NATO Secretary-General’s Special Representative Considers it Necessary to Improve NATO and Azerbaijan Individual Partnership Action Plan

Azerbaijan, Baku /corr. Trend A.Gasimova, A.Badalova / NATO Secretary-General's Special Representative to the Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr. Robert Simmons, considers it necessary to improve NATO and Azerbaijan Individual Partnership Action Plan. "It is now up to us to develop a new IPAP document, based upon the experience of our co-operation so far and taking into account our common objectives for the years ahead," Simmons said.

"NATO and Azerbaijan have been engaged in an Individual Partnership Action Plan since 2005. In May of this year, we held a session of the North Atlantic Council with Azerbaijan to discuss the progress that has been achieved so far and the areas we will want to focus on in the future," he stressed.

Simmons said on 2 June in his interview with Trend that in addition to the co-operation on defense and institutional reform, there is an ongoing political dialogue with Azerbaijan on the entire range of security issues affecting the region. "This dialogue takes place regularly at NATO Headquarters and during my visits to the region. My next visit has not been fixed yet, but I am certainly planning to be back in Azerbaijan in the autumn. I look forward to discussing all of the above issues with the Azerbaijani leadership then," Simmons stressed.

"The NATO-Azerbaijan partnership is a long-standing one and we can certainly point to a number of important successes. Above all, I would like to mention to Azerbaijan's participation in NATO operations in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. This is an extremely valuable and much appreciated contribution to NATO's efforts to promote security and stability. We have also cooperated for years in the training of Azerbaijani officers in our training and education establishments, as well as with advice and assistance on the ground, and these efforts have helped the Azerbaijani armed forces to make some progress towards reforms. I should also mention the extensive cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism and border security," he said

We also co-operate on public information and the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Centre in Baku is but one of the many achievements in this area.

According to Simmons, Azerbaijan's wish to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures still requires a great deal of reform in the defense and political areas. It also requires a firm commitment to democratic institution building, including improving freedom of the media.

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