BAKU: US expanding military co-op with ‘regional leader’

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
June 17 2004

US expanding military co-op with ‘regional leader’

The visits by Deputy Commander of the Headquarters of the U.S.
European Command, General Charles Wald and NATO Under Secretary
General, chairman of the Science Committee, Jan Furne to Baku have
drawn much attention in the region. Azerbaijan and Georgia appreciate
these visits, but Iran and

Russia, as well as their ally Armenia, are envious of them. In
particular, General Wald’s friendly meeting with President Aliyev and
his high assessment of Azerbaijan and its incumbent authorities
sparked differing opinions not only in the region but also in
Azerbaijan, especially among the opposition. On Thursday, President
Aliyev received a US delegation headed by General Charles Wald.
President Aliyev said that there has been great progress in the
development of US-Azerbaijani relations.

Regarding his talks at NATO as an important event in Azerbaijan’s
integration into NATO, Aliyev expressed his confidence that future
cooperation with the Alliance would be successful. “Mr. President, I
congratulate you on your successful leadership in the region,” said
General Wald, stressing that the US European Command is eager to
continue cooperation with Azerbaijan in the future. He underlined
that Azerbaijan is a leading and very important country in the
region. Speaking about the particular importance of joint programs,
General Wald said that joint measures are being taken by the two
countries in order to ensure security in the Caspian basin. He noted
that the security of oil pipelines is still on the agenda and that
military exercises and training with the participation of special
groups set up in Washington will be continued for the purpose. This
is the third visit by General Wald, who last came to Baku in April.
The US General said that the aim of his visit was to discuss the
issues related to the security of the Caspian basin and the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. According to some observers, Wald came
to Baku to discuss the stationing of US mobile forces and a military
base in Azerbaijan and observe the pace of the construction of a
military post here.

Strategic interests

Defense Minister, Colonel-General Safar Abiyev, in a meeting with
General Wald said the situation in the South Caucasus is tense and
that part of Azerbaijan’s territory remains under Armenian

“The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Garabagh cannot remain
frozen”, Abiyev said and pointed out the importance of recognizing
Armenia as an aggressor. Expressing his adherence to Abiyev’s
opinions, General Wald said: “We are well aware of the developments
ongoing in the region.” he said. Regarding the “Cooperative Best
Effort-2004” training to be held in Azerbaijan as an important event,
the US General stressed that this would bring the country closer to
NATO. He termed Azerbaijan as an influential country in the region
and pointed out the coinciding strategic interests of the US and

US military bases

Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan were indicated in the “Pentagon’s new map”
published by Harvard University as the countries where the United
States is going to station its military bases.Commenting on the
issue, political analyst Vafa Guluzada said that the Pentagon intends
to set up a chain of military bases in the territory of the former
Soviet Union. According to Guluzada, with this infrastructure the
United States wants to turn both the former Soviet Union and the
Middle East into an integrated area. Underlining that the Pentagon
attaches great importance to Azerbaijan, the political analyst said
Georgia has also established military cooperation with the United
States. Guluzada noted that, however, Azerbaijan is a more important
country in the region for its oil and gas resources. ” Taking into
account all the existing factors, one can conclude that the United
States will station its military bases in Azerbaijan at the
appropriate time,” he added.

NATO week starts

NATO week, which started in Baku on June 13, will last through June
19. A delegation headed by NATO Under-Secretary General, chairman of
the Science Committee, Jan Furne arrived in Baku on Sunday for the
event. The delegation includes representatives from twenty-six
countries. Summer classes on “NATO in the changing world” started in
Baku on Monday with the assistance of the Youth Euro-Atlantic
Organization and the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan. The purpose of
the event, attended by some 50 Azerbaijanis and foreign nationals, is
to hold discussions among young researchers of the NATO and
Euro-Atlantic security, government officials and foreigners. The
upcoming summit in Istanbul, new prospects, trans-Atlantic relations,
NATO’s eastward expansion, and the situation in the South Caucasus
will be discussed. Seminars, “Scientific research and security
challenges” and “Terrorism and nuclear security” will be held at Baku
State University (BSU) and the Academy of Sciences (AS) respectively.
The AZRENA public Internet center, set up within the AS Information
Technologies Institute under the “Virtual Silk Road” project, will be
inaugurated, followed by a training session for the participants of
the summer classes.

Political questions avoided

NATO Under-Secretary Jan Furne and President of the Academy of
Sciences Mahmud Karimov held a joint news briefing on Monday. Furne
said that although NATO is not engaged in science, it finances a
number of new undertakings in this area. He said the parties will not
work on any specific projects during the NATO event in Baku, but will
exchange experience in the area of chemistry and ways of preventing
catastrophes. Furne avoided all political questions. Karimov said
Azerbaijan attaches a particular importance to developing information
technologies and environmental protection of the Caspian Sea within
its cooperation with the NATO Science Committee. “Besides,
Azerbaijan, as a country subject to terror by Armenia, is working
with NATO on scientific answers to terrorism threats, he said.

Summer classes to promote NATO-Azeri relations

In a meeting with NATO Under-Secretary, science committee chairman
Jan Furne on Sunday, Defense Minister, Colonel-General Safar Abiyev
said that over 300 events are held in Azerbaijan every year under the
auspices of NATO. He said extensive preparations have been carried
out in the country for the upcoming Cooperative Best Effort-2004
training sessions and the Istanbul summit. Furne leading a delegation
of representatives from 26 countries, said the fact that the “Summer
school” week is being held in Baku promotes the multi-faceted
relations between NATO and Azerbaijan. Pointing out the importance of
President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Brussels, he emphasized that
Azerbaijan is one of the only countries to have submitted to NATO the
“Individual Partnership Activity Plan”. Touching upon the
Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Upper Garabagh, Abiyev said that
Armenia has failed to comply with 4 UN resolutions on the immediate
and unconditional withdrawal from Azerbaijani territories adopted
since 1993. “By joining the NATO Partnership for Peace program,
Armenia assumed a commitment to honor the territorial integrity of
all partners and NATO, in turn, should demand it do so. We are
concerned with the fact that Armenia has not been recognized as an
aggressor country by the international community, which is a double
standard”, Abiyev said. Furne replied said that NATO is well aware of
this position and is seeking new ways to improve relations with
Azerbaijan. The parties also exchanged views on the military and
political situation in the region, the extensive economic reforms
underway in Azerbaijan and security issues.