The history of Azerbaijan-NATO relationship dates back to March 1992, when Azerbaijan joined a newly established consultative forum – the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), which was transformed into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council later in 1997.On May 4th, 1994, the Republic of Azerbaijan joined the NATO-led “Partnership for Peace” (PFP) program. Within the framework of cooperation with NATO, Ministry of Defense utilizes Partnership for Peace Program (PfP), Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), Planning and Review Process (PARP), Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback Program (OCC), Partnership Staff Post (PSP), Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP), Science for Peace and Security (SPS) program and other essential partnership mechanisms of NATO. By using these mechanisms, the Ministry of Defense is conducting reforms in the areas, such as development of strategic documents, implementation of NATO standards in the military education and training system, preparation of peacekeeping forces, management of personnel, maritime security, logistics, lessons learned, cyber security, energy security, Host Nation Support (HNS) and airspace surveillance.
Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) and activities within Planning and Review Process (PARP)
The Planning and Review Process (PARP) aims to uphold the development of forces and capabilities by partners that are able to cooperate alongside NATO allies in crisis response operations and other activities such as promoting security and stability. It provides a structural approach for enhancing interoperability and capabilities of partner forces that could be made available to the Alliance for multinational training, exercises and operations. PARP is a biennial process open to all NATO partners. The most of partnership goals adopted by the Republic of Azerbaijan within PARP, refer to the Ministry of Defense. To date, a part of the adopted Partnership Objectives has been fulfilled, and the work towards the implementation of the remaining long-term Partnership objectives are being carried out as well as new Partnership goals are adopted. The tasks belonging to the Ministry of Defense in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th stages of the periods respectively covering 2005-2007, 2008-2010, 2011-2013, 2014-2016 and 2015-2016 over Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) have been successfully accomplished, and the objects of the 6th stage for the period of 2020-2022 are on stage of consultation with NATO.
NATO Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC) program
The Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC) program is one of the essential mechanisms incorporating NATO’s experience in multinational modern army building, serving to the development of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. This is an essential program, which serves to develop respective units of the army in accordance with the requirements of modern warfare and standards, and to achieve necessary operational capabilities of NATO. Experience and knowledge gained through the use of this program ensure our units to participate successfully in the international operations and exercises and provide conditions to better representation and enhancing its authority.
Azerbaijan declared the following detachments into NATO OCC Pool of Forces:
• Peacekeeping battalion – 1;
• Reconnaissance company – 1;
• Two “MI-17” helicopters – 1;
• Boarding team on Maritime Interdiction Operations – 1.
Partnership Staff Post Concept
As of 2002, within the frame of the Partnership Staff Post Concept the officers of the Azerbaijan Army have been serving in various NATO tactical, operational and strategic level staff positions. This type of contribution made Azerbaijan a leading country among partner countries cooperating with NATO. In order to coordinate the performance of our contingent serving in various peacekeeping operations, officers of our Army have served in US Central Command Headquarter, Tampa, USA and in the International Multi Coalitional Headquarter in Baghdad, Iraq. Presently, in the component of the military representative officers of the Azerbaijan Army serving at national posts in NATO Headquarter, Brussels, Belgium and NATO SHAPE/Partnership Directorate in Mons, Belgium, and at various NATO Head Quarters.
Cooperation in the sphere of education
Besides security issues, NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation is successfully developed in the sphere of such as science and education. Since 2008, by taking advantage of the Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP), the Azerbaijan Army in cooperation with NATO Defense Education Program of NATO has been implementing outstanding works on the form and content of its military schools to integrate into Bologna process, as well as faculty and curriculum development. The program has particular role for the development of foreign languages, which plays a crucial role for interoperability and cooperation. The program, which was launched in Azerbaijan at the War College of the Armed Forces in 2008, in 2018 started to support Military institute named after Haydar Aliyev, and in 2021 The Staff of the Military Medical Faculty in the field faculty and curriculum development, (now aforementioned military education centers are under authority of National Defense University). Distant Learning which is one of the innovative forms of the XX century, serves involving further more personnel into the education process in the Azerbaijan Army, laying down life-long learning, and saving resources. It is also a platform serving to overcome the contemporary challenges.
Science for Security and Peace Program
NATO Science for Security and Peace Program is an important tool for broadening cooperation and dialogue, and mutually solution of the security challenges, as well as for exchange of knowledge and conducting researches through development of science and innovation. The Defense Ministry has already successfully signed up some projects.