Azerbaijan Dance

Azerbaijan’s 103 Years Celebration

Hi ASEANers! Have you ever heard about Azerbaijan before? In commemoration of 103 years of the founding of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic on May 28 this year, through this article, we will take you to travel virtually and share more information about this beautiful country.

Azerbaijan is a country located in the South Caucasus region. With Baku as its Capital city, the country covers an area of 86,600 km2. Geographically, it borders with the Russian Federation in the North, the Islamic Republic of Iran in the South, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia in the West, and through the Caspian Sea on Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in the East. If we look at the world map, Azerbaijan is located at the junction of Europe and Asia and the Southeast part of the South Caucasus. However, probably not many people, particularly in ASEAN countries know about Azerbaijan. This is understandable considering the fact that both are separated by huge geographical distances.

Although geographically separated, ASEAN and Azerbaijan have started to work closely and enhance relations with each other. In June 2012, ASEAN welcomed H.E. Mr. Tamerlan Karayev, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to ASEAN (the First Official Ambassador of Azerbaijan to ASEAN). In his first time serving in ASEAN, Ambassador Karayev underlined the commitment of the Republic of Azerbaijan to pursuing closer cooperation with ASEAN, where he introduced some potential cooperation areas such as historical education, musical and cultural exchanges, oil explorations, agricultural exports, tourism, and investment.

Going further after almost a decade, H.E. Jalal Mirzayev, the current Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to ASEAN also re-emphasized Azerbaijan’s commitment to open more rooms for cooperation with ASEAN countries in some potential sectors, such as energy, defense industry, trade and investment, tourism, infrastructure and technology, as well as cooperation in socio-cultural aspects. Therefore, to enhance relations as well as cooperation between Azerbaijan and ASEAN, we have to first understand and identify potentials and challenges between both entities. In this article, we try to understand both Azerbaijan and ASEAN Countries potentials for cooperation through several similarities they have.

At least, there are four similarities that Azerbaijan and ASEAN have that will be further elaborated in this article. First, Azerbaijan is a country with diverse ethnicities. This is because Azerbaijan is located between Asia and Europe, where it has become a bridge for Eastern and Western civilizations. Thus, Azerbaijan becomes home to more than 15 ethnic groups, quite a large number considering that this country only has a total population of around 10.2 million inhabitants. Some of these ethnic groups include Azerbaijani (92% of the population), Lezgin (2% of the population), Russian (1% of the population), Talyshi (1% of the population), and other ethnic groups (2%. of the population). Although the majority ethnicity in the country is Azerbaijani, inter-ethnic harmony is preserved. It’s similar to ASEAN member states which also have ethnic diversity in each country. In this regard, Azerbaijan and ASEAN countries share similarities in ethnic diversity and the spirit to maintain inter-ethnic harmony and peace.

The second similarity comes from the terms of religious diversity. Azerbaijan is a country with a majority of Muslim population, where it is also a home to Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and other religions. In ASEAN, each country also has religious diversity, although we can also see several religious groups become the majority. However, this does not become a barrier to coexistence among religious communities. Therefore, with its uniqueness, Azerbaijan is also known as “The Land of Religious Tolerance”. Since its establishment, Azerbaijan has never experienced a single religious conflict among the three major religions, namely Islam, Judaism, and Christian.

Third, similar to some ASEAN countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, Azerbaijan is also famous for its rich natural resources. The country is also known to have large reserves of oil (ranked 20th globally) and natural gas (ranked 25th globally), where it contributes to 0.4 percent of world oil reserves with around 7 billion barrels and 35 trillion cubic feet of total natural gas. Vast reserve oil and natural gas in Azerbaijan have been well known since ancient times. Records of the Byzantine empire in the 5th century even mention that ever-burning fires could be seen all over the lands and mountains of Azerbaijan. It occurs because the endless supplies of underground gas sometimes reach the surface and trigger the flames that will burn for as long as the gas supply remains. Until now, we can still see the eternal fire burning on the soil of Azerbaijan. Two places that can be visited to see the eternal fire are Yanar Dagh Mountain and Ateshgah Fire Temple, located in Baku City. Therefore, no wonder that Azerbaijan is also famous as ‘The Land of Fire’.

