Azerbaijan’s regime is pulling its NATO troops from newly-independent Kosovo in apparent fears that the west’s recognition of the tiny┬ástate might serve as precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh independence.

Reuters reports:

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has asked parliament to vote to withdraw the ex-Soviet country’s peacekeepers from Kosovo, an Azeri official said on Thursday.

Aliyev submitted the initiative to a parliamentary committee this week, and the vote is expected on March 4. The proposal is expected to pass into law with little opposition.

Azerbaijan has had 33 soldiers serving in Kosovo since 1999 with a Turkish battalion under NATO command.

Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said Kosovo’s recent declaration of independence from Serbia had “sharply changed the political scene”.

“Azerbaijan, as well as a host of other NATO partner-countries, is now re-examining the position of its peacekeeping platoon,” Azimov told reporters.


Karabakh, an indigenous Armenian enclave that Stalin annexed to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s, is de facto independent from Azerbaijan after a war in the 1990s that killed thousands of people on both sides. Azerbaijan’s regime has said it will do everything to return its Soviet territory.

Since Turkey has hailed Kosovo’s independence, it will be interesting to see how fiercely Azerbaijan will deny Kosovo’s independence given Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s close relationship.