Brock Bierman: Doors for USAID Not Open in Azerbaijan

Baku / 28.02.18 / Turan: "Azerbaijan and USAID (US Agency for International Development) had a long-term partnership. Along with this, I want to note that in recent years there have been certain issues that create obstacles for the activities of USAID in Azerbaijan. These issues contradict the bilateral agreement on assistance," the Deputy Administrator of USAID for Europe and Eurasia Brock Bierman said at a press conference in Baku, dedicated to the results of his three-day visit to Azerbaijan, on February 28.

Birman noted that he expressed his opinion at meetings with representatives of the Azerbaijani government. "I expect elimination of difficulties and questions. I want to note that during these meetings I was assured that the obstacles will be eliminated. Today, before coming to a meeting with you, I wanted to believe that I could bring positive messages to you. However, it is unfortunate that I felt that there had been no progress and the problems remain in place," said the representative of USAID.

At the request of Turan to answer the question of how the cooperation between Azerbaijan and USAID will develop further and what issues are causing disputes between the parties, Birman said he met with representatives of various ministries.

"I had an opportunity this week to meet with a number of Ministers -- the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Taxation. And unfortunately, during all of these meetings we were very clear with our request. The request to resolve the taxation issues and the issue of registration of our partners, and none of those issues were resolved," he continued.

In what areas does USAID want to help Azerbaijan, and is it possible to reach agreement on issues of support for democracy, human rights, and development of civil society?

To this question, Bierman replied:

"Well, I think it"s clear that the doors are not open for business here in Azerbaijan. Economic development is suffering. And the message that I will be bringing back to the administration, to Congress, and to the private sector, is exactly that message.

In short, I think that the government is sending a clear message of thanks, but no thanks," Bierman said.

What steps does USAID expect from Azerbaijan to normalize the relations?

To this question, Bierman replied: "They need to register our partners, and they need to resolve the tax issues".

Is it possible that the activities of USAID will be suspended in Azerbaijan?

Answering this question, he said:" The positive message that I can deliver today is that work is being done in the field. I just came from [Hazmaz] where we"re actually working with farmers on the ground. We"re helping them diversity the economy here in Azerbaijan. We"re actually helping them increase their yields by 300 percent.

We"re working with communities in small villages, to help them rehabilitate their schools, and we"re working with the communities to identify those issues.

The businesses and the kids are really the ones suffering from a lack of resolve from the government to solve these issues". -03C06-

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