Oct. 6, 2015
Ambassadors Insider Series
Join us for a one on one interview with the Washington Diplomat’s News Editor Larry Luxner and Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Elin Suleymanov. Afterwards you will enjoy Turkish food, drink and networking at the new Ankara Restaurant in Dupont Circle.
Ambassador Elin Suleymanov
How much do you really know about world affairs? Do you relish the idea of meeting people from different cultures, networking with potential business partners and enjoying delicious new cuisines and cultures — all while learning about important global trends?
If so, our new Ambassadors Insider Series is for you. Geared toward busy professionals with little free time who nevertheless hope to expand their international horizons, this program brings the experts to you, in a relaxing, informal setting.
We launch our series Oct. 6 with Elin Suleymanov, ambassador of Azerbaijan — an energy-rich republic in the Caucasus that didn’t even exist as an independent nation until the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991. Our event will take place at Washington’s recently opened Ankara Restaurant, which specializes in Turkish and Mediterranean culinary delights.
Ambassador Suleymanov will talk about the many challenges facing his country in a lively exchange with Larry Luxner, who as news editor of The Washington Diplomat has interviewed more than 300 ambassadors and diplomats over the last 20 years.
Home to nearly 10 million people, Azerbaijan is slightly bigger than Indiana and a tad smaller than Virginia. Nearly all its inhabitants profess Islam, yet it enjoys a strong friendship with Israel. Its modern capital, Baku — which juts out into the Caspian Sea — is home to an ancient walled medieval city that attracts tourists near and far.
Visitors to Baku find it hard not to be impressed with this glittering capital of 2.5 million, a city built at supersonic speed and propelled largely by energy wealth. Baku’s skyline is dominated by the Flame Towers, a $350 million futuristic trio of gracefully curved skyscrapers that light up at night with images of fire — a nod to Azerbaijan’s history of Zoroastrian fire worship.
Azerbaijan is certainly not a democracy by American standards, but it’s not a theocracy either. In fact, the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, wants to cement his growing reputation as the regional “anti-Iran.” For example, three of the world’s hottest pop divas — Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Rihanna — have all performed in Baku, a direct contrast to the ultra-conservative clerical regime in Tehran.
For years, Azerbaijan has been a critical transit route for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and a stable partner in an unstable neighborhood. One reason the United States has taken such a strong interest in Azerbaijan is that it provides regional energy security to the region, reinvesting those energy dividends back into the economy.
But now with declining oil revenues, Azerbaijan must find new ways to keep its economy going, all while pursuing peace with neighboring Armenia, which occupies the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Join us Oct. 6 as we speak with Ambassador Suleymanov about the key issues facing his increasingly relevant Caucasus nation — and enjoy yourself in the process!