In a little over 20 years, the Republic of Azerbaijan has gone from a country controlled by the Soviet Union to a free nation with growing prosperity. Its natural resources have been used to improve it economy and the standard of living for the people.
This week, Azerbaijan takes another step forward in its modernization when it launches a communication satellite becoming the first South Caucus nation to put a telecommunications satellite into orbit. This will shepherd in a new wave of communication services not just for the people of Azerbaijan but also Central Asia, Europe and Africa.
The Azerbaijan Ambassador to the United States, Elin Suleymanov, remarked, “The launch of Azerbaijan’s first telecommunications satellite marks an important milestone in the successful partnership with U.S. industry and the Government of Azerbaijan.”
The satellite was manufactured by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, and is the result of a collaborative effort between Azerbaijan, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Orbital Sciences resulted an investment of over $200 million that supported 1500 US jobs. A loan from the U.S. Export-import bank covered 85 percent of the total.
Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, the US and Azerbaijan have developed a strategic relationship that continues to strengthen, today. From Afghanistan to TANAP, Azerbaijan continues to support the security and energy interests of Western Europe and the United States. The development of Azerbaijan’s natural resources, especially its gas reserves and the TANAP and Nabucco pipelines offer the promise of freeing Europe from effects of Russian coercion, resulting from the fact that it provides about 40% of Europe’s gas. As was seen only a few years ago, Russia is all too willing to curtail gas supplies in the dead of winter exert political pressure. Diversification of natural gas supplies to Europe and the economic development by Azerbaijan advance the causes of liberation and freedom.