Azerbaijan Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

The Azerbaijani market offers significant potential for Czech entrepreneurs. However, it is necessary to take into account that access to it is more complicated, expensive and, above all, time-consuming. A favorable ratio between quality and price is a decisive factor for success. After-sales service is an absolute condition for further activity on the market.

Addressing

Although, due to the pandemic, Azerbaijani society has reoriented to a virtual form of negotiations, without personal contact it is difficult to make a significant progress in establishing business relations or negotiating a contract. In written form, it is more appropriate to choose a formal form, e.g. send a scanned letter by e-mail. Of the electronic forms of communication, mobile phones are used significantly more in the country (the most popular application is WhatsApp).

The standard way of arranging the first meeting is to formally approach the subject well in advance and find out the telephone contact of the person in charge of organizing the meeting. Then arrange the date and place of the meeting with the person in question. It is necessary to take into account the possibility of changing the place and time of the meeting at the last minute.

Business meeting

Come to the meeting on time, even if it is possible that your business partner has not yet arrived. Your accuracy will certainly be appreciated. At the same time, tolerate your partner’s minor tardiness, which can be caused by, for example, unexpected traffic restrictions. We recommend starting the negotiations with the Azerbaijani partner in an informal way (asking about health, family, mentioning bad weather, etc.) and later moving on to the actual topic of the negotiations. Immediately discussing the contract or the subject of the meeting may be considered impolite.

In Azerbaijan, there are big differences between the capital and the regions. While the rules experienced in Europe mostly apply in Baku, life moves more slowly in the regions. Arranging a meeting with a partner outside the capital can be more difficult, you need to be patient.

If the meeting takes place in the office, it is usually a purely formal meeting. An invitation to hold meetings in other spaces can be a positive signal and a move forward in negotiations. In general, it can be said that offering alcohol in a formal meeting in the office is not customary. If meeting in a restaurant, we recommend leaving the decision about alcohol to the local partner. An informal meeting (lunch, dinner) is always finished with tea accompanied by local sweets or nuts, it is considered impolite to leave before this traditional end of the meeting. When invited to a home, it is advisable to bring a gift (fruit, sweets or flowers, it is recommended to avoid alcohol), it is expected that the guest in the house will use a slipper.

Shake hands with everyone upon arrival and departure (a right-hand fist bump is used during a pandemic). Men should wait and see if the woman extends her hand in greeting, and if so, shake her lightly.

Business cards are handed out without any formal ritual. However, it is recommended to give and receive them only with the right hand. For better clarity, it is advisable to have a business card translated into Azerbaijani or Russian on one side.

Always go to meetings with state administration representatives dressed formally, i.e. in a jacket and tie. You can attend meetings with business partners, especially in the summer months, dressed less formally, but always well-groomed. Always show up for meetings with company leaders in business attire. Formal attire is not required for informal gatherings.

It is customary to refuse a gift at least twice before reluctantly accepting it. Always insist that it is too much and the donor should have no trouble.

Communication

The language readiness of the Czech subjects plays a significant role in the negotiations. The main language of communication is Russian, English significantly less so, although more and more negotiations are conducted in English. It is advisable to agree in advance in which language the meeting will take place and, if necessary, use the services of an interpreter. Visit Animalerts for more information about Azerbaijan culture and traditions.

In communication, we recommend giving preference to personal contact or phone calls. Communication via WhattsApp is becoming very popular and is widely used for operative communication. E-mail communication is given less importance.

If a Czech businessman does not know his partner well and is not sufficiently familiar with local issues, he should not engage in conversations about sensitive topics such as religion (approaches to professing Islamic values ​​vary greatly among individual people, and it is necessary to know the partner’s opinions before we will start a debate with him on this topic) or the conflict over Karabakh and its adjacent districts.

Recommendation

Great attention should be paid to choosing the right, suitable partner. It can play an important role not only as a “guide” to the relatively complex legislation and regulations of Azerbaijan, but also as an invaluable source of information, e.g. regarding the distribution of forces and influences in which economic sphere. Regular personal contact with your partner is extremely important. The system of correspondence cooperation and conclusion of contracts “at a distance” is not very functional or popular in Azerbaijan. Mail or e-mail correspondence can be used to make initial contact with a potential partner, but without personal meetings you cannot count on maintaining and deepening business contacts.

When dealing with the state and semi-state sphere, support from the embassy is a plus for establishing the first contacts. The presence of an embassy representative helps during the first formal meetings. Our embassy, ​​as far as possible, provides support in negotiations with the state administration in justified cases.

Public Holidays

Azerbaijan public holidays:

  • January 1-2 – New Year
  • January 20 – Martyrs’ Day (anniversary of the 1990 massacre of unarmed Baku rally participants by Soviet security forces)
  • March 8 – International Women’s Day
  • March 20-26 – Novruz “Persian New Year” and Spring Festival is the most popular holiday in Azerbaijan, similar to other countries historically influenced by Persian culture; it is associated with a number of popular family and public celebrations, to which guests are also invited. The four Tuesdays preceding Nowruz are associated in Azerbaijan with celebrations dedicated to the four elements, during which braver men and women jump over bonfires.
  • May 9 – Victory over Fascism Day
  • May 28 – Independence Day (commemorating Azerbaijan’s declaration of independence in 1918)
  • June 15 – National Salvation Day (the day Heyjdar Aliyev returned to power in 1993)
  • 26 June – National Army Day (refers to the formation of the National Army in 1918)
  • November 8 – Victory Day (commemorates the capture of Shusha during the 2nd Karabakh War in 2020)
  • November 9 – National Flag Day (commemorating the adoption of this state symbol by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918)
  • December 31 – Day of Solidarity of the Azerbaijani People (commemorating the fall of the “Iron Curtain” between the USSR and Iran in late 1989)

A moving holiday in Azerbaijan is Íd al-fitr (Ramadan Bayramı), which is the day of the end of the month of Ramadan and the associated fasting (Ramadan falls in 2023 on the period from March 23 to April 20, in 2024 on the period from March 11 until April 9, then from March 1 to 29 in 2025). Another movable holiday is the largest Muslim holiday, commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham Íd al-Adha (Gurban Bayramı), which falls on July 9 and 10 in 2022. If the holidays fall on a weekend day, additional free days in the following week are added to them. It is advisable to inform yourself in good time how exactly the days off from work will be specifically determined for the given year ( https://president.az/en/pages/view/azerbaijan/holidays ).

Even during public holidays, grocery stores are open during standard opening hours.

Azerbaijan Culture of Business