By Mahbuba Musayeva : –
The World is facing serious challenges in 21st century and these challenges will continue to pose threat to humanity unless they are resolved. Terrorism is one of these challenges and a significant one; it is becoming more tragic and posing serious threats to common peace in the world. The experts have defined terrorism as “a threat of violence or its realisation aimed at reaching various political, religious, ideological, and economic goals through violent, illegal means”. Azerbaijan knows the tragic consequences of terrorism and massacres of peaceful civilian population (by neighbouring Armenia with full support from Russia)
Soon after independence Azerbaijan established cooperation and good relations with international organisations as main focus of its foreign policy goals. As a sovereign entity, Azerbaijan is a member state of several international organisations, e.g. United Nations (UN), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), etc. Azerbaijan has also established cooperation with European Union and NATO and especially maintains its presence within the framework of anti-terror activities.
Cooperation with international security structures is one of the main tenets of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy and cooperation with NATO is a good example of this. Azerbaijan has joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme since its launch (1994) and has participated at Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Azerbaijan attends various NATO exercises and training as well as conducts joint exercises and training with NATO. Azerbaijan also benefits from NATO’s education experience in preparation of military cadres. Main components of cooperation with NATO are military cooperation, civil emergency planning, security issues, peacekeeping operations, as well as economic, scientific and environmental cooperation under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) programme.
Azerbaijan maintains a political dialogue over wide range of issues concerning common interests with NATO. Security issues, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, contribution to the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, emerging threats and other topics are routinely discussed between the parties and the course of cooperation is continually assessed within the political dialogue. Azerbaijani military has also taken part in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo within its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP).
The basic national charters laying forward the purpose and principles of individual cooperation with NATO are the Partnership for Peace Presentation Document (1996) and the Individual Partnership Action Plan Presentation Document (2004). These documents detail key areas of cooperation as good governance and democratic control of the defence and security sector, defence planning and budgeting and the reorganization of the armed forces structure using NATO standards, as well as participation in NATO peacekeeping operations, civil emergency planning, anti-terror activities, environmental issues and public diplomacy. Main cooperation mechanisms are the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) and the Planning and Review Process (PARP). IPAP also creates opportunities to participate in expert workshops, exercises and training organized by NATO and partner countries. Since 1996 Azerbaijani delegations attend on average 200 such events a year.
Azerbaijan condemns and fights terrorism in all forms whether it is a state terrorism or individuals involved in terrorism.
Ilham Aliyev President of the Republic of Azerbaijan once stated: “We strongly condemn every form of terrorism and we are sure that the struggle against terrorism can result in success only when all countries bring their anti-terror efforts together.”
European countries are increasingly facing terror challenges these days and are strongly motivated in fight against terrorism. One of the main issues discussed in the recent G20 summit in Antalya (2015) was global terrorism and struggle against it. The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev also attended the summit on Turkish President R.T. Erdogan’s invitation. Azerbaijani President stated in the summit that Azerbaijan was also a victim of (state) terrorism and this terrorism was a part of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan; more than 2,000 Azerbaijani citizens were killed in terror acts perpetrated by Armenian (state) terrorist organisations; 20% of Azerbaijani territories were occupied as a result of Armenian aggression and Azerbaijan became a victim of ethnic cleansing; one million people were displaced as a result of occupation and Azerbaijan faced a humanitarian disaster; four UN Security Council resolutions calling for immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Azerbaijan territories had not been implemented by Armenia for more than 20 years. President Aliyev also stressed that the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict must be resolved according to the norms of international law and within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. President Aliyev also expressed his condolences to the presidents of Turkey and France as both lost its citizens in terrorism.
Most countries have turned a blind eye on the Khojaly genocide and other massacres in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan will always fight against terrorism and show its support to the people who are victims of terrorism.
Azerbaijan put forward all necessary efforts to help the USA in the fight against Taliban in Afghanistan and allowed American military aircraft to use Azerbaijani air space to conduct all levels of operations, including combat missions.
Massachusetts State Representative Harold Naughton who served in Kandahar with the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team writes that air superiority in Afghanistan helped the USA accomplish their mission and saved the lives of troops on the ground. He also notes that Azerbaijan allowed American military personnel and NATO forces and equipment to enter Afghanistan through staging grounds in that nation. Azerbaijan also sent troops to Afghanistan. In other words, according to the author, Azerbaijan was not on the side-lines when it came to defeating al Qaeda, which had attacked the United States.
Congressman also notes another important aspect of Azerbaijan – its strong relationship with Israel and writes that the Israelis get 40 percent of their oil from Azerbaijan. There is a Jewish population living safely and securely inside of Azerbaijan where they have free access to worship and protection from the government.
Another important issue worth noting is that Azerbaijan is quite active in anti-terror activities. One of the most important steps in the fight against terrorism is information exchange. Identifying and neutralising people working with terror organisations as well as cutting the terrorist funding are equally important matters. Azerbaijan has always been meticulously acting against terrorists in all above mentioned areas.
Therefore, Azerbaijan has always proved that it is an essential partner in the fight against terrorism.
(Mahbuba Musayeva is young journalist based in Baku capital of Azerbaijan)
Edited By Dr Shahid Qureshi