FY 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: Azerbaijan

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Performance Report Highlights: Azerbaijan

FY 2010 Foreign Assistance Goals

U.S. Government (USG) assistance was targeted at encouraging reforms in Azerbaijan that promote regional security, the development of key democratic institutions and processes, and sustainable economic growth. Security assistance worked to bolster Azerbaijan’s border security, and increase Azerbaijan’s ability to contribute more effectively to international efforts on peacekeeping, counterterrorism, combating weapons of mass destruction, nonproliferation and counternarcotics. USG assistance programs worked to advance democracy by promoting civic participation, supporting media freedom and greater access to information, bolstering judicial independence and access to justice, and fostering enhanced parliamentary transparency and responsiveness to constituents. USG assistance also sought to address critical policy and institutional constraints to Azerbaijan’s economic growth, promoting sustainable and broad-based growth of the non-oil sectors. Notably, the USG is partnering with the Government of Azerbaijan (GOAJ) to co-finance some assistance programs, particularly in the areas of economic growth and social services.

Total FY 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $28.10 million*

Date: 2011 Description: Azerbaijan -- Total FY 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance:  $28.10 million. - State Dept Image

(*Foreign Operations funding appropriated for FY 2010, not including Peace Corps funding and centrally managed, regional Foreign Operations funding that is not budgeted for specific countries. Humanitarian Assistance total does not include the value of donated humanitarian commodities transported by the Department of State, estimated at $4.84 million in FY 2010.)

Highlights of FY 2010 Performance by Area of Focus

Peace and Security

-- A USG initiative led to the establishment of 17 scientific collaborations between teams of U.S. and Azerbaijani researchers, with eight of these projects engaging 21 former weapons researchers.

-- USG assistance provided the Nassosnaya Air Base with communications upgrades, and the USG is currently implementing a project to provide equipment to a NATO-compatible mobile battalion.

-- The USG provided mechanical equipment to process 65,000 unexploded ordnance (UXO) items and to clear 468,000 square meters of land. In addition, USG funding led to substantial progress in demining the Gudzek region, where 68,532 square meters of land were cleared, including anti-tank mines, UXO, and anti-personnel mines. USG funding also allowed 110 mine survivors from 23 districts to receive services in a specially equipped rehabilitation facility run by a local non-governmental organization (NGO).

-- A series of 120 workshops across 13 cities and regions addressed nearly 4,000 Azerbaijani attendees on the risks of irregular migration and trafficking in persons.

Governing Justly and Democratically

-- The USG has provided more than 100 judges with substantive and practical skills training focused on trial advocacy, trial rights, jury trials, and human-rights protections. To date, 2,000 cases have been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by Azerbaijani lawyers, with 33 resulting in successful judgments for the plaintiffs. Specifically, USG support helped the Strategic Litigation Council, an informal forum for Azerbaijani advocates, file 12 cases with the ECHR in 2010. The cases are strategically important, because Article 148 of Azerbaijan’s Constitution makes international agreements to which Azerbaijan is a party integral to Azerbaijan’s legal framework, and ECHR case law is therefore directly applicable in Azerbaijani courts.

-- A total of 125 out of approximately 300 members of the Azerbaijan Women’s Bar Association (WBA) received training in substantive areas of law and practical skills. Through a traveling lawyers program, the WBA provided 139 women living in rural regions with access to pro bono legal aid on legal issues such as payment of alimony, protection from domestic violence, and division of property in divorce cases.

-- USG programs helped to empower citizens to oppose corruption and push for systemic, institutional changes. Local anti-corruption legal aid and advocacy centers provided pro bono legal advice to almost 2,500 citizens (41% of whom were women), assisted citizens with filing over 340 written complaints to public administration agencies and courts, and helped three government agencies to establish anti-corruption hotlines. An additional two agencies established hotlines on their own as a result of the centers’ advocacy. Overall, 63% percent of complaints filed by these centers were satisfactorily resolved, either in whole or in part.

-- Programs in support of Azerbaijan’s Financial Monitoring Service focused on monitoring entities and anti-money laundering strategies. At the request of the Prosecutor General and Chief Justice, the USG supported seminars to address corruption, financial crime, trial advocacy, and professional responsibility. A notable success in 2010 was the first prosecution of two local district school heads that resulted in conviction on money laundering and embezzlement charges.

-- USG assistance helped build the capacity and responsiveness of 110 parliamentary constituent offices throughout Azerbaijan established with the help of previous assistance, train 118 assistants to Members of Parliament (MPs), and publish all adopted legislation on the Parliament’s website. These constituent offices received and processed over 35,000 citizen inquiries. Results from a 2010 survey show that the Parliament is seen as more relevant and responsive than in years past. USG assistance introduced constituency feedback database software to all 110 constituency offices to improve citizens’ access to their MPs and increase the Parliament’s ability to respond to and manage constituent queries. This database tracks constituency feedback and helps MPs prioritize and respond to constituent concerns.

-- Technical assistance to the Parliament improved the research and writing skills of parliamentary staff. The percentage of legislation, including written comments that the legislative committees forwarded to the Parliament, rose from 28 to 50%. As the fall 2009 legislative session began, committee leadership allowed their legislative drafting working groups to include qualified professionals/experts from outside the Parliament for the first time. This change is expected to improve the quality of draft legislation presented for consideration by the Parliament as a whole.

