By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Presidential aide, Head of Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Hikmat Hajiyev and NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană have discussed Azerbaijan-NATO partnership during Hajiyev’s visit to NATO Headquarters on 20 January.
In the course of discussions, Hajiyev with counterparts from NATO exchanged views on the Azerbaijan-NATO partnership, the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, regional security and other issues of mutual interest.
He informed the allied nations about the ongoing reforms in the country.
The NATO countries highly appreciated Azerbaijan's active participation in the Partnership for Peace program, contribution to NATO-led operations and its progress in enhancing interoperability and defence reforms.
Hajiyev’s visit to NATO HQ coincided with the 30th anniversary of the 20 January tragedy. Presidential aide spoke about the significance of this event in the history of Azerbaijan. NATO officials and member states have expressed their solidarity with the Azerbaijani people and profound respect to the memory of martyrs.
Azerbaijan-NATO relationship dates back to March 1992 when Azerbaijan together with some Central and Eastern European countries, joined a newly established consultative forum – the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), which was transformed into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council later in 1997.
The cornerstone of the substantive partnership between Azerbaijan and NATO was laid down on 4 May 1994 when the late President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev signed the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Framework Document.
Azerbaijan conducts political dialogue with NATO on a broad range of issues of common concern based on the PfP principles. Within the political dialogue, which is held in different formats and levels, the issues like partnerships, regional security, Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, peace support operations, contribution to Afghanistan, emerging security challenges etc. are the matters of bilateral discussions and consultations. The high-level political dialogue based on mutual understanding promotes progress in the practical cooperation.
Azerbaijan actively supported the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2002 to the end of the NATO-led operation in 2014. The country currently supports the follow-on Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces. The country has been participating in the NATO’s Resolute Support Training, Advice and Assistance Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan since 1st January 2015 after the completion of ISAF. In January 2018, Azerbaijan increased the number of its peacekeepers in the RSM Mission from 94 to 120 servicemen, including 6 officers, who are represented at various headquarters of the RSM Mission, and also 2 military doctors.
In the past two years Azerbaijan has been hosting the meeting between military officials from NATO and Russian Armed Forces.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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