Editor's note: Details were added after the 2nd paragraph
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 29 / Trend S.Agayeva /
Azerbaijan strongly supports the efforts of the international community to bring security and stability to Afghanistan. This was a major keynote in Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov's speech, which he delivered at the London Conference on Assistance to Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said.
London hosted the conference on Afghanistan.
"In solidarity with the international community, as well as with the Afghani people, Azerbaijan has joined the ISAF operation since the beginning. In 2009 we redoubled the number of military servicemen and currently a full company of 90 members of Azerbaijan Armed Forces is serving within the ISAF. Lately Azerbaijan has decided to expand its engagement in Afghanistan in non-military spheres. Real cooperation has already started in training of the Afghan specialists in mine clearance actions and preparatory works are being carried out for the assignment of Azerbaijani military doctors to hospitals in Afghanistan, education of Afghan nationals in the Medical University and training of medical personnel in Azerbaijan; training of Afghan military personnel in the Military Academy and other military schools; as well as education opportunities for Afghani students in Azerbaijan. Currently the Diplomatic Academy of Azerbaijan and Geneva Centre for Security Policy are working on a program for Afghani students to be implemented in Baku," Mammadyarov said.
Being NATO's Partner and having geographic, historical, cultural and religious proximity to the region, Azerbaijan sees a need for a stronger support in the fields of public diplomacy to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan and has a strong will to contribute to the ISAF on this matter. As a first step, Azerbaijan suggests to host an event on NATO's public diplomacy efforts related to the perception of the ISAF operation in and out of Afghanistan.
"As a troop-contributor to ISAF Azerbaijan shares the idea that the political dimension of overall efforts towards Afghanistan should be strengthened and civilian engagement should be increased. On the other hand, more Afghani ownership of the process of stabilisation of the country is crucial to attaining a success. For this to happen, we should continue supporting and encouraging the Government of Afghanistan to increase its efficiency and strengthen its control throughout the country. We also maintain that the efforts to bring the civilian casualties to minimum, during ISAF operations, will not only help us to win hearts and minds of ordinary Afghanis, but will substantially improve public perception of ISAF in troop contributing countries. Azerbaijan shares the view that reconciliation and reintegration are essential elements of the process of stabilisation in Afghanistan and these process, therefore, urgently demand both political and practical support," the minister said in his speech.
Azerbaijan widely contributes to facilitation of transportation to Afghanistan using existing infrastructure, but also finalisation of the rail road Baku-Tbilisi-Kars will create even more opportunities for safe and fast transit to Afghanistan.
"To this end, we stay committed to continuing our military contribution to ISAF as long as it takes to achieve security, stability and development in Afghanistan," the minister said.