Since assuming the presidency in 2003, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, has used his country's vast energy resources to make the transition from a centrally planned economy to a free and prosperous one, Caspian Group Holdings director general Rob Sobhani told Washington Times.
Caspian Group is a multidisciplinary group of companies with broad international business interests in the field of energy.
According to the article, President Aliyev's adoption of market capitalism has transformed his country into the Kuwait of the former Soviet Union with an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 24 percent over the past 10 years.
"The results are phenomenal: Azerbaijan's 1 million barrels per day of oil is exported via pipeline to consumers around the world without any glitch, and its oil fund now stands at more than $35 billion," the article said. "President Aliyev does not use his country's oil as a weapon.
Instead, he shares Washington's vision of an uninterrupted flow of oil and gas from the landlocked Caspian Sea to international markets."
"When one meets with this forward-looking leader, the first topic of conversation is the importance of religious tolerance," he said. A majority of Azerbaijanis pride themselves on having created a society whose foundation rests on cultural and religious coexistence. President Aliyev takes pride in inaugurating synagogues and churches in downtown Baku."
President Aliyev has promoted friendly ties with the United States, the article said.
Immediately after the attacks on our country on Sept. 11, 2001, Azerbaijan extended its hand of cooperation in the war against terrorism. Today, troops from Azerbaijan serve in Afghanistan carrying out dangerous missions alongside American soldiers. In fact, according
to Sen. John McCain, Azerbaijan's special forces have performed critical operations with courage and skill, he said.
President Aliyev also understands that we live in the 21st century and is investing his country's wealth in the future. The recent launch of Azerspace I is a clear example of his forward-thinking approach, the article said. The satellite was manufactured by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., supporting 1,500 American jobs, he said.
"President Aliyev understands that growing the nascent satellite industry will boost his country's intellectual capacity and knowledge stream through constant research and education," he said. It is not surprising that 2013 was declared the year of information and communications technologies by the president. The launch of Azerspace marks another milestone in the partnership between Washington and Baku."
"Under the leadership of President Aliyev, Azerbaijan is making the arduous transition to a democracy," he said. Washington must work with Baku in order to address these issues, but also remember that America's transition to a free and fair country took many years."
"In recognition of Azerbaijan's role as a reliable and responsible ally in the broader Middle East and its strategic location, Washington should take two immediate steps to further broaden and strengthen this relationship: the United States must make a more robust effort at the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia," he said.