Inter-Governmental parliamentary instruments plays an important role in facilitating discussions, sharing experience, improving mutual understanding and building public consensus on political, economic, social, as well as security issues. Azerbaijanis actively being represented in the activities of international parliamentary frameworks, including PACE, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of CIS. In that view, it attaches importance to get actively involved in the activities of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) as well.
The cooperation of Azerbaijan with NATO PA dates back to 1999, when Azerbaijan has been granted observer status during NATO PA Poland Session. Since then Azerbaijan MPs contributed to fostering Azerbaijan-NATO PA cooperation by being involved in major events and participating in discussions on transatlantic security affairs, inter alia, international cooperation against terrorism, security sector reform, developing military interoperability, NATO transformation, and role of NATO in security.
In 2002, NATO PA adopted a decision on grantingAzerbaijanan associate member status. Today, the main forms of participation of Azerbaijani representatives in NATO PA activities are: involving and sharing of opinions in the Plenary Sessions of the Assembly held twice a year, Committee and Sub-Committee meetings and visits, NATO PA New Parliamentarians Programme, as well as annual Parliamentary Transatlantic Forums and Rose-Roth seminars.
Along with actively involvement in NATO PA Rose-Roth seminars held in other states by its MPs, Azerbaijan has hosted three such seminars:
- On 25-27 November 2004, the 58th NATO PA Rose-Roth Seminar on “Security in the South Caucasus”. Stability in Azerbaijan, NATO-Azerbaijan relations and its perspectives, democratic reforms in Azerbaijan and municipal elections, South Caucasus security, Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, its effects on regional stability and political, economic and social development and the role of international community in the settlement process of this conflict, Caspian Sea energy resources and their transportation to European markets and other related issues have been among the top issues discussed during the seminar;
- On 6-8 March 2008, the 68th NATO PA Rose-Roth Seminar on “Security in Caspian Region”. Security, political and economic development in the Caspian region andCentral Asia, energy security and other issues relevant to the region discussed during the seminar. Furthermore, the region’s geographical orientation and its effects on the policy and practice of regional powers, security inAfghanistan and state of democracy and human rights, developing market economy, state building process inCentral Asia have been among the discussed topics.
- On 16-18 June 2014, the 85th NATO PA Rose-Roth Seminar on “South Caucasus: Challenges and Opportunities”. Azerbaijan’s foreign and security Priorities and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Armenia-Azerbaijan: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process, security sector reforms in Azerbaijan, the Crimean crisis: implications for the South Caucasus, energy security: new opportunities in the Caucasus and Caspian regions, Afghanistan post-2014: supporting domestic and regional stability and other relevant regional issues were discusses within the framework of this seminar.
Exchange of visits, mutually beneficial meetings, consultations and deliberations between different level of NATO PA and Azerbaijan officials being conducted within the framework of different fora contributes to strengthen our partnership with NATO PA.
Sub-Committee on East-West Economic Co-operation and Convergence visited Azerbaijan on 12-14 May, 1999. Touching uponAzerbaijan’s suitable geography which is an important link between Europe and Asia,Azerbaijan officials expressed their will for deepening the relationship with NATO as a critical factor to foster the national security. During the visit NATO PA delegates and Azerbaijan officials discussed the security landscape of Azerbaijan, the occupation of twenty per cent of Azerbaijan territory by Armenia and its negative affects to the population and security of the region, democratic reforms, human rights in Azerbaijan and its relations with the West, energy security, Azerbaijan’s energy policy, political and economic foundations of development and macro-economic conditions in Azerbaijan.
The President of NATO PA Rafael Estrella (Spain) together with Secretary General, Simon Lunn, made a Presidential visit to Azerbaijanon 17-19 January, 2002. The visit was in response to the invitation from the Speaker of the Azerbaijan Parliament (Milli Mejlis).
The visit has played an indispensable role in shiftingAzerbaijan’s membership in NATO PA from observer status into associate member status. During the visit, the NATO PA President met senior figures in both government and Parliament.
Following the NATO PA President’s visit, fifteen members of the NATO PA Sub-Committee on Democratic Governance of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security visitedAzerbaijanon 16-17 September, 2002, to inquire about the political, social, economic and security situation in the country. The visit took place on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, at the invitation of Ziyafat Asgerov, Deputy Speaker of the Milli Mejlis. Senior figures in both government and Parliament updated the NATO PA delegates on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, its calamities, uncontrolled territory, Nagorno-Karabakh’s becoming fertile land for illegal organized activities, including drug trafficking, arms smuggling and other criminal acts and the settlement process of the conflict, and held consultations on Azerbaijan-NATO and NATO PA relations, possibility of granting Azerbaijan associate membership at the NATO PA, as well as regional security issues and relations with neighbor countries.