I would like to see a traveller suddenly teleported to Azerbaijan, or to its capital, Baku. It would be interesting to see if this traveller would recognize the place, the country and the culture they found themselves in, said Vladimir Vasić, Secretary General of the Association of Serbian Banks.
Here are his impressions from this trip:
My first impression of Azerbaijan concerns its versatility, diversity in every form. Geographically, historically and culturally, this country on the shores of the Caspian Sea is somewhere between Europe and Asia. Located south of the Caucasus, it is obvious that a lot of effort has been invested to show how it belongs to the Old Continent. This is reflected in the fact that local athletes often participate in European championships, and that the European Games and the Eurovision Song Contest were held here, as well. Because of its proximity to a lake and the countless canals, some say that Baku reminds them of Venice. This similarity is, in fact, not accidental. It is a city’s investment in a project that imitates this Italian city in downtown of Baku, with even hardworking gondoliers present.
Meanwhile, the Caspian lake, the largest in the world (for comparison, its surface area is roughly equal to the territory of Germany or Norway), and due to the salinity of the water known as the Caspian Sea, it is one of the symbols of this country. It is said that it holds more than 40% of all lake water on Earth and it is the foundation of the famous Caspian Basin, one of the largest global oil and gas fields. Oil is really “the be-all end end-all” in this country on the East coast of the Caspian Sea. It is interesting to note that Baku is the first city in which oil was exploited, even back in the middle of the 19th century, and that even the famous Nobel brothers had their own oil company.
Azerbaijan is a land of glorious history, a territory where civilisation has been developing since ancient times. It had a tumultuous history, including recent events such as the Soviet intervention and later years of struggles for the supremacy of various religious, military and national groups. National differences, and especially recent conflicts and wars, have been described by writer Khaled Hosseini, and millions of his sold books made Azerbaijan much more famous worldwide.
With such a historical and cultural background, I was not surprised to see a very diverse cuisine. Some would say that it could be compared mostly with the Turkish cuisine, but I would say that it is entirely unique and really interesting. And the most important thing when it comes to the cuisine: we have been welcomed by extremely hospitable hosts and the cleanliness was astounding. Perhaps it is a prejudice when we travel east, but the orderliness of these people is truly amazing.
Our work in the capital of Baku had to do with the mentioned efforts of our hosts to be part of the European family. Namely, the Association of Serbian Banks participated in the regular meeting of the associated members of the European Banking Federation (EBF). We discussed current developments in the banking sector, as well as important political changes and the elections in the European Parliament. The Association of Serbian Banks once again presented our banking system to the international public. I have to point out that during our stay, Danica Veinović, the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Baku, provided us with her genuine and full support.
If you add the feeling of total security to these wonderful impressions, then we can truly say that it is worth visiting Baku, which is also called the City of the Wind, and Azerbaijan, also known as the Land of Fire. Both well deserve their nicknames.
Here you can see the photos from this exotic journey: