BAKU: NATO chief rules out plans on bases in Azerbaijan

NATO chief rules out plans on bases in Azerbaijan

Turan news agency
5 Nov 04


“I have had productive meetings with the Azerbaijani leadership,
including tete-a-tete talks with President Ilham Aliyev, and I am very
pleased with the results,” NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer has said opening his news conference at Baku airport before
leaving Azerbaijan.

The subject of the talks was plans for further cooperation between
NATO and Azerbaijan in the light of the Individual Partnership Action
Plan. “We have exchanged opinions, now both we and you have a big home
task which needs to be seriously worked on,” the secretary-general
said. He said that the sphere of cooperation ranged from projects
within the framework of restoring the Great Silk Road and
environmental protection to scientific research.

“The Karabakh problem was also discussed, but it is known that NATO is
not engaged in this issue and is not going to be involved. NATO
respects Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, but it is up to the OSCE
Minsk Group to deal with the settlement of the problem, and the
alliance does not interfere in this process,” Scheffer said.

Asked about whether he had discussed the holding of a seminar of the
NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Baku and the possible presence at the
event of Armenian MPs, Scheffer answered affirmatively. “NATO
principles are widely known, and I think that they will be put into
practice. This means that every participant in the Partnership for
Peace Programme can take part in all projects within the framework of
the programme, and in this seminar as well,” the secretary-general

As for the cancellation of the Cooperative Best Effort 2004 exercises
in Baku in September [2004], Scheffer said: “I made this decision
after a telephone conversation with Ilham Aliyev”.

“NATO is not planning to set up military bases in Azerbaijan,”
Scheffer said, commenting on reports in a number of western media in
this regard. As for the Individual Partnership Action Plan with
Azerbaijan, this is “a very expanded programme” that envisages serious
reforms in the army and the defence system in general, as well as
ensuring the rule of law and respect for human rights.