Thursday, July 25, 2013

Last but not Least

BSES is over, but for me it is just the beginning of something bigger in terms of my future academic and career pursuits and objectives. The last two days must have been the most exciting ones. I had a privilege not only to receive the certificate of completion from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, H.E. Elmar Mammadyarov, but also had an opportunity to question the Ambassadors of the Caspian region countries, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

The day before the certificate ceremony, we had a unique opportunity of an informal dinner and roundtable discussion with the representatives from a number of oil companies and leading experts in energy field. I chose to sit with Dr. Tatiana Mitrova, Head of Oil and Gas Department in the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Mr. Ilham Nasirov, Investment Director at SOCAR, largest state oil company of Azerbaijan. It was quite an opportunity to find out their honest opinions on a number of issues in the Caspian region as well as learn more about future development and investment projects of Azerbaijan and Russia. Belarus is dominated by Gazprom and LUkoil. I took a chance and tried to negotiate setting up at least a few SOCAR gas stations in Minsk. I was very happy when the investment director told me he would seriously consider my proposal after our conversation. So, naively enough, if any of you who will ever visit Minsk and see a SOCAR gas station, it is because of my power of persuasion and ability to convince why the project could be a good idea in geopolitical and economic terms. Such an informal dinner organized by the Academy was quite a unique opportunity to exchange contacts and build a firm foundation for potential cooperation in the future. Most BSES participants left this dinner with happy and satisfied expressions on their faces.  

It seems I was the only person who left Baku a little later than the rest. At the very last moment, I decided to exchange my plane ticket back to Belarus for a later date and visit Tbilisi, Georgia. Once I got to Tbilisi, Professor Mamuka Tsereteli took us for a two-day trip to a mountainous region of Kazbegi. To be honest, I have never seen something more magnificent and astonishing than the Caucasus Mountains. It was also a great chance to learn more about local food and experience the highest level of Georgian hospitality. I wish I could spend more time there. 

I came back to Baku on Monday night, and some local BSES participants were kind enough to spend the last hours with me in the city before I departed back to Minsk, Belarus. Overall, I came home feeling as a completely different person, with fresh brain and organized thoughts. The program did not only educate me, but also reinforced my determination to focus on energy and Caspian region in my future educational and career pursuits. The people of Azerbaijan made a great job representing their country and their capital in the best way possible. I made great friends with whom we will definitely keep in touch throughout years. Certainly, I’ll make sure to spread the word and encourage people’s interest to one of the fastest growing regions in the world, which is unfortunately often left out and ignored in academic settings. SIS Study Abroad, thank you kindly for this opportunity of my life time.

view of Baku

famous Military Georgian road

with Pr. Mamuka Tsereteli in Kazbegi, Georgia

with some of the BSES participants

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