ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)—Turkey and Azerbaijan signed Wednesday a framework agreement on the establishment of a high-level strategic cooperation council, a goal Turkey is aiming to pursue with all its neighbors, reported the Hurriyet newspaper.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev participated in the signing ceremony following the latter’s meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov.
Diplomatic sources said the strategic cooperation council would cover areas such as economy, trade, politics, transportation, culture, science and civil society. The preparatory meeting of the council will take place first, to be followed by a joint Cabinet meeting of the two countries’ ministers by the end of this year, sources said.
The plans to set up a cooperation council between the two countries were first announced in May, when Erdogan met Aliyev in Baku. The Turkish prime minister hailed the development as a “progressive step.”
The council will be similar to the one Turkey has established with Iraq, Syria, Greece and Russia as part of the government-led policy of “zero problems and maximum cooperation with neighbors.”
The agreement signed will ensure the future development of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said during a speech after the signing of the agreement, TRT1 television reported.
“The fraternal and friendly relations have existed between our peoples for centuries. These relations are developing day by day and have reached to a new level. We are building our relationship upon this strong basis. After Azerbaijan regained its independence, the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations only strengthened and developed, and today they have reached the level of allies. We remember that Turkey was the first country recognizing our independence and Turkey has always been with us since the first day of our independence. Today we successfully cooperate in various spheres,” said Aliyev.
President Aliyev said the agreement on the establishment of the Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation will strengthen and deepen cooperation between the two countries. “Our relations are built upon this strong basis and I am sure that future generations will carry forward this friendship and brotherhood. Today’s event assumes special importance. The agreement signed today is indeed a result of previous work and determines the strategic cooperation between countries,” said Aliyev.
The President said the agreement covers all spheres. “This agreement creates an opportunity to expand relations between our peoples. On this historic day, I firstly want to express gratitude to my friend, Prime Minister Erdogan. This document was created as a result of his initiatives and efforts. I also thank all those who participated in creating the document. This is not only an international document, but also the result of good intentions between our nations,” said Aliyev.
Aliyev noted that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has always been the main topic of discussions between Ankara and Baku.
“And today, an extensive exchange of views was conducted on this topic. Turkey has always supported the fair position of Azerbaijan, has made efforts in various forms for the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The talks must yield a result and the result is that the internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. Nagorno-Karabakh is a historical land of Azerbaijan. Our people have lived and created there. Today, Azerbaijanis have been expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories. No Azerbaijani has left in these areas. All of them have incurred ethnic cleansing. All our historical and religious monuments have been destroyed. This is a great injustice and a step violating international legal norms. Of course, this issue will always be on the agenda in the relations of Azerbaijan and Turkey,” said Aliyev.