Azeris deny NATO conf venue changed over Armenian officer’s killing

Azeris deny NATO conference venue changed over Armenian officer’s killing

Ekspress, Baku
12 Mar 04

The venue for the second planning conference of the Cooperative Best
Effort – 2004 military exercises, which will be held in Azerbaijan
within the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme this
September, has been changed. The NATO headquarters said in a press
release yesterday that officers from partner countries would meet in
Kiev this time. The NATO leadership links this change to “technical
issues”. We should remind you that the conference was expected to be
held in Baku at the end of this month.

[Passage omitted: NATO official has commented on the issue to Mediamax
news agency]

“The fact that NATO’s second conference is to be held not in Baku, but
in another country has nothing to do with Armenia,” the head of the
press service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, Ramiz Malikov, has
told Ekspress newspaper. According to him, this decision was made
before the Armenian officer’s murder in Budapest and this change has
nothing to do with Yerevan’s groundless accusations: “Since the
Cooperative Best Effort – 2005 exercises will be held in Ukraine next
year, according to general rules, the planning conference of this
year’s exercises should have been held precisely in that country, and
this has happened. I do not see any problems here,” Malikov said.

He also said that the second planning conference was earlier planned
in Ukraine: “Previous information about this was incorrect”.

We should remind you that a representative of NATO’s South-West
command, Turkish Navy Capt Olcay Uyar, has said that the March
conference will be held in Baku.

But after the aforesaid Budapest incident, Armenia refused to send its
servicemen to Baku under the pretext that the implementation of
military programmes in Azerbaijan is “dangerous”.