Romanian Ambassador: Azerbaijan is a very important and highly valued partner of NATO

The Romanian missile defense system is not directed at the Russian Federation

"Romania and NATO Allies remain committed in their support to the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova"

"The parties need to go back to the negotiating table and find a comprehensive settlement" 

Baku. 7 June. REPORT.AZ/ The Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Daniel Cristian Ciobanu gave an interview to Report News Agency on the eve of the NATO summit on July 7-8, Warsaw.

- Mr. Ambassador how do You assess bilateral political ties between NATO and Azerbaijan?

The relationship between NATO and Azerbaijan has a strategic value and is successfully developing. NATO-Azerbaijan partnership is based on active political dialogue and substantial practical cooperation. Romania, which has been the second country in the world to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence and established since 2009 a strategic partnership with Baku, actively supports Azerbaijan to enhance its relations with the North-Atlantic Alliance. Romania acts in the position of a NATO member that can share its recent experience of Euro-Atlantic integration, presenting best practices and providing expertise on the implementation of reforms in the security and defense sectors.

- How do You evaluate the work of Romanian embassy as a contact point? Can we expect fifth mandate in a row for Your embassy?

The Romanian diplomatic mission started its 1st NATO Contact Point Embassy mandate in Azerbaijan in January 2009 and nowadays is already performing its 4th successive mandate. The activity of Romania as NATO Contact Point Embassy in Baku has been well appreciated both within the Alliance and by the Azerbaijani authorities. Exercising for the fourth time in a row the mandate of NATO Contact Point Embassy in the Republic of Azerbaijan is a clear indicator of trust and of the excellent level of our bilateral relations. Our task is to disseminate information about NATO. The Romanian diplomatic mission organized in cooperation with relevant Azerbaijani stakeholders a large number of public diplomacy activities (conferences, roundtables, workshops and seminars) in Baku and other cities (including Ganja, Nakhchivan, Shamakhi, Shamkir, Mingachevir, Barda, Quba, Sheki and Lankaran). These events contributed to shaping a favorable image of NATO in Azerbaijan and increased public awareness, especially among the Azerbaijani young generation, regarding the North-Atlantic Alliance and the benefits of NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation. I would like to express my appreciation for the excellent cooperation that our Embassy has with NATO Public Diplomacy Division in Brussels and NATO Liaison Office in Tbilisi. At the same time, I want to address my warmest thanks to the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense and Parliament of Azerbaijan, especially to the Committee for Foreign Relations, for their valuable support in our public diplomacy activities. The Romanian diplomatic mission will continue to organize until the end of this year many public diplomacy events, in order to give more visibility to NATO policies and NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation. Regarding the Ally which will fulfill the mandate of NATO Contact Point Embassy for the period 2017-2018, a decision will be taken in Brussels in the next period of time.

- In early July Warsaw is going to host next summit of NATO? What do you expect from this summit?

NATO Warsaw Summit, which will take place this year on July 8-9 will be a milestone event. On 7 March 2016, the Embassy of Romania to Baku (in its capacity of NATO Contact Point Embassy in Azerbaijan), together with the Institute for Human Rights of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Azerbaijan, organized in Baku the international conference “NATO 2016 Warsaw Summit – opportunities and expectations”. The discussions, which saw the participation of NATO officials, representatives of the Administration of President, Ministries and Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, ambassadors of North Atlantic Alliance member states accredited to Baku and local experts, converged on the idea that strengthening and modernizing NATO’s defense and deterrence posture will be at the heart of the Warsaw Summit. I expect that further steps will be taken at the Summit in ensuring collective defense of NATO member states. I must underline the importance of a substantial decision package on NATO's long-term adaptation, including a constant, firm and balanced Allied presence on the Eastern flank. Among Romania's goals for the upcoming Summit, I should mention also the announcement of the NATO ballistic missile defense system initial operational capability, enhancing NATO's support of its Eastern partners and strengthening the NATO-EU strategic partnership. This requires the complementary role of NATO's strategic adaptation and of the EU's new strategy of the common foreign and security policy. I’m confident that NATO Warsaw Summit will be very successful.

