The expert community, politicians, and ordinary users of social networks continue discussing the decision of the Azerbaijani government to leave the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI.)
Most attention is focused on two aspects: the conditions for international loans will be tightened, and 2) Civil society has been deprived of some influence on the government in matters of transparency.
Neither one, nor the other particularly concerns the government that was interested in leaving the EITI, as it seems, for a completely different reason. About it you can say later. But before that, it would be worthwhile to build a brief history that preceded this event.
In 2003 Azerbaijan was among the first to join the EITI, which was then put forward by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Its essence was to ensure the transparency of data on the extraction of resources and income derived from them. On these indicators of reporting, the country was subsequently declared the leader. Azerbaijan became the first country to undergo the assessment process, confirming the full application of the principles and categories in this area by the countries that joined the EITI, and as a bonus in 2009 was awarded the Transparency Initiative Prize. This concludes all the achievements. Subsequently, the country began to sluggishly react to initiatives to expand the boundaries of transparency and increase pressure on civil society, which was an interested partner of the government in the EITI in expanding the boundaries of transparency. The open pressure on the NGO sector followed in 2012 and did not stop, which caused the expected EITI response.
The canvas of the events and relations between the EITI and Azerbaijan over the past five years shows that official Baku has deliberately been going to break with this initiative. In April 2015, the status of the country was lowered from a permanent member to the level of a candidate, and finally, on March 9 this year, its membership was suspended formally because three requirements were not met: to abolish state registration for foreign donors, to abolish the practice of registering grants and contracts, to abolish the provision rule Extracts from the registers of NGOs every two years. The Executive Director of the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, Shahmar Movsumov, responded promptly to the withdrawal of the country from the EITI.
Naturally, the authorities could not and did not want to fulfill these demands, not because of their unwillingness to yield to international pressure and the whims of the Azerbaijani civil society. The talk is about the issue more important for the Aliyev administration on transparent reporting in the extractive industry and its
September 24-28, 2012 Cologne, Germany. EITI Seminar. Three topical issues were raised for EITI participants to be raised at the forthcoming meeting of the EITI International Board in Lusaka, Zambia, and further at the EITI Global Conference in Sydney in 2013: transparency of contracts, aggregated or disaggregated reporting and conducting reassignments every 3 years instead of 5 years.
May 22, 2013. Sydney, Australia. 23rd meeting of the EITI Board. The meeting participants officially announced a number of strategic changes in the EITI. The goal is to make the EITI more comprehensive, reliable and easier to analyze. The reform will also require governments to provide citizens with basic information on the extractive sector in their countries, including what licenses and to whom are provided, how much is extracted, and what is the role of state companies in this sector. In addition, the EITI decided to encourage governments to voluntarily take another step and publicize their contracts with companies, as well as disclose information about the owners.
May 23-24 The 6th EITI Global Conference. Leaders of 24 countries made statements at the Forum of the interested parties at the EITI International Conference in Sydney. Many of them have committed themselves to improving transparency and strengthening the EITI in their country.
Thus, it can be stated that the pressure on civil society is only a formal cause of the artificial conflict between the EITI and the Azerbaijani government. The main objective should be considered the reluctance of the authorities to implement the new EITI recommendations. This conclusion also follows from the most closed nature of the regime in Azerbaijan. In the event, even if there was no conflict around the NGO sector, the government would come up with any other reason for withdrawing from the initiative at this opaque stage. And his further actions in the sphere of transparency will in no way be related to the creation of conditions for NGOs in accordance with international standards. This formal question is just a concomitant in the policy of the government to avoid the requirements of Sydney's decisions in a time interval as much as possible. Return to the EITI will be possible only after the government eliminates the "black holes" in the extractive industry and the distribution of its revenues, which will take several years. And then the establishment of partnerships with the NGO sector will be a signal to return to the EITI, but not its cause.