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Azerbaijan: A Key Ally For NATO

Strengthening NATO-Azerbaijan Relations Amidst Regional Tensions

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Since the war broke out in the Ukraine, Europeans and NATO have increasingly begun to understand the importance of weaning themselves off Russian oil and replacing it with oil from Azerbaijan. (Photo: Supplied)

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For Europe and NATO, the ongoing war in Ukraine is a major humanitarian concern, with Pope Francis recently calling for a cease-fire. Recently, the Greek Parliament hosted a conference on ways to achieve peace in the Ukraine titled “Ukraine: the search for a peaceful resolution of the military conflict.”  

At this critical juncture in history, it is of utmost importance for NATO to build a strong friendship with Azerbaijan. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recognizes this and stated during a recent visit to Baku, “I welcome that Azerbaijan is developing closer and closer ties with several NATO allies and that your country is playing a more and more important role in delivering gas, but also, in the future, electricity to key NATO allies in Europe. Therefore, you play an important role for the resilience of our societies.”

He noted how Baku has cooperated with NATO in the past and thanked Azerbaijan for its contributions to NATO-led operations and missions – including in Kosovo and Afghanistan – since Azerbaijan joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1994. He also noted how NATO and Baku have cooperated through NATO’s Science for Peace and Security program on counter-terrorism and cyber security. 

On Ukraine, Stoltenberg welcomed the much-needed support provided by Azerbaijan, and called on all countries in the region to step up: “More support is needed because the situation in Ukraine is extremely difficult.” For Europe and NATO, the ongoing war in Ukraine is a major humanitarian concern, with Pope Francis recently calling for a cease-fire. Recently, the Greek Parliament hosted a conference on ways to achieve peace in the Ukraine titled “Ukraine: the search for a peaceful resolution of the military conflict.”  

At this conference, MP Athanasios Papathanassis proclaimed: “We are living through one of the most critical challenges in history. It’s a threat to global peace. Ukraine has been a bridge between Europe and Russia and the desire for its control and influence has led to geopolitical confrontations with a global impact. The global community has to unite so that pressure can be applied to all the parties involved to peacefully solve all differences and to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

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Manel Msalmi, an advisor to the European Parliament and founder of the European Association for the Defense of Minorities, noted at the conference: “The conflict has caused the Ukrainian people immense pain over the last twelve months, resulting in millions of people being displaced, thousands of deaths and the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure. Women and girls in Ukraine are suffering from increased gender-based violence and human trafficking, as well as from losing important sources of income and seeing an increase in poverty.”

She continued: “Many people no longer have access to survivor services, healthcare and other vital types of assistance due to the widespread loss of infrastructure. These days, helping the approximately 18 million Ukrainians in need and safeguarding civilians must continue to be the primary concerns. Human rights violations including the alarming rise in sexual assault need to be looked into and victims need to have justice.”     

Greek MP Ioannis Loverdos concurred, noting, “Whoever doesn’t know history or doesn’t remember is condemned to repeat it. And I say this because I think that this has happened again in Europe. Deja vu. When I was a student of journalism, the Cold War existed. In 1989, the Soviet bloc collapsed and everyone thought that the war had ended and that the unity of Europe would be restored. Today, we are living again without a doubt a new cold war without a doubt in Ukraine in the heart of Europe and no one knows how it will end. No one knows when or how this war will end, not even the parties involved, not even Europe, which has to face a serious issue, which is the lack of leadership. Energetically, Europe leaned on cheap Russian gas while at the same time it doesn’t have its own defense and relies on the US.”   

However, the war in Ukraine caused Europe to wake up. Indeed, since the war broke out in the Ukraine, Europeans and NATO have increasingly begun to understand the importance of weaning themselves off Russian oil and replacing it with oil from Azerbaijan. The EU and Azerbaijan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a strategic partnership in energy almost two years ago, which led to the Caucuses country exporting oil and gas to seven countries including five in Europe. EU leaders describe Azerbaijan, which exports 50% of its natural gas to Europe, as a “reliable partner” and “pan-European gas supplier.”

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While Azerbaijan is part of the Non-Aligned Movement and thus is technically not part of NATO, the Caucuses country nevertheless cooperates with NATO on a number of critical issues. For example, Azerbaijan’s National Agency for Mine Action has partnered with NATO on a series of NATO Trust Fund projects which assist with the demilitarization of unexploded ordnance. One such project resulted in the safe disposal of 640,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance from a 5.68 million m2 area, following an explosion at a former Soviet munitions facility.

In cooperation with NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), Azerbaijan is developing its national civil emergency and disaster management capabilities. The country has participated in exercises and contributed staff to the EADRCC. Following EADRCC urgent requests for assistance, Azerbaijan has offered its disaster response capabilities (such as a fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters) to Allied and partner nations. Furthermore, the country is developing two units (Urban Search and Rescue, and CBRN) to be on high readiness for disaster relief operations.

NATO has a strategic interest in building ties with Azerbaijan and other countries in the Caucuses. They seek to compete with Russia for influence over the region and by doing so to weaken Moscow, whose attack upon Ukraine threatens the security of all of Europe. Whether or not they will be successful in weaning the region off Moscow remains an open question mark.   However, Azerbaijan has always cooperated with NATO, even though they refrain from joining the strategic alliance because they do not want to be another Ukraine.  

Therefore, the government of President Ilham Aliyev prefers to remain non-aligned and part of the Turkic world, rather than overtly challenge Moscow like Ukraine’s president does and seek to join NATO.   He believes the happiness and health of his people is more important than being part of any strategic alliance.   But still, he cooperates because his government supports the West as well and has great sympathy for the plight of the Ukrainian people. 

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media.”

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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