to be used for the construction of TAP have already been received in Greece, Albania and Italy.The last shipment of offshore line pipes has been offloaded in Brindisi, Italy, between 3 and 6 September 2017.TAP’s contractors have cleared approximately 70 percent of the project route in Greece and Albania (539km out of 765km). Also, over 45 percent of welded steel pipes are already in the ground (backfilled).TAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the EU countries.The pipeline will connect to the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy’s south.TAP will be 878 kilometers in length (Greece 550 kilometers, Albania 215 kilometers, Adriatic Sea 105 kilometers, and Italy 8 kilometers).TAP’s shareholding is comprised of BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Snam S.p.A. (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent). Over 36,000 tourists visit southern regions of Azerbaijan Society Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:33:00 +0400 By AzernewsAlthough Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku, is among the most beautiful and visited cities in the world, this fascinating country has a lot more to offer foreign tourists.Mountains, forests, farmlands, coastal areas, and nine out of a possible eleven distinctclimate zones from subtropical to alpine climates allow the country to welcome a diverse group of tourists. In addition to the natural and rural attractions, Azerbaijan has a rich history and many destinations that would be of interest to tourists.Until recently, few travelers visited other regions and cities of Azerbaijan due to lack of proper information and infrastructure. However, today, one can see many foreigners traveling around the country with backpacks and cameras in their hands.The tourists mainly choose the most popular destinations –Gabala, Quba, Shamakhi and many other cities. But, this year the southern regions also welcomed more tourists than before. Director of Lankaran Tourism Information Center Ilgar Azimov told Azertac that about 36,000 tourists visited Lankaran, Astara and Lerik regions in eight months of the current year.Noting that more than 17,000 tourists came only to Lankaran during this period, Azimov said that the number of foreign tourists traveling to the region also grew.“Russian tourists take first place among the foreigners coming to Lankaran, followed by travelers from Iran and Arab countries,” he said.Favorable weather conditions in August-September resulted in tourist flow to the southern regions, according Azimov, who added that the tourists expressed their satisfaction with the conditions created in the recreation centers and tourism facilities of the region.The charming city of Lankaran, one of the most vibrant and beautiful cities of Azerbaijan, is located in the South-Eastern part of the country, right at the shore of the Caspian sea. Clean air and beautiful nature, abundance of attractions and hospitality of local people are that special factor, which annually attracts tourists from all over the world.Lankaran can be considered one of the oldest settlements of Azerbaijan -- its area was inhabited from the Bronze Age. Due to its location between Europe and Asia, Lankaran was a major stopover point for international caravan routes. In 1742, the city became the capital of the Talysh Khanate. Lankaran  has a lot of historical attractions – one of the most magnificent is the Lankaran Fortress. Built in the 18th century, it was one of the most important military fortifications in the Talysh Khanate.Russian tourist Sergei Abramov, who visited Lankaran for the first time, expressed his satisfaction with the travel.“We came from Moscow. The nature and atmosphere of Lankaran made us fascinate. People of Lankaran are both hospitable and very nice,” he said.Another tourist from Russia, Olga Abramova could not hide her enthusiasm for the national cuisine.“Your kitchen is so delicious,” she said. “Since weather in Russia is cold we cannot have breakfast outdoors. However, here we enjoyed the delicious breakfast in the open air.”If you ask an Azerbaijani about the most fruitful region of the country, he will probably name Lankaran. In agriculture of Lankaran citrus and subtropical fruit-growing occupies a special place, and it is no coincidence that Lankaran is called the land of citrus plants, such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, pomelo and others.Of course, when visiting Lankaran, you should definitely taste Lankaran tea, which is constantly exported to other regions of Azerbaijan and foreign countries as well. Tea is so popular in Lankaran, that it has tea monument beside the entry to the city – a huge samovar (tea boiler). Oil production from new platform on ACG block may start in 2023 Business Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:24:00 +0400 By TrendFirst oil production from the new platform, to be built and installed on the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) block of fields under the new project agreement, may begin in 2023, an official with Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR has told reporters in Baku.An investment decision regarding the new platform is planned to be made in 2019, according to the official.