General Masood Ahmad Aziz: Azerbaijan's cooperation with Afghanistan not limited to NATO mission - INTERVIEW

Baku. 22 February. REPORT.AZ/ The interview of Report News Agency with Ex-Deputy Minister for Policy and Strategy of Afghanistan Major General Masood Ahmad Azizi.

- General Masood Ahmad Azizi, how do you evaluate the cooperation with Azerbaijan in security sphere?

- Cooperation is of extreme importance especially under the Resolute Support NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. They’ve been contributing towards peace and stability in Afghanistan and have been playing a crucial role in providing training advice and assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

- Azerbaijan contributes to the Resolute Support mission by increasing the number of its peacekeepers in your country and by giving continued support to the Afghanistan National Army Trust fund. How do you estimate this and what else could be done to increase security and stability in Afghanistan?

- Azerbaijan’s role in the Resolute Support mission is quintessential. However, when NATO-led mission, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) changed its focus from a combat role to a more supporting role, it created a good window of opportunity where there is a vacuum of building the capability. We would like to have such countries as Azerbaijan to help us maintain peace in our country. We do estimate that the role of Azerbaijan will leave a positive impact in the area of peacekeeping in our country as well as providing assistance in the Afghan army national trust fund. We are truly thankful for this generosity. Azerbaijan is advancing their practices in the area of governance such as Asan Khedmat and we are in the process of learning these practices and trying to implement them in Afghanistan to increase quality of services. Azerbaijan is also geopolitically located where they have regional and global power around which they have their own interests. The way that Azerbaijan manages the balance between international and national politics is very wise and a lot can be learnt from them. Afghanistan and Azerbaijan have a long history of cooperation, they have the same religion and almost the same culture, which facilitates their investment in our country.

- Are Afghanistan and Azerbaijan planning to strengthen cooperation in personnel training of Afghan servicemen or any other similar educational training in this sphere?

- We are thankful that they have been providing generous support in the area of training and education. We have a commitment from the Azerbaijani diplomatic academy to provide tons of scholarships in different areas, the recent one that I have had the privilege to participate in, with the presence of Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, was on civilian oversight and security in the armed forces. 

- How do you evaluate the role of Azerbaijan as a transit country to support the peace mission in Afghanistan?

- Well, we have a long history together and as Muslim brothers Azerbaijan being an important country in the region can use this opportunity to motivate certain countries towards peace, and also with their financial investment as well as increasing the transit. One of the main reasons for low security is a poor economy, so by increasing investments we can fuel economy, countering the economical insurgencies by creating more jobs and better alternative.

- How does Afghanistan see the role of Azerbaijan in promoting stability in your country after the completion of the NATO  Resolute support mission in the future?

- We have a bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan not only through the NATO mission but also Azerbaijan is our bilateral strategic ally. We have a long history of cooperation, and we also have Azerbaijan under the NATO mission to help Afghanistan. Meaning the Azerbaijan cooperation is not limited to the NATO mission. Azerbaijan is our regional partner.

Azerbaijan has shown a great example to the world being a Muslim country that has inter-religious tolerance in days when extremism and terrorism are global problems and threats to us all. I saw in my recent visit a great amount of tourists come to Azerbaijan and found a very friendly environment among the local people.

I see a great amount of increase in extremism in our region but learning from the experience of Azerbaijan is very vital in order to manage this extremist ideology that might be a big challenge for the future stability and prosperity for our countries.

Masood Ahmad Azizi is an experienced and effective strategic security leader committed to working in partnership across tribal, ethnic, and national borders to realize the full potential of Afghanistan and the Afghan people. He was the youngest and longest-serving Deputy Minister in the Interior Ministry, holding the rank of Major General. In that role, he acted as a proponent of strong reform within Afghan Security Institutions. With proven experience at the most senior levels working within the International Community (military and civilian), prominent leaders and senior representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, he has a strong track record of being able to motivate and inspire citizens through a positive vision of the future and the ability to communicate and deliver it effectively at home and overseas.

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