Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Security of Azerbaijan As Part of the Common European Security

His Excellency Hassan A. Hassanov
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan


Geopolitical realities at the end of the 20th century, including the USSR's dissolution and the end of the Warsaw Pact, have created a real possibility for expanding interaction and integration between countries of the Euro-Atlantic territory. World bipolarity, confrontation, and the Cold War have become things of the past. The behavior of any state within the international arena must remain within the bounds of civilized international relations.

The Republic of Azerbaijan has consistently followed this new-order line in its foreign policy, particularly as it relates to progressive integration into Euro-Atlantic political and economic structures, which is one of the main directions of its foreign policy. Azerbaijan, as an integral part of Europe, subscribes to fundamental European values: a secularist society, democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law, and a market economy.

We are currently striving to broaden cooperation with European and transatlantic partners, including on a multinational basis. In our opinion, turning these efforts into a progressive course toward a stable democracy, respect for international legal norms, and a counter against threats aimed at undermining peace and security can be achieved only by joint efforts within the framework of international structures. Freedom, democracy, and cooperation among nations and peoples are the major foundation for a common and comprehensive security for Europe in the 21st century.

But the transformation of the geopolitical situation in Europe and the drive to build civilized international relations have come up against forces that are reluctant to accept the persistent "winds of change" that are blowing across Europe. These forces have posed a serious threat to the establishment of a stable security environment in modern Europe. While Europe has avoided nuclear missile disaster, it continues to confront new challenges to the world community, such as local wars and conflicts created by aggressive separatism and militant nationalism that cause death and other serious consequences.


One of the longest conflicts in the newly restructured Europe is the conflict that resulted from the direct aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, when Azerbaijani territories were annexed by force. As a result of this aggression, 20% of Azerbaijan lands are occupied by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia; more than 30,000 people were killed, 200,000 wounded, and 4,000 became prisoners of war; and more than 1 million Azerbaijani people--15% of the country's population--have become refugees or displaced persons suffering in tent camps.

The international community has made efforts to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and sees the way out of the conflict situation on the basis of the three principles, supported at the OSCE Lisbon Summit by all OSCE member-states except the Republic of Armenia:

  • territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
  • legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh in the form of self-rule within Azerbaijan.
  • guaranteed security for the whole population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

We call upon the Republic of Armenia to accept these principles. This would make it possible to start the settlement process and to reach real results. Azerbaijan supports a peaceful settlement of the conflict within the OSCE Minsk Group. Therefore, the issue of peacekeeping by the OSCE, as one of the main structures of the European security architecture, is of utmost importance for us.


Strengthening security across all of Europe is vital and important for Azerbaijan. We consider the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict as an integral part of the European security process, and rely on the cooperation and support of the European community.

In Lisbon, heads of state and government of OSCE member-states unanimously adopted the Declaration on a Common and Comprehensive Security Model for Europe for the Twenty-first Century in which they determined "to translate the vision of a cooperative future into reality by creating a common security space free of dividing lines in which all states are equal partners." We share in this joint approach to the European security architecture, one based on democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, a market economy, social justice without domination, mutual confidence, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. The OSCE member-states have also committed "not to support participating states that threaten or use force in violation of international law against the territorial integrity or political independence of any participating state," and "to consult promptly--in conformity with the OSCE responsibilities and making full use of the OSCE's procedures and instruments--with a participating state whose security is threatened and to consider jointly actions that may have to be undertaken in defense of our common values."

There is no doubt that the future of European security depends mainly on further strengthening stability through conventional arms control and maintaining only such military capabilities as are commensurate with legitimate individual or collective security needs, with adherence to rights and obligations under international law. I would like to express Azerbaijan's position on different issues that are under consideration as the security model develops:

  • The comprehensive security model for Europe should be considered the modus operandi for states within the framework of OSCE, rather than as a new structure.
  • Security in Europe must be provided by enhancing existing OSCE principles and through the use of materials and means already available.
  • It would be counterproductive to create new structures or turn OSCE into an "umbrella construction" housing regional organizations.
  • Turning international activity of OSCE states into cooperation between regional organizations will have undesirable political consequences.
  • The concept of a division of labor looks very doubtful as far as regional organizations are concerned; it appears to be a mask behind which the intention to divide the transatlantic region into zones and spheres of influence can hide. Such division would inevitably lead to confrontation.
  • States should be able to cooperate on an individual basis as well as within the framework of regional organizations. But regional organizations must not overshadow sovereign states and restrict their rights.
  • Each case of possible cooperation between OSCE and a regional institution should be separately considered and determinations based on the decision on cooperation taken by OSCE consensus as well as the decision made by the specific institution.
  • We think that OSCE should carry out peacekeeping activities itself and delegating a peacekeeping mandate of the OSCE to any other institution is unacceptable. OSCE, as the all-European security organization, should more actively use its potential in this regard."