“The platform will be installed between platforms "Central Azeri" and "East Azeri," and will be named “Central Eastern Azeri”. The total cost of the project, including the platform construction, is pre-estimated at $8-9 billion. The first oil can be obtained in 2023,” the official said. Korean Food Showcase in Baku Society Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:58:00 +0400 By AzernewsFans of delicious Asian food do not miss the chance to taste Korean cuisine in Baku.Korean Food Showcase will be organized in the capital city, near the Maiden Tower in Icherisheher between 11:00 and 18:00 on September 27.Organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Azerbaijan, Korean Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Retail Affairs and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the event will feature Korean agricultural product tasting and Korean traditional tea ceremony demonstration.The products showcased at the event will include:Healthy Food : Red Ginseng Tea, Red Ginseng Extracts, Roasted and Ground Powder of Germinated Brown Rice, Super Food Mixed Grain Powder, Ginger Flavored Bellflower juice Ect.Tea and Snacks : Jujube Tea, Green Tea, Citron Tea, Omija Juice, Sweet Rice Puff, Rice Crispy Cookies, Traditional Korean Wheat Honey Cookies EctAlcoholic Beverages : Citron-flavored Soju(korean style vodka), Makgeoli (traditional liquor from rice ), Leegangju Ect.Korean cuisine was influenced by the well-defined four seasons and by the regional characteristics of the Korean peninsula.Local dishes are made from ingredients that reveal the geographical characteristics of each microclimate and region. The recipes reflect the wisdom of living healthily by eating seasonally.Koreans have a high regard for those who prepare food. They believe that one’s hands play an important role in food preparation and in putting one’s heart and soul into the cuisine.In Korea, staying healthy and cool during the summer is all about what you eat. Many Koreans try to beat the heat and counteract summer fatigue by eating cool dishes, as well as warm, healthy foods that are known for their restorative powers.Come to experience the diverse tastes and stories of Korean cuisine, filled with history, meaning and delicious taste! EU closely following Karabakh conflict developments Politics Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:31:00 +0400 By TrendThe European Union (EU) is closely following developments over the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Kestutis Jankauskas, newly appointed head of the EU delegation to Azerbaijan, told reporters in Baku on September 20.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Erbil referendum could lead to Ankara's military intervention, media says World news Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:03:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan seem determined to hold an independence referendum despite the warnings of Iraq, Turkey, the U.S and others.Residents in provinces controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will vote on September 25on independence from Baghdad. The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is among the contested areas where the vote is planned.The long-awaited vote is strongly opposed by Iraq and neighboring Iran, Turkey and Syria, as they fear separatism may spread to their own Kurdish populations and also obstacle fight against terrorism.Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned of sanctions against the KRG if it proceeds with its planned referendum for independence next week.“We have always supported the KRG,” Erdogan told reporters in New York after his address at the UN General Assembly. “We think this approach of theirs amounts to ignoring the Republic of Turkey, which has stood by them and counted them as a close ally.”The cabinet and the National Security Council will convene to make a final decision, Erdogan said."The cabinet will undoubtedly evaluate this situation and assess possible sanctions, which will not be ordinary," he said.Media reports that Ankara may cease the activity of the consulate of Iraqi Kurdistan operating in the country, and also close the border checkpoint Khabur in the province of Sirnak, which is the only checkpoint connecting the autonomous region with Turkey.Turkish media reports that the independence referendum could lead to military intervention by Turkey in the north of Iraq.Reportedly this option can be considered at a meeting on national security issues in Turkey, which will be held on September 22.The head of Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, previously threatened war if the central government in Baghdad interferes with the holding of the referendum.He noted that preparations for the referendum have been completed. “The Kurdish Autonomy does not intend to postpone holding the referendum on independence each time,” Barzani said.The Iraqi government opposes the poll, claiming it will affect the war against Daesh, cause instability and violate the Iraqi Constitution. Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all backed Baghdad in speaking out against the referendum.The Iraqi Prime Minister has slammed the planned vote as unconstitutional.  The UN called on Iraq’s Kurdish leaders to abandon the upcoming vote, saying it would undermine the ongoing battle in the Arab country against ISIS terrorists.Israel is the only nation to have openly supported the independence bid.Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East although they have never obtained a permanent nation state. In Iraq they make up an estimated 15-20 percent of the population of 37 million. Kurds acquired autonomy following the 1991 Gulf War. Azerbaijan seeks to export some products to China at lower prices Business Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:37:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe trade turnover in agriculture between Azerbaijan and China, which is the priority market for the country, amounted to $10 million in 2016.Agriculture Minister Heydar Asadov, talking to reporters on September 19, said that the relations between the two countries in the agrarian sphere are currently growing, but some problems remain.“The main problem is the increase in export and export potential of Azerbaijani agricultural product,” said Asadov.The minister mentioned that China can buy wool, fruits and wine from Azerbaijan 2-2.8 times cheaper than it imports from other countries.  He added that the issue will be mulled in the subsequent negotiations between Azerbaijan and China.The agricultural imports between the two countries have never exceeded $8 million, while exports have never been higher than $2 million, he added, stressing that Azerbaijan may export certain products to China at lower prices.Trade and economic contacts occupy a significant place in bilateral relations between China and Azerbaijan. The process of interaction between the two countries was marked by constant tendencies of expansion and strengthening of cooperation. To date, more than 50 agreements were signed between the two countries.In June, Teymur Nadiroglu was appointed the trade representative of Azerbaijan in China, in a bid to expand non-oil exports, promote the ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand and attract investment in the country.AZPROMO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in early August. The document provides for the development of trade, economic and investment relations between the two countries, as well as promotion of export and exchange of experience.Last year, Azerbaijani companies agreed to deliver 500,000 bottles of wine to the country. The agreement was reached within the framework of participation of Azerbaijani entrepreneurs in international exhibitions in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. This year, local companies intend to expand the export of wine to China, the world's second-largest economy.        Overall, trade turnover between China and Azerbaijan has grown 800-fold over the past two decades. Initially, bilateral trade amounted to only $1.5 million, while in 2004, it jumped to $200 million, and $368 million in 2006. By 2013, the trade turnover reached around $1.5 billion.Today, China takes the 4th place in the overall trade turnover of Azerbaijan, 3rd place - in exports and imports.The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and China amounted to $964.68 million in January-August 2017, which is an increase by 78.8 percent as compared to the same period of 2016, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan. FM: Baku stands for two-state solution of Palestinian conflict Politics Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:01:00 +0400 By AzernewsAzerbaijan is in solidarity with the Palestinian people and backs the just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine, said Elmar Mammadyarov.The foreign minister of Azerbaijan made the remark while addressing a Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Non-Aligned Movement on Palestine in New York on September 19."Azerbaijan as any other member of international community is deeply concerned over wars and armed conflicts in various parts of the world, which lead to political instability in some regions, large-scale displacement and unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The lack of settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses threat not only to this region, but also to the international security,” Mammadyarov continued.The minister stressed that Azerbaijan supports peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stands beside the Palestinian people.“Azerbaijan stands for the two-state solution of the Palestinian conflict with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. In this regard, I would like to reaffirm Azerbaijan’s full support to the brotherly people of Palestine in their struggle for achieving peace, stability and sustainable development,” he said.Mammadyarov noted that Azerbaijan, as the future chairman of the NAM, will seek to use this function to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict based on international law, and the solid position of our Movement.The minister further spoke about his country’s close political dialogue and regular consultations with Palestine."Emanating from shared values and culture, Palestine and Azerbaijan historically cooperated and supported each other in all international forums and organizations. The spirit of this solidarity has been proved in different instances. Azerbaijan has hosted two successful conferences, namely, “The donor’s conference to finance the strategic plan for the development of the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif” and “The establishment of Islamic financial safety net in support of the state of Palestine” in 