Azerbaijani,Turkish leaders offer new format of regional cooperation [UPDATE]
By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have offered a new regional cooperation that would involve six countries in the region, including Armenia.
The two presidents made the remarks at a news conference held after the ceremony of signing several bilateral cooperation accords in Baku on December 10.
"We must create a new platform for cooperation in the region. First statements have already been made. This can be a multilateral platform. Countries across the region participating in this cooperation platform can only benefit from this," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state added that Armenia could be represented in the new platform if it gives up unfounded claims to Azerbaijan and Turkey.
"There is traditional cooperation involving Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. At the same time, there is cooperation involving Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran. There is cooperation involving Turkey, Russia and Iran. In other words, we can summarize all these cooperation platforms and come up with a single platform. If the Armenian leadership draws the right conclusions from the war, renounces its unfounded claims and looks ahead, then they can also take a place on this platform. We are open to this," he added.
The president urged an end to enmity between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"We must turn this page over, we must end the enmity. We did not start this. We simply waited for support from international organizations for 30 years, waited for support from three Minsk Group co-chairs. We waited for UN Security Council resolutions adopted to be implemented. But that didn't happen. The neither-war-nor-peace situation simply continued, the status quo continued. We changed this status quo by military means, expelled the enemy from our lands, dealt them a tangible blow, destroyed their army and their main ideological pillars. But what did we do after that? After that, we said that we were ready to cooperate. By creating a new format of cooperation, we can reduce the future risk of war in the region to zero," he said.
Similar ideas were voiced by Erdogan who said he attaches great importance to the six-sided cooperation platform.
“What is a six-sided platform? Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia, and Armenia – if it accepts and corresponds to it – then it can also get a place on this platform. So there are plans to build a regional peace through a six-party platform. Of course, there are tasks the regional peace sets before countries of the region. This includes infrastructure, political, diplomatic and many other issues. I told my Brother today that if positive steps are taken on this issue, then we will open the doors [to Armenia] as well. It would be sufficient if these positive steps start to be taken," he said.
Erdogan said that Turkey has no problems with the Armenian people.
"We do not want to close the doors to Armenia either because we want to become doves of peace, to take peaceful steps. Moreover, we have no problems with the Armenian people. Our problem is with the Armenian government. There are over one hundred thousand Armenians in my country. Among them, there are those who have received our citizenship and those who did not. But we treat them as guests in our country. Why? Because we have no dislike for people. The goal is, in particular, the formation and strengthening of this peace. We must take our actions in accordance with this," he added.
The Turkish president underlined Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's role in reaching regional peace.
"We held discussions with Mr. Putin. In the same manner, the diplomatic side of this matter was handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Bey. In particular, intelligence and defence activities were carried out in this matter. After all this activity, the situation began to develop in a completely different direction. I cannot fail to mention Mr. Putin’s approach. His approach helped us lead this process in a positive direction, and it got to this level," he said.
President Aliyev said that the Turkish-Azerbaijani unity is of great importance not only for the two nations, but also for the region, for the whole world, as the policy pursued by the two countries is aimed at cooperation and interaction among countries.
"We are also fully ready for a new era that will begin after this historic Victory. Today, during our conversation with my dear Brother, we also exchanged views on the period ahead. Our opinions coincide," Aliyev said.
The Azerbaijani president described historic Victory in the 44-day war as the embodiment of unity with Turkey. "Turkey and its President provided support to Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people from the first hours of the war. His statements were very valuable for the Azerbaijani people. At the same time, they became a message to the whole world that Azerbaijan is not alone, that no-one should interfere with Azerbaijan’s affairs, that Azerbaijan is waging a just and Patriotic war, and Turkey stands by it. This message was essentially the personification of solidarity. It showed that Azerbaijan is right in this just war. We have restored historical justice. We have put an end to the occupation that lasted for many years. Fraternal Turkey was next to us, which inspired us even more and gave us additional strength. Using this strength, we liberated our historical lands from the occupiers," he said.
