Trade Envoy: UK women have much to learn about Azerbaijani women's role in society - INTERVIEW

Baroness Emma Nicholson interviewed by the Western Europe bureau of Report
© Report

“I wish to state that I have a very high regard for the status of Azerbaijani women”

London. 2 February. REPORT.AZ/ The Western European Bureau of Report News Agency presents an interview with the British Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Azerbaijan, Baroness Emma Nicholson:

- How would you describe current level of the UK-Azerbaijan bilateral relations?

- Our relationship is outstandingly good, and has been for over 20 years. It is an exceptional relationship and, internationally, must rank amongst the foremost bilateral relationships in the world. I feel privileged to serve as the trade envoy.

- Will Brexit have any impact on UK-Azerbaijan bilateral relationship?

- It is without any impact, as Azerbaijan is not an EU Member State. The entire Brexit debate relates to the future of the UK relationship with EU Member States and the EU itself. Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe, of which I am also an Honorary Member. The UK was also a Founder Member of the Council of Europe. It is there that the relationship was forged and developed. The Brexit debate is entirely unconnected. The Brexit debate is entirely introspective in nature, and is about releasing ourselves from this powerful lasso around the ankles of its members that binds the EU together. The UK has forged its powerful relationship with Azerbaijan without any requirement to consult its fellow EU member states. However, one of the best aspects of Brexit is that it has cajoled many British businesses to escalate efforts to do business and forge partnerships with new countries, such as Azerbaijan. It has particularly woken up some of the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The UK is an island, and the only way we can survive is by exporting.

- Do you plan to pay visit to Azerbaijan in coming days?

- I am hoping to visit Azerbaijan in mid-February for a few days, as there will be a brief Parliamentary recess, as our time is currently taken up with voting, particularly in relation to the Brexit bill.

- Recently you have invited Professor Hijiran Huseynova, Chair, Azerbaijani State Committee for Family, Women’s and Children’s Affairs, to speak on women’s rights in Azerbaijan and the Caspian region. Is it possible to expand relations between the two countries in this area??

- Although I am unable to comment on the policies of other countries - including Azerbaijan - the friendships I make are both political and professional partnerships. Together we find issues of common interest, and we pursue them together. I was delighted to note the strength and power of the women in Azerbaijan. I feel that, in the UK, we have much to learn from them. I was particularly pleased to welcome Professor Huseynova to the House of Lords, and I look forward to seeing her again during my next visit to Baku. As I see it, we are forging a partnership between our nations. We can learn from each other.I want to organise a return visit by Professor Huseynova to the UK Parliament and introduce her to many more decision- and policy-makers. She has much to offer, is a very dynamic speaker and a wonderful person. She represents the huge legacy of work undertaken by the women of Azerbaijan. We need to apply some of this experience to the UK and across Europe.

In the centenary year of Azerbaijani women receiving the franchise, I wish to state that I have a very high regard for the status of Azerbaijani women. I am particularly pleased to have made the acquaintance of Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan. She is an outstanding woman, and prime example of Azerbaijani women playing a leading role. They are not overly aggressive, blending well with their male counterparts, unlike women in powerful positions in other countries who are members of more strident women’s movements.

- As a result of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, about a million Azerbaijanis have been forced to leave their lands and half of them are women ...

- From what I can see, the Azerbaijani government is doing its best to ensure women’s concerns and voices are heard in society. I chair the AMAR Foundation, which is a charity that promotes the rights of those who have been forcibly displaced by war, conflict and natural disasters. To date, it has been particularly active in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Pakistan, and there is great potential for it to assist in other countries, including Azerbaijan. I have a very keen interest in the future of anyone who has been forcibly displaced. We have discreet, yet helpful, methods of providing assistance regarding emergency aid, healthcare and education. One million people are benefiting from our work in Iraq at the moment. We undertake this in partnership with such leading organisations as the World Health Organisation, World Bank and UNESCO.

I would very much like AMAR to get the mandate to operate in Azerbaijani IDP camps. We require a small amount of funding, and then we can start working on providing health and education in the camps, which would be massively beneficial, helping IDPs prepare their lives to embrace a proper and better future. AMAR also helps create a sense of community and solidarity amongst IDPs. 

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