Azerbaijani Parliament Makes Decision to Withdraw Peacekeepers from Kosovo
Azerbaijan, Baku, 4 March /corr. Trend / An Azerbaijani Parliamentary meeting on 4 March made the decision to withdraw Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Kosovo because of the province's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.
The statement by the Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, sent to the Azerbaijani Parliament says that the situation in Serbia is new and therefore, the issue of maintaining Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Kosovo should be re-considered.
A peacekeeping troop was established as part of the National Army of Azerbaijan in 1997. Some 150 Azerbaijani peacekeepers serve in Iraq as part of the Multinational Forces, and 34 serve in Kosovo. Azerbaijani peacekeepers make control 18 villages of Kosovo. Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Kosovo serve as part of the Armed Forces of Turkey.
In addition, 45 Azerbaijani peacekeepers serve as part of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan.
Since 1999 the Kosovo region, which is formally a part of Serbia, has been controlled by the UN. On 17 February the Parliament of Kosovo unanimously ratified the declaration of its independence. Some 30 countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, France, and Turkey, recognized Kosovo's independence. Russia, Spain, China, Greece, and Georgia support the position of Belgrade and are not going to recognize the independence of the region. Azerbaijan also refused to recognize Kosovo's independence.
During voting, 87 MPs voted for withdrawal of Azerbaijani peacekeepers from Kosovo, three - against and two - abstained.