Suspension of membership in EITI means lowering the country�s rating

At the upcoming on March 8-9 meeting of the international board of the organization "Transparency Initiative in Extractive Industries" (EITI) will address the issue of the status of Azerbaijan in this structure, said in interview with Cətin sual program ( "Difficult question") of Turan agency the Management Board of the member of this structure, an economist Gubad Ibadoglu.

In April 2015 Azerbaijan's membership in EITI reduced from "permanent member" to "candidate countries" due to violations of the rights of civil society. In October 2016, the EITI Board gave Azerbaijan the time before the next meeting in March this year to take steps to remedy the situation and bring the country in full compliance with EITI standards. In Bogota, Azerbaijan will be represented by an official delegation, and, apparently, headed by Director of the State Oil Fund (SOFAZ) Shahmar Movsumov.

Ibadoglu will also participate in the meeting as a member of the International Board, representing 8 Eurasian countries.

At the same time, members of the government delegation and Ibadoglu will not participate in the discussions on Azerbaijan. Only at the beginning the head of the Azerbaijan delegation and Ibadoglu, will make a five-minute statements, and leave the room. Ibadoglu predicts that the discussions in Azerbaijan will not be easy.

According to him, Azerbaijan has not fulfilled the plan of corrective measures in full.

Certain steps have been made: were simplified rules of registration of foreign grants and donors, reduced the number of documents, were reduced terms of consideration of appeals. However, these measures are unlikely to be considered sufficient.

The international board had three unequivocal demands: cancel the state registration of foreign donors, to abolish the practice of registration of grants and contracts, as well as generally noted a statement from the registry of NGOs every two years. For this purpose it was necessary to amend the legislation, but the government did not do so, and is unlikely to do before the meeting in Bogota.

On the other hand, a delegation of the international EITI Board that visited Baku in February made it clear that the discussions in Azerbaijan will not be easy, if the plan is not fully implemented.

In addition, according to Ibadoglu, it is necessary to adopt a set to improve the environment for NGO action. More than 20 international NGOs appealed to the EITI Board to exclude Azerbaijan from this structure.

Commenting on this call, Ibadoglu noted that EITI is not a human rights organization, and it is mainly focused on the issues of NGO activities in the framework of this initiative. However, the overall human rights situation has an impact on the general atmosphere. Ibadoglu said, the question of expelling Azerbaijan is not necessary, we can talk about the suspension of membership and it is quite possible.

"We, ourselves, as members of the NGO Coalition for Increasing Transparency in Extractive Industries, are against the excluding of Azerbaijan. We are in favor of reform," said Ibadoglu.

According to him, the government should be interested in the restoration of full membership of Azerbaijan in EITI. For the suspension of membership a negative impact on international credit and investment ratings of not only the country but also Azerbaijani companies, including SOCAR.

Of course, Azerbaijan is not completely devoid of the right to obtain loans from international financial institutions, but tougher conditions for the issuance.

In addition, suspension of membership of Azerbaijan in EITI have a negative impact on the status of the country in the International Partnership initiative "Open Government". In May 2016 Azerbaijan's membership in this organization has been downgraded to "inactive member" for a period of one year. In May 2017 the issue of Azerbaijan's status will be re-considered in organization. -B06--

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