In his interview to AzerTAc`s correspondent, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to Azerbaijan Ismail Alper Coskun has spoken of the Azerbaijani-Turkey relations across the last year, and highlighted current state and prospects of bilateral cooperation.
- Meetings of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council have become an important organizational basis in cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The fourth session of the Council was held this time. During these sessions the presidents have one-on-one talks, and ministers hold bilateral meetings on a variety of issues. I think bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey has reached a very high mark. We have good political relations. In my opinion, the recommendations of our national leaders Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Heydar Aliyev and now Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyib Erdogan, who continue this mission, are very important for us to further develop our brotherly relations. In this respect, there is a strong political will and solid foundation for the development of our relations.
Despite problems and conflicts in the region and all over the world, Turkey and Azerbaijan enjoy robust stability. Significant work is being carried out to ensure economic development and people`s prosperity in our countries. The key point here is that cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey will benefit not only our two countries but also other states in this region and a wider geographical area. Our countries demonstrate indomitable will to carry out the projects they want to accomplish. In this regard I would like to emphasize TANAP. This is an important project for Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turkish Petroleum Corporationis the second largest investor in the Shahdeniz field after BP. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is another critical project. I can tell you that 90 percent of the work on the Turkish section of the railway is now nearing completion. The tunnel in Georgia is expected to be completed in the next few days. We hope that in 2015 the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project will become a reality.
Of course, in the meetings we discuss the processes happening in the world, especially the issues that concern us the most, mainly Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We fully support the position of Azerbaijan which is: rejecting the status quo, putting an immediate end to the occupation and finding a peaceful solution to the conflict based on the principles of international law.
- Azerbaijan and Turkey enjoy excellent cooperation in the military field. This issue was also on the agenda during President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Turkey. What steps should be taken to further strengthen cooperation in this area?
- There is a need to increase our capabilities in the field of defense. However, it should be looked at from the perspective of a country’s power to ensure its security. As a country located in a volatile region, Turkey has gained very important experience in this field. Twenty percent of Azerbaijani lands is under occupation. Therefore, Azerbaijan rightly set itself a target of increasing its military power, defensive and maneuvering capabilities. Considerable work is being carried out on this front in Azerbaijan. Turkey has always closely cooperated with Azerbaijan in the field of defense as in all areas. We have always said that Turkey is ready to contribute to the goals set by Azerbaijan, and we have worked on this. This work is currently in progress.
Turkey`s defense industry is developing very fast. Defense industry and economy are associated with each other and are interdependent. Our target was to produce our own tanks, fighter jets. And now we produce our own helicopters.
We continue working in the field of joint exercises, logistics, defense industry and training of military personnel. As you know we held joint exercises involving Turkish F-16 jets in Baku in 2014. These exercises will continue.
-Mr. Ambassador, Ankara has repeatedly stated that Turkish-Armenian border will not open until the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is resolved within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. However, time after time, the issue is brought to the forefront of attention. How do you think why?
- Azerbaijan’s sensitive approach to this issue is natural. But I can honestly say that neither Turkish government nor any Turkish citizen will deliberately do something against the interests of Azerbaijan or with the aim of harming Azerbaijan. The Turkish Republic closed its border with Armenia according to its own will. Our goal is to achieve peace and security in the region. This will be possible only after the occupation and aggression against Azerbaijan ends. Turkey has repeatedly stressed that it stands for peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
- The joint press statement of the Azerbaijani and Turkish presidents revealed that the centennial of the Battle of Çanakkale will be solemnly celebrated on April 24. The Armenians are going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide on that day. Do you consider the Azerbaijani and Turkish communities` efforts to fight against the Armenian allegations sufficient enough?
- The Battle of Çanakkale was one of the most important stages of the First World War. Every year Turkey celebrates the anniversary of this battle. The battle, which also saw our Azerbaijani brothers come and die, is a historic event that binds us together today. We plan to hold a Peace Summit on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Çanakkale and send a message of peace to the world. It is very important to give such a message at a time when the world faces occupations and armed conflicts. And Azerbaijan was certainly invited to this event too. This year the Armenians are going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their so-called Armenian genocide. Unlike them we are always ready to investigate this issue based on justice, academic logic and objectivity rather than emotions. Unlike Armenians we feel ourselves comfortable on this issue because we believe in our history. Azerbaijan and Turkey are determined to fight against activities distorting our common history. We are resolute in strengthening our efforts on this front. To this end, we have opened up our archives to the world. Azerbaijan is the most important partner of Turkey on this matter.