Robert Simmons: We will discuss the protection of energy infrastructure with Partners in the Caspian Sea region

Robert Simmons: We will discuss the protection of energy infrastructure with Partners in the Caspian Sea region
# 31 January 2007 12:53 (UTC +04:00)
- How do you estimate the IPAP between Azerbaijan and NATO? Will there be any changes in the framework of this plan? What has already been done according to the plan now?
- NATO and Azerbaijan agreed the IPAP in May 2005 and there was a first review of implementation in the spring of 2006. Generally the review was positive and Azerbaijan has implemented many of the goals in the Plan. However, NATO Allies indicated that there could be greater progress in the area of defence reform and I welcome the fact that at my last meeting with the Minister of Defence, he indicated a number of positive additional steps which had been decided. NATO will look forward to effective implementation of those steps. The IPAP is a living document and NATO and Azerbaijan agreed a small number of changes in the IPAP last autumn. This revised document will be the basis of the next annual review in spring, 2007. After that review NATO and Azerbaijan will revise the document completely, including setting new goals in all areas of NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation for the years ahead.
- Will there be created any new military structures in Azerbaijan in the future in framework of IPAP?
- As part of the IPAP process, Azerbaijan has agreed to identify a unit which will be interoperable with NATO and other Partner forces and thus potentially be available for a NATO peace support operation. Through training and participation in exercises, this unit will develop the capabilities to operate with NATO and other partner forces. This is not a new military structure, but an existing structure, developed specifically to be interoperable with the Alliance. In addition, the Ministry of Defence has indicated its interest in adapting Azerbaijan’s military education structures so they too are NATO compatible.
- When will intensive dialog between Azerbaijan and NATO start? Is there a stimulus for that?
- There is already an extensive political dialogue between NATO and Azerbaijan as shown by the successful visit of President Aliyev to NATO in November 2006, when he met with the Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council. Over the past year there were a number of such meetings with senior officials of the Government of Azerbaijan and NATO.
Intensified Dialogue as a technical term is the first stage in a country’s process of seeking to join the Alliance. All of the recent new members went through Intensified Dialogue and recently NATO decided to begin the process with Ukraine and Georgia. At the present time, while making clear its eventual ambitions to join Euro-Atlantic institutions, Azerbaijan has not decided to request an intensified dialogue but rather making the best use of Partnership for Peace activities and the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). As we continue to develop a closer Partnership with Azerbaijan through IPAP, NATO is not pressing Azerbaijan to move to another stage before it is ready.
- Russia took away its military forces from Georgia and put them in Armenia. So it creates a military misbalance in the region.
- Russia has long had forces in Armenia with the agreement of the Government of Armenia. This fulfils the conditions of the OSCE, that foreign forces be stationed in other countries only with the agreement of the host country. NATO has welcomed the withdrawal of Russia forces from Georgia as consistent with Russia’s Istanbul commitments. All countries with forces in the region should avoid steps which go against the efforts to achieve a peaceful negotiated settlement to conflicts in the region.
- How do you see the solution of the conflicts in South Caucasus region and especially Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Some analytics think that only NATO can solve them instead of OSCE.
- NATO supports peaceful, negotiated solutions to conflicts in the South Caucasus region. We believe that the countries of the region themselves should find solutions to these conflicts using the existing structures. In that context, NATO strongly supports the OSCE Minsk Group and particularly the efforts of its Co-Chairman to seek a peaceful solution to Nagorno Karabakh. We welcome the progress that has been made in recent meetings between the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia. But we have always made clear that NATO does not want to play a more direct role in any way which would undercut the direct negotiations between the parties or the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-chairman to facilitate those discussions.
- In what way does NATO want to take part in the project of protecting energy resources which is being carried out in South Caucasus? Will there be placed any mobile militaries on the territory?
- At the recent NATO summit in Riga, Allied Heads of State and Government agreed that NATO would look at ways in which it can make its own contribution as part of a coordinated, international effort to secure energy resources and identify the most likely threats to it. Obviously, the protection of energy infrastructure is one area which the Alliance will be looking at, and we will have this discussion also with our Partners including Partners in the Caspian Sea region. In fact, this will be a theme of the next EAPC Security Forum to be held this year. NATO is willing to discuss these issues with our Partners and I have done so when I visited the region. In any case, NATO is not considering deploying any military forces to the South Caucasus to protect energy infrastructure. /APA/
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