TODAY.AZ / Politics

Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation in focus

28 November 2013 [15:13] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

A high-level seminar organized by the Brussels office of the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) was held on November 26.

Held in the European Parliament (EP), the seminar was attended by several members from the Friends of Azerbaijan Group in the EP.

The meeting was aimed at exchanging information and ideas concerning Azerbaijan's NATO commitment and highlighting the main challenges for the mid-term future.

Opening the event, member of the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Katarina Nevedalova said during the past few years many MEPs have become aware of developments in the South Caucasus, particularly Azerbaijan.

"It is a real honor for me to participate in this dialogue and facilitate information exchange between Europe and Azerbaijan," she said. "Today, we are placing emphasis on a topic that is possibly lesser-known -that of EU-Azerbaijani rapprochement."

During the seminar, the participants initially concentrated on the NATO's perspective, and then they outlined the position of Baku towards Azerbaijan-NATO co-operation.

Addressing to the participants, Head of the Azerbaijani Mission to NATO Khazar Ibrahim outlined the current relationship between NATO and Azerbaijan.

"NATO and Azerbaijan are actively co-operating on democratic, institutional and defense reforms," Ibrahim said.

"During the past decade, they have also focused on such areas as civil emergency planning, scientific exchange, environmental co-operation and public information. Azerbaijan is perceived as one of the most constructive partner countries to NATO."

He also said Azerbaijan's dialogue with NATO is about more than a purely political commitment regarding logistic support to various missions; it is about bridging the South Caucasus and the world.

"Azerbaijan is legally and morally engaged in participating in future challenges, and remains committed to NATO ambitions," Ibrahim said, informing the participants about Azerbaijan's Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO, which will be effective for the next two years.

MEP Inese Vaidere, in turn, acknowledged the links between Azerbaijan's Euro-Atlantic cooperation and the EU's security policy.

"Azerbaijan is seeking to achieve Euro-Atlantic standards and draw closer to Euro-Atlantic institutions," she said.

Concluding the meeting, head of the TEAS Brussels office Roman Huna said one of TEAS' most important priorities is to effectively inform the European public about Azerbaijan and its relevance to Europe.

"NATO ranks amongst one of the foremost international institutions where Azerbaijan has demonstrated its reliability and constructive attitude towards co-operation," Huna said.

"Azerbaijan's current contribution towards the NATO commitment in both Afghanistan and in Kosovo during the 1990s has been greatly appreciated by the international community. Today's event reiterated the importance of multilateral dialogue at a time when international security remains high on the political agenda."

NATO and Azerbaijan are actively cooperating on democratic, institutional, and military reforms, as well as conducting practical cooperation in various areas.

The cooperation plan between Azerbaijan and the NATO is set out in the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) on Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan aspires to achieve Euro-Atlantic standards and get closer to Euro-Atlantic institutions. In this regard, supporting the security sector reform and establishing democratic institutions are the key elements of the NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation.

Moreover, Azerbaijan is among the eight partner countries that have confirmed their presence in Afghanistan after 2014. Peacekeepers of the country will stay in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops from the country by the end of 2014. However, Azerbaijan will reduce its presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

The Azerbaijani peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan consists of 90 servicemen. A company and then a battalion of peacekeepers were established as part of the Azerbaijani armed forces in 1997. Azerbaijani peacekeepers are part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

In the past, Azerbaijan also actively supported the Alliance's operations in Kosovo.

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