Azerbaijan to further contribute to Afghanistan’s development

By: Sara Rajabova

Azerbaijan, which has actively contributed to the restoration of stability in Afghanistan, voiced its readiness to further continue cooperation with the war-torn country.

“Azerbaijan contributes significantly to the Resolute Support Mission by providing troops, multimodal transit, training and financial assistance,” said Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister as he addressed a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Antalya, Turkey on May 13.

Mammadyarov noted that “Azerbaijan has already made one million euros donations to the Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund in 2012, and will further donate two million euros by the end of 2017.”

However, the minister noted that experience of the last decade demonstrated that military assistance alone is not enough for establishing sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

“Therefore, my country’s contribution to the stability of Afghanistan goes well beyond our involvement in NATO operations. We support Afghanistan on its path towards self-reliance by enhancing practical contributions in the areas of education and training, infrastructure development, investments, and financial aid,” Mammadyarov said.

He further added that ADA University in Azerbaijan holds annual governance trainings for Afghan officials in addition to NATO trainings at its facilities.

He also said Azerbaijan’s Mine Agency provides mine-awareness projects. Moreover the Emergency Ministry is about to sign a memorandum to allow Afghan nationals to have a full 4-year education at its Academy, and the country is also building a school in Afghanistan, covering all expenses.

“We also need to help the Afghan government in its vast reform agenda. Transport infrastructure is a very important part of it. We should link Afghanistan and Europe in the shortest way possible. New Alat Sea Port on the Caspian shore of Azerbaijan and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, linking Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, will bring added-values in this regard and beyond, restoring the ancient Silk Road,” Mammadyarov said.

Mammadyarov further added that the future of Afghanistan will very much depend on its neighbors.

“We should all help to make Afghanistan story a successful one,” Mammadyarov said.

During his Baku visit in late April, Afghanistan’s ex-President Hamid Karzai voiced his country’s interest in participation in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, stressing that this project is quite a good alternative for his country.

“In addition to the transport routes that we have today through Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, it is easier to connect Afghanistan with Europe with the help of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. We appreciate this project and hope that it will also be beneficial for Afghanistan. We have established good relations with Azerbaijan. We are interested in strengthening these ties,” Karzai told Trend.

Azerbaijan’s military personnel have been part of the ISAF contingent in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. The mission of the armed forces in Afghanistan began on November 20, 2002. The Azerbaijani peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan doubled in 2009. Currently, some 90 Azerbaijani servicemen are serving as part of international forces securing safety in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan is among the eight partner countries that have confirmed their presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Extensive training programs are conducted for Afghanistan’s law-enforcement and government officials at different 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.

The diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan were established on November 16, 1994. Azerbaijani ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is concurrently accredited to Afghanistan. The embassy of Afghanistan to Azerbaijan was opened in November, 2012.

SOURCE: Azer News