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Turkish-Azerbaijani bi-national company is responsible for the area southwest of Dragas, close to the borders with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Azerbaijani troops part of the KFOR family
By Cpt Rolf Ahrens
German Air Force

PREPARING A MISSION
The Azerbaijani platoon works together with the Turks in a company in Task Force Dragas in the south of Kosovo

Prizren, MNB South - Never heard about Azerbaijan? Don´t know where it is? Azerbaijanis are KFOR brothers in arms, too. In the southwest of Kosovo, a platoon of Azerbaijani soldiers is located as part of Task Force Dragas in MNB South.
They belong to the Turkish-Azerbaijani bi-national company responsible for the area southwest of Dragas close to the border of Albania and FYROM.
Cpt. Ishan Demirdag is the Turkish company commander and in his opinion it´s quite a normal thing: "We speak the same language, have almost the same culture and we are trained and equipped similarly" Actually, there's only a small visible difference: The national flag on the shoulder and the Azerbaijan badge on their beret.
More important for 1st Lieutenant Fuad Mamedov is the fact that they do their job together in a proper and efficient way. "We are here close to Albania and our main task is to observe the border and to interdict smuggling," says the Azerbaijan platoon leader. Illegal border crossing is a top priority and Mamedov knows the area better than all the other soldiers. No wonder, because he´s been in Kosovo since September 1999 and except holidays he´s been on duty with his fellows.
Sgt Maj Rasim Kasimov and 32 soldiers are serving together with Lt Mamedov. All are treated in the same way and very often Turkish soldiers are doing their tasks side by side with their Azerbaijani comrades. Shift work is sometimes quite hard, but together it´s easier on both nations.
But here´s another difference between the soldiers: All Azerbaijan soldiers are unmarried. This is a special requirement before they go abroad on a mission. No problem for Sgt Maj Kasimov: His girlfriend is waiting for his return, then they are going to get married.
All the logistic support is done by the Turkish Task Force, as part of the bi-national agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Cpt. Demirhag appreciates the good relations between both countries and armies. On Sundays they share a traditional barbecue together.
"Before we started our mission here in Kosovo, we were all trained in our capital Baku," Fuad Marmedov says, "additionally we are all Muslims - that makes our job easier, too."
A specific demographic feature of the Dragas region is the existence of Goranies beside the Kosovo-Albanians. They are Muslims, but speak a Slav language and are spread all across the Dragas region where they live in their own villages.
The situation is calm and the multi-national environment improves daily.
You still wonder where Azerbaijan is? Ok, it´s in southwestern Asia between Iran and Russia, bordering the Caspian Sea.