NATO chief says upcoming seminar in Azerbaijan to go ahead despite concerns
Nov 05, 2004
NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Friday that he hoped an upcoming
NATO seminar in Azerbaijan would go ahead as planned, despite local
concerns over the participation of rival Armenia.
NATO had to cancel military exercises in Azerbaijan in September after
authorities here objected to the participation of Armenian
officers. Neither nation is a member of NATO, but both participate in
the military alliance’s Partnership for Peace program.
“It was an unfortunate decision,” NATO’s Secretary General Scheffer
said as he wrapped up a quick visit to this Caspian Sea nation.
A NATO Parliamentary Assembly seminar called the Rose Route is planned
for later this month in Baku. “I sincerely hope that everybody wanting
to participate in the Rose Route can participate, and I’m confident
that this will be possible,” Scheffer said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are at odds over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave,
which ethnic Armenian forces seized from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s
in a war that killed 30,000 people and left about 1 million
homeless. A 1994 cease-fire has largely held, but no final peace
agreement has been reached.
On Thursday, Azerbaijani police detained six activists for holding an
unauthorized demonstration outside Azerbaijan’s parliament to protest
the expected presence of Armenian officers at the upcoming NATO
Scheffer said NATO and Azerbaijan were developing a plan of
cooperation that would outline NATO’s expectations in a number of
spheres from military reform to human rights in the country.