Thanks to regular participation in PfP activities, Azerbaijan has been able to contribute actively to Euro-Atlantic security by supporting NATO-led peace-support operations.
From 1999 to 2008, troops from Azerbaijan were part of the NATO-led operation in Kosovo (KFOR).
Azerbaijan actively supports the ISAF operation in Afghanistan since 2002, where it has gradually increased its forces to about 95 personnel. An infantry company, deminers, medical assistant and staff officers from Azerbaijan are serving alongside NATO forces, as part of a Turkish contingent, in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan also contributes to the NATO-ANA (Afghan National Army) Trust Fund.
Azerbaijan has declared a number of units available for PfP activities, on a case by case basis. These include infantry units, combat support and combat service support units and two medium transport helicopters. The Internal Troops, in cooperation with NATO, are also developing a police support unit to be made available for NATO-led operations.
Azerbaijan contributes to the fight against terrorism through its participation in the Partnership Action Plan on Terrorism (PAP-T). This includes sharing intelligence and analysis with NATO, and cooperating with the Allies on enhancing national counter-terrorist training capabilities and improving border and infrastructure security. Information exchange through NATO’s terrorist threat intelligence unit is being developed. Azerbaijan is also working to establish an international Anti-Terrorism Training Centre at the Academy of the Ministry of National Security.
Azerbaijan aims to improve maritime security and its capabilities to reduce illegal activities in the Caspian Sea in cooperation with some NATO member countries and some regional Partner countries. NATO nations also support efforts to improve border security.
NATO has no direct role in negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which are being conducted in the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. However, NATO takes an interest in this process and encourages both countries to continue their efforts aimed at a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Peaceful resolution of conflicts is a core value of NATO, and is one of the core commitments that all Partner countries commit to when joining the Partnership for Peace.
Defence and security sector cooperation
Defence and security sector reforms are crucial to the development of Azerbaijan and its goal of achieving Euro-Atlantic standards as well as its increasing Euro-Atlantic cooperation. This is an area in which NATO and individual Allies have considerable expertise which Azerbaijan can draw upon. A key priority is working to strengthen democratic and civilian control over the armed forces. NATO is also supportive of the wider democratic and institutional reform process underway in Azerbaijan.
With NATO advice, Azerbaijan has developed strategic documents on defence and security, which will support and provide guidance during the conduct of the Strategic Defence Review. Consultations are also underway on the necessary steps for improving other areas of defence planning and budgeting.
NATO and individual Allies continue to assist Azerbaijan in developing selected units so they are interoperable with those of the Allies. Azerbaijan’s participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP), since 1997, has been instrumental in the development of the Peacekeeping Battalion and a detachment of two helicopters is now supporting the development of the Mobile Battalion , which would potentially be available for the full spectrum of NATO operations.
Consultations are ongoing on Azerbaijan’s military education structures and methods, since the Ministry of Defence is interested in adapting these to meet NATO standards. Within and alongside the PARP process, NATO and Azerbaijan are cooperating on reorganizing units in accordance with NATO standards and on improving the command and control capabilities of each of the armed services and improving logistics.
NATO and Azerbaijan continue to cooperate on the demilitarisation of unexploded ordnance. In 1991, a major explosion at a former Soviet munitions facility in the Agstafa region spread unexploded ordnance over a large area. With technical and financial support from NATO, more than 5.68 million square meters of the contaminated area was cleared, on both the surface and in the subsurface. In addition to this, some 640 000 pieces of unexploded ordnance were cleared. The five-and-a-half-year Trust Fund project was completed in June 2011.
A further project of this kind was launched in 2012 to clear unexploded ordnance from a former Soviet live firing range in the Jeyranchel region. The project will focus on clearing a 19 square kilometre section of the area over a 28-month period. Much like the previous Trust Fund project, NAMSA is directing the project, with Azerbaijani National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) working on the ground as the executing agency.
Civil emergency planning
In cooperation with NATO and through participation in activities organised by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), Azerbaijan is developing its national civil emergency and disaster-management capabilities. Azerbaijan’s special search-and-rescue platoon has participated in several exercises organised by the EADRCC. In addition, Civil Emergency Planning experts from NATO and NATO nations are providing advice to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations on a number of issues, including organisational issues, and CBRN defence. Azerbaijan is developing two units (search and rescue and CBRN) to be on high readiness and ready to be deployed on disaster relief operations.
Science and environment
Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Azerbaijan has received grant awards for about 30 cooperative projects and has had leading roles in 87 activities, with even more joining various cooperative activities as participants and key speakers.
Projects include collaboration on improving trans-boundary water quality, protecting drinking water supply from terrorism, identifying the earthquake vulnerability of segments of two important pipelines running through Azerbaijan, and mitigating the effects of earthquakes in the Caucasus region by improving seismic hazard and risk.
In addition, Azeri and international experts participated in an SPS training course entitled “Crisis Management National Capacity Building: an Essential Element in the Fight against Terrorism” in June 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan also participated in the Virtual Silk Highway project, which aims to increase internet access for academic and research communities in countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia through a satellite-based network.
NATO has also supported the conversion of stocks of mélange – a highly toxic and corrosive rocket fuel oxidizer, formerly used by Warsaw Pact Countries – into a harmless chemical. In response to a request from Azerbaijan for assistance, NATO sent a transportable conversion plant, which was officially inaugurated in July 2006. This project was successfully concluded in 2008.
Another key area of cooperation is to improve access to information and increasing public awareness of NATO and the benefits of NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation.
Since 2003, NATO has been co-sponsoring a summer school in Baku. Programmes developed year on year, leading to the establishment of the NATO International School in Azerbaijan (NISA) in 2005. Seminar topics have included transatlantic energy security, regional security and financial security issues. NISA continues to be an active and productive forum on international security issues for students from Azerbaijan and beyond, organizing NATO-related conferences and workshops twice a year. The Diplomatic Academy of Azerbaijan (ADA) is also very active in promoting cooperation with NATO.
Visits to NATO Headquarters of opinion formers from Azerbaijan take place on an annual basis.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Azerbaijan is the embassy of Romania.