Governor Kevin Stitt landed Monday afternoon at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, Azerbaijan, to start a weeklong trip to promote and expand Oklahoma’s strategic partnerships with Azerbaijan.
U.S. Ambassador Earle Litzenberger greeted the governor at the airport and escorted him to the U.S. Embassy for a ceremony to raise the Oklahoma state flag.
The Oklahoma National Guard established the first official relationship between Oklahoma and Azerbaijan through the State Partnership Program in 2002. The relationship expanded in 2019 when a delegation from Azerbaijan visited Oklahoma for the Oklahoma-Azerbaijan Agricultural Forum. The relationship between the two will be expanded during this trip when Oklahoma State University and Azerbaijan State Agricultural University finalize a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop academic programs and facilitate student and faculty exchanges between the two institutions.
“I am honored to accept President Ilham Aliyev’s invitation to visit Azerbaijan and look forward to productive meetings with his administration on ways we can continue to work together,” said Governor Stitt. “Oklahoma and Azerbaijan have a shared focus on energy, agriculture, and innovation, and I am excited to explore this country and meet the Azerbaijani people.”
Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur and Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, The Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard, previously arrived in Baku, and Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Scott Mueller will arrive later in the week.
Located on the Caspian Sea in the Southern Caucasus region, Azerbaijan became in 1918 the world’s first secular, democratic Muslim-majority state. Later subsumed into the Soviet Union, modern Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence from the USSR in August 1991 and is an important producer of petroleum and natural gas and boasts growing tourism and agri-business industries.
MEDIA NOTE: Baku is nine hours ahead of Oklahoma time and interview opportunities with the governor will be limited. Please contact Communications Director Carly Atchison for further updates.