BAKU (Today.az)—A delegation from the Turkish Parliament’s Commission on Foreign Affairs met with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Wednesday amid a row between the two countries over Turkey’s rapprochement with Armenia.
“The aim of the visit is to strengthen the interparliamentary relations, meet with Azerbaijani president and express the position of Turkish parliament,” the chairman of the commission, Murat Mercan, told reporters after visiting the grave of former Azeri President Heydar Aliyev.
Mercan and his delegation were also present at the raising of Turkish flags Tuesday night at a monument to Turkish soldiers who fought for Azerbaijan’s independence in 1918. The flags had been removed earlier this month in protest of a FIFA ban on Azeri flags at soccer match between the Armenian and Turkish national teams in Bursa on October 14.
The delegation also met with the Azerbaijani parliament’s International and Interparliamentary relations committee. It is scheduled to hold meetings in the Foreign Ministry on Thursday and will later participate in a reception hosted by the Turkish embassy to mark the anniversary of Turkey’s declaration of independence.
Mercan discussed with reporters Wednesday Turkey’s ongoing support for Azerbaijan despite concerns in Baku that Ankara’s drive to normalize ties with Yerevan would harm Azeri national interest. Asked when his commission would discuss recently signed agreements between Armenia and Turkey, Mercan said simply, “we set a date of the discussions over the protocols. Now our commission has agreements awaiting discussion…there is no time limit to sign these protocols.”
“We have always said that Turkish parliament will not take a step that might cause the anxiety of Azerbaijani people,” Mercan stressed, pointing to the flag raising as yet another sign that “Azerbaijan and Turkey are one nation, two states.”
He added that Turkey will not take any steps in respects to its rapprochement with Armenia if the people of Turkey and Azerbaijan “disapprove.”
Mercan said his delegation discussed with Aliyev the creation of a format to facilitate meetings and collaboration between the Turkish and Azeri parliamentary foreign affairs commissions. Meetings between the two commissions will be held at least once every six months, he explained, adding that “these meetings will be held not only in the capitals, but also in other cities of the two countries. For example, the next meeting will be held in Nakhchivan.”
Samad Seyidovc, the chairman of Azerbaijan’s parliamentary commission on international and Interparliamentary affairs, echoed his counterpart’s sentiments, stressing the resilience of the strong ties between the two countries. “Turkish and Azeri flags have always waved side by side,” he said. “There were some problems, but they also showed the importance of our being united.”