Participation on the Flank Agreement

One of the basic elements of all-European security is the CFE (Conventional Armed Forces in Europe) Treaty. On May 16, 1997, after a series of talks, Azerbaijan decided to accept the treaty's Flank Agreement. The Republic of Azerbaijan approved the document agreed to by the states that were party to the CFE Treaty of 1990 under the following conditions:

  • The document will not be construed as providing any legal justification for holding TLE (Treaty Limited Equipment) belonging to the Russian Federation on the territory of other states party to the treaty, comprised within the flank region, and will not be interpreted as conferring upon the Russian Federation the right to locate TLE on the territory of those states without freely expressed and duly legalized consent by the receiving state.
  • Application of this document must not lead to violation of the Tashkent Agreement on Principles and Procedures for the Implementation of the CFE Treaty of May 15, 1992.
  • During the implementation of the document, account should be taken of the fact that the group of states party to the Warsaw Pact of 1955 no longer exists.
  • During the implementation of the document, account should be taken that the Republic of Azerbaijan does not belong to either of two groups of states envisaged by the treaty.
  • Provisions of the document regarding the deployment of Russian TLE on the territory of other states within the flank zone will not extend to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
  • The presence of any armed forces on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan against its will and without the freely expressed and duly legalized consent of the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan is unacceptable.
  • The states party to the treaty should implement joint measures to remove any uncontrolled and unaccounted-for TLE located on the territory of those states in the flank region, in particular the Republic of Azerbaijan, and should prevent any illegal deliveries or movements of TLE in this region.
  • The validity of the document, once in force, will lapse as soon as the CFE Treaty goes into force in its adapted form.
  • The provisions of the CFE Treaty concerning the flank region and the problems associated with it will be considered within the framework and within the context of the treaty adaptation process, in view of the fact that the flank region and its limitations are an integral part of the treaty's previous zonal-group structure, which is no longer in keeping with contemporary geopolitical realities. Azerbaijan will regard the Flank Agreement bearing in mind the aforementioned necessary conditions.

On May 8, 1997, the NATO member-states made a joint statement in the JCG (Joint Consultative Group), expressing their position that the Flank Agreement does not confer the right upon any state party to the treaty to station or temporarily deploy conventional armaments and equipment limited by the treaty on the territory of other states party to the treaty without the freely expressed consent of the receiving state. The statement further notes that the Flank Agreement does not alter in any way the requirement for the freely expressed consent of all states party to the treaty that are concerned with the exercise of any reallocations. The majority of Azerbaijan's above-mentioned concerns regarding the document are also reflected in the joint statement made by the U.S. and my country made in Washington, Baku, and in the JCG in Vienna. The statement fixes for the first time the absence of foreign military bases on the territory of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's position that any change in this status may take place only in accordance with the constitutionally expressed will of the Azerbaijani people and the state of Azerbaijan is also supported. This clause acknowledges the non-block and non-group status of Azerbaijan in the system of the European security.

Uncontrolled and Unaccounted-for TLE

Azerbaijan has repeatedly drawn attention to the parties to the treaty to the uncontrolled and unaccounted-for TLE presence on the territory of Azerbaijan. This presence is a serious obstacle to the implementation of Azerbaijan's commitments under the treaty and makes a positive settlement of the conflict impossible. Sharing Azerbaijani and other countries' concerns on this issue, the states party to the treaty, in the final document adopted at the CFE Review Conference, stated that the existence of uncontrolled and unaccounted-for TLE is undermining the treaty regime. The states also stressed the urgent necessity to approve political decisions and appropriate measures to ensure implementation of the treaty in accordance with its provisions. We expect further cooperation from the concerned states to resolve this problem.

These recent developments demonstrate the necessity to accelerate the efforts by all interested states to establish a common "zone of confidence" across the entire Euro-Atlantic space, preventing any thoughts of partiality in approaches to interstate relations, particularly when these relations are in violation of international treaties and agreements that threaten peace and deepen force imbalances. Azerbaijan has been deeply concerned about the illegal and unsanctioned transfer of 1 billion dollars (U.S.) worth of Russian arms to the Republic of Armenia. Armenia received 84 T-72 battle tanks, 50 ACVs, 72 artillery units, numerous surface-to-air systems with 349 rockets for them, 40 missiles for Osa surface-to-air systems, 18 Grad multiple-missile launcher systems, and 40 portable Igla antiaircraft systems and 200 rockets for those systems. Most of these weapons have been stationed on the Azerbaijan territories occupied by the Republic of Armenia. Our special concern is the intensification of arms transfer after May 12, 1994, when the cease-fire regime was agreed to. This overwhelming militarization of the Republic of Armenia is incommensurate with its legitimate defense and security needs, and contradicts Armenia's international commitments, including the CFE Treaty, as well as the ongoing processes in Europe.

