Our Team in Azerbaijan
Mr Heikens assumed the position of UNICEF Representative to the Republic of Azerbaijan in August 2021. A national of the Netherlands, Mr. Heikens served for four years as UNICEF Representative in Mongolia, leading the implementation of the UNICEF Country Programme, covering such areas as child protection, health, nutrition, water/sanitation/hygiene, education, early childhood development, adolescents life skills, social protection, air pollution and climate change. Since 2020 his focus was on supporting the government’s efforts to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, getting access to COVID-19 vaccines and strengthening the cold chain across the country. He joined UNICEF in 2013 as a global adviser on climate change, environment and energy at UNICEF Headquarters, New York. Prior to UNICEF, he worked for UNDP and FAO across Asia Pacific Region on issues of water, environment, climate change, agriculture and sustainable development. Mr. Heikens holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences and an MSc in Biology from Utrecht University. He is joined by his wife and two daughters.
Head of Office
Dr. Farid Babayev serves as Assistant Representative of UNFPA’s Country Office in Azerbaijan since May 2006. On this position, he is responsible for overall coordination and management of the portfolio of UNFPA-funded programmes under supervision of UN Resident Coordinator and UNFPA Representative. Graduated from Azerbaijan Medical University, Dr. Babayev holds Master Degree in Business Administration from Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University and PhD from Azerbaijan Postgraduate Institute. He is fluent in Azerbaijani, Russian, English and French. Married, father of two children.
Mr. Ambroso was appointed UNHCR Country Representative in Azerbaijan in July 2018. He has worked in the humanitarian field for over 30 years, almost exclusively with UNHCR in different capacities by holding senior positions in Uganda, Iran, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan (from 1995 to 1997), Somalia, Belgium, Tanzania and UNHCR HQs Geneva. Mr. Ambroso was brought up in Milan and is a citizen of Italy. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Geography and a Ph.D. in Geography, both obtained from University College London, University of London.
Dr Hande Harmanci took office as WHO Representative and Head of Country Office in Azerbaijan in August 2018. Prior to her appointment, Dr Harmanci worked in various positions in WHO Headquarters in the areas of human resources for health, pandemic preparedness, influenza and viral hepatitis. Previously, she was a professor of public health and community medicine in Marmara University, Istanbul. Dr. Harmanci graduated from Hacettepe University Medical School and holds Doctor of Public Health Degree. She is an amateur ceramicist.
Olga V. Koulaeva
Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Olga V. Koulaeva was appointed Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia on 1 November 2016. Since February 2010, she had served as a Senior Employment Specialist at the ILO DWT/CO for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Ms Koulaeva graduated from the Moscow State University Department of Economics and holds a Ph. D. in Economics. She is fluent in English and Swedish. In 2002-2005, she was Financial Manager and Project Director with the Swedish National Labour Market Board and the Swedish Public Employment Service.
Mr Huseynov has over 20 years of experience in the field of media, communications and political affairs. He joined the UN since August of 2017 as a National Information Officer. Prior to this, Mr Huseynov worked as a Media Officer at the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna; Public Information Officer at the OSCE Office in Baku; Director of Press Department at the Embassy of Israel in Azerbaijan; as well as anchor, editor and reporter in various national media outlets. He holds a PhD in Political Science.
FAO Representative in the interim in Azerbaijan
Mr Viorel Gutu, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia, has been appointed as FAO Representative in the interim in Azerbaijan since 1 November 2022. A national of Moldova, Viorel Gutu also serves as a FAO Representative for Türkiye and Uzbekistan. He joined FAO in 2014 as the head of the FAO Tajikistan office. Before joining FAO, Gutu was Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry in Moldova. He also served as an economic affairs officer with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, where he dealt with peacekeeping operations, poverty alleviation and prevention of emergencies. Mr Gutu holds a doctoral degree in economics.
Chief of Mission
Mr. Gjorgjiev has over 21 years of experience at the international and national levels, last worked in Amman, Nairobi and Skopje as an IOM expert on procurement and assets management. Prior to this, he served as a Head of IOM Global Procurement and Supply Unit in Manila Administrative Centre (Philippines) and as a Procurement Logistics officer in Indonesia. Mr. Gjorgjiev is a national of North Macedonia and holds a Master’s Degree of Economic Sciences and an International Certificate on Public Procurement from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.
Dr. Shkolnikov is the Senior Human Rights Adviser for the South Caucasus, OHCHR, since July 2011. Prior to this, he held positions with various European civil society organizations. He served as the Head of Democratization Department and the Adviser on Migration and Freedom of Movement at OSCE/ODIHR in Warsaw. Dr Shkolnikov also held the position of Resident Research Consultant at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California. He earned his Ph. D. and Master’s Degree in Public Policy Analysis at the RAND Graduate School of Policy Studies in Santa Monica.