Statement by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
I am very pleased to welcome President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to the NATO headquarters. NATO appreciates the partnership with Azerbaijan. We are extremely grateful for the contribution Azerbaijan is making in Afghanistan. Many of our political priorities and security interests overlap. We have been establishing this cooperation and dialogue for many years. Our relationship has contributed to the European and Euro-Atlantic security. We intend to develop our ties in the same spirit.
Mr. President, your visit today demonstrates the importance NATO attaches to the consultations with partner countries on the eve of the Chicago summit. We have had a very good and fruitful meeting. We have discussed our cooperation, as well as the issues of regional concern to us and internationally. We have also discussed possible forms of future cooperation. In order to discuss our work together, we will soon hold a collective meeting of all 28 NATO allies and hear the issues of concern. This is a commitment NATO has assumed before its partners. We are very serious about this commitment. In particular, I would like to discuss the operations we are conducting in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan contributes to these operations both with its servicemen and by granting us the right to use its airspace. We appreciate this support.
Our cooperation extends to other areas. In December, we agreed the Operational Plan on Individual Partnership. This new plan will provide a good basis for a further development of our cooperation in the coming two years. In short, we have good cooperation and it is expanding.
Azerbaijan is an important partner in an important region, and I am sincerely interested in continuing the work together with you in the future.
Statement by President Ilham Aliyev
Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General. Thank you for your kind words about our country and for the invitation. I am very glad to come to the NATO headquarters to discuss many important issues concerning our bilateral relations. The relations between NATO and Azerbaijan have a very good history. This is a success story. Since the early 1990s Azerbaijan has been very active in the Euro-Atlantic integration. From this perspective we have made significant progress. We are reforming our armed forces and I am trying to bring them into line with NATO standards. So this part of our cooperation has a good impact on our armed forces. At the same time, participation in NATO operations in various parts of the world has helped our servicemen improve their skills. They have learned a lot from their NATO counterparts.
We have been in Afghanistan since the very beginning. As Mr. Secretary General has indicated, we have provided NATO with the possibility to use our airspace and territory. I am very pleased that the importance of Azerbaijan as a transit country through which goods are transported to Afghanistan is growing. We have discussed our further cooperation in this field. We are ready to discuss new proposals to enhance our cooperation in this field.
At the same time, we are delegating our troops to serve duty in Afghanistan. This is part of our commitment in terms of the international peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan.
Today I also informed Mr. Secretary General that we are seriously considering the possibility of contributing to the trust fund of the national army of Afghanistan. In the future we may consider continuation of this financial contribution. At the same time, we have organized training courses for Afghan diplomats at our Diplomatic Academy and the Academy of Border Troops. We are also working and are ready to expand our cooperation in the issue of demining and other humanitarian matters.
We have also discussed regional security issues, in particular the negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I have informed Mr. Secretary General about the current state of the negotiations, we reiterated the hope that this conflict will be resolved as soon as possible and Azerbaijan's territorial integrity will be restored. There is a good legal basis for that. The UN Security Council has passed four resolutions demanding an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied Azerbaijani territories. We expect the Armenian side to fulfill these resolutions.
A certain part of our discussion today focused on energy security. This is an extremely important component of the national security of all countries – both producing and consumer states. Azerbaijan is becoming and I am sure will become a country contributing to the energy security of Europe. Our European consumers are also NATO members. This topic is part of our discussions and consultations.
I want to reaffirm my gratitude to Mr. Secretary-General for the invitation. I am pleased that our relations are evolving and changing. I hope that our relations will develop successfully on the basis of mutual interests and shared values. Thank you very much.