EITI demands more freedom for Azerbaijan's civil society before it restores membership

By bne IntelliNews October 26, 2016

Azerbaijan needs to amend its laws on non-government organisations (NGOs) in order to restore its membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the board of EITI decided on October 26. If it fails to satisfy the EITI that it is allowing civil society to monitor transparency in the extractive industries, this could prevent it receiving finance from international financial institutions (IFIs). 

An Oslo-based voluntary initiative that oversees transparency in mineral and energy-rich countries, EITI's importance has increased in recent years, with financing from IFIs made dependent on compliance with EITI regulations on many occasions.

Azerbaijan needs to allow more freedom for civil society before the next EITI board meeting, tentatively scheduled for early 2017, and to work on five other areas - reporting on state participation, public debate, quasi-fiscal expenditure, documentation of impact and independence of civil society members of the multi-stakeholder group - if it wants its membership restored at its next membership assessment in July 2017.

Azerbaijan was a full member of the initiative between 2009 and 2014. Last year, however, it lost its membership amidst an unprecedented crackdown on the civil society that saw scores of journalists, opposition politicians and government critics imprisoned and international NGOs and organisations like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ousted from the country.

In recent months, the government in Baku has been seeking to mend its ways as far as civil society is concerned by releasing thousands of prisoners, including a dozen political prisoners. However, critics accuse Baku of window dressing. While it had released some of the more prominent political prisoners, it arrested tens of others who protested a move by President Ilham Aliyev to expand his powers through a referendum that many allege was rigged.

Fredrik Reinfeld, EITI chairman and former prime minister of Sweden, said that “Azerbaijan has made important progress in opening up the oil sector and I am encouraged to hear about the recent plans for government reforms towards more transparency. I hope that the government will continue its recent efforts to ensure that civil society can play its proper role in this process, otherwise this progress risks being overshadowed.”

The next evaluation of Azerbaijan's status will take place next July. The country's suspension from EITI has come at a bad time for Baku, which has been courting IFIs for a large-scale regional gas project, the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), for the completion of which it needs to borrow externally some of $8bn in the next two years.

According to two sources cited by the Financial Times, the US opposed Azerbaijan's suspension, because it strongly endorses the SGC as a way for Europe to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia. 

Related Articles

Baku criminal prosecutors pursue MEPs that observed Nagorno-Karabakh referendum

The Azerbaijani prosecutor general has launched criminal proceedings against three Europarlamentarians who monitored ... more

Azerbaijani president fires powerful transport minister Ziya Mammadov

In a two-line presidential decree issued on February 13, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that a new ministry - that of transport, telecommunications and high technology - ... more

Azerbaijanis rush to convert dollars into manats after burst of appreciation

The unexpected appreciation of the Azerbaijani manat in February has sent banks into a dollar-selling frenzy, sources in Baku have informed bne IntelliNews. In the past week, the manat has ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or purchase 12 months full website access including the bne Magazine for just $119/year.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss