Azerbaijan’s Cooperation with Universal Postal Union is Excellent: Interview with UPU Head

Azerbaijan, Baku, 25 April / corr Trend S.Babayeva / Trend 's exclusive interview with Edouard Dayan, the Director General of the UPU International Bureau.

Question: What is your assessment of Azerbaijan's activity as a UPU member?

Answer: Azerbaijan is a fairly recent member of the UPU - it only joined the Union on 1 April 1993. Despite this, it is one of the most active countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is a member of the UPU Council of Administration elected by the Bucharest Congress, and plays an active part in its work. It also belongs to the EMS Cooperative and to the UPU Telematics Cooperative. At regional level, Azerbaijan is a member of several postal organizations: the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communication (RCC), which comprises 12 CIS countries, the European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP) and the Postal Union of EurAsia. In spring 2005, I was able to attend the meeting in Baku of Ministers of Posts and Telecommunications of RCC member countries, where I took the opportunity to meet with representatives of your country's postal sector.

Question : How do you rate Azerbaijan's chances in the Administrative Council elections at the UPU Congress?

Answer: At the Council of Administration session early this year, Mr. Mamedov Iltimas Akmed Ogly, Vice-Minister of Communications and Information Technology, accompanied by Mr. Elchin Amirbayov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan in Switzerland, attended the official opening of the philatelic exhibition of postage stamps issued by Azerbaijan. At this event, they also announced Azerbaijan's decision to stand for election to the Council of Administration and the Postal Operations Council at the beginning of May 2008, during the 24th Universal Postal Congress in Geneva. As you will understand, however, it is difficult for me to take a position on your country's candidacy.

Question: How do you see the prospects for the development of cooperation between the UPU and Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies?

Answer: As I mentioned earlier, cooperation between the UPU and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies has been excellent since my meeting in May 2005 with your Minister, Professor Ali Abbassov. I should also like to emphasize the particularly important role played in negotiating, and, more recently, implementing the World Bank project for the development of financial services. The main aim of the Azerbaijan Financial Services Development Project is to implement two government strategies: poverty reduction, and the creation of a national payment system based on the postal network. The project aims to offer the country's population a full range of postal and non-postal financial services by making use of the biggest national physical network - the post office network. Apart from the financial services, there will be improvements in the areas of access to the basic business infrastructure and the delivery of government services.

The UPU, which considers the development of the worldwide financial services network to be one of its main priorities, is willing to provide the Ministry with the advice and assistance needed to make this project a success.

Question: Which projects and joint programmes will your organization and Azerbaijan be able to carry out in the near future? What assistance can the UPU give Azerbaijan, in case of need?

Answer: In November 2006, Azerbaijan benefited from a visit by the UPU to promote an integrated postal reform and development plan (IPDP) mission. The IPDP is a reform and development plan prepared by the UPU in close cooperation with experts from the beneficiary country. It is based on a study of the economic and commercial environment of the postal services, the legal and regulatory framework, and the market of the beneficiary country. The IPDP also takes into account Universal Postal Convention obligations, particularly the universal postal service. In the IPDP, the government also identifies and sets itself long-term objectives, undertaking to achieve them as part of a postal sector reform programme. This strategic document was sent in January 2007 to Mr. Artur Tahir Rasizada, Prime Minister, to Mr. Abbassov, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, to the Director General of Azerpost, and to the UNDP and the World Bank country offices in Baku. According to my information, the government has decided to allocate about 350,000 USD to the project identified in the IPDP, which is aimed at universal postal service improvement and development, namely through the improvement of the countrywide postal network (creation of new post offices).

For the coming years, it is therefore very important to ensure that the priority projects identified in the IPDP are implemented.

Question: What action can you recommend Azerbaijan to take to ensure the successful development of its postal infrastructure? What shortcomings must be addressed in order to accelerate postal development in Azerbaijan?

Answer: As I have already indicated, the IPDP document provides a sound analysis of the current situation of the sector and the designated national operator (Azerpost), and identifies areas for subsequent development:

improvement of universal postal service provision;

thorough knowledge of the national postal market and adaptation of the range of services to the needs of the market;

strengthening of postal regulation;

development of Azerpost's financial management.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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