Azerbaijan-Turkey relationship passed the 2015 exam
JAVID VELIYEVOn Jan. 15, the president of Azerbaijan, İlham Aliyev, visited Turkey upon the invitation of the president of Turkey, Receb Tayyip Erdoğan. This visit to Turkey was the first overseas trip for Aliyev in 2015. It was important from two points. First, Aliyev attended the fourth session of the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council’s meeting. The council was established in 2010. Turkey and Azerbaijan signed three agreements: in the area of financial crimes, custom issues and “The Joint Declaration on results of the fourth session of the Turkish-Azerbaijani High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.”
Second, the timing of the visit is important as developments regarding the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events have an impact on both states. According to some experts, the pressures on Turkey will rise in 2015 to open Turkish-Armenian borders. This would contradict Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh policy. Actually, certain forces outside Turkey, which are being funded by the EU and the U.S. government, are continuing to pressure the Turkish government to open the Turkish-Armenian border.
According to them, the pressure on Turkey could be reduced if it opens the borders. However, during the press conference after the closed-door meeting between Erdoğan and Aliyev, the former stated that Turkey supported resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the frame of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and that Turkey would not step back. This is evidence that Turkey is keeping its position unchanged. This message is not only to those who wanted to open the Turkey-Armenia border, but also to those who desire to legalize the illegal entity on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as an independent state.
As Aliyev stated at the press conference, Armenia is trying to maintain the status quo of Nagorno-Karabakh … While the diplomatic negotiations were ongoing between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenian military forces held military exercises in Aghdam District, which is under occupation by Armenian forces. During that military exercises, Armenian helicopter tried to attack the Azerbaijani contact line and was shot down by Azerbaijani forces. Armenia is only behind Israel and Singapore on the list of 150 nations ranked according to the latest Global Militarization Index (GMI) released by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). As a result, President Erdoğan underlined that Armenia prefers a distraction tactic in order to avoid the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
President Aliyev deemed wise the decision of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24 and promised to attend that celebration. The decision of Turkey was in response to those who worried about the outcome of the invitation of the Armenian president to President Erdoğan to attend the 100th anniversary of the so-called “genocide” of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The next day, Turkey sent an invitation to attend the event to some world leaders and also to the president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan. However, on April 24, Armenia and the Armenian diaspora are preparing to mark the day as the “anniversary of the so-called genocide” and planning to hold massive ceremonies around the world.
Turkey played a crucial role for Azerbaijan in its integration into Western organizations, so Turkey’s invitation of Azerbaijan to the G-20 Summit is not surprising. The energy and transportation projects that have reinforced relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey have also been discussed. President Erdoğan stated that TANAP is a project of strategic importance for Turkey and Azerbaijan. TANAP has kept its importance even after Russia’s offer to Turkey regarding the Turk Stream. Also, 2015 is very important because strategic projects are expected to be finalized during the year, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which will connect China with Europe. This project will increase strategic the importance of both Azerbaijan and Turkey and will integrate both states even deeper.
According to the chief of the department for the foreign relations of the administration of the president, Novruz Mammadov, during the visit both sides determined tasks and content until 2020. If we don’t take into account the annual meetings of the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council, both presidents have decided to meet four times during 2015. Besides the regional projects, bilateral investments and frequent visits increase independence on bilateral relations.