President Ilham Aliyev receives delegation led by NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (PHOTO) (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted at 11:50 on Feb.6)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Feb. 6


President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Tod Wolters.

Welcoming the delegation, President Ilham Aliyev said:

I am very pleased to see you. Welcome again! I remember our last meeting last year. We had a good opportunity to discuss issues related to our cooperation. I also want to note, and am very pleased, that the holding of meetings between the military commanders of NATO and Russia in Baku has already become a tradition. We are very grateful to NATO and Russia for choosing Azerbaijan as a meeting place. I think that this is a very good choice. We also see this a manifestation of trust and respect for us. After all, any other country could have been chosen, but the choice of Baku means that we indeed have a close partnership. I am sure that your upcoming meeting with your colleague today will be fruitful and serve the cause of peace and stability on the planet and in our region. In fact, we also need precisely this because the biggest cause of concern for us is the lack of regional stability. We have no internal sources of potential risks. Therefore, potential risks may arise outside our borders. Of course, I am sure that these regular meetings and the discussion of very important issues will contribute to stability in the region and throughout the world.

As for our bilateral relations, I would like to say that we are very pleased with the level of cooperation. I have been to NATO headquarters several times to meet with various secretaries general. My latest meeting with Secretary General Stoltenberg was very fruitful and successful. I also had the opportunity to address the North Atlantic Council. After that, the ambassadors who were given the floor and all the speakers were very positive about Azerbaijan, our policy, our independent policy, the ongoing reforms and our partnership. Because, as you know, Azerbaijan has participated in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan from the very beginning. Our servicemen have been there for 20 years, and we have increased their number. We provide very important transport and logistical support, the ability to use our airspace, as well as our transport network, in particular the recently opened Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is an important means of cargo transportation.

I also want to inform you that we have already started the transit of civilian goods from Afghanistan. This way, we are helping this country find ways to European markets. We have already connected our railway with the Lapis Lazuli railway passing through Afghanistan. We also provide technical and financial support to Afghanistan. The ASAN Public Services Center, which is one of our important achievements, has already started to operate in Afghanistan. This is a very effective and modern system. It is a concentration of almost 300 public services. While visiting Azerbaijan, the president of Afghanistan got acquainted with this system, asked us for help in creating it there, and we did that.

We will continue to provide civil support and our partnership with NATO. My assistant has recently visited NATO headquarters. He told me that the visit was very successful. All the ambassadors he met with said kind words about our country and consider Azerbaijan as a reliable partner. They also spoke about our contribution to peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and further partnership.

So I wanted to inform you about this and welcome you. I hope you have a successful meeting today.

The NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Tod Walters said:

Thank you very much, Mr. president. I support you and your country in the desire to take the lead in matters of peace and security. We highly appreciate your continued contribution to the “Resolute Support” mission in Afghanistan and the service of your military there. I have just had the opportunity to meet with your chief of general staff. And recently, I discussed with the field commander in Afghanistan the service of soldiers at Hamid Karzai International Airport. They courageously continue their service. I should note that during consultations related to the deployment of NATO in Afghanistan, the issue of protection of all military personnel will always be taken into account. We are grateful to your people and your army for everything they do. This has a major impact on our efforts to prevent terrorist groups from entering Afghanistan from outside. I believe that the mission continues to carry out fruitful activities, and your troops are a major part of this mission.

President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much!

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