Fourth, Azerbaijan and ASEAN countries are alike in terms of attractive tourist destination spots. Tourist destination spots in Azerbaijan are diverse, ranging from natural, cultural or ancient civilizations to modern attractions. Baku City, for example, will spoil your eyes with beautifully blended architectural styles from ancient Azerbaijan civilization with modern styles of architecture. You will be amazed with the beauty of the Flame Towers, a trio of skyscrapers representing the spirit of the Land of Fire. The Old City of Baku is one of the most famous places recognized by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site. Moreover, you can find yourself entertained by the Formula 1 Grand Prix at certain times when visiting Baku. As mentioned earlier, tourists can visit natural attractions of Azerbaijan by visiting the Caspian Sea, Quba area, or, the beauty of Great Caucasus Mountains, Tenghi Canyon, and waterfalls.

Azerbaijan Scenery Baku City
Khinaliq Village Mountain in Quba

Finally, the ASEAN Youth Organization would like to wish a very Happy Azerbaijan National Day! May Azerbaijan always be peaceful and prosper. We hope that the relations and cooperation between Azerbaijan and ASEAN member states can improve and get stronger in the future!

medeniyyet

AYO-Azerbaijan Republic Partnership

Since the beginning of 2020, the global order has been facing enormous challenges. The trend of globalization which initially developed very rapidly and gave implications for the changes and developments of human life patterns in various aspects gradually shows a slowing trend. Some researchers and academics are starting to debate and predict the future of globalization which they thought to come to an end. There are some factors that influence this condition.

First is the rise of populism and ultra-nationalism appeared in the United States[1] and some European countries which is one of the real threats to the slowing trend of globalization. Other than that, protectionist economic policy of President Donald Trump in facing the trade war with China also became the driving factor of current deglobalization trend. Second factor is the Brexit which experienced by the European Union. Citing an article written by Carmen M. Reinhart in the World Economic Forum, “With its systemic negative effects on finance, trade, and labor mobility, Brexit marks on a major setback for globalization”.[2] Third is the Covid-19 pandemic that hit many countries in the world in 2020. According to Kenneth Rapoza on an article in Forbes.com, the spread of coronavirus forced countries like France and Italy to close their borders.[3] Isolationism as the consequence of lockdown policy has indirectly urged many countries in the world to limit human mobility by closing their borders. The signs of deglobalization emerged in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic were also shown by the declining interest of global citizens in using aviation services. It has implications to the mobility slowdown of people to travel around the world. Certainly, this is in contrary with the spirit of globalization which prioritizes borderless mobility of people.

Based on those three reasons mentioned above and many other reasons related to the deglobalization trend experienced by the world today, young generations of the world are being challenged to be able to adapt quickly to this difficult situation where countries are closing themselves one to another. It certainly impacts not only relations between countries, but also relations between people from different countries all over the world including interactions among international youths. In the midst of this vulnerable situation where space is limited due to Covid-19 pandemic, young generations as part of global society needs to find ways that can be done in order to keep showing positive contribution to the world. Indeed, space for young generations has been limited at this time due to the implementation of various policies such as lock down. This condition has directly impacted youth activities in national, regional, and even international level. Many youth events have been postponed or even cancelled. Opportunities to study abroad through scholarship programs must be postponed temporarily due to this condition.

Then, how can we, as ASEAN young generations respond to it? Speaking of ASEAN young generation, based on ASEAN-UNFPA Report in 2017, ASEAN has approximately 213 million youth (15-35 years old) of the total ASEAN population around 628 million people.[4] It means, as of 2017 the number of young people in ASEAN dominates around 34 percent of the total population in the entire Southeast Asia region. The numbers are certainly increasing until this year. Based on the data mentioned above, it can be said that ASEAN has advantages in terms of demographic bonus compared to other countries or regions in the world. However, in the midst of current globalization slowdown, young generations in ASEAN need to take steps together in finding solutions to this situation.

