Interview of Trend with Secretary Generals Special Representative for the Caucasus and
Question: What Issues would NATO suggest to improve its partnership with Azerbaijan?
Answer: Cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan has been solid and successful for more than 10 years. Azerbaijan participates actively in NATO Partnership activities and makes a welcome contribution to the NATO peace support operations in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. The Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), approved by NATO and Azerbaijan one year ago, has intensified our relationship further. Defence Reform is at the core of the IPAP, but it also includes goals and objectives in other areas such as political reform, fight against terrorism, public information, civil emergency planning, and cooperation in the science field. NATO collectively and Allies individually assist Azerbaijan in the implementation of these goals. So far, Azerbaijan has made good progress in many areas. But the IPAP is not yet exhausted and there remains a lot to do, particularly in the areas of democratic institution building, defence planning and budgeting, and democratic control of armed forces.
Question: What suggestion by the Azerbaijani side on cooperation could be of interest to NATO?
Answer: On the basis of the IPAP and other Partnership instruments, there already exists a wide-ranging programme of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO. But, of course, we periodically discuss how we can expand our cooperation in areas of mutual interest and mutual benefit. On my recent visit to Baku on 10-11 April, I discussed with the Azerbaijani authorities how we could enhance our cooperation in certain fields in order to ensure successful implementation of the IPAP. Among those were in particular defence planning issues and civil emergency planning. The Azerbaijani side will soon communicate to us some concrete proposals, which we will consider and jointly discuss at NATO Headquarters.
Question: When do you plan your next visit to Azerbaijan?
Answer: I visit Azerbaijan and the other countries of the region regularly. I have just completed my visit to Azerbaijan on 10-11 April and my next visit is not yet scheduled. In any event, I expect to be back in Baku before the end of this year.
When will the new consultations on the NATO-Azerbaijan partnership be organized?
Answer: Azerbaijan and NATO hold consultations on the implementation of the IPAP at least once a year. The last such discussions were held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels just a few weeks ago, on 23 March, at a meeting of NATOs Senior Political Committee with Azerbaijan. I expect the next meeting of this type to take place in Spring 2007, on the basis of a fresh assessment of Azerbaijans progress in the implementation of IPAP. In the meantime, NATO and Azerbaijan are in continuous dialogue at many different levels, in Baku and in Brussels. We can therefore always organize consultations and discussions in the appropriate format when the need arises. The NATO Liaison Officer in the Caucasus also plays an important role in this regard.