Azerbaijan continues to strengthen military power
By Jamila Babayeva
Azerbaijan is among the countries with the largest increase in military expenditures in 2000-2013.
The news was reported by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The Azerbaijani army is the most powerful and dominates for defense expenses in the South Caucasus region. Strengthening the army is a priority for Azerbaijan, and the biggest expenses of the state budget go to it.
Azerbaijan will allocate 2.95 billion manats (around $3.76 billion) from the state budget in 2014 to defense expenditure in order to strengthen national security, defense capability, and logistics.
Azerbaijan, which is in war with the neighboring Armenia that has occupied 20 percent of its territory, continuously strengthens its military power and defense capabilities to ensure its national security, response to risks in the region, and restoring territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Azerbaijan's military budget exceeds Armenia's state budget by several times. Armenia has acknowledged that it cannot afford to compete with Azerbaijan on military power.
"The financial capacity of Azerbaijan's army exceeds the capabilities of the Armenian armed forces," Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan said.
The Azerbaijani Army continues to achieve NATO standards and is strengthened with modern weapons which are its sovereign rights.
The country produces weaponry and buys ammunitions abroad.
A strong military industry enables Azerbaijan to reinforce its armed forces with domestically produced military equipment.
Armed Forces are provided with modern weaponry in collaboration with the most favorable and trusted partners such as Russia, Turkey, Israel, and the South African Republic.
Earlier, Russian media reported that Russia has completed the first stage of delivering 100 T-90S tanks to Azerbaijan. They also reported that the second stage will be completed soon.
At the beginning of this year, Azerbaijan bought 24 Russian-made Mi-35M attack helicopters ordered in September 2010. The country also purchased several Mi-35M simulators for training pilots.
Azerbaijan is strengthening its military power and defense capabilities on a yearly basis, and the establishment of the Ministry of Defense Industry has been very effective in strengthening its defense capabilities.
Defense products output in Azerbaijan surged more than eight-fold in 2005-2013. The country's defense industry ministry has started mass production of a variety of munitions in recent years.
Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said the country's armed forces are always ready to combat enemies.
The country also pays great attention to the professional training of the personnel in line with NATO standards.
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces collaborate with the NATO in the framework of the Partnership for Peace Program from 1994. They also have relations with a number of foreign states, which helps the Azerbaijani Army grow stronger.
The Azerbaijani Navy and Air Forces fully meet NATO standards, while officers attend NATO military exercises and foreign language courses.
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces support several peace-keeping operations under the NATO and the UN. Azerbaijan also supports international peace-keeping operations in Afghanistan.
Azerbaijan established the Armed Forces Assistance Fund, which drives the development of Azerbaijan's armed forces, to strengthen logistics and improve the social security of servicemen.
The fund, which is based in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, is financed by donations from individuals and legal entities operating in the country, and revenues which are not prohibited by Azerbaijani laws.
The funds accumulated in the Azerbaijan Armed Forces Assistance Fund amounted to 53.8 million manats ($68,5 million), $211,791, and 600 euros on May 1, 2014.
Baku is keen to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through peace negotiations, but reserves the right to liberate its occupied territories, because peaceful efforts have been largely fruitless for more than 20 years.
Strong Armed Forces are the important factor for restoring Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty by peaceful means, and settle the Nagorno Karabakh conflict on the basis of international law.
The troops' morale and patriotism are at a high level, and the staff of the armed forces is always ready to defend the country, and capable of fulfilling the order of the Supreme Commander.