ASEAN Youth Organization as one of the biggest youth organizations in Southeast Asia always strives to take progressive steps in responding to various global challenges even in the current emergence of deglobalization trend. Together with more than 400,000 young people in Southeast Asia, ASEAN Youth Organization continues to play an important role in driving regional and global development through various international-scale projects with three main focuses mainly about youth empowerment, social volunteerism, and economic enhancement.[5] In the midst of Covid-19 pandemic, ASEAN Youth Organization adapts to carry out activities virtually in order to continue our consistent efforts in developing the potential of young generations in Southeast Asia.

We believe that young generation is a driving factor for future development in our region. Therefore, ASEAN Youth Organization realized that collaboration is one of the key factors to survive in facing challenges of uncertain situations in the world especially in the midst of current deglobalization trend. Since 2015, ASEAN Youth Organization has cooperated with many stakeholders. However, it does not make the ASEAN Youth Organization the best organization. It needs to spread its wings even wider to be able to continue making impactful contribution to the youth development sector. Last month, the ASEAN Youth Organization had the opportunity to be invited to visit the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Jakarta and met directly with H.E. Mr. Jalal Mirzayev as the ambassador of Azerbaijan to Indonesia and ASEAN. It was such an honor for the ASEAN Youth Organization and it also showed the Republic Azerbaijan’s inclusivity by involving young people in Southeast Asia. For information, the Republic of Azerbaijan is known as an oil and gas producer with a long history of ancient civilization and its rich culture.

On this extraordinary occasion, ASEAN Youth Organization had the opportunity to discuss and deliver ideas directly to the Ambassador of Azerbaijan regarding various projects that could be done collaboratively by both parties in the sectors of youth development, education, human rights, socio-culture, tourism, entrepreneurship, many more. In the near future, ASEAN Youth Organization will begin its first collaboration with the Embassy of Azerbaijan Republic to create Webinar project on education and tourism sectors, as well as other possible sectors to encourage the participation of young generations of ASEAN and Azerbaijan in positive activities on an international scale. This kind of collaboration will serve as a clear evidence of youths’ efforts in bouncing back the globalization trend. The collaboration with the Republic of Azerbaijan is also expected to be a good forum for sharing of information and knowledge for both parties, unfolding opportunities for the creation of close ties and relations between youths from ASEAN and Azerbaijan in order to build mutual understanding between the two.

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But, if you want to walk far, walk together.” Let’s walk together, Azerbaijan!

By Handy Santoso (Head of Project Development, ASEAN Youth Organization)


[1] Livesey, Finbarr. 2017. From Global to Local: The Making of Things and the End of Globalization, quoted from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2017/09/pdf/book2.pdf, on July 1st, 2020

[2] World Economic Forum. 2016.  Is Brexit the beginning of the end for globalization?, quoted from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/06/is-brexit-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-globalization/, on July 1st, 2020.

[3] Forbes.com. 2020. The Post-Coronavirus World May Be The End of Globalization, quoted from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2020/04/03/the-post-coronavirus-world-may-be-the-end-of-globalization/#3daa35b67e66, on July 1st 2020.

[4] ASEAN UNFPA Report. 2017. First ASEAN Youth Development Index, quoted from https://asean.org/storage/2017/10/ASEAN-UNFPA_report_web-final-05sep.pdf, on July 2nd 2020.

[5] ASEAN Youth Organization. 2020. About: Main Focus Programs, quoted from https://aseanyouth.net/about/, on July 2nd 2020.

5

2017, a Special Year for ASEAN

2017 is a very special year for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This regional organization is commemorating its 50th anniversary on August 8th. This year, ASEAN is also commemorating its 40th anniversary of partnership with couples of its strategic partners, the United States of America and the European Union. Since its foundation, ASEAN has been progressing on its role in the global dynamics such as security, economy, and social aspects through the high commitment of its member and intensive cooperation with its strategic partners.

Founded on August 8th,1967, ASEAN has become a huge market as it possesses more than 626 million people within its members. Founded by five countries, ASEAN has successfully maintained its regional stability and even could engage five more countries as members. With 10 countries, ASEAN has done many things for the development of the region and the country-members and became a strategic market for the global economy through its $2.4 Trillion economies of the members.

