The secretary-general of NATO, Javier Solana, conferred with President Haidar Aliev and other Azerbaijani officials in Baku on September 30-October 1. Aliev condemned the presence of Russian troops and bases in Armenia and Georgia as dangerous to the entire region and a Soviet-era relict, incompatible with the independence of the South Caucasus countries. He pointed out that Moscow ignores Azerbaijan’s representations in this regard.
The discussions focused on expansion of Azerbaijan’s individual program of cooperation with NATO, assistance to the country’s military reform and participation of Azerbaijan in NATO-led peacekeeping operations and military exercises. The fact that Azerbaijani units joined the CentrasBat-98 exercise and in the Macedonia peacekeeping operation this year was singled out a major step forward.
Regarding the Karabakh conflict, Solana praised the adherence of both sides to the cease-fire and urged a negotiated solution within the OSCE’s framework, on the basis of the 1996 Lisbon document. Azerbaijan accepts while Armenia and Karabakh reject those terms.
Solana emphasized–as he had just done in Tbilisi–the interrelationship between military security and Western-assisted economic development in this region. His program included a visit to the Chirag offshore oil-extraction platform, a part of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company’s multibillion project (Turan, Assa-Irada, October 1). The NATO leader had arrived in Baku after holding talks with the leaders of Moldova and Georgia (see the Monitor, September 30, October 1); and proceeded from Azerbaijan to Armenia.
PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV STRESSES SOCIAL PROGRAMS.