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The Azeri Times



Originally published by Eurasianet

Azerbaijan has a long history of carpet making, with generations of artisans – mostly women – passing on their skills one to another.

But the tradition is on the decline today.

“Machines distort the designs, regional traditions are getting lost, they have started using chemicals and synthetic materials,” said Fatima Aghamirzayeva, a carpet maker and scholar of Azerbaijani weaving. “Because of all this, Azerbaijani carpets have lost their reputation.”

That is in spite of substantial government intervention to boost the industry. Baku lobbied successfully for UNESCO to name the Azerbaijani carpet to its “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2010, and built a flashy new museum devoted to carpets on Baku’s waterfront.

The government also has tried to encourage carpet making as part of its broader strategy of diversifying the economy away from reliance on oil and gas.

In 2016, Baku launched a state-owned enterprise, Azərxalça, which manages all aspects of the carpet industry including production, exports, and research and development into new weaving technology.

By the end of 2019, the company expects to launch 30 carpet factories around the country; in the first quarter of 2018 alone the state allocated 14 million manats (about $8.3 million) to construct seven facilities.

“Carpet making, as an export product, will strengthen our country’s economy,” Aliyev said during the opening ceremony of an Azərxalça factory in the northern city of Guba in December. “We should try and we are trying to increase non-oil exports. That means in particular the development of industry, agriculture, and carpet making as well.”

Some, however, have questioned the economic logic of the state support. Azərxalça appears to be operating in the red, according to the company’s financial reports. In 2017, it lost 566,253 manats, five times more than a year before.

“This is the result when the state intervenes in the economy,” said Nazim Mammadov, an economist and former MP from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. “It’s good to adopt a program on carpet making. But in order to stimulate the sector it would be better to create conditions for businesspeople and provide targeted loans.”

There are also concerns about the damage done to Azerbaijan’s carpet reputation.

Aliyev connected Azərxalça’s work to Azerbaijan’s heritage. “Carpet weaving is our national treasure. You are preserving this wealth, you’re developing the art,” he told the gathered factory workers, most of them women. “We also are helping to keep this art eternal and for it to be passed on from generation to generation.”

But others argue the state-run industrialization of carpet making is in fact damaging the ancient art.

“Industrial carpets use fake knots, they are flimsy,” Aghamirzayeva said. “Working with machines is much faster – a robot weaves a carpet in a month, and a person does it in six months. The yarn we use on one carpet can make three industrial carpets,” she said. “And later, when the machine-made carpets are presented as hand-made in the market, sellers of real handmade carpets are hurt.”

Aghamirzayeva added that working conditions in a factory are inherently less healthy than the traditional way of making carpets at home. “An artist should stop when she wants to; walk, sit down, and take a break when she does not want to sew,” she said. “Otherwise, after three or four carpets people will get sick. The artist must be healthy – this is how masterpieces are created.”

Aghamirzayeva, 63, was born and still lives in Guba, one of Azerbaijan’s carpet centers. She founded the Aygun Carpet Factory in 1989, and calls herself the first female entrepreneur in Azerbaijan. Her artisans choose their own schedules and use only natural dyes made on-site. She also follows old rules of what kind of wool to use – like only using wool from live sheep, and not using the outer layers of wool that have been exposed to the sun.

Her parents were both carpet weavers and she estimates that she has taught 5,000 women over her career.

In 2017, Aghamirzayeva spearheaded the establishment of a new, local government-run carpet-making facility in the village of Alpan, in the Guba region, with aid from the United States Agency for International Development. She said she expects to employ about 60 women once the small factory is at full capacity.

“Why doesn’t the government build small workshops in villages, so people don’t have to leave and go to cities?” she asked. “Why were all the [Azərxalça factories] built in the center or on highways? They did not build it for carpets – carpets don’t need big buildings, they just need a nice warm attitude.