2013 and made significant donations for the development and maintenance of the holy city’s infrastructure. This year Azerbaijan hosted the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem under auspices of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People with the support of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The Conference provided up-to-date information on the current situation in East Jerusalem under occupation, examined the latest developments, and explored practical ways,” the minister said.Mammadyarov believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict underscores the urgency of acting collectively, immediately and determinedly “to end this five decade conflict in accordance with international law, including humanitarian and human rights law”.It requires international intervention and political will to address the root causes of the conflict in achieving a just, lasting solution to the question of Palestine in all its aspects based on international law and relevant UN resolutions, according to him."Having this opportunity, we once again support the Palestinian government in their efforts to realize their inalienable rights and legitimate national aspirations for peace, freedom and justice," Mammadyarov said. Trump hopes Qatar crisis to be resolved quickly World news Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:41:00 +0400 By AzernewsPresident of the United States, Donald Trump has said that the dispute between Qatar and its Arab neighbors would be resolved quickly.“We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East. And I think we’ll get it solved, I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly,” Trump said in New York as he met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the White House press service reported.The meeting in expanded format was attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, National Security Advisor to General Herbert McMaster, Presidential Adviser Jared Kouchner, Economic Advisor to President Dinah Powell and two other U.S. officials.Trump continued: “It's my great honor to be with the Emir of Qatar.  And we've been friends a long time; people don't realize that.  We know each other for a long time. And we are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East, and I think we'll get it solved.”The Gulf crisis erupted after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism. Qatar has vehemently denied the charges as baseless.Trump earlier this month was optimistic he could force a breakthrough. 'I think you’d have a deal worked out very quickly,' he said. But a call he arranged between the leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia didn't bear fruit and led to disparate statements from the two nations.The Qatari Emir, in turn, confirmed that the relationship between the United States of America and Qatar is a very strong relationship, a historic relationship.“We have a lot to talk about -- trade, military cooperation, security cooperation,” he said, further adding: “We have a problem with our neighbors, and your interference will help a lot.” “And I'm sure that, with your interference, hopefully we can find a solution for this problem.  We've always said that we're very open for dialogue, and we'll always be open for dialoguethe Emir said.The four Arab states boycotting Qatar said that sanctions would remain in place until it met their demands and that they would keep a close eye on the tiny Gulf monarchy’s efforts to fight terrorism funding.They issued a 13-point list of demands to end the standoff. The demands include shutting down the Al Jazeera news network, closing a Turkish military base, cutting ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, and downgrading relations with Tehran.Qatar insisted it would not agree to any measures that threatened its sovereignty or violated international law. SOCAR President reveals Shah Deniz gas output Business Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:29:00 +0400 By AzernewsRoughly 85 billion cubic meters of gas and 21.2 million tons of condensate have been extracted from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field since the beginning of operation in 2006.Rovnag Abdullayev, President of the state-owned energy company SOCAR announced about this in his article, published in the country’s Respublika newspaper, on September 20.The Shah Deniz, discovered in 1999, is one of the world’s largest gas-condensate fields. The field is located on the deep water shelf of the Caspian Sea, 70 km south-east of Baku, in water depths ranging from 50 to 500 m.Shah Deniz field's reserves are estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.Abdullayev added that overall 25.6 million tons of oil and 18.7 billion cubic meters of gas were produced in Azerbaijan over eight months of 2017."Five million tons of oil and four billion cubic meters of gas accounted for SOCAR," he said.Shah Deniz Stage 1 has the capacity to produce around 10 billion cubic meters of gas per annum (bcma) and approximately 50,000 barrels a day of condensate. Shah Deniz Stage 2, or Full Field Development (FFD) will add a further 16 bcma of gas production to the approximately 9 bcma produced by Shah Deniz Stage 1.The project Shah Deniz Stage 2 is now over 92% complete in terms of engineering, procurement and construction, and remains on target for first gas from Shah Deniz Stage 2 in 2018. The gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and Trans Adriatic Pipeline.Abdullayev further mentioned that SOCAR has injected 1.4 billion cubic meters of gas into the country’s underground gas storage facilities since the beginning of the gas pumping season until September 1, 2017.Currently, the active gas volume in Azerbaijan’s underground gas storage facilities amounts to 2.2 billion cubic meters, he said.There are two underground gas storage facilities – Kalmaz and Garadagh – in Azerbaijan. Capacity of the two underground gas storage facilities allows to store more than 3.5 billion cubic meters of gas. Azerbaijan eyes to earn $800M per year from Star refinery Business Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:09:00 +0400 By  TrendAnnual income of Azerbaijan’s economy from the Star oil refinery, being constructed by SOCAR on Aliaga Peninsula in Turkey, will exceed $600 million within the first five years after its commissioning, said SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev.He made the remarks Sept. 20 in Baku at an event dedicated to the Oilmen Day.Over the next 10 years, the annual income will exceed $800 million, according to him.“The refinery’s construction will be completed in the second half of 2018. The refinery will primarily provide naphtha to the Petkim petrochemical complex, which aims to take up to 30 percent share of the Turkish market,” Abdullayev said. Erdogan says restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity – main condition for peace in ... Politics Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:07:00 +0400 By AzernewsThe restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia is the main condition for peace in the South Caucasus region.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the remark while addressing the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 19.“We must make more efforts to resolve conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We must not forget that any crisis we ignore today may develop into a regional and even a global conflict tomorrow,” he noted.Azerbaijan and Armenia for over two decades have been locked in conflict, which emerged over Armenian territorial claims. Since the 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.The UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijan's occupied lands, but they have not been enforced to this day.Turkey has always supported the resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of the country's internationally recognized borders.Turkey and Armenia severed diplomatic relations in 1993 due to occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenian Armed Forces and Yerevan’s claims to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide.During his visit to Azerbaijan this March, Erdogan stated that the borders would only be reopened after Armenia ceases the occupation. Baku in Top 3 of most popular CIS cities for travel Society Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:40:00 +0400 By AzernewsAzerbaijan’s beautiful capital Baku has repeatedly ranked first among the cities of the CIS on the popularity of summer travel. The autumn season also promises to be a good one for baku, dubbed as the City of Winds.Tourist service portal Turstat has revealed the most popular cities among the tourists from the CIS for travel this autumn.Baku is in the Top 3 cities of the CIS for popularity among tourists, followed by Tashkent, Ashgabat, Kiev, Kishinev, Bishkek and Erevan.The rating is based on the results of the analysis of the data of online booking systems for accommodation facilities for tourists.Tourists will visit Baku on average for 3 days and spend on living $ 78 per day, according to Turstat.The most inexpensive cities of the CIS for tourists are Bishkek and Kishinev, while the most expensive is Astana.Situated along the Caspian Sea, Baku is a great mix of Asian and Western cultures, of the old and new, all of which is best reflected in the city’s sights and landmarks. The capital Baku is on the Caspian Sea, but also home to oil drilling derricks and futuristic skyscrapers.Unique culture and history, delicious food and wine and plenty of adventures are awaiting travelers in the capital city of Azerbaijan.  Travelers can explore the famed medieval Old City, hailed as a “must-visit”, which houses the UNESCO-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. Admire the city’s contemporary buildings such as the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Flame Towers – a trio of skyscrapers covered with LEDs and displaying the mesmerizing movement of a flame.Over the past 10 years, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased by five times. Here, the Caucasus Mountains are as earthy as you can get, peppered with traditional elevated villages such as Lahic, where subsistence farming and traditional art forms still alive. And then there is fire. Everywhere. From the permanently alight natural gas ‘flaming mountain’ of Yanardag to fire worshippers’ temple Ateshgah, both on the Absheron Peninsula. And as for air, just head to the omnipresent mountains, ideal for visiting any time of year, whether summer or winter.But beyond its nature, which is key reason for the tourism, the people of Azerbaijan are wonderfully welcoming and hospitable.