The deepening of ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan continued with the signing of a ‘Protocol of Alliance’ between the two countries.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the newly liberated city of Shusha / Şuşa with his Azerbaijani counterpart President İlham Aliyev earlier on Tuesday, 15 June, where they signed the new agreement.
Turkey played a crucial role in helping Azerbaijan successfully recover its southern territories in the Nagorno-Karabakh region last year, following nearly 30 years of occupation by ethnic Armenian forces.
The Turks helped balance Russian involvement through their diplomatic interventions, while unmanned combat drones from Turkish firm Baykar Defense gave Azerbaijan an important military advantage during the six-week conflict that broke out in September of last year. Turkish troops now form part of the peacekeeping force in Karabakh.
Turkish firms are also set to play a leading role in the reconstruction of the liberated territories, which have been left devastated through extensive Armenian vandalism and property and environmental destruction.
“The support of the Turkish people gave us strength,” President Aliyev said at a joint press conference with President Erdoğan, adding, “We will never forget the support given by Turkey.”
After the signing of the agreements, President Aliyev announced, “Today is an important day for us. On behalf of all Azerbaijan, I want to greet my brother in Shusha.”
“The alliance agreement we signed brought the relations between us to the highest level. This agreement is the guarantee of our future cooperation,” the Azerbaijan President continued.
President Erdoğan also described the significance of the Shusha Protocol: “Today we have taken a new historic step in our relations.”
“With the Shusha Protocol, we are shaping the roadmap of our relations in the new term. It’s very important that this protocol has been materialised in Shusha. This protocol contains a lot of aspects of our relations, as well as the vision regarding our region.”
The Shusha Protocol is based on the ‘principles of solidarity and mutual assistance’ in bilateral and multi-lateral issues of strategic national interest, such as independence of the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan, the sovereignty of the two states, their territorial integrity, and inviolability of internationally recognised borders. It also commits the two states to work together on regional and international activities for the ‘continuous development of the Turkish world’.
The Protocol also covered ‘stability and security in the Caucasus region’, setting out the need to normalise relations between the states of the region, and ensure long-term peace by co-operating in fields such as trade and transportation.
The special geographical position of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of the Azerbaijan Republic, which is currently physically cut off from the rest of Azerbaijan, is also taken into account in the new agreement.
“We call on everybody to look at the future. There are new cooperation opportunities for everybody. We, as Turkey, want to further deepen our geographical relations through cooperation,” President Erdoğan stated.
Recalling Turkey’s proposal for a regional initiative that includes the participation of all six countries – Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Iran and Armenia – the Turkish President called on Yerevan to respond positively to the opportunity for long-term peace and stability.
The Turkish President also stated that if regional parties ‘abandoned the politics of hate and provocation’, and Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a comprehensive peace agreement, then Turkey would also normalise its ties with Yerevan.
Main image, top, of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) and Azerbaijan’s President İlham Aliyev after signing a protocol in Shusha, 15 June 2021. Photo © Twitter / Turkish Presidency