Interview with Rear Admiral Bulent Turan, Head of Partnerships Directorate at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
Report presents the intervidew:
At the beginning of our conversation, we wanted you to share your opinions about the benefits of holding NATO Days in Azerbaijan. What benefits to our country do you think can be achieved from holding the NATO Days in Azerbaijan?
It is my great pleasure to be in Azerbaijan. I think NATO Days in Azerbaijan is very important venue for Azerbaijan and NATO. During these days, we have visited a lot of institutions, and some military facilities in Azerbaijan. I brought a team, which includes some expertise from different nationals, different NATO headquarters, so by this team we contacted with our Azerbaijani partners. By doing this, we shared knowledge and information with Azerbaijan. Therefore, for this respect I believe this is very important event and it needs to go for the other iterations. This year we have 11th iteration of NATO Days in Azerbaijan and I believe it is very good platform to continue.
How do you find the interest and feedback from the Azerbaijani MOD and institutions?
Actually, the interest and will from Azerbaijani side regarding partnership with NATO is extremely high so we are very happy on that. That is why I believe Azerbaijan amongst the most active and constructive partners. Institutions and military facilities that we have visited during these days, my team have received a lot of very good questions from Azerbaijani officers and audience. So basically I can say that throughout our visit we have seen the interest is very-very high.
It would be interesting to know your opinion on another issue. How important to you is the Azerbaijan Partnership relationship with NATO?
Actually, it is very important, as we know, that Azerbaijan just turned out 25th anniversary of NATO-Azerbaijan partnership. Therefore, it is exactly quarter century. It is a long time. In addition, I have observed that Azerbaijan is amongst most active partner countries. We have monitored Azerbaijan in NATO LED operations by contributing troops. Moreover, Azerbaijan very actively contributing skilled personnel to several NATO posts. In addition, we have seen that there are OCC Forces, which we called some sort of evaluation level – OCC qualified, so for this respect I think Azerbaijan and NATO relations are very important and Azerbaijan is a paramount partner country for NATO.
Mr. Rear Admiral, at this stage of our conversation, I would like to ask you another question. What contribution is the holding of this event in various institutions made to military cooperation with NATO?
From NATO perspective, partnership is not important only to share information with partners but also learn and share some experience from our partner nations as well. So it is some sort of mutually beneficial “win and win” situations. Thus, I believe my team during this NATO Days Azerbaijan event have learned a lot from Azerbaijani partners as well. Therefore, this is why I do believe that it is also beneficial for NATO, too.
Are there areas where you would like to improve upon or explore?
Although Azerbaijan is very active and very constructive partner nations, we believe that there are still some areas which needs to be improved. So we need to keep this momentum in order to continue our cooperation. When we are going back to our headquarters we will work on that issues. I don’t want to specify dimension of all of them, but in very shortly I can say that, a particularly in training areas, also for some staff providing areas we will have to advance. But these are not limited with these mentioned subjects where might be some areas.
For last five days, we were in Azerbaijan for NATO Days in Azerbaijan event. It is a yearly event. It is my first time in Azerbaijan. Actually, I am also new in this position. I am in this position for about a month. Actually, I believe it very good coincidence to be here in Azerbaijan as a Turkish flag officer on the first time. We have very impressed event to our whole week and we all know that Azerbaijan is one of the very active NATO partner countries. I just want to emphasize that I am very impressed how Azerbaijan contributed to NATO. We all know that in NATO operations in the past Azerbaijan had a huge contribution to KFOR. Currently is contributing to NATO mission in Afghanistan – Resolute Support Mission. And I believe, shortly it will contribute to NATO mission in Iraq as well. And I believe what I have seen is the professionalism of the Azerbaijani Forces is I mean to my ears I have seen is very high level and success of Azerbaijani Forces on those operations is one of the main indicators of this professionalism.
Thank you very much, Mr. Rear Admiral. Thank you for your valuable and detailed information.
Thank you very much.