Azerbaijan's mission in Turkey aids expats amid virus
From the first hours of the border closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Azerbaijan has taken "all possible measures" to help its citizens in Turkey, including those who wanted to return, the country's envoy to Ankara told Anadolu Agency.
Azerbaijanis who were in Turkey on a temporary basis and now cannot go back as well as students in need can apply for assistance through the embassy's website, and qualified applicants are provided with food and lodging, said Khazar Ibrahim, Azerbaijan's ambassador to Turkey.
"So far, more than 15,000 [instances of] assistance of this kind have been rendered, and we are continuing to work around the clock to meet the needs of these categories of our citizens," he said.
Ibrahim said that over 2,700 Azerbaijani citizens flew back home on charter flights provided by his country, adding several thousand people had crossed the land border with Turkey via Azerbaijan’s autonomous Nakhchivan region.
"Right now, there are several hundred requests left, and given the availability of quarantine space in Azerbaijan, further flights are being considered by our government," he said.
The envoy said the embassy provides "classic and unconventional" legal and other consular services to its citizens to help them in these difficult times.
"The leadership of Azerbaijan is fully committed to helping its citizens here and we, as the embassy, are following these policies and guidelines. I should also underline the role of the Ministry of Education and SOCAR Turkey in these efforts,” he added, referring to the Turkish subsidiary of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic.
SOCAR Turkey has $19.5 billion worth of foreign direct investment in Turkey, while it supports the human resources of the country by employing 5,300 people, according to the company’s website.
Support of Turkish government
Ibrahim expressed his gratitude to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as the foreign, health and interior ministries for their support to the embassy and Azerbaijani citizens.
"Cordial relations between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey are the backbone for all these efforts to materialize," he said.
Whatever requests the diplomatic mission had during the difficult times were "duly met," Ibrahim said, adding "we couldn’t have expected otherwise, since 'One nation, two states' are not just words but also deeds in time of need."
The “One nation two state” maxim of former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev refers to the brotherly relations between Baku and Ankara.
Measures to battle COVID-19 in Azerbaijan
There have been many "successful measures" taken in Azerbaijan to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak, said Ibrahim.
Starting from the timely lockdown, increasing stockpiles of necessary medical equipment, expanding hospitalization capacity, introducing quarantine measures, educating people and closely working with international partners are among the main measures the country had taken to battle the pandemic, he said.
He went on to say that the country's First Vice President, Mehriban Aliyeva, championed many of these efforts, noting that among the recent ones was bringing skilled Azerbaijani doctors who were working in Turkey back to Azerbaijan to help with "modern ways to tackle the pandemic."
The Turkish and Azerbaijani doctors had taken part in a joint project with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Turkey’s Ege University in Izmir province, Ibrahim added.
Asked what would be his message to the world amid the pandemic, he gave a two-part reply.
"The standard one will be: Stay home, stay safe. The unconventional one will be: think more about humanity, nature and our future. We deserve better!" he said.
On March 14, the Turkish and Azerbaijani presidents decided in a phone call to temporarily suspend all road and air transportation between the countries in the wake of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The restriction, however, then only applied to travelers and excluded cargo.