Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) would be completed and the opening ceremony would be conducted in early June.
“We will inaugurate TANAP soon. We will deliver Turkey and the world glad tidings before the election,” Erdoğan said during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday.
TANAP is a natural gas pipeline which will bring natural gas produced from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz-2 gas field, and other areas of the Caspian Sea, primarily to Turkey, but also to Europe. The TANAP Project, along with the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) form the elements of the Southern Gas Corridor.
Turkey sees Upper Karabakh 'as own' issue
Turkey hopes the Upper Karabakh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be resolved urgently within the scope of UN resolutions, Erdoğan said.
"Since the beginning, we saw the Upper Karabakh issue as our own," he said.
"Our biggest desire about the issue is that it will be resolved urgently within the scope of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, inviolability of its borders, and within the scope of UN resolutions."
The Khojaly Massacre is seen as one of the bloodiest and most controversial incidents of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied Upper Karabakh region.
On Feb. 26, 1992, on the heels of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojaly in Karabakh after battering it with heavy artillery and tanks, assisted by an infantry regiment.
The two-hour offensive killed 613 Azerbaijani citizens, including 116 women and 63 children, and critically injured 487 others, according to Azerbaijani figures. Also, 150 of the 1,275 Azerbaijanis that the Armenians captured during the massacre remain missing.
Erdoğan also said that Turkey was due to become the biggest investor in Azerbaijan and that after Turkey’s June 24 election, he would make his first international visit to Azerbaijan.
Aliyev hailed Turkey as a close ally, saying: “Turkey and Azerbaijan’s friendship is strong and has a bright future. As a result of my noble friend’s leadership, Turkey has come a long way. Turkey is a global power, and this power only grows. As Azerbaijan, we hope they [Turkey] continue to progress.”
“Azerbaijan has always stood beside Turkey in its counterterrorism operations. I would like to congratulate Turkey on the success of Operation Olive Branch,” he added.
Operation Olive Branch was initiated on Jan. 20 in Afrin to establish security and stability, eliminate terrorists of PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh, and save locals from the terrorists’ oppression and cruelty.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the Afrin town center, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK terrorists since 2012.
Aliyev said that Turkey’s support regarding the Karabakh matter “gave Azerbaijan strength.”
Erdoğan welcomes Aliyev with official ceremony
Earlier during the day, Erdoğan greeted Aliyev with an official ceremony at the Presidential Complex in the capital, Ankara.
After the warm welcome, Erdoğan and Aliyev headed inside for a one-on-one meeting and to co-chair the High Level Strategic Council (HLSC) meeting.
Aliyev’s visit to Turkey represents his first foreign trip following his reelection as president earlier in April.
During the visit, the strengthening of bilateral relations, regional and international developments will be discussed.
Before meeting with Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman at the Turkish parliament earlier on Wednesday, Aliyev said that Turkey-Azerbaijan relations were "at the best level ever."