Azeri FM Denies Baku Prevented Armenia from Attending NATO Conference

BAKU (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev reacted to an Armenian Foreign Minister’s statement released Tuesday–denouncing Azerbaijan for its refusal to grant Armenian senior army officers entry visas to attend a NATO planning conference in Baku for an upcoming military exercise in Azerbaijan.

"This unprecedented action by the Azerbaijani authorities calls into question the realization of the basic principles of the Partnership–which are aimed at strengthening mutual confidence–enhancing dialogue and co-operation in the Euro-Atlantic area and–in particular–among the nations of the Southern Caucasus," read a part of the Armenian ministry’s statement.

In a statement released by Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry–Guliyev accused Armenia of violating the principles of the US-lead Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program–namely–those of sovereignty–territorial integrity–and respect for the borders of a partner states.

Guliyev said that Azerbaijan did not hinder the Armenian delegation’s participation–and that representatives of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan were ready to receive the Armenian which did not arrive–for reasons Azerbaijan does not shoulder responsibility. He also charged Armenia with complicating NATO policy in the South Caucasus–adding that "efforts [by Armenia] in this direction will all fail."

"As for the Armenian military’s participation of in training courses to be held in Azerbaijan in September 2004–Azerbaijan is ready to consider their participation," concludes the Azeri Foreign Ministry statement.

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