- Who is going to represent Azerbaijan on this summit?

Azerbaijan is a very important and highly valued partner of the North-Atlantic Alliance. President of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev participated at 2008 Bucharest, 2010 Lisbon, 2012 Chicago and 2014 Wales Summits. We hope that Azerbaijan will be represented again at the highest level.

- Will the Warsaw summit touch unresolved conflicts in Europe, especially Nagorno Karabakh conflict? Can we expect support of NATO in resolving this conflict?

As it is underlined in the Declaration issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales, the persistence of the protracted conflicts continues to be a matter of particular concern. The conflicts undermine the opportunities for citizens in the regions affected to reach their full potential as members of the Euro-Atlantic community. NATO urges all parties to engage constructively and with reinforced political will in peaceful conflict resolution, within the established negotiation frameworks. Romania and NATO Allies remain committed in their support to the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. In reference to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly underlined that the North Atlantic Alliance supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and that there is no military solution to the conflict. The parties need to go back to the negotiating table and find a comprehensive settlement, under the auspices of the Co-chairs. The peaceful resolution of conflicts is one of the core commitments to which all NATO's partner countries commit when joining the Partnership for Peace.

- How do you assess the role of Azerbaijan in the new phase of ISAF in Afghanistan?

Azerbaijan participation to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is a serious commitment of the Government of Azerbaijan towards security in the region. Romania highly appreciates Azerbaijan’s contribution in Afghanistan with logistical support/land-air transit and non-military engagement such as trainings, humanitarian de-mining and a financial contribution to Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund. Partners like Azerbaijan are key to NATO’s success.

- How do you assess the achievement of the new stage of IPAP with Azerbaijan?

Individual Partnership Action Plan lays out the programme of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO. Azerbaijan already completed three Individual Partnership Action Plan cycles and at present is implementing the fourth one. Baku is a very active partner. Romania encourages Azerbaijan to continue using the IPAP in deepening the relationship with NATO in the areas of political dialogue and practical cooperation, including in the fields of operations, fight against terrorism, energy security, military training and education, civil emergency planning. It is important for us, since Romania is directly interested in strengthening security in the Wider Black Sea region through cooperation and partnership.

- Can we expect any other projects of NATO with Azerbaijan?

Close cooperation between the North Atlantic Alliance and Azerbaijan is beneficial to the stability and security of the Wider Black Sea – Caspian Sea area. It is necessary to identify the most suitable tools to maximize the potential of NATO-Azerbaijan relationship. Azerbaijan has a pivotal role to play in increasing European energy security and has, at the same time, huge opportunities in the field of freight transport. It’s important that NATO and its partners maintain strategic awareness regarding the new risks that could affect the security of energy infrastructure and vital energy supplies. The Romanian diplomatic mission will continue to actively promote in the coming months the partnership between the North Atlantic Alliance and Baku.

- During the last period we observe tense relations between NATO and Russia. Does it mean the start of new "cold war"? Will the installation of missile defense systems in Romania lead to deterioration of Romania-Russia bilateral ties?

NATO member states form a unique community of values, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow underlined very clearly that NATO doesn’t want a new Cold War. Regarding the missile defense system in Deveselu (Romania), I can tell you that it has a strictly defensive character. Its role is to defend against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. The system is in full compliance with international law and is not directed at the Russian Federation.

- Can we expect visits of any NATO officials to Azerbaijan?

NATO officials are frequently coming to Azerbaijan. In February 2016 James Appathurai, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, paid a very fruitful visit to Azerbaijan. In March 2016 a large NATO delegation came in Baku for an assessment mission on Individual Partnership Action Plan/Planning and Review Process. In April 2016 David Towndrow from NATO Support and Procurement Agency made a visit in connection to implementation of Jeyranchel Clearance Project. More visits will follow in the coming months. I’m very confident in the future development of NATO-Azerbaijan partnership.  

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