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Azerbaijan will host next year’s global climate talks, breaking a months long stalemate caused by the war in Ukraine.

Former Soviet bloc countries reached unanimous agreement for the capital city of Baku to host COP29, Mukhtar Babayev, Azerbaijan ecology minister, told delegates at COP28 meeting taking place in Dubai on Saturday.

The question of who will host COP29 has hung over the fortnight of COP28 talks. The Eastern European group, which include former Soviet states, holds the rotating presidency in 2024 and had been unable to reach a unanimous agreement on which of them should play host next year. Bulgaria had been moooted, but Russia had said it would block any bid by a European Union member because of the bloc’s support for Ukraine.

However, Russia had no objection to Azerbaijan hosting, Ruslan Edelgeriev, special presidential representative on climate issues of the Russian Federation, told COP28 delegates on Saturday.

“We welcome the fact we reached a compromise in the Eastern European Group with respect to the 29th COP. The climate agenda has shown that it is a unifying factor for us all,” he said. 

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The decision means the conference of the 198 parties will be held in an autocratic fossil-fuel producing nations for the third year in a row. 

Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan Ambassador to the UK said his country’s bid was made possible following rare peace talks on Thursday with neighboring Armenia. The neighbors have fought repeated wars over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago.

Suleymanov said Baku has a record of hosting sporting events as well as the Eurovision song contest and would be able to accommodate the growing demands of COP. As many as 100,000 people were registered to attend this year’s COP28 talks in Dubai making it the biggest ever.

“Azerjaiban was in the first place of the first oil boom of the 20th Century,” he said. “It was the beginning of the energy revolution and I think Azerbaijan could become a host of major events advancing the energy transition.” 

He also noted that last year Azerbaijan signed an agreement to build an electricity cable under the Black Sea that would provide wind power to countries including Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. 

(Updates with confirmation from ministers)

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