IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Azerbaijan between two ways: Eastern partnership or Customs Union
In 6 November 2013, the National Platform of Azerbaijan Eastern Partnership of Civil Society Forum and Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy with support of Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation held a round table on “Azerbaijan between two ways: Eastern partnership or Customs Union” .
At the round table, the representatives of Civil society, independent experts, local and international NGOs discussed the events happening in relation with Azerbaijan, European Union and Customs Union, on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius, On November 27-29.
The coordinator of the National Platform, Gubad Ibadoglu made an opening speech and noted that, the purpose of the round table is to discuss the events stirring around the Eastern Partnership summit and the ideas on the membership to the Eurasian Union that is topical nowadays.
The first speaker, the chairman of the Assembly of REAL Movement, Erkin Gadirli stressing the moment that Azerbaijan did not made a choice between European Union and Eurasian Union, expressed its concern for results that will occur if Azerbaijan joins Eurasian Union. “The terms of Conditions of membership to the Eurasian Union are not clear. However, when we look at the member countries it is easy to imagine what expects us. The current government accuses Europe on not shoving serious position towards Garabagh problem and pressuring the country to make democratic reforms. Yet, the Europe, in its resolution about Azerbaijan, demonstrated quite clear position toward Garabagh problem, along with election and illegal arrests in the country. At present the Europe is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan, but it is obvious that Azerbaijan has not made any decision on its choice yet.”
The chairman of the East-West Research Centre, Arastun Orujlu spoke about the national security problem of the country. He noted that, the main column of the Azerbaijani government is custom; therefore they do not want to give up its custom independence. “By the mean of customs the economy is controlled, monopolies are created and oligarchs are kept. Thus, Azerbaijani Government is in dilemma in its foreign policy for energy security. The behaviours to the Azerbaijani immigrants in Russia in the last days, proves that, Azerbaijan has not taken any obligation towards Russia yet.”
The chairman of Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy, Zohrab Ismayil touched questions about the roles of Russia and European Union in the foreign trade of Azerbaijan. The economist noted that, the countries joined to the Customs Union (CU) are at the last places for its free trading indexes. According to his statement, Azerbaijan’s foreign trade relations with CU members, such as Russia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan are not stabile. Moreover, political relations with Russia, also affects foreign trade. Moreover, Zohrab Ismayil noted that Azerbaijan made an excuse for not joining the World Trade Union because of import duties and protection of agricultural products in domestic market. However, joining the CU the domestic market will not withstand the competition with Russian, Belorussian, and Kazakh products.
Speaking about energy politics in relation with EU, the president of Entrepreneurship Development Foundation, Sabit Bagirov, stated that Azerbaijan is not the crucial energy source for EU. “While in the year of 2030 Europe will be in need of 600-630 billion cubic meters of gas, Azerbaijan will be able to produce nearly 30 billion cubic meters of gas. This is not so big number. Moreover, serious competitors can occur for Azerbaijan. ”
Azerbaijan just started to benefit its independence. CU and Eurasian Union can bring only problems for us. Therefore we should attempt to become a real player in the European Market