Azerbaijani authorities praise local NGOs that 'promote the state'
“99% of Azerbaijani NGOs promote the state and statehood”, the presidential aide on public affairs Ali Hasanov recently said.
Hasanov’s remarks were delivered at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Council of State Support for NGOs under the Azerbaijani president.
Hasanov says this indicator is “pleasing”, and compared local NGOs to foreign organisations, which, in his words, “are influenced by foreign circles and were used against the state and statehood of Azerbaijan”.
Since 2014, local NGOs have been practically unable of receiving funding from foreign donors, after the Azerbaijani government clamped down on the process of NGOs obtaining foreign grants.
The legislation passed in 2014 demanded that:
- All foreign grants be registered with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice of Azerbaijan, and
- Donor organisations themselves had to register in Azerbaijan.
These laws were justified with claims that the flow of foreign capital had to be tightly monitored in the country: failing to do so would put the country at great risk, officials said.
As a result, foreign donors turned away from Azerbaijan, and most of the NGOs that operated on donor funds closed down or were severely limited in their activities.
One such NGO is the Public Association for Humanitarian Studies.
Its head, human rights activist Avaz Hasanov, says that his organisation practically ceased operations after the laws of 2014, although it continues to exist on paper:
“Up until 2014 there were about 200 active NGOs in the country. Afterwards, only about 50 survived, and they almost complete stopped working. Now, NGOs have, in fact, only one way of getting money – to get it from the government. And the government, of course, will only finance projects that it considers necessary. And so, it would seem that the ‘99%’ quoted by Ali Hasanov do in fact correspond to the truth [promote the state].”
In the same address, Ali Hasanov mentioned that over the past 10 years the state has spent 36 million manat (about 21 million USD) to support some 4,500 projects of non-governmental organizations.
Also, according to Hasanov, about 30 thousand people are currently employed in this sector.