NATO HQ Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Dear Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we see off the last days of this century our present session gives us another opportunity to take stock of our cooperation within EAPC and PfP frameworks and to discuss its unique role for the Euro-Atlantic security.
Risks and threats that Euro-Atlantic community faces on the threshold of the new millennium require our joint and adequate efforts without setting geographic or other priorities and limits.
The value of practical cooperation between NATO and partner countries to achieve goals of building a free and undivided Europe could hardly be overestimated in this regard. The Alliance-led peace-support operation in the Kosovo region to which Azerbaijan has contributed is undoubtedly a vivid example of the genuine partnership.
The multiplicity and complexity of challenges that Euro-Atlantic security encounters necessitates the elaboration and development of joint crisis management capabilities. In the context of further evolution of the theory and practice of the NATO-led peacekeeping operations in the whole Euro-Atlantic area Azerbaijan welcomes further practical steps on the side of NATO to complete work on implementation of the Political Military Framework. We also appreciate progress achieved in realization of the Operational Capabilities Concept.
In light of the recent visit by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to NATO Headquarters I would also like to stress that Azerbaijan attaches importance to the development of inter-institutional cooperation between NATO/EAPC and OSCE. in particular in the fields of conflict prevention and crisis management.
As it has been the case in the past. with regard to the future agenda of EAPC, we reiterate our proposal to start discussing issues related to conventional arms control in the EAPC framework on a more regular and substantive basis. I presume that putting current problems in this field on the EAPC agenda would help better utilize our forum's potential and expertise as well as complement work done in other organisations and fora. In this regard Azerbaijan commends efforts of the ad hoc group on the challenges of Small Arms and Light Weapons whose success has highlighted the necessity of reinvigorating the EAPC discussions on arms control topic in general.
While aiming at progressive integration with NATO Azerbaijan intends to join the Membership Action Plan. With this goal in mind we look forward to having a suggested intensified bilateral dialogue with NATO.
Azerbaijan welcomes an increased interest of NATO to the region of South Caucasus. A number of activities, including the seminar on energy security in Baky have been held in the region as a follow-up to the work of the EAPC ad hoc group on the South Caucasus.
In the meantime, unlike the Balkans. where substantial progress has been made in bringing crises to the stage of comprehensive settlement. the South Caucasus still remains the region of unresolved conflicts and undermined security. In this context allow me to re-emphasize that only just, comprehensive and durable settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan will restore mutual trust between these two states and consequently pave the way to regional cooperation between all states in the South Caucasus.
In this respect we would appreciate if political, security related and crisis management issues, as suggested by Azerbaijan, could win the understanding in the group.
Due to its geographic location South Caucasus should serve as one of the building blocks of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture. Allow me to recall in this regard an initiative to develop Security and Cooperation Pact for this region as proposed by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Heydar Aliyev at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul in November 1999 and to reiterate our appeal to all interested partners to participate in the practical implementation of this idea.
With regard to the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I regret to report lack of progress in achieving its settlement, while twenty percent of the territory of my country are still under occupation of armed forces of Armenia and one million Azerbaijanis still cannot return to their homes.
Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Group continue to pay visits to the region. The Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia hold regular bilateral meetings with the aim to find a formula of durable settlement. But. all these efforts have not yet yielded concrete results.
Availing myself of this opportunity I would like to reconfirm the adherence of Azerbaijan to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group on the basis of conferring the highest degree of self-rule upon the Nagorno-Karabakh region within the Republic of Azerbaijan and co-existence of Armenian and Azerbaijani populations there.
In conclusion, allow me to emphasize that Azerbaijan proceeding from an assessment of the current situation in the South Caucasus counts on a considerable contribution by NATO to establishing security and stability in this vital region.
NATO HQ Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Dear Secretary General,
Over the recent years the EAPC/PfP cooperation has become a permanent feature of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture. One could hardly overestimate the role of this partnership both in fostering mutual confidence throughout the continent and in developing operational capabilities to jointly address threats and risks to our common security. Participation of Georgia in the International Peacekeeping Operations in support of peace in Kosovo has been a successful trial of practical results yielded in the "Partnership for Peace" framework.
In the framework of our efforts to achieve lasting security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area free of spheres of influence and dividing lines, we attach importance to making full use of the consultation mechanisms laid down in the EAPC Basic Document.
As it is evidently seen in the Progress Report on development of the NATO's South-East Europe Initiative (SEEI), collective efforts of the Euro-Atlantic nations have ensured the success of regional cooperation and contributed to the democratic changes in this part of Europe. We strongly believe that this experience could be employed in other regions as well, namely in the Caucasus - through developing the idea on stability arrangements for the Caucasus" which we all have been actively considering of late.
The EAPC activities in the second half of 2000, reflected in the Chairman's report, have to be considered as useful and productive. We also support the updated EAPC Action Plan. We appreciate the special emphasis in this document on regional issues related to South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Georgia strongly supports the retention of the transatlantic link as a vital element of security and stability in Europe.
The enhancement of EAPC and PfP serves as clear evidence of the right course for the security of our common house - the Euro-Atlantic area. Georgia considers the EAPC to be instrumental in reviewing and solving numerous stability and security problems in this area. Therefore, we support the idea on raising the profile of the EAPC. We especially encourage proposals to pay more attention to certain regions of the Euro-Atlantic space. In this regard, the EAPC has already provided a useful forum for developing regional security cooperation practices, namely through the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Caucasus. The steps already taken in this context have proven to be small but still very productive and coherent for future larger cooperation in the South Caucasus.
In our view, the EAPC along with PfP, can make a substantial contribution to address the challenges to the regional stability, complementing the efforts of the other international organizations, e.g. the UN, the OSCE, etc. One of them is of course conflict prevention. The importance and effectiveness of the last year's discussions held within the EAPC format on the tensions on the Chechen segment of Georgian-Russian border has to be stated in this respect. I would like herewith to draw your attention to a positive role that PfP can play in terms of improving national capabilities in the sphere of border control, particularly, in preventing illegal and uncontrolled trafficking of small arms and light weapons.
While co-operation between states is elevated to the completely new level to achieve the long-term security and stability, it seems awkward to have to stress on the basic principles of interstate relations. In this regard, we must regrettably note the fact that Russia has unilaterally granted special visa privileges to the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region, that can adversely affect the regional stability. We call upon Russia to look jointly for a solution of this issue through negotiations.
We appreciate the attention paid by the NATO/EAPC to the arms control issues. I would like to note the progress achieved in the implementation of the Istanbul Joint Statement provisions on the reduction and withdrawal of Russian military equipment (TLE) from Georgia. Herewith, I would like to stress the importance of transparency of the military equipment reduction process as well as complete withdrawal of the bases.
We are delighted to underline the progress achieved in the TLE withdrawal process from the Gudauta military base. We appreciate NAC Defence Ministerial Communique which welcomes the efforts of the Russian side. We hope that the process of the TLE withdrawal from Gudauta will be completed till the end of this year as envisaged by the Istanbul Joint Statement.
The Georgian position remains unchanged: the final state of the Russian military forces reduction process must be a complete liberation of the territory of Georgia from foreign military presence.
We count on the support of the EAPC Member States and consider that their active involvement in the process of implementation of the provisions of the Adapted CFE Treaty and agreements reached in Istanbul in 1999 would significantly contribute to its success.
In conclusion, allow me to state once again that Georgia, as a partner of the Alliance, will actively co-operate within the EAPC in the years to come.
Page 13 of 132