EU, WB ink accord on technical assistance to Azerbaijan [PHOTO]
By Ayya Lmahamad
On February 16, the European Union (EU) and the World Bank (WB) signed a grant agreement for technical assistance to the Azerbaijani government in Baku.
The document was signed by Sarah Michael, the World Bank's representative in Baku, and Peter Michalko, the head of the EU delegation to Azerbaijan.
The agreement has a three-year term and a cost of $5.2 million.
It establishes four priority areas of EU activity in Azerbaijan, as well as five national priorities for Azerbaijan.
Technical support to government
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Peter Michalko stated that for the first time in Azerbaijan, the World Bank and the EU have pooled their resources to support the country's government.
He noted that this document will be aimed at the technical support for the Azerbaijani government in accordance with its strategic priorities.
"It will also contribute to the achievement of the Azerbaijani government's corresponding goals," he said, adding that "this initiative appears as a result of the long-term cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU, and we are confident that our cooperation will be positive and lasting."
The official emphasized that this program will run until 2024 and will address issues such as climate change, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental protection, and others.
Increase competitiveness in market
It is also planned to support Azerbaijan in the business sectors, the creation of smart cities and villages, assisting women’s business, introducing innovations in the country and a number of other spheres, the head of the EU delegation to Azerbaijan added.
Moreover, Michalko stated that all this work will help reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business and business sector, as well as increase competitiveness in the Azerbaijani market.
“Our grant agreement serves the national development priorities of Azerbaijan adopted up to 2030,” he said.
Michalko said that the EU has recently allocated two million euros for business development and inclusiveness in Azerbaijan.
Support in demining
Michalko stated that the EU has allocated € 2.5 million to Azerbaijan for demining of its liberated territories.
He stressed that the EU will continue to support the Azerbaijani government in the de-mining of the liberated territories.
"Besides, we also provide support to Azerbaijan in raising awareness of the population about the mine threat," he said.
The official added that the EU Delegation is working with the Azerbaijani government to secure additional funding.
First Deputy Economy Minister Elnur Aliyev noted that the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the EU exceeded $20.1 billion in 2021.
Stressed that the EU is the biggest investor in Azerbaijan, he emphasized that Azerbaijan is one of the priority countries for the EU.
"Moreover, over 1,700 companies from Europe work in Azerbaijan. The World Bank has implemented 52 projects worth $4 billion in Azerbaijan," he said.
Additionally, Aliyev stated that the Azerbaijani non-oil sector increased by 17.8 percent while the income of businessmen from this sector by 2.6 percent in 2021.
It should be noted that the EU invested over $21.5 billion in Azerbaijan’s economy from 2012 to 2021. The Delegation of the European Commission to Azerbaijan was opened in Baku in February 2008.
Azerbaijan joined the World Bank in 1992. The Bank began economic cooperation with Azerbaijan to assist in the development of institutional capacity and the efficient management of oil reserves. The World Bank has consistently backed Azerbaijan's large-scale reforms.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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