ANKARA (Hurriyet)—Turkey and Azerbaijan signed on Wednesday several agreements and memorandums of understanding to ensure bilateral cooperation on various areas including trade, transportation, technology and science.
“We are taking steps on the area of energy which has strategic importance,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, speaking at a press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Turkey and Azerbaijan would work to bilaterally boost trade up from the current level of $4.2 billion per annum to $15 billion by 2020, Erdoğan noted.
Construction of the Trans-Anatolia Pipeline (TANAP) project, which will carry Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe through Turkey, will start in early 2014, the prime minister said. They also discussed the distribution of Azerbaijani gas to Balkan states, he added.
As the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway was on the verge of being finalized, discussions also encompassed a railway project between Iğdır (Ararat) and Nakhcivan (Nakhijevan), Erdoğan said. The cost of work permits for Turkish citizens wanting to work in Azerbaijan will be reduced to $50 from $1,270, according to Erdoğan, also mentioning Turley’s continued support of Azerbaijan on the Nagorno Karabagh issue.
Two countries will take steps to streamline and ease visa requirements for businessman, students and academics, Erdoğan noted, an issue which Turkey has been lobbying Baku on, only to be blocked by Baku’s refusal, citing concerns stemming from its neighbor Iran.
Aliyev, for his part, said “[the] 21st Century will be the century of the Turkic world.”
The European energy map can be revolutionized with the realization of the TANAP project, he noted.
“No one can ever take a crack at anything in the region that Turkey does not support,” Aliyev said.
“You have achieved a historic service, which will make it into history books,” Azerbaijani president said in reference to the Marmaray rail transport project.