By Vafa Ismayilova
Chief of Staff of NATO Allied Land Command Metin Tokel has said that NATO considers Azerbaijan as a reliable partner, the Defence Ministry reported on June 22.
Tokel made the remarks at a meeting with Azerbaijani Defence Minister Col-Gen Zakir Hasanov in Baku on June 22.
The NATO official highly appreciated Azerbaijan's participation in the fight against terrorism, its significant contribution to cargo transportation for peacekeeping operations, and the Azerbaijani peacekeepers' high professionalism in Afghanistan
Hasanov stressed the successful development of Azerbaijan-NATO relations, the activity of the Azerbaijani troops in various programs, and the contribution made by Azerbaijani servicemen to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
He said that the main goal of Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation carried out in various fields is to eliminate instability, conflicts, and threats in the sphere of establishing an indivisible security system in the Euro-Atlantic area and the world. Hasanov added that this cooperation will continue.
During the meeting, the sides also exchanged views on other issues of mutual interest.
Earlier, Hasanov discussed the state of bilateral cooperation within NATO with member of the Latvian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Raimonds Bergmanis.
Bergmanis noted that Latvia is Azerbaijan's important partner in the European security organizations, especially NATO.
Speaking at the Baku-based international conference “Azerbaijan's Contribution to the Euro-Atlantic Peace and Security" on June 16, Bergmanis said that Azerbaijan has been supporting peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan since 2002 and NATO is grateful to it for that.
At the same conference, Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev said that Azerbaijan welcomes NATO's active role in ensuring and maintaining international peace and security, adding that Baku “is committed to the fundamental principles of partnership within the existing agreements".
He also expressed Azerbaijan’s interest in cooperation with NATO.
“We want further expansion of political dialogue and cooperation with NATO. We highly appreciate durable dialogue with NATO countries. I visited NATO headquarters recently, we had interesting, important discussions, we informed on the situation after the conflict in the South Caucasus," he said.
Hajiyev noted that apart from political dialogue, Azerbaijan has successful practical cooperation with NATO. The presidential aide cited as an example Azerbaijan's contributes to ensuring peace and security in Afghanistan and stressed Azerbaijan's logistical support to NATO by air.
Hajiyev added that Azerbaijan will continue to make its contribution to the political dialogue between NATO and Russia.
Meanwhile, Security and Development Policy Institute Director and Co-founder Svante Cornell said that at present, relations between Azerbaijan and NATO are more important than ever.
“Azerbaijan is one of the most important countries in the region. Azerbaijan’s geographic location is very important and strategic. It makes the country one of the most important countries in the region," he said.
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