While implementing its multi-vector foreign policy initiative, Azerbaijan has always paid great attention to security issues. Therefore, Azerbaijan attached special importance to relations with the largest military alliance of the modern world — NATO and considered this cooperation an important factor for an effective and balanced foreign policy. The basis of the meaningful partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and NATO was laid by the signing of the framework document of the “Partnership for Peace” program by national leader Heydar Aliyev on May 4, 1994. In 1997, Azerbaijan joined the SNT planning and analysis process. The partnership of the Republic of Azerbaijan with NATO serves its purpose of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. The main directions of the Azerbaijan-NATO partnership are political dialogue, peace support operations, emerging security threats, and practical cooperation on broad-spectrum issues, the main emphasis of which is on defense issues. The issue of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO on the basis of mutual interests in addressing instability, conflicts, and threats is reflected in the National Security Concept and military doctrine of Azerbaijan. Thus, the military legislation of Azerbaijan was further improved, taking advantage of NATO standards.

Azerbaijan is actively using NATO’s relevant partnership mechanisms to meet the objectives and principles set forth in the key documents covering individual Partnership issues. The goals and principles of Azerbaijan’s private partnership with NATO are mainly reflected in Azerbaijan’s SNT presentation document (1996), the Planning and analysis processes (1997), and the Individual Partnership Action Plan (2004). In these documents, the Republic of Azerbaijan expressed its intention to carry out reforms in the field of Defense and security, develop military forces in accordance with NATO standards, participate in NATO operations, ensure energy security, prepare for emergency situations, to combat emerging security challenges, as well as to cooperate in the fields of Environment and public diplomacy. In 1999, Azerbaijan sent a military unit to support NATO peacekeeping operations in Kosovo. Through participation in these operations, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan gained experience in conducting joint operations with NATO troops, became closely acquainted with NATO standards, and increased the level of professionalism of our peacekeeping troops. The Individual Partnership Action Plan (WFP), which Azerbaijan joined in 2004, allows to systemize bilateral partnerships. 

In 2001, Azerbaijan conducted a multinational military training on SNT “Resolute cooperation — 2001”. The following year, Azerbaijan sent a military unit to Afghanistan to support NATO forces. In 2003, Azerbaijan joined the virtual Silk Road, and the next year at the Istanbul Summit Allied leaders paid special attention to the Caucasus. Thus, NATO’s special representative and coordinator were appointed to the region. In the same year, President Ilham Aliyev presented Azerbaijan’s first Individual Partnership operation plan to NATO in Brussels. In 2005, Azerbaijan began cooperation with NATO for the first time in the framework of the Individual Partnership Action Plan. Azerbaijan annually participates in more than 200 events within the framework of the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program prepared on the basis of the SNT presentation document. The Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme provide an opportunity for sharing experiences, improving preparedness, as well as participating in events serving expert discussions organized by NATO member states and some partner countries. Another important mechanism is the Planning and analysis process (PAP), which involves military reform, training, and education, implementation of standards, assistance to partners in identifying and evaluating forces that can be sent to multinational operations and military exercises with the participation of NATO forces. The PAP helps the partner country to organize defense planning in accordance with NATO experience.

Azerbaijan is currently implementing a number of concrete actions called the “partnership goal” in operational readiness and defense planning. In particular, taking advantage of the NATO experience, increasing the level of logistics and logistics of the personnel of the Armed Forces, the acquisition of military units with new equipment, increasing the level of training of the personnel, improving military strategy and planning and other important measures were carried out.

Based on the principles of the “Partnership for Peace” program, Azerbaijan is conducting political dialogue with NATO on broad-spectrum issues of common interest. Partnership in the framework of dialogue in various formats and levels, regional security, Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, participation in NATO operations, contribution to security in Afghanistan, other Security Threats, etc. actual issues are discussed, as well as the state of practical cooperation is assessed.

Azerbaijan’s support for NATO operations is currently one of the important areas of cooperation. At present, Azerbaijani servicemen are involved in the ISAF International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Since January 2015, NATO’s new “Resolute Support” non-combat mission in Afghanistan includes 120 military personnel, 2 military doctors, and 6 Staff Officers, including 128 contingents of our Armed Forces participating in the mission in Afghanistan together with NATO forces.

Azerbaijan also contributes to the NATO-EEA (Afghan National Army) Trust Fund. Thus, Azerbaijan has become a developed country from a poorly developed country in the field of security, from a buyer of security assistance to its provider.   

Azerbaijan is contributing to this area by being the chairman of the Working Group in the format of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council for the protection of important energy infrastructure and the fight against terrorism. Such contribution consists in the exchange of intelligence and analysis with NATO, strengthening national counter-terrorism training opportunities together with NATO allies, and improving border and infrastructure security.

Currently, NATO’s security systems are being implemented by the developed countries of the world. From this point of view, effective cooperation with the Alliance is beneficial for Azerbaijan in terms of security in the cross-border, maritime, and cyber sectors.