NATO looks forward to a continued high-level political dialogue and broad practical cooperation with Azerbaijan in the coming period, Trend has reported quoting an unnamed NATO official.
NATO urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to avoid actions that could result in the resumption of violence and welcomes dialogue between the sides both within the Minsk Group and outside this framework.
“Armenia and Azerbaijan are both valued partners of NATO. Unresolved issues should be settled diplomatically. We hope to see steps towards a normalization of relations between the two countries,” added the NATO official.
The organization’s representative said that during his recent visit to the region, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Javier Colomina met a range of Azerbaijani officials.
“He reviewed NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation, including the resumption of cooperation with the Azerbaijan authorities within the Planning and Review Process partnership framework,” the official said.
As for the situation in the South Caucasus, the NATO official noted that the Alliance hopes to see steps towards a normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
It should be noted that Azerbaijan’s cooperation with NATO began in 1994 under the Partnership for Peace framework document.
President Ilham Aliyev has seven times been to the NATO headquarters and NATO secretary generals have visited Azerbaijan three times. Aliyev also attended seven NATO Summits (Istanbul 2004, Bucharest 2008, Lisbon 2010, Chicago 2012, Cardiff 2014, Warsaw 2016, and Brussels 2018).
NATO has always supported Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In the ninth NATO Summit, the final documents of the event expressed support for Azerbaijan’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The documents stressed the importance of resolving the conflicts in the South Caucasus, including the former Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, in line with norms and principles of international law.
During the 44-day war in 2020, NATO repeatedly called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to maintain the ceasefire and continue negotiations. In October 2020, during a press conference with Armenian President Armen Sargsyan, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reminded the Armenian president that NATO is not engaged in this conflict.
In the post-conflict period, the new reality created by Azerbaijan as a result of the historic victory over Armenia was also accepted by NATO, and a paragraph referring to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was removed from the final text of the NATO Summit in Brussels in June 2021.
The main areas of practical cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO include reforms in the defense and security sector, participation in international operations, emergency readiness, scientific and environmental issues related to security, and public diplomacy.
Azerbaijan has taken serious steps to bring its armed forces in line with NATO standards. Since 2002, more than 30 Azerbaijani officers have served at NATO headquarters and agencies.
Practical projects between Azerbaijan and NATO, such as the Saloglu and Jeyranchol projects on mine clearance have been successfully implemented.
Azerbaijan has actively participated in NATO missions in Afghanistan since 2002. From 2015 to August 2021, Azerbaijan participated in the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. A total of 120 Azerbaijani servicemen served at Kabul International Airport during the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The Azerbaijani military has made a significant contribution to ensuring security at the airport and organizing the safe evacuation of the population. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Azerbaijan for its services in ensuring security at the airport in August 2021.
Furthermore, in 2017-2020, Azerbaijan hosted seven meetings of high-ranking NATO-Russia and the United States-Russia military officials.
By Sabina Mammadli