Gerb

15 january 2014, 19:50

Statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

- Mr. President.

Welcome to Brussels again.

Our meeting today reflects NATO’s and your commitment to our partnership. This means that we are and will remain committed to the South Caucasus region. Azerbaijan is a country of vital importance for the energy security of Europe and for peace and stability in the Caucasus. At the same time, Azerbaijan is an important and valuable partner for NATO. We are grateful for the strong support provided by your forces in operations in Afghanistan. We are also grateful for the political support for NATO operations in the form of provision of airspace and transit routes. Finally, we say "thank you" for your noble support in the training of Afghan security forces.

Mr. President, I am grateful for the sustained support you will provide our new mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014 in issues such as training, consultation and assistance for Afghan security forces. It openly demonstrates your committed support for Euro-Atlantic security.

Today we have discussed the further development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO. We intend to strengthen our political dialogue, including the discussion of strategic issues such as energy security and the fight against terrorism. The continuation of reforms is important for Azerbaijan as well. NATO will continue to assist you. I believe that we can deepen our dialogue and cooperation in many areas of our partnership.

This month we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our "Partnership for Peace" program. Our partnership for peace is based on democratic values and principles. Azerbaijan has been a strong partner of the program from the outset.

Mr. President, we have a solid framework for dialogue and cooperation. Today we have come to an agreement on the extension of our firm and lasting partnership.

Statement by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

- Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. Thank you for the invitation. I am very glad to visit the NATO headquarters again and continue our discussions on the strategic dialogue between NATO and Azerbaijan.

This is my fifth visit to the NATO headquarters. This fact demonstrates the level of our cooperation. These years of cooperation, as well as our membership in the NATO "Partnership for Peace" program for 20 years, suggest that our relations have already reached the level of strategic cooperation.

Mr. Secretary General, I also remember your visit to Azerbaijan in 2012 and the discussions we held. Today we continued our discussion on many issues of our cooperation. As Mr. Secretary General has said, we have discussed issues relating to our participation in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. We will remain committed to ensuring security in Afghanistan beyond 2014 as well. Today, we can say that 40 per cent of non-destructive goods are delivered to Afghanistan through Azerbaijan. The route through Azerbaijan is the most reliable and secure. In other words, we will continue our efforts to promote peace and stability in our region.

At the same time, we also participated in peacekeeping operations in Kosovo in the past. Participation in NATO peacekeeping operations is an important component of our cooperation. We are cooperating in the fight against terrorism. I am grateful for the support that NATO has provided for the reforms in our armed forces. Our armed forces are being aligned with NATO standards. With the assistance of NATO, including financial support, we are also carrying out demining projects in Azerbaijan. At the same time, Azerbaijan contributes to the Trust Fund to support the Afghan national army. We have already provided financial assistance in the amount of 1 million euros and will provide assistance worth a further 1 million euros. Today I want to announce that we will allocate a further 1 million euros to the Trust Fund to support the Afghan national army. We regard this step as our contribution to peace and security in Afghanistan.

At the same time, we will continue to train Afghan military in the academies of the State Border Service, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of National Security, as well as the Diplomatic Academy. I believe that these trainings and our help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan will be an additional contribution on behalf of Azerbaijan.

Today we also discussed the situation in the South Caucasus. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan poses the biggest threat to regional security and stability. We must achieve a speedy settlement of the conflict on the basis of international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Less than a month ago Azerbaijan signed a project that could be considered as a project of the 21st century. We will soon begin the construction of transportation infrastructure that will deliver Azerbaijani gas to consumers. Azerbaijan launched the initiative on timely implementation of the project and assumed the entire responsibility for that. This will be a project of energy diversification, energy security and cooperation. It will be the largest infrastructure project of Europe. This project will require additional coordination efforts of countries and participating companies. Of course, with the aim of implementing this project on time, we need to ensure the protection of Azerbaijan’s most important energy infrastructure.

In other words, the cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan successfully continues. Mr. Secretary General and I have discussed the prospects of this cooperation, ways of deepening it and new forms of our future relations. In the future, we want to become an even closer and more reliable partner of NATO, and I am sure it will be so.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary General!