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Trump protected Azerbaijani pipeline from US sanctions

The Azeri Times



The Southern Gas Corridor has received a waiver from US sanctions against Iran’s energy customers, an expected win for the project designed to transport 10 Bcm a year of Caspian natural gas to Turkey and southern Europe while bypassing Russia, S&P Global Platts reports.

BP had been seeking a sanctions waiver for its development of Azerbaijan’s offshore Shah Deniz fields, the source of the Southern Gas Corridor’s natural gas. Iran’s NICO holds a 10% share in the second phase of Shah Deniz, potentially triggering US sanctions against Iran petroleum sector investment.

US energy sector sanctions being re-imposed November 4 will ban companies from the US financial system if they continue to do business with Iran. Countries that depend on Iranian oil imports are continuing to press the US government for waivers.

Trump’s order contained a “natural gas project exception” that describes the Southern Gas Corridor without naming it. The order referenced the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, a US law that describes an exemption for “the development of natural gas and the construction and operation of a pipeline to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Europe.” The law says the corridor “provides to Turkey and countries in Europe energy security and energy independence” from Russia.

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Rankings of the Banks in Azerbaijan Q2 2018

The Azeri Times


on prepared Rankings of commercial banks operating in Azerbaijan on the basis of financial indicators for the second quarter of 2018. Rankings are prepared using financial reports posted on Internet sites (balance sheet, profit / loss).

Commercial bank Assets (million AZN)

1 – International Bank of Azerbaijan 7.615.553

2 – Pasha Bank 3.901.761

3 – Capital Bank 3.573.419

4 – Xalg Bank 1.977.525

5 – Azerbaijan Senaye Bank 1.019.677

6 – Bank Respublika 858.777

7 – Access Bank 827.863

8 – Rabita Bank 712.492

9 – Uni Bank 621.245

10 – Ata Bank 603.177

11 – Bank Silk Way 599.178

12 – AFB Bank 522.782

13 – Turan Bank 492.741

14 – AG Bank 487.791

15 – Mugan Bank 486.363

16 – Nikoil Bank 446.473

17 – Express Bank 440.153

18 – Yapi Kredi Bank Azerbaijan 406.825

19 – Azer-Turk Bank 313.744

20 – Bank of Baku 299.459

21 – Bank BTB 299.449

22 – NBC Bank 240.016

23 – Ziraat Bank Azerbaijan 229.868

24 – Amrah Bank 196.217

25 – Nakhchivan Bank 191.813

26 – Gunay Bank 181.696

27 – Bank Avrasiya 169.444

28 – Bank VTB Azerbaijan 125.207

29 – Bank Melli Iran – Baku 108.132

30 – National Bank of Pakistan – Baku 10.717


Commercial bank Cash (million AZN)

1 – Capital Bank 425.827

2 – Access Bank 73.342

3 – Khalg Bank 58.473

4 – AFB Bank 55.007

5 – Bank Respublika 46.217

6 – Yapi Kredi Bank Azerbaijan 35.825

7 – Uni Bank 33.993

8 – Bank Silk Way 28.692

9 – Gunay Bank 19.684

10 – Turan Bank 19.190

11 – Nakhchivan Bank 16.276

12 – AG Bank 15.812

13 – Mugan Bank 14.635

14 – Bank BTB 13.356

15 – Azerbaijan Senaye Bank 12.673

16 – Amrah Bank 11.961

17 – Ata Bank 11.639

18 – Nikoil Bank 10.915

19 – Bank Avrasiya 10.819

20 – Bank VTB Azerbaijan 7.058

21 – Ziraat Bank Azerbaijan 5.238

22 – NBC Bank 5.178

23 – National Bank of Pakistan – Baku 0.360

24 – International Bank of AzerbaijanNo report

25 – Azer-Turk BankNo report

26 – Bank of BakuNo report

27 – Express BankNo report

28 – Bank Melli Iran – BakuNo report

29 – Pasha BankNo report

30 – Rabita BankNo report

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Azerbaijan government introduces mobile device registration fee

The Azeri Times



A fee for registering mobile devices is now being applied in Azerbaijan

Fees for registration of cellular phones brought by individuals from abroad in the Ministry of Communications, Transport and High Technologies have risen in Azerbaijan sharply, from five to 30-150 manat, depending on the characteristics of the device. The decree of the Cabinet of Ministers on new duties was published on July 31. Without registration, the new phone is disconnected from the network. The innovation does not apply to companies that bring phones to the country for sale.

