ANKARA(Hurriyet Daily News) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed Azerbaijan’s strong support to Turkey’s fight against terrorism in the aftermath of a deadly attack in Ankara and vowed to further improve relations with its eastern neighbor in the fields of energy, transportation and defense.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev made a great but rare gesture to his counterpart by proposing to hold the fifth high-level strategic cooperation council meeting in Ankara instead of Baku, as Erdohan had to cancel his trip to Azerbaijan over the terror attack on March 13 which killed at least 37 people in Turkey’s capital.
“Those who present supporting terrorism and defending terrorists as freedom and those who run after political gains even before funerals are held should get the necessary messages out of this brotherly message,” Erdogan told reporters at a joint press conference with Aliyev on March 15.
Calling Azerbaijan Turkey’s foul-weather friend, Erdogan said this support from a friendly country shows the need of a joint stance against terrorism. “I want to underline this point once again: The attack that was carried out on Sunday [March 13] targets all the 79 million [people] of Turkey. The terrorist organization has once again shown its villainous face,” Erdogan said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been accused of carrying out the attack.
Erdogan stressed the objective of this and other recent attacks were to spread fear in society to discourage it from marching toward its goal of building a new Turkey. “But they will never be able to do so,” the Turkish president underlined. “This is impossible. Those who use terror as a tool, those who want to settle accounts with Turkey over the blood of innocent people will never be able to bring Turkey to its knees. To the contrary, they will be brought to their knees.”
In his remarks, Aliyev strongly denounced terrorist acts hitting Turkey in recent months and offered his country’s full support to what he calls an “eternal friend.”
“Today we are standing with the Turkish people. Our union is eternal and unshakable,” he said.
The friendship between the two countries is enjoying its 25th year, Aliyev stressed, “Just as Turkey will be powerful, so too we will be. Our strength is in our unity. We are together, standing together.”
Thanking Turkey for its support to Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Aliyev recalled the need for a peaceful settlement of the problem. “Turkey’s progress in the field of defense is remarkable. Turkey’s success in this field will also strengthen Azerbaijan’s defense capacity,” he said.
The two delegations later signed six separate agreements in different fields with an emphasis on ongoing energy and transportation projects. Both leaders appreciated the ongoing work to build the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline Project (TANAP) that will carry Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via Turkey.
Ankara and Baku already agreed to conclude the building of the pipeline before 2018 so that Turkey can supply more Azerbaijani gas to lessen its dependence on Russian gas.
The two leaders also agreed to make the opening of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in December this year.