Professor Patrick James of the University of Southern California, Director of Center for International Studies, gave an interview to Washington Bureau of AzerTAc following his recent visit to Azerbaijan.
- You recently attended Baku International Humanitarian Forum. What are your general impressions about the forum itself and the capital of Azerbaijan?
The Forum is one of the finest events I’ve ever attended. The Organizing Committee put together a galaxy of stars from the worlds of academe, politics and media. We as participants had many chances to interact informally as we enjoyed Baku as a backdrop to our discussions. The Heydar Alivev Center, where we spent the initial day of the Forum, is one of the architectural wonders of the world. One is struck by the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, as a world class city where East meets West.
- Metaphorically speaking, what puts Azerbaijan on the map for you? What is significant about Azerbaijan that will draw the attention of an American to this country?
My view is that Azerbaijan is developing a significant identity as the crossroads for the developed and developing worlds, East and West and in other ways, as well. Any American would be fascinated by the uniqueness of Azerbaijan as a combination of cultures and ideas.
- Azerbaijan is a fast developing economy. Although oil and gas is a driving force, it's also developing its non-oil sector. What is your outlook for Azerbaijan in a decade? What areas of economy, in your opinion, can or should develop and make it a regional hub?
I hope that Azerbaijan joins forces with other states to continue to work on behalf of trade openness. I could see Baku becoming an ‘on land’ version of Singapore because it is so friendly to travelers and located in a strategic position.
- What should be done to enhance educational and cultural exchange between Azerbaijan and the United States?
The Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, along with the Baku International Humanitarian Forum are superb initiatives. I hope both are maintained. As an academic, I would like to participate in a dialogue on the subject of further educational exchanges.