Khazar Ibrahim: Azerbaijan recognized as valuable, reliable and active partner in NATO documents; “Many benefits can be gained without NATO membership”

Brussels: Head of Azerbaijan’s permanent mission to NATO Khazar Ibrahim’s interview to APA

– Azerbaijan marks the 20th anniversary of its cooperation with NATO. How do you estimate this cooperation?

– First of all, I would like to mention that Azerbaijan continues cooperating closely with NATO. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels confirmed the strategic nature of these relations. Azerbaijan, which previously received assistance from NATO, has already become a country that contributes to the organization in different directions. Azerbaijan is recognized as a valuable, reliable and active partner in NATO documents. There are double standards in the international arena. Unfortunately, this is the core of international relations. NATO’s position on the settlement on the conflict differs from the ones of some other international organizations. Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and independence are fully supported at NATO summits. Even the latest Wales summit clearly mentioned the principles of resolving the conflict. We will do our utmost to prevent double standards in the activity of the organization.

– NATO will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan this year and start a new operation. What can you say about Azerbaijan’s participation in these operations?

– We are already a part of these operations. ISAF operation is almost over. NATO will launch the Resolute Support operation on January 1, 2015. We are already a member of this operation. Local preparations are underway for participation of our forces in the operation. This operation differs from the previous one with its mission of support and assistance. Azerbaijan will support the exercises within the framework of this operation. Our country is a member of this operation along with the 14 non-NATO partners.

– What is your opinion about Azerbaijan’s activity within the scope of the Individual Partnership Action Plans (IPAP)?

– Works continue under the plan, and we intend to start the next stage. In accordance with the procedure, we firstly present our project. This is discussed by NATO and eventually approved together. After all stages, evaluation process is carried out with NATO. In Azerbaijan there is a commission on cooperation with NATO, and it includes approximately 26 state agencies. About 200 events are held in the military sphere per year, servicemen benefit from this experience. There is also widespread non-military cooperation. When Soviet troops left our country, there were unexploded ordnances in those territories. As you know, Jeyranchol and Saloglu are very important for our agriculture. Large-scale projects on mine-clearing operations in these territories are carried out with NATO. We are closely cooperating in the field of energy security. Azerbaijan is chairing the informal working group on the protection of major energy infrastructure and fight against terrorism within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

– How do you assess the possibility of Azerbaijan’s accession to NATO?

– We haven’t applied for NATO membership. Taking note of practical cooperation, we can witness the continuation of this partnership at a high level. Many benefits can be gained without membership.