President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Sir Stuart Peach.
Welcoming members of the delegation, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- I am very glad that Azerbaijan has been offering its logistical support and a venue for such important meetings for several years now. We appreciate this. We see this as a sign of friendship and partnership between us. We also perceive it as a sign of trust. After all, there are many countries in the world. There are almost 200 countries in the United Nations. However, Azerbaijan has been chosen as the venue for these meetings which lead to certainty, cooperation, risk reduction and security on our planet. We are very pleased and feel proud that both NATO and Russia have chosen Azerbaijan as the venue for this meeting. We hope that the previous, today's and subsequent meetings will contribute to peace and stability. Welcome again!
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Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Sir Stuart Peach said:
- Mr. President, thank you. Let me first convey to you the greetings of the Secretary General, Mr. Stoltenberg. He sends you his most sincere greetings.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much, please convey my greetings to Mr. Secretary General too. I recall our meeting at the NATO headquarters. I also recall talking to Ambassadors to the North Atlantic Council. I have been there many times.
Sir Stuart Peach: In addition to today's meeting, let me express my appreciation to you for the support of NATO on the part of your Armed Forces. This is very important for us, as we are partners and friends. We have great respect for your Armed Forces, they are very professional and effective.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much. We are a reliable partner of NATO, and our military serve shoulder to shoulder with the NATO military in Afghanistan. As you know, we have recently increased the number of our military personnel by 30 percent. Now they are 120 people. We also work within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. At the same time, we provide important logistical and transport support for the goods going to Afghanistan. Also, two years ago we opened a railway between Azerbaijan and Turkey, and currently this railway is used for the transportation of goods. Another important issue is that we have linked Lapis Lazuli to our system. We have already started accepting goods exported from Afghanistan. In this way, we help Afghanistan make more money for economic and social development. At the same time, we have made donations into the Trust Fund of the Afghan National Army several times. We also work directly with the Government of Afghanistan in the area of reforms. We are very proud that the first ASAN center for the provision of public services – this know-how belongs to us – has been opened in Afghanistan. It is a unique public services center within the framework of a one-stop system. There are over 200 services that are provided online and are very effective. The approval rating of this center is close to 100 percent. Perhaps some members of your delegation could visit one of them – there are five such centers in Baku. I am saying this for you to see what we have offered to our Afghan partners. Of course, security and counter-terrorism operations are very important, but the country also needs jobs, employment, social protection, economic reforms, and we are working extensively with the Government of Afghanistan on these issues.