On 26 June, Lawrence Meredith and Mark Johnston, European Commission Directors from DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), who are on a visit to Azerbaijan, will travel to Shamakhi and Ismayilli regions of Azerbaijan to get familiarized with the European Union funded projects, Trend reports with reference to the Union.
Ahead of his visit, Lawrence Meredith said: "The European Union's (EU) support to regional and rural development is one of the key priorities in our cooperation with Azerbaijan. People are at the heart of this agenda and I am pleased to know that our projects are directly focusing on work with the small and medium enterprises, family buisnesses by bringing them the skills, expertise to develop their businesses further, to create jobs and opportunities".
During the field visit, they will visit the EU funded Technical Assistance project on Support to Rural and Regional Development in Shamakhi. The project with the budget of over 6 million manats launched in January 2017 for 37 months contributes to the diversification of the economy and sustainable regional development of Guba-Khachmaz, Daghlig-Shirvan, and Goychay regions. One of the main components of the Project is to support the targeted districts in programming and implementation of regional development plans where local authorities and multiple private and public stakeholders take active participation. The Directors upon their arrival to Shamakhi will meet with the head of Shamakhi Executive Committee Tahir Mammadov to discuss EU-Azerbaijan cooperation in the direction of rural and regional development.
In Shamakhi, they will visit a farmer from Maljak village of Shamakhi who benefited from the EU project. One of the components of the EU project in Shamakhi, which possesses advantages in grape production due to its good agro-climatic conditions, is support to the wine production by involving local farmers in training sessions, study tours and teaching mini winery technologies.
In Ismayilli, European Commission representatives will visit small holder farm producers who benefited from another regional and rural development grant project implemented by Slow Food International Organisation. This project worth over 1.7 million manats was launched last September for three years' period aims at preserving the local gastronomy, conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage and sustainable livelihoods potential. The project will help increase revenue for small household producers, promote rural tourism. Within the field visit, the Directors will visit families in Ivanovka village of Ismayilli rayon that benefit from this project, tasting selected food products promoted through the Slow Food concept.
As a part of this visit, they will also have a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev and Deputy Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan Rufat Mammadov.