Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept.13 / Trend, S.Ahmedova /
In the coming months, NATO and Azerbaijan will discuss how to take overall cooperation forward, Special Representative of NATO's Secretary General for South Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai told Trend in an email.
J.Appathurai said that Azerbaijan and NATO look to update the NATO-Azerbaijan Individual Partnership Action Plan.
"I believe there is real scope for a more substantial relationship. NATO is keen to strengthen its cooperation with Azerbaijan," he said.
J.Appathurai said that Azerbaijan and NATO will also continue cooperation in the areas of defence reform and wider security sector reform.
"Already Azerbaijan has committed itself to join NATO Allies in supporting Afghanistan following the end of the ISAF mission at the end of next year," he emphasized.
J.Appathurai said that more recently the emphasis has been on enhancing the role of civilians within the armed forces, improvements in organizing, planning and budgeting, efforts to enhance transparency, and the reform of the system of military education.
"NATO and Azerbaijan have been working together on defence reform since 1997. Over the years, substantial progress has been made on issues such as the development and adoption of new strategic documents, the introduction of NATO terminology and concepts, English-language training, the protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents, and the establishment of a NATO compatible organizational structure of the armed forces headquarters," he added.
J.Appathurai emphasized that NATO also works closely with the Azerbaijan army's peacekeeping battalion.
"The participation of these units in NATO operations, in the past in Kosovo and currently in Afghanistan, is testimony to the real capabilities of these units," he underscored.
"I also expect NATO Allies will continue to support financially and with technical expertise the demining project in the Jeranchel area. Finally, I could see NATO and Azerbaijan are also exploring cooperation in the field of emerging security challenges, such as energy security. So there is a lot for us to do together," J.Appathurai said.
Azerbaijan actively participates in the restoration of peace and security in Afghanistan. The country's peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan consists of 90 servicemen. In 1997 Azerbaijan established a company, then a battalion of peacekeepers as part of its Armed Forces.