A virtual conference of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Europe Region Heads of Customs was held under the chairmanship of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan on November 20.
Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, customs service Colonel-General Safar Mehdiyev made a keynote speech at the videoconference in capacity of the Vice Chair of the WCO Europe Region. Chairman of the committee said despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, he praised the participation of the countries of the region in the conference as a manifestation of determination and mutual cooperation with the view of development of trade and effective organization of customs, taking into account regional and international interests, expressed his gratitude for this.
Emphasizing that the WCO's economic development in the Europe Region, the sustainability and security of the international trade chain depend on the political, economic and social problems in the region, Safar Mehdiyev said Azerbaijan supported all the steps taken to maintain peace and stability. Chairman of the committee told the heads of customs services of 52 countries of the WCO Europe Region that this year Azerbaijan is fighting not only against the coronavirus, but also against the aggressive policy of the Republic of Armenia. Safar Mehdiyev said that four UN Security Council resolutions demanded immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, on September 27, Armenia carried out another act of military aggression against our country. The Azerbaijani Army was forced to take counter-offensive measures to repel the attack and protect its civilian population.
It was underlined that the military operations were carried out within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's response to the Armenian aggression was carried out in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, within the framework of self-defense. It was also noted that as a result of the attacks by the Armenian armed forces, 94 civilians were killed and 414 wounded in Azerbaijan. Eleven of the dead were minors and schoolchildren. Chairman of the committee told the conference participants that the statement signed by President of Azerbaijan, President of Russia and Prime Minister of Armenia on November 10 ended Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and it was declared that fire and all military operations were fully ceased in the conflict zone.
Citing to President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, the worthy successor of the national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev, chairman of the Committee said the second Karabakh war will go down in history as a glorious victory of Azerbaijan. He expressed confidence that end of the conflict will contribute to establishing new economic opportunities not only for the Caucasus, but for the entire Europe region.
Then Safar Mehdiyev briefed on the work done by the Azerbaijani Customs Service during the WCO Vice Chairmanship for the Europe Region, spoke about the steps taken to increase mutual exchange of experience and strengthen capacity. The report focused on the effective activity of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan in capacity of WCO Vice Chair for Europe Region regarding 3 major law enforcement priorities for the Europe region - 1) Combating cross-border money laundering and financing of terrorism, as well as institutional cooperation with partner administrations in this area; 2) The crimes committed through cross-border e-commerce, Internet, i.e. offering counterfeit goods through the Internet, social networks; 3) Issues related to the illicit drug trafficking, especially import of the substances with high risk of poisoning and the precursors of synthetic drugs.
Then, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization Kunio Mikuriya spoke about the challenges posed by the pandemic and said that the experience of the World Health Organization in terms of ensuring the security of the global supply chain should be studied and applied. Kunio Mikuriya spoke about the virtual activities of the relevant WCO bodies and noted the benefits of strengthening mutual cooperation.
Making a speech on the theme "Exchanging the best practices of the European customs bodies in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic" Turkish Deputy Trade Minister Riza Tuna Turagay spoke about the importance of effective organization and support of coronavirus control measures, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
Then, Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Igbal Babayev made a report on "Revising the Bergen Agreement." The report outlined the results of the meeting of the Working Group held in Baku on January 23-24, 2020 on the initiative of Azerbaijan to prepare amendments to the Bergen Agreement on the situation faced by Spain due to the replacement of Spain in the Group of Major Donors by the Russian Federation and the results of the voting held on the initiative of Azerbaijan among the customs services included in the Europe region with the view of defining the principle of amendments to the Bergen Agreement.
Representative of Russia's Federal Customs Service in the Kingdom of Belgium Dmitry Subochev made a speech on the theme "Establishing the system of assessing activity in WCO".
Head of the WCO Regional Capacity Building Office for the Europe Region in Baku Eser Chengel made a report.
The joint presentation of WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices for Europe region was presented by head of RILO ECE Ms. Katarzyna Banaszek.
At the end of the conference discussions took place on holding elections to the supreme body of the Customs Cooperation Council. Representatives of Turkey, Russia and European Union highly appreciated Azerbaijan's effective activity in capacity of Vice Chair and proposed to extend its chairmanship of WCO Europe Region for another year. The proposal was unanimously supported by other member states of the region.