TODAY.AZ / Politics

Stanley Escudero: "Azerbaijan is my second home"

04 April 2006 [10:51] - TODAY.AZ
Former US ambassador to our country considers that "velvet revolution" did not take place in Azerbaijan because the nation did not want it.

- We would like you to give us some information about yourself.

- I was born in 1942 in Daytona Beach city, Florida. My spouse also grew up in Florida and we have known each-other since our childhood. I graduated from the University of Florida, faculty of history and international affairs and had worked as a diplomat for more than 33 years.

So, I was the US ambassador to Tajikistan in 1992-1995, Uzbekistan in 1995-1997 and Azerbaijan in 1997-2000.

I worked in the diplomatic sphere in Pakistan, India, Iran, Nigeria, Western Africa, Egypt, Far East and Eastern Africa as well.

At present I live with family in Baku. In February, me and my spouse celebrated 39th anniversary of our marriage. She accompanied me in all my visits. In Tajikistan she worked with children, here she is engaged in charity.

My elder son Alexandr was born in 1973 in Tehran and lives in Baku. My youngest son Benjamin also lives here. Last year he was engaged to an Azerbaijani girl.

- Why did you decide to stay in Baku after completion of your diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan?

- After completion of my diplomatic mission in Azerbaijan, I returned to USA and established the "Shield Bearer" consulting company there.

Then I discovered that there is a great interest to new business institutions in Azerbaijan. Most of my company’s clients tried to persuade me to return to Azerbaijan and frankly speaking, I was very glad for it. Because I have worked in this republic for a long period, and both me and my spouse are very glad to be here. After solving all organization issues, I returned to Baku in August, 2001.

My spouse came here in October of the same year. At that time I opened a branch of my company in Baku. At present, as a consulting company, we offer our consulting services to investors operating in Azerbaijan.

Some of famous foreign companies operating in Azerbaijan are among my clients and one of such companies is the McDonalds Corporation.

Besides, I am the president of the American Chamber of Commerce. This organization has 167 members at present, and volume of total capital invested by them in development of the economy of Azerbaijan comes up to $25 billion. It forms 80% of total volume of capital invested in the republic. The principal task of the Chamber is to assist developing Azerbaijani businessmen with establishment of new relations.

We closely cooperate with the government of the country in this direction. In December last year, we presented our special report to the President Ilham Aliyev. The document reflects information about the general economic situation in Azerbaijan, investment climate, existing economic problems and ways of their solution. The head of the state received the report and a program prepared by our organization on development of business in the republic's regions with a great interest.

Currently we are in close cooperation with Milli Majlis for the purpose of improvement of the legislative framework and provide our proposals on making necessary changes and additions to the laws.

- How do you value current economic situation and prospects in Azerbaijan?

- The last year's results showed that Azerbaijan holds one of the first places in the world for economic development growth. The economy of developing Azerbaijan has become a good and advantageous sphere for investments.

The economy of the country rapidly develops. The republic has gained significant achievements in numerous fields and I can say with confidence that the country is in a correct route of development. These results must be further continued and achievements deepened. For example, the State Program on socioeconomic development of the regions has been implemented by the government for already two years.

All of us see the successful and fruitful results of this Program – industry, agriculture, infrastructure, communication, water supply and other fields are developing in the regions. Of course, development of the regions can not be compared to the welfare of capital, however, anyway the progress is evident and continuation of this trend is very important for the economy of the country.

- How do you estimate significance of Azerbaijan's admission to the World Trade Organization at the present moment?

- Admission to the World Trade Organization is a very difficult problem. Although Azerbaijan currently discussing this issue has achieved great advancement over the past years, the country still is in a state of transition to the market economy.

Therefore, Azerbaijan does not meet some requirements of the Organization. However, being the member of the Organization is very important for the country. Azerbaijan can achieve it after transiting to a completely independent economic system, however, it will take some time since some new legislative and procedural changes must take place in the country.

- Do you have any relations with the current US ambassador Reno Harnish?

- I have known Reno Harnish for more than 10 years and we are good friends. I deeply respect him as an experienced diplomat. He takes correct steps and I believe that Mr.Harnish will gain great success in his career.

Sometimes at our meetings we discuss some political and economic questions; all our discussions are of a private character.

