Azerbaijan’s IEPF: The Pinnacle Of Sustainable Development In Europe – OpEd
By Peter Tase
The International Eurasia Press Fund is an independent international non-governmental Organization (NGO) that was founded by a group of journalists from different countries and has been registered in Azerbaijan since 1992.
On September 4, 2022, under the leadership of IEPF President the Hon. Umud Mirzayev, was commemorated the 30th anniversary of the International Eurasia Press Fund. Thirty years ago, in 1992, the independent non-governmental organization, registered by the government, the International Eurasia Press Fund was established.
Today IEPF is a successful and respected non-governmental organization with a vast experience and highly trained team of professionals, has a strong financial and technical infrastructure paired with a great potential for future growth. The IEPF Head Office is located in Baku, and in ten regional offices, including Tartar, Agstafa and Füzuli, with other offices in the United States, Russia and the Baltic region.
IEPF has about 100 staff members with over 70 percent of the staff involved in IEPF community Mine Clearance Operations to recover the Azerbaijan lands contaminated with Armenian landmines after the war and make the land conducive for farming and for other economic functions.
IEPF works in five key thrusts: Media & Civil Society Development; Community Economic Development; Refugees/IDPs Issues; Peace-building measures & Conflict Resolution and Education. IEPF has made significant achievements in peacemaking, conflictology and protection of human rights. Since its inception, the Fund has taken the responsibility to research best methods of study and settlement of the ethnic and military conflicts in the Caucasus.
Some of the salient projects that IEPF has implemented are: “Peace at Home, Peace in the Country, Peace in the World” (1992), “Level One Landmine Survey” (2000-2001), “The Landmine Impact Survey” (2002-2003), “NATO and the Regional Security” (2002), “The Community Mine Action Team” (ongoing since 2002), “Mine Victims’ Needs Assessment” (EC/2004), “Establishing and Functioning of Azerbaijan Mine Victims Association (AMVA) in 3 Districts of Azerbaijan” (USDoS, WRA /2006-2008); “Azerbaijan Mine Victims Association” (AMVA) set up in March, 2007 and registered by the Ministry of Justice in July; with the financial support from the Weapons Abolishment and Prohibition Office of the Bureau for Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State; “Establishing of the Fuzuli RB and directing the activity of Terter RB of AMVA” (since 1st July, 2007) and “Establishing of the Aghstafa RB of AMVA and directing its activity”; “Monitoring of Grants allocated by the Presidential Council on Civil Society Development to the national NGOs” (Az Gov NGO Support Fund/2008-2009); “Promote Peace in Schools where both IDP/Refugee and local pupils are studying” (WB/2009-2011); “Establishment of Vocational Training Center for the Mine/UXO victims and retired de-miners” (USDoS, WRA/2009-2010); “VTC extension and expansion” (USDoS, WRA/2010-2011); “Azerbaijan Youth Advocate Program” (UNICEF/2011-2012); and Expansion and Diversification of VTC Cooperative Farm (Japan Embassy/2011); “Local organizing organization for the International Conference, IPI Oil, Gas and Media Conference” (2012); “Meeting of Donors and Partners on Sustainable and Equal Development” (UN ECOSOC/2012).
The International Eurasia Press Fund is also successful in the settlement of Azerbaijan refugees – IDPs problems and studying migration issues and community development.
The Project “Strengthening and stimulating mutual social relations between local and IDP pupils in joint schools” financed by Japan Government and the World Bank is ongoing since January 2009; this project continued until the end of 2011.
IEPF holds special focus on creating areas for refugees IDPs` self-income generation in a period of transition from humanitarian aid to development in Azerbaijan, gives priority to realization of projects aiming at the settlement of community problems, advancing entrepreneurship skills among the fleeing population. For that very purpose the National Bank of Azerbaijan has granted license to Non-Bank Credit Organization “Eurasia-Credit” Ltd founded by IEPF in 2007 and registered by the Ministry of Justice.
At the present IEPF maintains a growing engagement in strengthening regional development and promoting Azerbaijan’s Foreign Policy. Recently, the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine Vasyl Bodnar met with the President of the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) Umud Mirzayev. The Ukrainian Diplomat also held a meeting with the Leader of the “Atlas” Center for Political Studies Mr. Elkhan Shahinoglu within the framework of his official visit to Azerbaijan.
During the meeting, Mr. Umud Mirzayev informed the guest about the activities of the IEPF, international cooperation and talked about the successfully implemented projects in the regions that were affected during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
According to Mr. Mirzayev, both Ukraine and Azerbaijan suffer from the protracted conflicts, the countries are forced to face the negative consequences of the war – refugees and IDPs, as well as harmful environmental disasters.
Thus, Ukraine is interested in taking advantages of Azerbaijan’s experience in solution of the humanitarian problems that were provoked by the war for more than 25 years.
The Republic of Azerbaijan became the first post-Soviet republic that has faced separatist movements that led to a bloody war. The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, that lasted 44 days in September – November 2020; was a major military operation that crashed Armenia terrorism regime in Yerevan and its revanchist armed Forces. These effective military operations of Azerbaijan were skillfully led by the President of Azerbaijan H. E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev.
During the meeting with the Ukrainian Vice Minister; Mr. Umud Mirzayev provided a broad information on the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict and presented photos of the destroyed infrastructure and cultural heritage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan by the fascist Armenian Armed Forces. IEPF continues to play an indispensable role in promoting the Foreign Policy of Azerbaijan and the main Human Rights Values of the United Nations.