Azerbaijan welcomes the decision of the state Duma and Russian leaders to work through the General Prosecutors Office and the Military Prosecutors Office of the Russian Federation to investigate that issue. We hope that all measures will be taken by the Russian authorities to avoid such transfers and that officials involved in illegal arms shipment to Armenia will bear the responsibility and take all necessary steps to return these weapons to Russia.

To this end, we greatly appreciate the U.S. Senate resolution that was adopted concerning the CFE Treaty Flank Agreement ratification. The resolution took into account the existence of illegal arms transfers to the Republic of Armenia and approved special measures in this regard.

Adaptation of the CFE Treaty

Azerbaijan believes the CFE Treaty adaptation process is of great importance and that the interests of all states, including the small states of Europe, should be taken into consideration. The CFE Treaty adaptation process should aim to remove the imbalances of the Document, keeping the new geopolitical reality in mind.

Azerbaijan is ready to cooperate concerning the whole range of issues that pertain to the CFE Treaty adaptation process, so that it will be in conformity with security changes that took place after the signing of the treaty in 1990. In this regard, our understanding is that:

  • It should be taken into account that the group of states party to the Warsaw Pact of 1955 no longer exists, and that therefore those states and those of the former USSR are no longer tied by collective commitments, particularly regarding the deployment of foreign troops on their territories. Accordingly, an adapted treaty must provide strict and clear guarantees that foreign troops cannot be deployed on a state's territory if that state does not have ties of military alliance with the troops' contributor country. In other words, a state that does not belong to a group should be guaranteed that no foreign troops will be deployed on its territory.
  • Appropriate provisions to guarantee a balance of force in the region and to eliminate stockpiling of weapons and arms equipment disproportionate to legitimate security needs, particularly in the frontier districts of neighboring states, will be elaborated. Azerbaijan's consent to the provisions of the adapted treaty will depend on its evaluation of the present and future security environment in Europe.


This 14th NATO Workshop on the eve of the NATO Summit in Madrid gives us an opportunity to exchange national visions on NATO's role in the European security architecture. The meeting of the heads of state and government in Madrid will be an historical milestone in the life of postwar Europe and one where NATO will secure new allies and strong partners. We believe that in Madrid NATO must show the world that Europe should not be separated into blocs that leave buffer states to the mercy of fate.

Azerbaijan considers NATO to be a positive security factor and strongly believes that every country must enjoy the inalienable right to choose its own security arrangements freely. We feel that NATO is one of the most important and basic elements of a pan-European security.


With integration into the European security structures its goal, the Republic of Azerbaijan is developing and deepening its relations with NATO, while respecting the concerns of other states. During this process, however, we are focusing on our own national interests, which involve creation of internal and external conditions that are favorable for the secure existence and development of the state of Azerbaijan. In other words, we wish to be a party to the talks, but not a part of them. We call upon all states to develop advanced partnerships with states that have special, justified concerns. Such partnerships could take the form of separate agreements between NATO and these concerned countries, which are located in sensitive zones.

In general, Azerbaijan looks positively on the signing, on May 27, 1997, in Paris, of the Founding Act on Relationship, Cooperation, and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, with the understanding that this agreement will not infringe on the interests of small states. We are pleased to note that the signing of agreements between NATO and non-member-states has continued with the initialing on May 29, 1997, in Sintra, Portugal, of the Charter on a Distinctive NATO-Ukraine Partnership.

Azerbaijan fully supports NATO plans to deepen the Partnership for Peace program and the rapprochement between partners and NATO members. The President of Azerbaijan, His Excellency Mr. Heydar Aliyev, personally visited Brussels on May 4, 1994, for the signing of the Partnership Framework Document.

We look with great interest on the initiative to establish the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council as a unified mechanism of cooperation. The council should promote conditions that will accelerate efforts to expand political partnerships as well as strengthen real cooperation within the framework of Partnership for Peace. However, the new structure should retain the positive elements of NACC and PFP and take into account the above-mentioned concerns. We are pleased that the Basic Document of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council aims to expand the political dimension of consultation and cooperation to allow Partners to develop individual political relationships.


Azerbaijan is the only country of the three in the South Caucasus that is free of foreign military bases, does not belong to any existing military bloc, and is no state's military ally. Because we are situated in a kind of buffer zone, Azerbaijan follows with great interest the process of NATO enlargement. However, we are also concerned with the intentions of some countries to undertake measures that could affect the buffer states' security. In this regard, Azerbaijan is looking to intensive dialogue and consultation within the 16 + 1 framework on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.

As a state located on the southern border of Europe, Azerbaijan considers its security within the context of a comprehensive all-European security system. Therefore expanding its partnership with NATO, the major international military-political organization, is an Azerbaijani foreign policy priority. We believe this esteemed organization will continue its relations with us in areas of mutual interest to meet the challenges of the 21st century.


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