By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has said that Azerbaijan and Turkey have established a qualitatively new relationship and a newly-signed joint declaration on allied ties raises bilateral relations to the highest peak.
He made the remarks after the ceremony of signing the joint declaration with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 15 in the city of Shush liberated from the Armenian occupation in a 44-day war in 2020.
“My dear brother has visited Azerbaijan a number of times, but we are together in the Karabakh land, in Shusha for the first time. This visit has a historic significance because the Joint Declaration, the Declaration on allied relations, signed today raises our relations to the highest peak. The name of the Declaration is the Declaration on allied relations, and this name in itself indicates everything, it says it all. Today we have established a qualitatively new relationship, and all the provisions of this Declaration are a guarantee of our future cooperation,” he said.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan and Turkey "are setting a unique example of cooperation and alliance on a global scale".
The president noted that every issue reflected in the document is of great importance. He said that at the international level, it underscored Azerbaijani-Turkish cooperation, joint activities, political relations, economic and trade relations, culture, education, sports, youth policy, and practically all other areas.
“It demonstrates the importance of energy security and the Southern Gas Corridor for Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Europe. Every issue reflected in it is of great importance. I would like to highlight two issues among them. First, the issue of cooperation in the field of defence. The issues of defence industry and mutual military assistance are reflected in this Declaration. This is a historic achievement. We are showing again that we will always be together. We will continue to ensure each other's security, just as Turkey and Azerbaijan have been together on all issues so far. This will continue to be the case,” Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that the second important issue in the document is about transport and that it contains “very clear statements about the opening of the Zangazur corridor”.
“This is the result of a new geopolitical situation that has emerged as a result of the second Karabakh war. Today, we are not only talking about the Zangazur corridor, which will connect Turkey and Azerbaijan by rail and road, we are creating this corridor through tangible work. It is important that this issue is reflected in the Joint Declaration on allied relations,” he added.
Aliyev said that the signed declaration is based on history.
“The Joint Declaration refers to the historic Kars Agreement. The historic Kars agreement was signed exactly 100 years ago. This also has a great symbolic meaning. The Joint Declaration on allied relations signed in the liberated city of Shusha after 100 years shows the direction of our future cooperation,” he added.
He reiterated that Turkey and Azerbaijan are the closest countries in the world and there are factors that bind the two countries together. He stressed history, culture, common ethnic roots, language, religion, national values, national interests and the two nations’ brotherhood.
Aliyev said that the visit is of great interest and the statements made in the ancient city of Shusha will reverberate in the whole world.
“The historic significance of this visit will be spoken about for many years to come,” he said.
Aliyev said that the Azerbaijani and Turkish flags waving in Shusha show the two countries’ unity. He underlined Erdogan’s “unequivocal, clear and open support for Azerbaijan” from the first days of the second Karabakh war, which inspired Azerbaijan and simultaneously “stopped all the forces and circles that were going to intervene”.
The president stressed the Turkish media’s activities during the Karabakh war, saying that they risked their lives to show the real situation at the most dangerous moments of the war and to convey it to the international audiences.
“I personally often watched the reports on Turkish TV channels during the war and saw again that it was not only about professionalism but also about solidarity and love. The true voice of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’s just cause was conveyed to the world from the most dangerous places, from places where bombs were falling. The Turkish media immediately went there and prepared reports,” he added.
Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan put an end to Armenia’s nearly 30-year occupation with Turkey’s political and moral support.
“The occupation, which lasted nearly 30 years, came to an end. Azerbaijan put an end to this with the support of brotherly Turkey. Thirty years of negotiations had yielded no results. This shows again that where there is a will, resolve, strength and justice, everything is possible. Of course, inspired by this support from an ally like Turkey in the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan fulfilled its historic mission, restored justice, and restored its territorial integrity,” he said.
In turn, Erdogan said that “fortunately, as a result of the 44-day war, Karabakh returned to its owners and was liberated from Armenian oppression and occupation”.
Paying tribute to the memory of national leader Heydar Aliyev on the occasion of 15 June - National Salvation Day, he said that along with Aliyev he shared the joy of the heroic victory of the Azerbaijani Army in Karabakh in Baku on 10 December 2020.
"There were completely different excitement and jubilation on that day. Six months later, I am very pleased to be alongside him in ancient Shusha. Fortunately, we have fulfilled our promise,” he said.
Erdogan called for the recognition of Azerbaijan's victory in the war.
"We call on everyone who has influence in the region to see the realities, accept the Victory of the Azerbaijani people and look to the future. Following the ceasefire in the region, new opportunities for cooperation have emerged for all parties. We are direct witnesses of the keen interest of our Azerbaijani brothers in this issue," he said.
He stressed that Turkey also wants to channel its geographic ties into deep cooperation.
"We want Armenia to accept the hand of solidarity extended to it with good intentions and to take advantage of the opportunity to jointly shape a common future. We are talking about a six-sided platform. As you know, this platform includes Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Iran. Together with this six-party platform, we want tranquility and peace in the region," Erdogan said.
The Turkish president stressed Azerbaijan's, Turkey's, and Russa's commitment to doing everything to ensure the said thanks to which, the region will turn into a region of peace.
"We very much want this historic opportunity not to be wasted due to the intentions, expressions, and activities that are not based on reality. The main condition is that everyone who wishes to benefit from the new reality and abandon the policies of hatred and incitement is focused on promoting peace and cooperation," he said.
The president added that while creating such an environment everything possible will be done to normalize relations with Armenia.
"We are confident that this encouraging process will be continued in a very healthy form if the ceasefire agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia ends with a comprehensive and forward-looking peace treaty," Erdogan stressed.
He described as very important the Zangazur project and once again expressed support for it.
"We consider very important and support the South Zangazur corridor project of Azerbaijan. With the implementation of this project, a new common corridor will be opened, which can be used by everyone from East to West. This is of great importance," the Turkish president said.
Commenting on the Shusha Declaration, Erdogan said that Azerbaijan and Turkey outlined a roadmap for bilateral ties at a new stage.
"The Declaration, consisting of eleven A4 pages, is turning into reality in Shusha today. This is extremely important. The Declaration between Turkey and Azerbaijan covers a number of issues. As we take forward-looking steps, we see that this document expresses a determination that encompasses not only two countries, but also the entire region," he noted.
The president stressed that Turkey plans to open a consulate general in ancient Shusha in the near future and that Ankara will ensure the implementation of activities planned in the region in a faster and more efficient manner.
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