by NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at the joint press point with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, Baku, Azerbaijan
It is a great pleasure to make my first visit to Baku. This shows that NATO is and will remain committed to the South Caucasus region. And Azerbaijan is an important partner for NATO.
Our relations are developing steadily and positively. We appreciate the steadfast support provided by your troops in Afghanistan. They are doing an excellent job and you can be very proud of them.
We also appreciate the political support to NATO operations, through over flight and transit lines. And we are grateful for the generous financial contribution to the training of Afghan security forces.
Together, we have agreed to continue to support the Afghans after the end of our ISAF operation in 2014. I am very pleased to hear from President Aliyev that Azerbaijan will be part of that support, which is vital for the stability of Afghanistan and of the whole region.
NATO is assisting Azerbaijan with defence and security sector reform and we encourage you to keep up the momentum in this key area. We are also helping to remove huge quantities of landmines and free up hundreds of hectares of land. This is one of the biggest such projects in the world – and it is of real benefit to people.
So we have a strong framework for dialogue and cooperation. And we are determined to build on our success. To deepen the practical experience that our military forces have gained by working together in Afghanistan over the years. And to work together in dealing with the security challenges of the 21st century, which all face in a globalised world.
So Azerbaijan is a valuable partner for NATO. And NATO is a valuable partner for Azerbaijan. We have an opportunity to build a solid, long-term partnership. And it’s an opportunity I am convinced we must seize.