Aliyev added that there were no countries in the world that would be as close to each other as Turkey and Azerbaijan that are bound by a common history, religion, culture, language, literature, as well as policy.
"Turkey and Azerbaijan are countries pursuing an independent policy on a global scale. Turkey's strength multiplies ours. Today, thanks to the leadership of my dear Brother, Turkey has become a powerhouse on a global scale. In many countries around the world, Turkey defends truth and justice. Turkey protects the interests of oppressed peoples and restores justice and international law," he said.
Aliyev added that "Erdogan's Turkey today is an example for the whole world, an example of independence, perseverance, courage and development".
"Several documents signed today will provide Azerbaijan with the products of Turkey’s developed industry. The documents signed today hold a humble place among the documents signed in recent years. The famous 'Bayraktar', a product of the Turkish defence industry, has brought about great changes and played an exceptional role in our success. The whole world once again became a witness of the intelligence and talent of the Turkish people, was further convinced that Turkey has a developed industry," the president said.
The head of state also named as historic December 10 as Turkish and Azerbaijani soldiers walked shoulder to shoulder along Azadlig Square in this Victory parade.
"Not only Baku but also all our cities are decorated with the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan today. This was also the case before. Of course, this took on even broader proportions during the war. These are the feelings coming from people’s hearts. This is an asset we have cherished for centuries. Our advantage is that both peoples and leaders are next to each other, calling each other brothers. At the same time, we are together in all matters. We were together on both difficult and joyful, wonderful days, like today, and this is natural,"Aliyev stressed.
Aliyev thanked Turkey and its people for "showing tremendous support and solidarity" with Azerbaijan.
"Not only politicians but also all the ministers headed by the President, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, as well as public activists, media representatives. Risking their lives, they prepared reports from the combat zone day and night, and it was thanks to these reports that the world learned about the events taking place. I want to convey my greetings and deep gratitude to our brothers and sisters in Turkey – they rejoiced in our Victory as much as we do. We are together! This is the case today and it will be the case tomorrow and beyond. Turkish-Azerbaijani unity is indestructible and eternal!"
Joint visit to Shusha
Both presidents stressed their aim to visit Shusha after the road leading to this historic Azerbaijani city is ready.
"Welcome again, dear Brother. Welcome to your homeland. We love you with all our hearts. The Azerbaijani people showed you their love on the streets today. We have agreed, Inshallah, to go to Shusha together after the new highway is built there by Turkish companies," President Aliyev said.
The head of state expressed his confidence that Karabakh will become one of the most beautiful regions in the world the help of Turkish brothers.
"We have already talked about specific projects – road, rail, infrastructure projects – today. Turkish and Azerbaijani companies will jointly participate in all these projects. Their implementation in a short time will breathe a new life into the region," he said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that he wanted to visit Shusha together with Aliyev.
"Azerbaijan will take steps aimed at creating a very serious infrastructure in the region. As far as I know, God willing, roads and railway lines will be built. Mr. President has made a decision in this regard, and the situation will change after the construction of roads from Nakhchivan to Zangilan and from Zangilan northwards. After these roads have been built, we want to travel to Shusha along a new road in the summer, we want to visit Shusha together. Shusha is history. To see Shusha and feel its history is a great joy for us too. We want to experience these feelings," Erdogan said.
The Turkish president expressed confidence that Azerbaijan will revive Karabakh within three to five years.
"Armenians have burned and destroyed everything behind themselves. Mosques have been destroyed and burned. They have even destroyed and burned churches. It is difficult to understand them. However, I believe that these plundered and destroyed places will be rebuilt. Just like there was one Baku 20 years ago and there is a completely different city now – it has completely changed. I am sure that the leadership of Azerbaijan who has created this miracle, with the permission of Allah, will transform Karabakh within three to five years. My Brother Ilham possesses such strength and power, and he has proved it.”
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