-- USG support for domestic election observation helped to increase the transparency in Azerbaijan’s November 2010 parliamentary elections. Over 80 long-term and 1,200 short-term observers were trained, and they then carried out statistically-based observation in 608 election precincts throughout the country, selected on the basis of random sampling.

-- USG assistance increased public access to and use of digital technology at community information centers. In addition, the USG assisted six independent media civil society organizations to strengthen independent media outlets, and supported legal defense of 44 journalists and media outlets.

Investing in People

-- Support for targeted legal and policy reforms led to the introduction of international standards of tuberculosis (TB) control. Expert advice and leadership was provided to develop a national TB program for 2010 to 2015, which outlines structural changes to Azerbaijan’s health system, policy changes, and changes in clinical practice and case management that are necessary to bring the country’s TB situation under control. The USG also served as the driving technical force behind the development of TB treatment and case-finding protocols that reflect international standards and the latest scientific research on TB management.

-- With USG assistance, the Ministry of Health (MOH) developed evidence-based clinical protocols, patient education materials, and other public health tools proven to have an impact on public health threats. This led to their development of protocols on rational drug use and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, stable angina, and iron deficiency anemia, and instructional and patient education materials on pulmonary diseases, rational use of infected medicines and cardiology.

-- With USG support, the MOH assessed the current structure and quality of maternal and child services. Fostering the MOH’s ability to strategize, the USG used the assessment results to provide assistance in the production of a National Perinatal Care Concept paper for 2010 to 2014, which includes the development of a referral system for pregnant women and newborns that defines responsibilities and requirements for all levels of care. The USG also provided assistance to the MOH on the use of standardized monitoring tools to assess how health workers were applying new neonatal guidelines in a pilot district. The results showed a significant improvement in the health workers’ application of effective technologies, particularly in neonatal resuscitation.

-- USG-financed family planning (FP) counseling served over 7,350 clients in FY 2010. About 400 health education sessions were funded, helping over 5,500 community members learn about and adopt positive behaviors related to reproductive health (RH) and FP, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and male involvement in RH.

Economic Growth

-- A tax-revenue forecasting model was designed to allow ministries to accurately forecast budget revenues. The model was well-received by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), which plans to issue an official decree to promulgate mandatory use of the model throughout the GOAJ. USG technical assistance helped the MOF develop its 2010 budget revenue forecasts based on this model. The MOF used the model with minimal assistance to forecast 2011 budget revenues and plans to continue this process annually. The USG has thus provided the GOAJ with the tools and resources to make revenue forecasting consistent throughout all ministries, and the model can be used to conduct mid-year estimates of how economic changes will affect budget revenues.

-- In May 2010, the GOAJ issued a Presidential Decree “On Further Liberalization of Foreign Trade in the Republic of Azerbaijan” to advance the process of Azerbaijan’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This decree, and the policy reforms that accompanied it, eliminated 15 key import and export restrictions that had hampered trade and decreased the competitiveness of Azerbaijani products. These amendments also eliminated mandatory and costly quality certificates required for all imports. The elimination of these measures simplified the import and export approval processes in Azerbaijan and reduced the opportunities for corruption.

-- The October 2010 WTO Working Party (WP), Azerbaijan’s fourth since the resumption of its accession process in 2007, was recognized as very positive by party members in terms of the draft legislation under progress, as well as questions and answers, and offers. USG technical assistance on WTO accession helped Azerbaijani officials prepare for the WP.

-- USG-supported technical advisors provided input on Azerbaijan’s new Anti-Money Laundering Law to ensure consistency with international best practices. USG assistance also helped to develop the framework for the Central Bank of Azerbaijan’s new Financial Monitoring Service (FMS), which acts as the enforcement unit for the anti-money laundering regime. With the help of this assistance, Azerbaijan was delisted from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watch list and is no longer subject to FATF’s monitoring process.

-- USG technical assistance enabled a group of Azerbaijani farmers to purchase 500,000 trout eggs from the United States and improve hatching techniques. As a result, many farmers reported a 98% hatching rate, which is on a par with U.S. standards and significantly higher than previous local rates. USG technical and grant assistance also helped launch a carp hatchery, a fish feed mill and feed laboratory with a privately owned agricultural extension service.

-- In the dairy sector, sanitation and feed quality are the most challenging barriers to improved quality and quantity of milk. USG technical assistance helped farmers improve sanitary conditions during the milking process and identify quality feed sources. As a direct result of USG assistance, milk rejection rates decreased from 30% to 3% in FY 2010.

-- Following a thorough examination of two commercial banks in the areas of risk management and lending practices, the USG signed an agreement with these banks in FY 2010 to pilot a loan guarantee program. The agreement should strengthen the banks’ confidence for lending by guaranteeing 50% of potential losses due to loan defaults ($3.3 million of the $6.6 million facility). The agreement stipulates that each bank must lend to small and medium-sized enterprises, with 40% of those loans targeting the agriculture sector.

Humanitarian Assistance

-- USG assistance to vulnerable populations in 2010 supported six small reconstruction projects, including four medical facilities, one school, and an internally displaced persons community center. The USG delivered 29 surface containers of emergency and medical supplies valued at $4.84 million.