Scottish diplomat Fergus Auld is UK’s new ambassador to oil-rich Azerbaijan

Fergus Auld with President Ilham AliyevFergus Auld with President Ilham Aliyev
Fergus Auld with President Ilham Aliyev
A Scottish diplomat who helped 2004 tsunami survivors and was based in Moscow when Russia invaded Crimea has landed his first posting as an ambassador.

Edinburgh-born Fergus Auld is the UK’s new ambassador to Azerbaijan – a country that borders both Russia and Iran.

And he has already made an impression on the oil-rich nation’s ruler President Ilham Aliyev.

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Aliyev visited the UK Embassy in Baku to sign a condolence book to HM The Queen and met Mr Auld again so he could be formally recognised as the UK’s ambassador.

Mr Auld, 49, said: “President Aliyev was completely poker faced when I bounded up in the kilt, but the pictures generated a lot of reaction in Azerbaijan. It is amazing how popular the film Braveheart is here. I’ve met people who’ve said they’ve watched it 15 times.

“A real ice-breaker was the respect President Aliyev had for Her Majesty. I was there for President Aliyev’s first ever visit to the British Embassy to sign the condolence book for the Queen.

“He had met the Queen in 1998 and 2009. I mentioned the broad smile on Her Majesty’s face in photographs of her receiving the jubilee gift of a Karabakh horse from Azerbaijan at the Windsor Horse Show this summer.

"He spoke fondly about her warm hospitality and ability to put guests at ease. Sadly, that was one of the Queen’s final public appearances.”

Father-of-three Mr Auld started his career with the Foreign, Commonwealth and International Office in 1999 and his first international posting to Thailand saw him deal with aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed over 200,000 people in 2004.

He said: “If it had not been for the fact my wife was seven months pregnant with our second child, so could not fly, we had intended to celebrate Christmas in a part of Thailand that was hit.

“That was the first experience I had of being right in the middle of a crisis. I immediately called the embassy and as a Thai speaker I was part of the first team that went down to Phuket to help.

“Those three weeks were emotionally very difficult.”

“The scale of the devastation was just horrific.”

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The British Embassy in Baku helped arrange for Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Parviv Shahbazov to

visit a floating offshore windfarm in Kincardine, Fife and attend the Energy Export Conference in

Aberdeen in May to help the country’s drive to transition to greener energy.