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Azerbaijani president no fan of Turkey's AKP, say US diplomats

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/29/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev is no fan of Turkey's ruling party and its leader, according to US diplomatic cables made public Sunday by the WikiLeaks website.

Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev is no fan of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to U.S. diplomatic cables made public Sunday by the WikiLeaks website.

A report prepared Feb. 25, 2010, by a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, focuses on a recent meeting between Aliyev and William Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs.

The document says Aliyev “made clear his distaste for the Erdoğan government, underscoring the ‘naivete’ of their foreign policy and the failure of their initiatives, including the loss of support for Turkey among traditional international friends because of Ankara’s hostility to Israel.”

The Azerbaijani president reportedly noted that Erdoğan’s insistence on promoting Hamas and Gaza while Arab countries were notably silent on those issues had brought Turkey no benefits.

In the same meeting, Aliyev reportedly said Turkey should demonstrate “constructive behavior” in regards to a gas-transit deal that was signed in June. Aliyev also professed to be worried that active Turkish-Russian cooperation could impede the deal’s progress. He reportedly confided: “Turkish Energy Minister [Taner] Yıldız recently told the head of the Azerbaijani State Oil Company, ‘Why do you want to ruin our relations with Russia? Do you really need Nabucco?’”

The Nabucco pipeline is planned to carry natural gas from Turkey to Austria to reduce Europe’s energy dependence on Russia.

The leaked document adds that Aliyev made a gas deal with Russia to prevent Turkey from becoming an energy hub.

“Aliyev spelled out the reasons Azerbaijan decided to sell gas to Russia last year, noting that ‘Moscow had asked’ and offered a good price for gas that was surplus anyway,” the cable read. “But the real reason, Aliyev confided, was that the sale illustrated to ‘our Turkish friends’ that they will not be allowed to create a gas distribution hub.”

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