Separation of Kosovo from Serbia to Affect Activities of Peacekeepers: Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry

Separation of Kosovo from   Serbia to Affect Activities of Peacekeepers: Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry

Azerbaijan, Baku, 19 February / cor. Trend I. Alizade/ The unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia will affect the activities of peacekeepers in the province.

"The political situation in Kosovo has changed which will affect the peacekeepers in Kosovo as well," Khazar Ibrahim, the press secretary of Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said to Trend on 19 February.

A peacekeeping contingent of Azerbaijani National Army was established in 1997 and later a peacekeeping force was established. Some 150 peacekeepers of Azerbaijani Armed Forces are serving in Iraq as a part of a multi-national peacekeeping force, some 334 in Kosovo and 45 in Afghanistan.

According to Ibrahim, the Azerbaijani Government and parliament is to decide the future activities of Azerbaijani peacekeepers.

Eldar Sabiroglu, the spokesman of Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that it is not the Defense Ministry that decides on the withdrawal of Azerbaijani peacekeepers from Kosovo.

Siyavush Novruzov, a member of the Permanent Parliament Commission on Security and Defense said that the fact that Azerbaijan does not recognize Kosovo's independence should not affect the activities of Azerbaijani peacekeepers in the province.

"There is no need to withdraw the Azerbaijani peacekeepers from Kosovo," Novruzov said. "The prevention of ethnic cleansing and the maintenance of peace are of great significance," Novruzov said.

He said that the Government has not appealed to parliament to withdraw Azerbaijani peacekeepers from Kosovo. Should NATO decided to withdraw the peacekeepers from Kosovo, Azerbaijani parliament will approve the decision and will withdraw the peacekeepers, Novruzov said.

Since 1999, Kosovo region, which is formally a part of Serbia, has been controlled by the UN. Kosovo strives for independence, but Serbia offers only the status of autonomic region. The EU and USA are ready to recognize Kosovo's independence, while Russia supports the position of Belgrade

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