BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 21
Trend presents the interview with Rear Admiral Bulent Turan, Head of Partnerships Directorate at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) published by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
At the beginning of our conversation, we wanted you to share your opinions about the benefits of holding NATO Days in Azerbaijan. What benefits to our country do you think can be achieved from holding the NATO Days in Azerbaijan?
It is my great pleasure to be in Azerbaijan. I think NATO Days in Azerbaijan is very important venue for Azerbaijan and NATO. During these days, we have visited many institutions, and some military facilities in Azerbaijan. I brought a team, which included experts and staff members from different countries and the NATO headquarters, so we with this team contacted with our Azerbaijani partners. By doing this, we shared knowledge and information with Azerbaijan. Therefore, for this reason I believe this is very important event and it is continuation of our activities. This year we have 11th iteration of NATO Days in Azerbaijan and I believe it is very good platform to continue.
How do you find the interest and feedback from the Azerbaijani MOD and institutions?
Actually, the interest and will from Azerbaijani side regarding partnership with NATO is extremely high so we are very happy on that. That is why we consider Azerbaijan amongst the most active and constructive partners. Institutions and military facilities that we have visited during these days, my team and I have received a lot of very good questions from Azerbaijani officers and audience. So basically, I can say that throughout our visit we have seen the interest is very-very high.
It would be interesting to know your opinion on another issue. How important to you is the Azerbaijan Partnership relationship with NATO?
Actually, it is very important, as we know, that Azerbaijan marked 25th anniversary of NATO-Azerbaijan partnership. Therefore, it is exactly quarter century. It is a long time. In addition, I have observed that Azerbaijan is amongst most active partner countries. We have been observing Azerbaijan contributing troops to NATO-led operations. Moreover, Azerbaijan is very actively contributing skilled personnel to several NATO posts. In addition, we have seen that there are OCC Forces, which we called some sort of evaluation level – OCC qualified, so for this respect I think Azerbaijan and NATO relations are very important and Azerbaijan is a paramount partner country for NATO.
Mr. Rear Admiral, at this stage of our conversation, I would like to ask you another question. What contribution is the holding of this event in various institutions made to military cooperation with NATO?
From NATO perspective, partnership is not only about sharing information. Learning valuable experience gained by the partner nations and sharing it is also very important. So it is some sort of mutually beneficial “win-win” situation. Thus, I believe my team during this NATO Days Azerbaijan event have learned a lot from Azerbaijani partners as well. Therefore, this is why I do believe that it is also beneficial for NATO, too.
Are there areas where you would like to improve upon or explore?
Although Azerbaijan is very active and very constructive partner nations, we believe that there are still some areas which needs to be improved. So we need to keep this momentum in order to continue our cooperation. When we are going back to our headquarters, we will work on that issues. I don’t want to specify dimension of all of them, but in very shortly I can say that, a particularly in training areas, also for some staff providing areas we will have to advance. But these are not limited with these mentioned subjects where might be some areas.
For last five days, we were in Azerbaijan for NATO Days in Azerbaijan event. It is a yearly event. It is my first time in Azerbaijan. Actually, I am also new in this position. I am in this position for about a month. Actually, I believe, it is very good coincidence to be here in Azerbaijan as a Turkish flag officerfor the first time. We have been very impressed to see Azerbaijan as one of the very active NATO partner countries. I just want to emphasize that I am very impressed how Azerbaijan has contributed to NATO. We all know that in the past, Azerbaijan made a huge contribution to KFOR as part NATO operations. Currently, Azerbaijan is contributing to NATO mission in Afghanistan - Resolute Support Mission. And I believe, shortly it will contribute to NATO mission in Iraq as well.
At the same time, I'd like to note that professionalism of the Azerbaijani Forces, which we have observed during our visit, testifies to success and strength of the of Azerbaijani Forces.
Thank you very much, Mr. Rear Admiral. Thank you for your valuable and detailed information.
Thank you very much.