Historic window of opportunity for lasting peace in Karabakh should not be closed, says Turkish president

Signing of permanent peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be new source of hope for peace, and stability in our region and world, says Recep Tayyip Erdogan

08:03 - 20/02/2024 Tuesday
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

With the end of Armenia's decades-long occupation of Karabakh, a historic opportunity opened for lasting peace in the region, said the Turkish president on Monday.

When Azerbaijan in fall 2020 and last September brought an end to Armenia's nearly 30-year occupation of Karabakh, a historic window of opportunity opened for lasting peace in the Southern Caucasus, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in the capital Ankara alongside Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev.

It is “crucial” that this window does not close, Erdogan added.

“It is undoubtedly certain that the signing of a permanent peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be a new source of hope for peace, tranquility, and stability in our region and the world,” said Erdogan.

He said that during this process, Türkiye and Azerbaijan have stood “shoulder to shoulder.”

“I believe that Armenia should evaluate this process with a long-term, strategic perspective. We also invite third parties to contribute constructively to the process rather than poisoning it,” he said.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Azerbaijan liberated most of the region during the war in the fall of 2020, which ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement, opening the door to normalization.

Baku initiated an anti-terrorism operation in Karabakh last September to establish constitutional order, after which illegal separatist forces in the region surrendered.

Erdogan on Monday welcomed Aliyev in the capital Ankara to discuss all aspects of bilateral relations, as well as steps to further cooperation between the two countries.

Aliyev's visit to Ankara is his first trip abroad since being reelected earlier this month.

- Council of Europe and Azerbaijan

On more recent developments, Erdogan said Türkiye will continue to work to get Azerbaijan's credentials validated at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“We will continue our support and efforts for Azerbaijan until the decision (not ratifying their credentials) is overturned,” Erdogan said.

Last month, PACE voted to deny validation to the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation to the body, alleging that it has not fulfilled major commitments under its Council of Europe membership.

Erdogan added that Türkiye will continue stressing that PACE should be a platform for “parliamentary democracy rather than conflict.”

- Türkiye-Azerbaijan relations on trade, transportation

Erdogan said the potential in the transportation and energy sectors between Baku and Ankara must be enhanced “in a period of critical challenges.”

“The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line is essentially one of the most concrete examples of this. It is crucial to complete our renovation efforts urgently to achieve the highest efficiency from this line. During my visit to Nakhchivan, the Turkish Gate, in September, I, along with Aliyev, signed the memorandum of understanding for the Kars-Nakhchivan railway with this understanding,” he said.

Erdogan added that expanding the capacity of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and facilitating the transportation of Caspian natural gas to both Türkiye and Europe are key focuses in Ankara's agenda within this sector.

“We added a new dimension to our energy cooperation with the Igdir-Nakhchivan natural gas pipeline project initiated during my visit to Nakhchivan,” last September, said Erdogan.

On trade ties, Erdogan said: “The total Turkish-Azerbaijani trade volume last year reached $7.5 billion for the first time. We will step up our efforts to achieve a $15 billion target,” Erdogan added.

Erdogan also expressed hope that recent incidents on the border of the two countries that wounded one Azerbaijani soldier would not be repeated.

“Our family council continues to work towards further institutionalization and strengthening of our unity within the Organization of Turkic States,” Erdogan said.

-⁠ ⁠Turkish-Azerbaijani unity important factor for Eurasia

For his part, Aliyev described his visit to Türkiye following his reelection earlier this month as “natural,” saying that Turkish-Azerbaijani unity is an important factor not only for the region but also for the Eurasian continent as a whole.

Aliyev said Türkiye has reached new heights with Erdogan's efforts, and has gotten a say on the global level, adding that Türkiye is also the guarantor of “peace, stability and cooperation” in the southern Caucasus.

Türkiye stood by Azerbaijan, which “solved the historical problem that it could not solve by peaceful means on the battlefield," and his people will not forget Türkiye's support during this time, said Aliyev, referring to its regaining full sovereignty over its territory of Karabakh after a nearly 30-year occupation.

He added that the anti-terror operation Azerbaijan carried out in the Karabakh region last September “fully affirmed” the country's sovereignty.

Aliyev also said Azerbaijan and Türkiye share an outlook in all matters and are adding to their strength based on a declaration cementing their alliance.

“The unification of the Turkic world, the coexistence of peoples with common cultures, will increase the strength of each member of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS),” he added.

Repeating his Turkish counterpart's remarks that an extraordinary OTS summit in Shusha, Azerbaijan will be held in July, Aliyev said Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar will also attend, a move which he said will “give impetus to the unity of the Turkic people.”

Aliyev said he is very pleased that their trade with Türkiye is growing rapidly, much more than they could have ever dreamed.

He also said that military collaboration is also an important aspect of cooperation between Türkiye and Azerbaijan, describing the armies of both countries as “like a fist.”

He went on to say he and Erdogan had extensive discussions regarding the defense industry sector, and that they have “concrete plans” for joint production.

#Ilham Aliyev.
#Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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