Azerbaijan’s presidential adviser for foreign policy, Vafa Guluzade, openly called yesterday for a major expansion in security cooperation between Azerbaijan and the West. As part of such cooperation, Guluzade proposed that Azerbaijan host a military base of the United States, Turkey or NATO. He suggested a location on Azerbaijan’s Caspian littoral, preferably on the Absheron peninsula (which juts far into the sea eastward), for a base of Western forces.
Guluzade described such defense cooperation as necessary to offset Russia’s growing military presence in Armenia. As this trend has gained its recent momentum, Guluzade and other Azerbaijani leaders–including the defense minister, Colonel-General Safar Abiev–have called for closer ties between their country and NATO, with Turkey as the linchpin. Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev is believed to support these views. As Guluzade put it, “Russia’s unilateral military presence in the region poses a threat to the security of all the region’s countries.”
By the same token, Guluzade indicated yesterday that a withdrawal of Russian forces from Armenia and Georgia would obviate the need for a Western military deployment in the South Caucasus. Aliev, too, has repeatedly called for the removal of Russian troops and forward-positioned arsenals from Armenia and Georgia (Turan, January 18; see also the Monitor, January 14, 15).
NAZARBAEV INAUGURATES AMERICAN SCHOOL PROGRAM.