I have no official relations with the US Embassy.

- You have an image of a "man of the government" in the society. We would like to get your comments in this connection.

- I always envied Heydar Aliyev for the works he did for Azerbaijan and policy pursued by him. I declared it many times.

Heydar Aliyev saved Azerbaijan from very critical situation and achieved establishment of stability. Other states of the region should take principles of statehood created by him for a model. Achievements gained by him within 10 years are incredible.

I am also fully satisfied with activity of his successor, President Ilham Aliyev and I am very glad that he continues his father's policy. If these words mean that I am the man of the government, then it is possible to say that. However, I am not the official of the government and do not work for this government.

- What do you think about US-Azerbaijan relations and military campaign of USA supposed to be launched against Iran?

- First of all, I want to say that according to my personal opinion, relations between Azerbaijan and USA are quite strong and I am sure that this cooperation will further develop in a positive course.

From the point of view of energy, Azerbaijan's role in the world market is increasing from day to day and after putting the main oil pipeline into operation, the country’s influence will further strengthen. Azerbaijan should also develop its non-energy sector in order to be able to play the same role in the Caspian region as Dubai or Beirut do in the Persian Gulf.

I think this is one of the main questions which must be attached special attention to under cooperation of our countries. Azerbaijan needs capital offered by USA, modern technologies and international affairs.

As to the question concerning Iran, I would like to say I do not believe that USA applied to the government of Azerbaijan for establishment of US military bases in its territory.

According to the information reported by the press, the President Ilham Aliyev declared that he will never accept such an offer. I think it would be a serious mistake of official Baku. Azerbaijan must co-exist in peace with all its neighbors.

- How do you value political processes in Azerbaijan, including the situation before and after the parliamentary elections?

- Of course, there were some mistakes in the parliamentary elections because of some persons' irresponsibility. However I do not consider that those mistakes are of vital importance for USA and European countries.

What is more important is it was the most democratic and fair pre-election campaign and elections during the whole independence history of Azerbaijan. Of course, achievement of significant progress must be particularly noted. It is like an evolution process: it is impossible to get all desired results at one dash. Some time is required for it.

Foreign press representatives, who visited Azerbaijan to observe the election process, expected repetition of the Ukrainian and Georgian scenarios here. However, when it did not happen, they started accusing the government of Azerbaijan.

Actually, the revolution did not take place only because the nation did not want it. Maybe the nation is not so satisfied with its government and it is very normal. But I am sure that the nation respects the government and believes that the government works for development of the country. All facts proved that the President Ilham Aliyev and the ruling party have more influence and respect among the nation than all opposition parties do.

The nation does not support opposition. I was disappointed in opposition. Those persons did not justify confidence shown to them. Some of the deputies elected from opposition refused their mandate. I think it was a big mistake. In the parliament they could put all their problems into discussion. It was of serious importance for their future platforms. Another problem of opposition is that they can not elect a single leader among them. If they do not change processes, they will not achieve anything in future.

- Did you end your diplomatic activity?

- I do not think I will resume diplomatic activity again. I had been engaged in this sphere for more than 33 years and I think it is a very long period.

I was appointed the ambassador for several times, now I have my own business and enjoy it very much. I do not want to return to government service.

- What is your opinion about Azerbaijan and your plans for the future?

- I like traveling very much. I travel to mountainous territories and ancient towers in Azerbaijan. Once I traveled to all regions of the republic and I liked it very much.

I also like the Azerbaijani cusine because it includes both national traditions and traditions of the neighboring countries. Particularly, I like fruits and vegetables grown in the regions of Azerbaijan.

Although Azerbaijani music is complicated, it is original and traditional.

As to local traditions, elements of Islam and Zoroastrianism are mixed here. Especially I like Novruz traditions.

The Azerbaijani nation has interesting and peculiar literary heritage. From this point of view, I like both medieval and modern literary works. My favorite is "Ali and Nino" written by Gurban Said.

Taking all these into account, Azerbaijan became my second home.

At the present moment I do not think to leave Azerbaijan. My spouse and two children live here with me. Besides it, my private business develops very successfully here. Of course, I can not say that I will stay here forever, but now I do not plan to leave Azerbaijan.

/APA/

URL: http://www.today.az/news/politics/24749.html

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