Azerbaijan’s defense minister, Colonel-General Safar Abiev, held talks with two Turkish military delegations on July 23-27 in Baku. General Erdal Geilanoglu, deputy chief of staff of Turkey’s ground forces, headed one of the delegations to discuss assistance in developing Azerbaijan’s military doctrine and training Azerbaijani officers in Turkish military schools. Major-General Serafettin Teliazan, head of the Turkish General Staff’s Planning Department, headed the other delegation, which finalized a plan for “material and technical support” to the Azerbaijani army. Teliazan, moreover, signed with his Azerbaijani counterpart Korkmaz Garaev an agreement on nonreimbursible Turkish aid worth US$3.5 million to the Azerbaijani platoon due to be deployed in Kosovo under NATO command.
In a parallel development, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana officially invited Azerbaijan to dispatch that unit as part of the Turkish contingent within the German sector in Kosovo. Azerbaijan now has a mission attached to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, as does Georgia. President Eduard Shevardnadze–speaking while the Turkish delegations were in Baku, and emulating the neighboring country–anticipated that Georgia’s participation in the NATO-led Kosovo operation would “significantly boost the country’s international position.”
Yet the path of Azerbaijan and other countries toward closer relations with NATO is strewn with obstacles, one of which was singled out by the Azerbaijani ambassador to the United States, Hafiz Pashaev, in the course of a presentation last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Pashaev expressed Baku’s “worry about an accommodation of Russian concerns regarding NATO’s expansion,” particularly if such accommodation occurs at the expense of Azerbaijan, Georgia and other Western-oriented countries (Anatolia, Turan, July 22-27; Radio Tbilisi, July 26; CSIS summary, July 19).
ELCHIBEY AND HIS SUPPORTERS ANTICIPATE STRUGGLE OVER NORTHERN IRAN.