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Azerbaijan pipeline loans at risk?

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World Pipelines,

On 9 March, Azerbaijan’s membership was suspended from a global human rights watchdog, which could severely affect the loans for a natural gas transmission pipeline to Europe.

It’s been reported that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – a standard that brings governments, companies and non-governmental organisations together to oversee commodity funds – adjourned the country’s membership after it failed to remove restrictions on civil society organisations. The EITI board officially “took the decision to suspend Azerbaijan because the country lacks an enabling environment for civil society, a violation of the initiative’s requirements on multi-stakeholder engagement.”

Executive Director of the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Shahmar Movsumov, believed that the country’s suspension was unjust. He stated: “We do not think that there is a direct link between our membership at EITI and loans to the southern gas corridor project. […] We are leaving an organisation, not the principles. Azerbaijan did not withdraw from the principles of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries. We are committed to those principles and will continue to disclose every material information on our revenues.”

Nevertheless, despite the country’s suspension, The World Bank has announced that it remain in support of Azerbaijan, in its “ongoing effort to develop a clear, inclusive and transparent framework for revenue management and overall transparency in the extractives industry.”

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