Stitt In Azerbaijan: Caviar, Tours And Meetings
Gov. Kevin Stitt remains in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, on a week-long trip his office said was meant to strengthen "strategic partnerships" between the nation and the state of Oklahoma.
"I started my day in Azerbaijan with a tour of Baku’s Old City and sampled some local caviar before heading to some very productive meetings with our Oklahoma delegation and our Azerbaijani counterparts. More to come soon!" Stitt tweeted Wednesday.
Stitt's office released a statement following his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev Tuesday.
"Oklahoma and Azerbaijan are both energy pioneers and I look forward to strengthening our partnership and connecting Oklahoma companies with the many economic development opportunities here in Azerbaijan," Stitt said in the statement.
"At the conclusion of the meeting, Gov. Stitt presented President Aliyev with a Will Rogers statue on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and personally gifted him a custom cowboy hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery in Oklahoma City," the governor's office said.
Oklahoma agriculture secretary Blayne Arthur tweeted Tuesday that she had toured a dairy farm with the Azerbaijani agriculture minister.
The U.S. Embassy in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku said Stitt and Oklahoma National Guard Adjutant General Michael Thompson met Wednesday with Azerbaijani Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov. The Oklahoma National Guard has trained in Azerbaijan in a partnership dating back to 2002, the governor's office said.
According to Azerbaijani state media, "Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt expressed satisfaction with his visit to Azerbaijan. He noted that a very good meeting was held with the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Noting that during the visit, in addition to official meetings, there will be an opportunity to visit the regions, Governor Kevin Stitt also stressed the opportunity to consider cooperation and investment prospects in specific areas."
Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia remain in occasional conflict since a war last year; since the governor's arrival Monday, Armenia reported three soldiers killed in an exchange of gunfire. Aliyev, the son of a former Azerbaijani president, has held power in 2003. In 2013, NPR reported that "human rights groups say that he has since suppressed free speech, curtailed dissent, and dominated the official state media," and that "international monitors complained that the election was seriously flawed by intimidation, attacks on journalists, ballot stuffing and miscounts."