Azerbaijan to Enlist Turkish General to Improve Military

BAKU (Armenpress)–Azerbaijan has launched a project to elevate its military to NATO standards and is planning to take important steps in 2007 to accomplish this goal, reported the Ayna newspaper in Baku. The news story said officials in Baku were reportedly planning to recruit a Turkish general as a deputy defense minister. According to news reports in the Azeri press, a Turkish general, to be appointed by the Turkish Armed Forces, will assume the post in mid-2007. The news story in Ayna said Baku would grant the Turkish general significant authority and permit him to work with his team from Turkey. The partnership is planned to continue until 2011 with other Turkish generals to be selected by the Turkish Armed Forces to l consecutively occupy the post. The newspaper also wrote that Azeri and Turkish military officials had been discussing the subject for some time and that it would be taken up during the visit of Gen. Ilker Basbug, commander-in-chief of the Turkish Ground Forces, to Azerbaijan in January. Ayna reported that the deputy defense minister would be identified within few months following that meeting. Azerbaijan will model this system on a project implemented by Lithuania in 2002, when the country appointed a retired American colonel, Ionas Kronkaytis, as chief of staff upon recommendation from NATO and US military authorities. Kronkaytis reformed the Lithuanian army in 2003 according to NATO standards, which resulted in the country joining the alliance.

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