BAKU: The Persistence Of The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Is A Major Ob

THE PERSISTENCE OF THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT IS A MAJOR OBSTACLE TO PEACE AND STABILITY IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS REGION, NATO SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

Trend
April 9 2009
Azerbaijan

The interview of Trend News with NATO Special Representative for the
Caucasus and Central Asia, Ambassador Robert Simmons.

The NATO Secretary General said that NATO cannot be involved in the
resolution of the Nagorno – Karabakh conflict . Why?

The Alliance recognizes that the persistence of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict is a major obstacle to peace and stability in the South
Caucasus region. We take this conflict very seriously and will continue
to support efforts towards a peaceful, negotiated settlement. However,
NATO is not in the leading role when it comes to mediation efforts
regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. This role currently resides with the
OSCE Minsk Group, whose work we fully support. Based on our support
for the existing negotiation format, we do not see a need for, or a
benefit in, a separate NATO role in this process.

Do the armed forces of Azerbaijan meet the NATO standards? How is
the process to meet NATO standarts going on? Are there any problems
toward that issue?

Improving the ability of Azerbajiani forces to work alongside those
of NATO has been a central element of our cooperation for almost 15
years now. Azerbaijan has achieved much progress in this area and the
successful participation of Azerbaijani forces in the NATO-led ISAF
mission in Afghanistan testifies to this. Beyond that, Azerbaijan’s
armed forces have set themselves ambitious goals to meet the same
standards that NATO nations use, including in the area of democratic
control of the security sector. This is a long process and it is not
suprising that there still remains much work work to do. The Alliance
will continue to work together with Azerbaijan to assist in these
defence reform efforts.

How do you view further NATO policy regarding security issues in South
Caucasus region, especially after the NATO Summit in Kehl-Strasbourg
in April of this year?

NATO’s policy in the South Caucasus region has not changed. We continue
to regard peace and stability in this region as an essential element of
Euro-Atlantic security. We will continue to engage with the countries
of the region, both politically and in practical terms, in accordance
with their own expressed interests. The Heads of State and Government
of NATO were very clear at the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit that partnership
and cooperation, support to reforms, support to peaceful conflict
resolution, and continued commitment to decisions made at the NATO
Bucharest Summit of April 2008 on Georgia’s eventual membership in
the Alliance will remain the cornerstones of our policy toward the
region. As for Azerbaijan, I am confident that our partnership will
continue to grow, both in quantity and in quality. I certainly look
forward to visiting Azerbaijan again soon to review with Azerbaijani
leaders the progress in our relationship.

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