Azerbaijan supports Afghanistan on its path of reforms

By: Sara Rajabova

Azerbaijan voiced its commitment to continue contributing to the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov took part at the NATO Resolute Support Mission ministerial meeting held in Brussels, Belgium on December 1-2, the foreign ministry reported.

“Today, Afghanistan remains challenged and we should all do more with our Afghan friends,” he said.

Mammadyarov emphasized that Azerbaijan is committed to continue its efforts to this end and contribute significantly to the Resolute Support Mission by providing troops, multimodal transit, training and financial assistance.

He reiterated Azerbaijan’s commitments to continue its contribution to Resolute Support Mission with the same troop number throughout 2016.

Earlier, President Ilham Aliyev approved the agreement on ensuring Azerbaijan’s participation in NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

The agreement was signed in an exchange of letters between the Azerbaijani defense minister and the NATO secretary general. The Azerbaijani parliament adopted the law on the agreement on September 30.

Azerbaijan has been a member of the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan since 2003. The Azerbaijani peacekeeping contingent doubled in 2009.

Currently, some 90 Azerbaijani servicemen are part of those international forces securing safety in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan is also among the eight partner countries that have approved an extension of troops operating in Afghanistan.

Mammadyarov further said in addition, Azerbaijan has already made one million euros donations to the Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund and pledged 2 million euros to the fund by the end of 2017. The first tranche was already transferred to the NATO ANA Trust Fund.

Azerbaijan has also assisted in the transport of logistical supplies in support of NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Additionally, extensive training programs are conducted for Afghanistan law-enforcement and government officials at academies in Azerbaijan. A total of three million euros has been transferred into the Fund of Trustees of Afghanistan’s National Army, while one million euros was spent on strengthening operations.

“Moreover, I would like to emphasize our principled agreement to join NATO’s enhanced Enduring Partnership mission after completion of RSM,” Mammadyarov said.

He also added that Azerbaijan’s contribution to the stability of Afghanistan goes well beyond its involvement in NATO operations.

“We support Afghanistan on its path of reforms towards self-reliance by enhancing practical contributions in the areas of education and training, infrastructure and transport development, investments, and through financial aid,” Mammadyarov underlined.

He noted that Azerbaijan is a critical piece of the New Silk Road, which will link Afghanistan to Europe, thus, opening a lifeline for Afghanistan’s sustainable future.

Azerbaijan has shown continuous contributions and commitments to Afghanistan’s development over the past 13 years.

Afghanistan, in turn, welcomed Azerbaijan’s contribution and commitment during these years.