BAKU: Azeri daily speculates on arms purchase from Israel, Turkey

Azeri daily speculates on arms purchase from Israel, Turkey

Ekho, Baku
16 Apr 04 pp 1,3

Text of R. Orucov and T. Mammadov report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho
on 16 April entitled “Will Israel and Turkey supply weapons to
Azerbaijan?” and subheaded “The Israeli embassy does not confirm this

“Israel and Turkey will sell arms to Azerbaijan,” said a report
circulated yesterday by Israeli ISRAland news agency. “Diplomatic
sources in Ankara say that Israel and Turkey are close to concluding a
major transaction on the sale of arms to Azerbaijan,” the report said.

It was reported that within the framework of the agreement, Israel
would supply technology, component parts, and weapons will be
assembled in Turkey and then supplied to Azerbaijan. Turkey hopes that
this contract will open up a way for new deals on the sale of
Israeli-Turkish weapons to Central Asian states. It is maintained
that during previous attempts to implement similar joint projects in
the sphere of arms sales, a potential client preferred to obtain arms
directly from Israel.

The report is very interesting bearing in mind that nothing of this
kind has been reported before.

To verify this report, our correspondent turned to the Azerbaijani
Defence Ministry spokesman, Ramiz Malikov. His answer was brief: “It
is the first time I hear about this.”

A correspondent of Ekho asked the first secretary of the Azerbaijani
embassy in Turkey, Etibar Mammadov, the same question. “No comments,”
the diplomat said.

In turn, the press attache of the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan,
Elkhan Polukhov, said that the circulated by his country’s press
“information does not correspond to the facts, it is nonsense. Such
cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan in the military sphere
through Turkey does not exist.”

However, a source in the military circles, who wished to remain
anonymous, has told Ekho that such a multistage system of supplies of
Israeli arms to Azerbaijan is absolutely possible and some facts point
to the actual existence of such a plan. “Simply, the purchase of arms
from abroad or their sale is traditionally referred to as a delicate
issue practically in every country. This is also true for Azerbaijan,
Turkey and Israel.”

For many post-Soviet states, the issue of upgrading the existing
military and technical stocks they inherited from the USSR is very
pressing. “Naturally, Azerbaijan is not an exception and the fact that
this is persistently denied by diplomats is also fully understandable.
But in fact, our country is conducting negotiations on the issue and
the state leadership has issued definite instructions to carry out
active work in this area. This means that all state-of-the-art weapons
that appear in the armament of friendly countries should be tested as
to whether they could be applied in our army,” the source said.

“It is no secret that Azerbaijan and Turkey are in close contacts on
the issue and this has already yielded a positive outcome. Over the
recent years high-level military officials from Turkey and Azerbaijan
have paid reciprocal visits. No country would like undesirable sides
to find out about its plans. Bearing in mind that we are at war with
Armenia, our country does not intend to advertise such issues either.

“Moreover, some Muslim countries react to the word of ‘Israel’ very
alarmingly, especially in the sphere of military cooperation. Our
country’s interest in Israeli weapons is natural as this country
possesses up-to-date types of weapons, military hardware and special
equipment. As for this report, it contains facts showing that definite
work is being conducted. I am sure that there will be important
progress,” the source said.