BAKU: Pentagon reportedly to supervise NATO exercises in Azerbaijan

Pentagon reportedly to supervise NATO exercises in Azerbaijan

Ayna, Baku
10 Sep 04

Azerbaijani Defence Minister Col-Gen Safar Abiyev and the deputy
commander of the US European Command, Charles Wald, yesterday discussed
preparations for the 13-26 September NATO exercises Cooperative
Best Effort 2004 in Baku and the development of military cooperation
between Azerbaijan and the USA.

[Passage omitted: report from the Defence Ministry’s press service]

Nevertheless, yesterday’s meeting between Safar Abiyev and Charles Wald
contains aspects hidden from the Azerbaijani public. As a military
source told Ayna newspaper, at his meeting with Abiyev, Wald said
that Washington was concerned over causing the Azerbaijani public’s
distrust of NATO.

Recently the Azerbaijani public, including some official circles,
have been making anti-NATO statements. Azerbaijani Speaker Murtuz
Alasgarov, for example, issued a statement several days ago and
denounced NATO. He said that “NATO will never resolve the Karabakh
problem. The alliance is trying to set up a base for itself here. NATO
is planning to enter the Caucasus.”

The speaker said he understood people’s anxiety and added that “the
killers of our children cannot enter Azerbaijan”. Alasgarov said that
the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry should seriously deal with the issue.

“Armenians have occupied our lands. Now they want to arrive in Baku
to boast. Certainly, every sober-minded citizen of our country cannot
reconcile himself or herself to such disgrace. I understand people’s
protest, but everything should be carried out reasonably. Talks have
to be held with NATO’s leadership. I regard the military exercises
as inopportune at this moment,” Alasgarov said.

Obviously, the Pentagon in the current situation has taken control
of the Cooperative Best Effort 2004 exercises in Azerbaijan. Wald’s
impromptu arrival in Azerbaijan and discussions with certain officials
cannot be groundless. Wald is said to have told Safar Abiyev how
important the upcoming exercises were for Azerbaijan. However, whether
Armenian military officers will participate in the exercises remains
a mystery.

Our paper has learnt that Abiyev filled the US general in on the
existing dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani public and political
circles with Armenian officers’ visit.

In turn, Wald said that he would report to NATO and the Pentagon
leadership on the matter.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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