Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 237

Following his visit to NATO headquarters, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev announced on December 20 in Baku that the country intends to apply for the status of “aspirant to membership” in the alliance. The Azerbaijani delegation discussed the matter with key Western counterparts during the meetings of foreign ministers of NATO and partner countries, held on December 15-16 in Brussels. Conferral of aspirant status would entail a NATO-assisted national program to raise the country’s ability to cooperate with the alliance and ultimately to qualify for membership. According to Guliev, Baku regards the aspirant’s status as a transitional, time-limited stage toward joining the alliance as a full member.

In an accompanying measure, President Haidar Aliev empowered a special “Commission on Cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan” to plan and implement military-political cooperation with the alliance, in the framework of the Partnership for Peace program and of the Euroatlantic Partnership Council. The commission will periodically report directly to the president. Building blocks for such cooperation include the status-of-forces agreement, recently ratified by Azerbaijan’s Milli Majlis, and the participation of Azerbaijan’s first peacekeeping platoon in the operation in Kosovo, under NATO command and alongside Turkish and German troops.

The Brussels meeting took note of that progress and also approved plans to set up a NATO Information Center in Baku. The planned center is described as a regional one, whose activities would encompass the three South countries. NATO’s Secretary-General George Robertson plans to inaugurate the Center during a visit to Baku next year (Turan, AzadInform, Sharg, Turkish Daily News, December 17-20).

Azerbaijan would thereby become the second post-Soviet country, after Ukraine, to host a NATO Information Center. While the Kyiv center–and the Ukrainian government–must contend with the Ukrainian leftist parties’ anti-NATO sentiment, that problem does not arise in Azerbaijan, where the leftist opposition is marginal and the nationalist opposition by and large favors close relations with NATO. Azerbaijan is indeed one of the very few post-Soviet countries in which pro-Russian groups are too weak to interfere with the national consensus in favor of NATO. The alliance’s regional information center faces an uphill struggle in Armenia, where dependence on Russia has historic and psychological roots, and will also have to tread carefully in Georgia, where Moscow exploits breakaway regional forces to thwart the central government’s policy of “knocking at NATO’s door.”

The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions