Article on the occasion of Independence Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan was published at Diplomatic Spectrum
National Day Message by H. E. Mr. Huseyn Huseynov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria
The First Republic established in Azerbaijan - the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) in 1918 did not succeed to create diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. The independence of ADR was recognized at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1920. However, after the Bolshevik invasion in April 1920 the country lost its independence. For the next 70 years Azerbaijan has became part of the Soviet Union and restored its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Republic of Bulgaria is among the first countries which recognized the independence of Azerbaijan, declared on October 18, 1991. Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Azerbaijan were established on June 5, 1992. The first official visit of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria was paid in 1995 - President Heydar Aliyev arrived in Sofia to meet with the Bulgarian President Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev.
Twenty years after Heydar Aliyev's presidential visit to Bulgaria, perhaps the highest achievement in the political dimension of the relations between the two countries was reached. During the visit of the President Ilham Aliyev to Sofia, in 2015, a Declaration for Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria was signed. The Declaration further enhanced the cooperation between the two countries by deepening it both bilaterally and internationally.
During the 30-years history of the diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have been signed more than 100 bilateral cooperation agreements in all areas of mutual interest, including energy, trade, transportation, agriculture, security and defense, culture and education, the social sphere, etc.
Of course, for objective reasons, the area where cooperation is most intense is the energy and the supply of hydrocarbon energy sources. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan are close partners in the operation of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), consisting of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).
On 31 December 2020 the Azerbaijani gas was supplied to Greece, Albania, Italy and Bulgaria via TAP. Today the capacity of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) exceeds 10 billion cubic meters per year.
The energy projects in which Azerbaijan and Bulgaria cooperate have the support of the European Union. The European Commission has confirmed that the projects for the supply of Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe are once again included in the list of the projects that have been of common interest to the European Union.
The following energy projects supporting the SGC are in the EU list of projects of common interest: the construction of the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector (IGB), which is expected to transport one billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria; the project for increasing the capacity of the Romania-Hungary corridor cluster (known as ROHU/BRUA), which will provide access to Azerbaijani natural gas for these two countries also; and the reverse gas interconnection Bulgaria-Serbia - the IBS interconnector.
It seems that the energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria has serious prospects, especially in the context of projects for building the so-called "Vertical Corridor", which should deviate to the north of the Trans-Adriatic Corridor (TAP) and pass through the territory of Bulgaria, then continue through Romania to the countries of Central Europe. The "Vertical corridor" will supply natural gas to many municipalities in Western Bulgaria and will create opportunities for a vast expansion of the gas storage in Chiren, around which it should pass by.
Azerbaijan and Bulgaria have serious grounds to expect much from the expansion of their cooperation in the field of energy supply and transit. The interconnector with Greece - IGB ensures the transportation of natural gas and its supply from new fields (especially Shah Deniz II), which makes it a key element in Bulgaria's energy security as well as part of the national plan for diversification of natural gas supplies. The flow of the gas pipeline will amount to three billion cubic meters per year, with the possibility of an increase up to five billion cubic meters per year.
Azerbaijan's interest in Bulgaria as a transit country is determined by the opportunities for cooperation in land transport and the use of intermodal transport. Until recently, one of the main problems in the trade between the two countries, was the lack of direct transport links. With the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kras railway and connecting Azerbaijani railways to the Georgian and Turkish railway networks, Azerbaijan now has a railway connection with Europe.
Thanks to the ferry connections of the Baku Port with the Kazakh Port of Aktau and the Turkmen Port Turkvenbashi on the Caspian Sea, the new founded railway connection from Baku to any point in Europe has become part of the Great Silk Road.
The Azerbaijani side is eager to cooperate with Bulgaria not only in the energy field. Cultural ties and people-to-people contacts, as well as promoting the principles of multiculturalism and preserving cultural heritage have a good potential for further development.
Azerbaijan financed a large volume of archaeological excavations at the historic "Trapezitsa" hill in the old capital of Bulgaria - Veliko Tarnovo and their display in a newly built museum on the hill.
Knowing the significance of Trapezitsa Hill for the Bulgarian history, Heydar Aliyev Foundation, under the leadership of the First Lady of Azerbaijan, provided invaluable assistance in the archeological work of this site, its conservation and the display of some of the archaeological findings.
In this way, in Bulgaria, Azerbaijan became famous not only for its energy sources. In fact, Azerbaijan is notable for many other historical circumstances. Azerbaijan is known to be the first Republic in the Muslim world. It was in Azerbaijan that women have been provided with the rights to vote for the first time. The first female pilots are Azerbaijani. Even the first opera in the Muslim East was performed in Azerbaijan.
By the way, historically, Azerbaijan has been the first also in the field of oil and gas production. In the oil production, around Baku, we find entrepreneurs such as the Nobel Brothers and the Rockefeller's companies.
Parallel with the development of political and economic cooperation between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, humanitarian and scientific contacts have also been developing. Some of the best examples of such cooperation are the Center for Bulgarian Language and Culture at Baku Slavic University and the Center for Azerbaijani Language and Culture at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski”. They are recognized as being "true ambassadors of the knowledge and the cultural relations between our two countries".
The material was provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria. On the photo: H. E. Mr. Huseyn Huseynov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Bulgaria