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BAKU: Government must be more resolute in relations with NATO

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  • BAKU: Government must be more resolute in relations with NATO

    Azeri paper urges government to be more resolute in relations with NATO

    Zerkalo, Baku
    10 Jul 04

    The problem brought about by the participation of Armenian officers in
    the Cooperative Best Effort-2004 exercises within NATO's Partnership
    for Peace seems to be drawing to an end.

    We have effectively witnessed the Armenian's victory in this
    diplomatic and procedural struggle. And they appear not to have
    applied any particular effort to visit Azerbaijan and attend a
    preliminary conference for the mentioned NATO exercises. Apparently,
    they have simply used ordinary technical facilities by applying to
    appropriate bodies in Brussels. This time the Armenians were more
    careful not to repeat the past when they could not attend similar
    conferences thanks to our efforts.

    It turns out that the authorities and society stick to completely
    different positions on the issue. The authorities proved too weak to
    withstand the pressure from NATO officials and, in a move to justify
    themselves, said this was an international event and if the Armenian
    officers were to be barred from attending the conference it would deal
    a blow to Azerbaijan's international image and strain its relations
    with NATO.

    To be frank, we are surprised at the position of NATO
    officials. Because unlike Armenia, Azerbaijan is actively cooperating
    with NATO. Why does Brussels insist on the participation of the
    Armenian officers in the exercises held in Azerbaijan knowing only too
    well that this hurts the feelings of our people? Are there
    pro-Armenian forces in Brussels who think that the Armenian officers
    must attend the exercises by all means? And our authorities hope that
    after seeing how fast Azerbaijan is developing, the Armenian officers
    will realize that their position is not right and urge their leaders
    to sit down at the negotiating table with Azerbaijan.

    Let's note, however, that the Armenians are unlikely to understand
    that. First of all, because they will hardly be able to visit the
    sites that testify to high living standards (high-rise buildings,
    roads, factories, etc.). Secondly, why do they need to see everything
    with their own eyes if they can easily see Azerbaijan's achievements
    using the advantages of our 21st-century world?

    [Passage omitted: minor details]

    The latest developments have set a dangerous precedent. Azerbaijan is
    not a NATO member yet but is already retreating under pressure from
    the alliance. Our country's defeat in the issue, though not material
    or physical, is beyond doubt. And this deals a moral blow to our
    international image as of a partner country. In other words, it
    appears that Azerbaijan can make concessions if put under pressure.

    We have been hearing quite often that seven Armenian officers are
    expected to come to Baku within NATO's Partnership for Peace programme
    in September. A short while ago the deputy foreign minister, Araz
    Azimov, said two Armenian officers might attend the exercises. What
    will our government's reaction be? How will society respond? Or, more
    importantly, what is to be done?

    My suggestion: The foreign affairs and defence ministries have got to
    make it clear to NATO officials in a harsher tone than before that
    this must not happen again. In principle, our authorities have already
    sent the message. Or the mentioned state agencies have to put forward
    the initiative to hold activities within Partnership for Peace in
    another country aspiring to a NATO membership, such as Ukraine or
    Georgia. I don't think Azerbaijan will end up losing a lot by refusing
    to host the alliance's exercises on its soil.

    [Passage omitted: minor details]

    From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress