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Envoy: Formation of Turkey-Azerbaijan-Russia trilateral format underway

27 October 2016 17:35 (UTC+04:00)
Envoy: Formation of Turkey-Azerbaijan-Russia trilateral format underway

By Amina Nazarli

Ankara expects not only economic, but also political results from trilateral formats of cooperation, new Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Erkan Ozoral said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

The idea of creating the tripartite format of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia was initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the framework of his St. Petersburg meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in August.

Ozoral said that trilateral formats will provide strong support for regional development by raising political and economic ties between three countries to a new level.

Having noted the importance of trilateral formats of cooperation being implemented by Azerbaijan and Turkey with other states, the diplomat said that the bilateral co-operation carried out earlier by these countries will be of great benefit to peoples if implemented in a trilateral format.

Ozoral added that the trilateral cooperation, on the one hand, will support the development of trilateral economic ties, on the other hand, will strengthen the three countries’ relations and bring them together for their political point of view.

All this will play a major role in ensuring peace and prosperity in the region, said the ambassador, adding that work on creation of the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Russia trilateral format is underway.

The diplomat said that for 25 years, Turkey and Azerbaijan jointly implemented such large-scale projects as the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

"Now we face the challenge to implement projects such as the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP).

TANAP project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field to the western borders of Turkey. The length of TANAP is 1,800 kilometers with the initial capacity of 16 billion cubic meters. Around six bcm of this gas will be delivered to Turkey and the remaining volume will be supplied to Europe.

After the construction of TANAP, Azerbaijan will become the second supplier of gas to the Turkish market, leaving Iran behind.

"The most important among the tasks is to complete all the work in the shortest possible time, and enter these projects into operation," he said.

Ozoral noted that the Azerbaijan-Turkey economic ties are relations built not only in the transportation and energy projects, but at the same time, in mutual investments.

Now, Turkey intends to increase the volume of trade turnover with Azerbaijan up to $15 billion by 2023, by increasing investments in Azerbaijan’s economy.

Ozoral added that the volume of Azerbaijani investments in Turkish economy has already exceeded $4 billion.

He also noted that currently, about 2,600 Turkish companies operate in Azerbaijan, and nearly 25,000 people are currently employed by these companies.

Turkish companies operate almost in all spheres of the economy including telecommunications, banking, insurance, transportation, food, textile sectors and in the field of construction equipment and furniture manufacturing, said Ozoral.

On the other hand, Azerbaijan is also taking serious steps, becoming the biggest foreign investor in Turkey, added the envoy.

It is expected that investments of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR in Turkey’s energy and infrastructure sphere will reach $17-20 billion in the near future, he said, noting that $5.5 billion will be invested in the Star refinery, which is being built in Izmir.

At the same time, Turkish construction companies have invested $11 billion in 350 projects implemented in Azerbaijan since 2003, he noted.

Turkey is a major trade partner of Azerbaijan, and in January-September 2016 the trade turnover between the countries amounted to $1.67 billion, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan.

In terms of export and import operations, Turkey takes the second place. Azerbaijan exported goods to $842.2 million, while Turkish imports amounted of $830.8 million to Azerbaijan.

Currently, there are several trilateral formats in the region such as Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Iran and Turkey-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan.

It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan and Turkey are key states in all those interstate structures.

The ambassador called the trilateral format of cooperation of Azerbaijan and Turkey with Georgia as the best example of this. “The benefits of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline brought to the three countries are obvious,” he said.

“Everyone knows what kind of benefits the project of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the construction of which is in the final stage, will bring to the three countries, as well as whole Eurasia,” he said.

Ozoral noted that cooperation of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the same format with Iran will also benefit all three countries.

He said that with the diversification of routes leading to Central Asia by Turkey, Azerbaijan will become a main point in this direction.

All this has a positive impact on the transportation by vessels through the Caspian Sea, Ro-Ro transportation and rail transportation in the region, noted the diplomat.

During the interview, the ambassador also touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which he called "a bleeding wound for both Azerbaijan and Turkey".

“Unfortunately, the negotiation process supported by Turkey hasn’t given any positive results so far,” he noted, hoping that the ongoing negotiations will become more constructive and concrete steps will be taken to address the issue.

Turkey wants the Caucasus to be a region of peace and prosperity, the diplomat said. “Turkey has long been suffering from issues and conflicts in neighboring countries,” said Erkan Ozoral. “In this context, we want the Caucasus to become an example for all humanity as “an island of peace”.”

He noted that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be fairly resolved within the framework of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

“Turkey has always supported and will support any path Azerbaijan will choose within the framework of these principles,” the ambassador said. “We are ready to provide every support to achieve peace. The great injustice that Azerbaijan is facing is aggravating as the settlement of the problem is getting protracted.”

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Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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