APA’s interview with Lieutenant Colonel David Ethell, the Tbilisi-based British military attaché on Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia
What is the purpose of your visit to Baku? What meetings did you have during your stay in Baku?
- I just have been here because I have been visiting an air base in Taghiyev settlement along with my other attaché colleagues. The visit has been organized by the Ministry of Defense.
Which military projects are currently being implemented between the UK and Azerbaijan?
- Currently we have a lot of projects ongoing. We have a number of Azerbaijani officers training in UK at the moment. We have senior officers in our senior staff courses in London, in the Defense Academy west of London. In an addition, we have planned a English language course for next year for Azerbaijani officers, and we’re also conducting a number of peacekeeping training courses in the Czech Republic.
I just want to mention in terms of other work we have done in last year. Our military band came to Azerbaijan last summer. My band, Salamanca Band And Bugles Of The Rifles, did several public performances. They also played with a band of state border service. It is a great opportunity to bring forces together with music. And I really hope it is something that we can take for the future.
Also, last week a navy training team came here from the UK to work with the Navy of Azerbaijan. It is really a good demonstration of how our Navies could work together and I hope that we can do more in the future. I am looking forward to that.
What kind of projects will be implemented in the future? Is there any cooperation with the participation of third countries?
- We also have some management courses that we conducted here in the region. And I have been able to bring some instructors and students from Azerbaijan to Tbilisi. And we also have several places for courses in the UK and this is an annual project we will repeat and try to improve in years to come.
Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom cooperate within NATO. What do you think of Azerbaijan’s involvement in operations in Afghanistan?
- I am delighted that Azerbaijan is participating in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. It is a very important mission. I am delighted that Azerbaijan is able to do so. We recognize Azerbaijan as a partner for the peace mission and also the contribution they are making in preparation of OCC battalion, boarding team and also, helicopter groups. This is a real contribution and we really appreciate that Azerbaijan is making efforts to work with NATO and other international partners.
Does the UK cooperate with Azerbaijan in arms purchases?
- No. We don’t. I am not here on defense sales projects. But really we don’t.
The OSCE member countries have an obligation as to not selling arms to either side of a conflict. However, this obligation is not always followed. What is your opinion?
- The UK adheres to the OSCE prohibitions on selling arms and I am not here on defense sales capacity.
As a military officer, how likely do you think the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is to be resolved peacefully?
- This is really a very difficult question. But the UK supports the Minsk group’s efforts for a peaceful solution. We hope to achieve it soon.