As Nations rebuilt themselves following the ravages of war, the founding Nations placed their trust in each other and formed a defensive Alliance. War had taught them that they were stronger together and consequently their citizens and territory more secure. Over the course of the next seven decades, NATO has been fulfilling its three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. This initial trust has been built upon as the Alliance faced together with the Cold War, the Balkan Wars, the 9/11 attacks and subsequent involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Seventy years on, seventeen more Nations have joined the Alliance, with another Nation, the Republic of North Macedonia’s accession now in process. The vital bond between Europe and North America has made NATO the strongest alliance in history - an alliance, bound by shared history, values and goals.
As the Alliance has grown, so too has its network of partnerships with non-member countries from the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean, the Gulf region, and other partners across the globe working together to promote international peace and security. In 1994 His Excellency Mr. Heydar Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan visited NATO Headquarters and signed the Partnership for Peace Framework document which marked the beginning of NATO and Azerbaijan’s partnership.
Twenty-five years on and this partnership has developed into the multifaceted relationship we have today. The Alliance is proud to call Azerbaijan a close, trusted and valued partner, who works with us in furthering international peace and security. Throughout the years, our partnership and interoperability has grown through Azerbaijan’s involvement in our operations and missions. Your troops participated in our NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) from 1998-2008, stood shoulder to shoulder with Allied troops during the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2002 to the end of the NATO-led operation in 2014 to today where Azerbaijan currently supports the follow-on Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces by contributing to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund and by providing troops and assistance to NATO Allies on transit routes, on land, in the air and by rail, for example through the use of the Baku –Tbilisi – Kars rail link.
Our partnership has been strengthened by your Nation’s participation in our Defence Education and Enhancement programme, cooperation with our Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, to develop your national civil emergency and disaster management capabilities, as well as your involvement in our Partnership Interoperability Initiative to increase the interoperability of your troops. Your development of an Individual Partnership Action Plan with the Alliance and your commitment to the Planning and Review Process which works with you to develop forces and capabilities able to operate alongside Allied nations in operations and other activities is commendable. All these programmes and initiatives are a testimony of the efforts and commitment of your Nation to modernize and contribute to the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond.
Today our practical cooperation covers many areas, from capability development to energy security to cooperation in the defence and security sector, defence institution building, civil emergency planning, scientific cooperation, and public diplomacy. We are committed to continuing working with you in all areas that you have chosen.
NATO’s partnerships are, and will continue to be, essential to the way NATO works. I want to recognize the achievements and progress Azerbaijan has made over the last twenty-five years as a trusted NATO partner, and the important role you have played strengthening regional stability and furthering international peace and security. I am confident that both the Alliance and Azerbaijan will continue to build on the last twenty-five years and invest in this partnership. I look forward to developing NATO-Azerbaijan relations further and deepening military cooperation with your Nation.