50 years of ASEAN signifies a well-established regional organization. Although there are several obstacles and challenges like South China Sea dispute, ASEAN can prove that Southeast Asia is a peaceful region in the midst of the diversity of the members’ political systems, culture, languages, and races. ASEAN also can prove that its authentic “The ASEAN Way” through its non-intervention from each member and consensus policymaking. Even though some people think that ASEAN could do more, a peaceful, worth, and promising Southeast Asia is answering all doubts.

The peaceful region shaped a strong very commitment and partnership within 10 members. Intra-ASEAN investment is currently the largest foreign direct investment of ASEAN. The average economic growth of its member is up to 5 percent. Today, ASEAN as an economic bloc represents the fifth largest economy in the world. It is even projected improving, and become the fourth-largest economy in 2050.

Partnership with the United States

ASEAN’s success in maintaining security and improving the economy is also enhanced by its strong cooperation with strategic partners. Furthermore, ASEAN’s success story makes it a trusted organization for other countries. It is already a consequence that other countries are interested in opening cooperation with ASEAN, one of which is the United States (U.S.).

U.S.-ASEAN partnership was started in 1977 when both were becoming dialogue partners. The cooperation became more robust in the 1990s when the U.S. launched economic programs that contain education, transfer of technology, and trade and investment. Afterward, the partnership became much stronger when Barack Obama took the administration and made a strategic rebalance of US efforts towards Asia.

Realizing the importance of its huge market, the U.S. initiated several strategic diplomacies. U.S. became the first non-ASEAN country to name an Ambassador to ASEAN back in 2008. In 2010, U.S. established Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and appointed the first resident Ambassador in the following year. At the moment, U.S. and ASEAN have several strong cooperation in five general aspects including economic integration, maritime cooperation, ASEAN as emerging leaders, the opportunity for women, and addressing traditional challenges.

40 years of partnership provides huge impacts on the economic area. U.S. provides a huge number of investments in ASEAN. In 2015, the investment value was $12 million, or equivalent to an 11.1 percent share of ASEAN foreign direct investment from 2010 to 2015. The number of U.S. global companies is also doubling, reaching over 1.500 U.S. companies operating in ASEAN. All those huge numbers caused by ASEAN stability as proof of a trusted market.

Partnership with the European Union

One of the strategic partners of ASEAN is the European Union (EU). As a well-integrated regional organization, the EU is much needed by ASEAN as its example of a good regionalization. Otherwise, ASEAN’s large market is needed by the EU, even though the EU itself has a large market with approximately 510 million people.

The EU-ASEAN partnership was initiated in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting on July 5th-8th 1977. At that time, the forum agreed on formal cooperation and relationship with the European Economic Community (EEC). Later on, the cooperation was institutionalized in 1980 with the signing of the ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement. Since then, the dialogue is rapidly growing until both produced the Nuremberg Declaration in 2007, a long-term vision and commitment to reach mutual benefits and common goals. Meanwhile, EU-ASEAN cooperation currently covers 3 areas, including political cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation.

The EU’s trust in ASEAN is shown at the high value of its investments and trades. In 2015, the EU invested around EUR 20 million, the second-largest after the Intra-ASEAN investment. That number is similar to 16.7 percent of ASEAN’s total foreign direct investment. EU is ASEAN’s second-largest trade partner after China, with a total share of 13.1 percent. Otherwise, ASEAN is the EU’s third-largest trade partner outside Europe, after the U.S. and China, with a total of EUR 201.6 billion in 2015.

The Optimism

With its commemoration of its foundation and initiation of a partnership with two strategic partners, ASEAN remains optimistic of its future. The experts consider ASEAN as the most advanced regional organization in the world after the EU. The status quo of its organization and its partnership shows that the future is very bright. 50 years of the organization shows the maturity of its operations, and 40 years of partnership with the U.S. and EU shows that ASEAN is trustable and promising.

But, the challenges will become much harder. The dynamics of international security that is harmed by terrorism, the uncertainty of the global economy, and the unpredictable political phenomenon could come every time. ASEAN should regard all of those commemorations as important preparations for future dynamics, for rapid improvement of the organization in the midst of all tough challenges, and for the maintenance and improvement of all-important relations including with the U.S. and EU.

Author: Fadhil Hazmi M, Program Development Officer of A.Y.O. Indonesia