Mobile devices whose market price does not exceed $ 100, which do not have photo and video functions and do not support Internet access, are subject to state duty of 20 manat. The registration of devices whose brand and model, as well as market value at the time of registration, were not listed in the catalog on the official website of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan, is also subject to state duty of 20 manat. In other cases the amount of state fee for individuals purchasing mobile devices for personal use will be:

At the market price of the device up to 100 dollars – 30 manat;

At the market price of the device from 101 to 200 dollars – 50 manat;

At the market price of the device from 201 to 400 dollars – 60 manat;

At the market price of the device from 401 to 700 dollars – 70 manat;

At the market price of the device from 701 to 1,000 dollars – 100 manat;

At the market price of the device from 1,001 dollars and above – 150 manat.

Previously, the state fee for individuals was 5 manat, regardless of the market price of the mobile device purchased for personal use.

Interests of Wholesalers Will Be Satisfied

After two devaluations of the Azerbaijani manat, it became more profitable for citizens to bring telephones from a foreign trip. Numerous Azerbaijani tourists, who bring their phones from abroad to themselves, relatives and for sale, now will not pay off in this way, since henceforth the profit from the “personal telephone business” is zero or greatly reduced. Accordingly, the owners of companies engaged in the wholesale import of cell phones are happy, as buyers who previously bought phones abroad will rush into their stores.

The procedure for registration of telephones in the Ministry of Communications has not become more expensive for this agency. Hence, new duties are applied to replenish the state budget and protect the interests of wholesalers.

Reaction of Society

In society, this news was painful, considering it a continuation of the increase in the price of travel in public transport, two increases in the cost of gasoline and a constant increase in the price of food. Experts predict an autumn rise in price of electricity, diesel oil, fuel oil and again gasoline.

“Why these duties, and not others, what is their size, what will they give you – even if it is tens of thousands of manat? Will they help to significantly replenish the budget? Why, following the increase in the public transport fares by 50%, are you now so drastically raising duties on registration of mobile devices? Why are you angering people? Are you provoking them?” the blogger Hamid Hamidov asks the government.

A public figure, military expert Uzeir Javarov is surprised that in Azerbaijan, in the 21st century, they are not concerned with progress or information technologies, but are trying to make money on absurd and unjustified decisions. He considers the government’s decision to be regressive, saying “it is necessary to cancel it, and the initiators of the stupid idea must be urgently brought to justice.”

The increase in fees for the registration of mobile phones at least 4 times, a maximum of 30 times, was criticized by a public expert, Director of the NGO Multimedia Osman Gunduz on Facebook. “I urgently consider it necessary to speak out and call the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers a shame that does not fit into normal logic,” the expert said.

He wants to know the authors of this decision, who submitted the draft of the rise in the duties to the Cabinet, considering these officials lobbyists of groups of people who earn money by selling phones in Azerbaijan. Osman Gunduz believes that by such actions the lobbyists hinder the introduction of new technologies, such as 4G, 5G and LTE, e-government and digital society in Azerbaijan, since it will be unprofitable to purchase devices that support high-speed traffic. The expert suggests that by initiating and deciding on duties, the Cabinet opposes the President’s policy of stimulating innovation and the development of electronic society.

Osman Gunduz urged the Presidential Administration to react urgently to the decision of the Cabinet on the introduction of new fees for the registration of cell phones: “The decision must be canceled, the lobbyists must be identified and appropriate measures must be taken against them.

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