In April 2015 Azerbaijan’s status in the organisation has been downgraded from “compliant” to “candidate”. In October 2016 on EITI Board Meeting Azerbaijan’s candidate status has been prolonged with the condition that the country will undertake corrective actions to be compliant once again. The Executive Director of State Oil Fund Shahmar Movsumov said that Azerbaijani government is commited to “further improve transparency” in order to restore Azerbaijan’s status in EITI.
Corrective actions outlined in Astana meeting had three key requirements to prompt positive progress in Azerbaijan’s status:
•Amendment of legal and regulatory framework to eliminate restrictions on grant registration for civil society
•Government should assure environment for independent public debate of issues related to natural resource governance and eliminate barriers for organisation of EITI related events by civil society.
•MSG should outline a clear definition of quasi-fiscal expenditures and a disclosure mechanism for ensuring full transparency in quasi-fiscal expenditures.
The visit of EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt and Head of the International Secretariat Jonas Moberg and a number of events that took place last week has reinvigorated the debate on the issue of Azerbaijan’s status in the organisation.
The week started with a capacity building workshop for CSOs in Azerbaijan on EITI Standard and reporting. Entrepreneurship Development Foundation together with NRGI organised the forum, where Eurasia Hub’s experts Ingilab Ahmadov, Azer Mehtiyev and Sabit Bagirov delivered sessions on EITI Standard and Mainstreaming. The sessions provoked interest and debates around the questions of transparency and accountability. However, it was also revealed that there was a lack of knowledge about EITI among CSO representatives, which scrutinises valuable contribution of them into the overall process. This was also one of the key conclusions after the meeting of EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt and Head of Secretariat Jonas Moberg with the Coalition members and CSO representatives on February 1.
During his one-day visit to Azerbaijan Fredrik Reinfeldt has met Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to discuss Azerbaijan's progress and future perspectives. After the meeting Mr Reinfeldt said that:
“The President was positive about the EITI and we all want the implementation to continue.”
Afterwards, Mr Fredrik and Mr Jonas have met with members of the Coalition of Azerbaijan’s Non-Government Organisations. Eurasia Hub’s Director Ingilab Ahmadov moderated the meeting. In the end of the meeting Mr Reinfeldt said that he had received a very comprehensive feedback from NGO members both on positive developments and on still existing issues in the country. He said that this would help for the assessment of Azerbaijan’s compliance with the EITI’s requirements at the Board meeting on 8-9 March 2017 in Bogota.
On February 2, State Oil Fund organised a round table on “EITI Mainstreaming”. “Head of EITI International Secretariat - Jonas Moberg, Executive Director of SOFAZ- Shahmar Movsumov, The World Bank Country Manager for Azerbaijan, Europe and Central Asia - Naveed Hassan Naqvi, members of World Bank, ADB, EBRD, NRGI, Government, NGO Coalition and local and foreign extractive companies operating in Azerbaijan attended the round table.” EITI mainstreaming and online reporting were central topics of discussion at the meeting. The participants discussed possibility of integration of relevant state entities such as State Statistic Committee into the digitalisation process of EITI related data. Successful experiences in EITI compliant countries were reviewed. World Bank Consultant Anwar Ravat among other issues highlighted that lack of capacity building has been one of the key concerns in Azerbaijan’s EITI implementation.
The week was intensive with the EITI implementation events, starting from capacity building among NGOs ending with discussions over EITI mainstreaming and online reporting. These events were particularly important in anticipation of the meeting in Bogota in four weeks, where Azerbaijan’s status in EITI will be decided.
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