President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was given an official welcome on Tuesday in Baku by his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. Erdoğan arrived in the country late Monday, his second visit abroad since he was reelected to Türkiye’s top office on May 28.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Aliyev ahead of a meeting between the Turkish and Azerbaijani delegations, Erdoğan said they were planning to open a Turkish Consulate in Shusha. “It will be a different message to the whole world, especially Armenia,” he said. Shusha was liberated from Armenia by Azerbaijani forces in 2020.
Shusha, a center of Azeri culture for centuries, came under Armenian control in 1992 in fighting over the Karabakh region. Its retaking by Azerbaijan’s forces in 2020 was of symbolic and strategic importance. Türkiye actively supported Azerbaijan in the last conflict over Karabakh, in which Azerbaijan regained control of much of the region and Armenian-held surrounding territories.
The president also highlighted that the opening of the Zangezur corridor would contribute to strengthening ties between Türkiye and Azerbaijan.
Establishing the key Zangezur corridor land route in the southern Caucasus will build stronger ties between Türkiye and Azerbaijan, the president said.
“If we solve the Zangezur issue quickly, this will lead us to progress on two important gains taken by both road and railway,” he said. He added that with the corridor, “Türkiye’s connections with (the Azerbaijani exclave) Nakhchivan will grow much stronger. The existence of these connections will lead to strengthening relations between Türkiye and Azerbaijan.”
The planned Zangezur corridor, an unimpeded road through Armenian territory connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhchivan exclave, would also link Azerbaijan directly to eastern Türkiye and so give additional unity to the larger Turkic world. The Zangezur region was originally part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets gave it to Armenia in the 1920s, leaving Azerbaijan deprived of a direct overland route to Nakhchivan. Following its 44-day war with Armenia in the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan has focused on planned connections including motorways and a 43-kilometer (26.7-mile) railway through the corridor.
Erdoğan also announced that work has begun to establish a Türkiye-Azerbaijan university. “We will achieve this. Azerbaijani youth will be able to come to Türkiye easily, and Turkish youth will have the chance to study in Azerbaijan,” he added. The president also said they discussed energy cooperation. “In terms of energy, Europe is abuzz about the gas they will buy through Türkiye. They are constantly asking about it. We’re doing our part in this regard and will continue to do so,” he added.
The president said he was grateful to Aliyev for his hospitality and noted that the Turkish-Azerbaijani fraternity was exemplary in the world. He recalled that the display of this solidarity was seen during the Feb. 6 earthquakes in Türkiye’s southeast. He said Azerbaijan’s government and people shared the pain of Türkiye and immediately dispatched teams to Türkiye to help earthquake victims.
“We always adhered to the understanding that we are two states with one nation and we will continue on this path, resolutely,” he said. “We will bring our fraternity to a higher level with steps we will take,” he said.
Erdoğan, accompanied by first lady Emine Erdoğan and a delegation of his Cabinet ministers, attended a banquet hosted by Aliyev on Monday evening, after he arrived in the country from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), his first stopover abroad. Azerbaijan and TRNC are the closest allies of Türkiye.
Joint foreign policy
For his part, President Aliyev said Türkiye and Azerbaijan would adhere to a common stance in their foreign policy. Aliyev, who greeted Erdoğan with “Welcome to your homeland” at the beginning of the news conference, congratulated Erdoğan on his election victory. He said Erdoğan’s victory was a “reflection of the Turkish public’s great appreciation of Erdoğan’s policies implemented throughout more than 20 years.”
Aliyev said Türkiye, under the leadership of Erdoğan, came along “a great and honorable way” and turned into a global axis of power, underlining that Turkish people appreciated Erdoğan’s domestic and foreign policies. He stressed that Erdoğan’s victory also pleased the people of Azerbaijan, adding, “I am assured that we have new opportunities, new horizons in brotherly relations between Türkiye and Azerbaijan after the elections.”
He said they reviewed what they’ve done so far together in their talks with Erdoğan and exchanged views on what more should be done. “Brotherly relations between Türkiye and Azerbaijan is the basis for all our accomplishments. We will mark the second anniversary of the Shusha Declaration. It is a historic agreement. This agreement officially made Türkiye and Azerbaijan allies. We have been allies for a long time but it was put into a formal way. Signing it in Shusha had a symbolic value because Shusha is the crown of Karabakh,” Aliyev said. Shusha has a significant military value since it is located on strategic heights about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the region’s capital over Khankendi (Stepanakert) and on the road linking the city with Armenian territory. Besides its strategic significance, the town is known as a symbol of Azerbaijani history and culture with many historical sites, the restoration of which has started. Many prominent Azerbaijani musicians and scholars were born in the city. Turkish officials repeatedly said the country is “ready for whatever needs to be done” in Karabakh after liberation from Armenia’s nearly 30-year occupation. The declaration focuses on defense cooperation and establishing new transportation routes, affirming the joint efforts by the two armies in the face of foreign threats, and the restructuring and modernization of their armed forces.
The declaration also emphasizes that Armenia’s groundless allegations against Türkiye and attempts to distort history were damaging peace and stability in the region, stating that the opening of the Zangezur corridor, connecting eastern Türkiye and Azerbaijan, and the Nakhchivan-Kars railway will further contribute to the strengthening of relations.
Aliyev thanked Erdoğan and Türkiye for their spiritual and political support to Azerbaijan in the second Karabakh War.
On foreign policy, Aliyev said their joint work in foreign policy was crucial for the region. “Türkiye-Azerbaijan unity is very important for the region’s development, prosperity, stability and security,” he highlighted.
The Azerbaijani president said they discussed defense and defense industry cooperation as well in their talks, noting that they had planned 16 joint military exercises for this year and six of them were carried out already. He noted that the Azerbaijani army took the Turkish army as its role model and they witnessed this transformation now.
Aliyev lamented that international law did not function “during 30 years of occupation” of Azerbaijani lands. “Negotiations did not produce any results and what gave us the concrete result was our might. Our joint efforts will further strengthen us in the region and in the world,” he said.
The Azerbaijani president also hailed expanding trade volume with Türkiye, which reached $6 billion and said it would increase further, with the contribution of joint projects, particularly in the field of energy. “Natural gas exports to Türkiye increase every year and we agreed upon increasing it further. Azerbaijan’s natural gas exports to Europe via Türkiye also increase and we see a huge demand. Our cooperation on energy is not limited to natural gas. We also exchanged views on cooperation on renewable energy sources,” he said.