Healthy Conservatism Approach to Establishment of Caspian Interstate Bank - Interview with Azerbaijani Finance Minister

Russia, Astrakhan, 6 October / Trend corr. R.Agayev/ Last week Astrakhan hosted an intergovernmental economic conference of the Caspian countries. Azerbaijani Finance Minister Samir Sharifov, who participated in the conference, spoke to the Trend special correspondent about the results of the event and new initiatives:

Question: Which conclusions has Azerbaijan made from the Astrakhan intergovernmental economic conference?

Answer: The potential of cooperation in the Caspian region is quite high. Azerbaijan takes an active part in the discussions over prospective ways of cooperation. Meetings of the Caspian countries' representatives are of rather traditional character and have considerable history.

The meeting was remarkable for one of the working sessions of the Astrakhan conference was dedicated to search of financing mechanisms for joint investment projects in the Caspian region. That is an absolutely new topic. It has never been the subject of discussion, and therefore we took an active part in the consideration. There are a plenty of ideas, including the one suggested by several countries - establishment of the Caspian Bank to finance joint projects. Our position is that a healthy conservatism approach must be applied to the issue, without a hurry, as establishment of a bank requires considerable funds.

On the other hand, the bank is supposed to be interstate. One must be absolutely sure that operation of the bank will not harm or suppress private commercial banks operating in the Caspian countries. On the whole, we suppose this approach is the most reasonable. First of all, it must be determined what we want to do, which projects we will implement, and only after that we must think which scenarios and mechanisms will be created to finance the joint projects, as well as the sources and amounts of funds to be drawn in.

Question: Will the bank be a constituent of the Caspian Economic Cooperation Organization (CECO), which probability of establishment was discussed at the conference, or of another organization?

Answer: First of all, efficiency of establishment of any institutional organizational mechanisms, including CECO, must be taken into consideration. The issue remains open and correspondingly arouses other issues - establishment of a bank, some research centres. In our opinion, a rather conservative approach must be applied to establishment of any organizational structures. Primarily, we must be sure about efficiency and importance of establishment, as any such institutional structure requires gross financial, intellectual and human resources.

Question: Do other Caspian countries support this position of Azerbaijan?

Answer: I think Azerbaijan's position on the issue was welcomed. If there are any joint projects in the region, their essence must be first considered. If funds are required for the projects, the available potential may be used, as many countries in the region are the members of a long range of international financial organizations, interstate subregional and regional organizations. Therefore, it should be taken into account whether the available potential has been completely exhausted, and then be thought about establishment of any organizational structure.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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