What Erdogan and Aliyev agreed on in Karabakh

The presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a declaration in Shusha

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with the head of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh. In Shusha, which was declared the “cultural capital of Azerbaijan” after last year’s war, the parties signed a declaration of cooperation

“Today is a historic day. Today we are receiving the President of Turkey, my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the liberated Shusha, ”Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev began the press conference after the signing ceremony.

Erdogan flew to Azerbaijan immediately after the NATO summit held the day before. In Nagorno-Karabakh, he stopped in two cities – Fizuli and Shusha, which after the recent conflict received the status of the “cultural capital of Azerbaijan”.

It was in Shusha that the sides signed a declaration on allied relations in various spheres. It also touches upon the issues of mutual assistance in the military sphere. The document contains a clause on the Zangezur corridor. The corridor will connect Azerbaijan and Turkey by road and rail (while Armenia lying between them opposes it).

According to Aliyev, the declaration has historical significance. It raises the relations of the countries to the highest level and guarantees the unity of the “closest countries on a global scale” in the future.

In particular, Turkish TV channel TRT reports, Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to conduct joint actions in case of threat or aggression from third states against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability or security of the internationally recognized borders of any of the parties.

Erdogan said at a joint press conference that it is planned to open a Turkish consulate in Shusha as soon as possible. On the eve of the visit, various media outlets, citing sources, reported that the parties would discuss the implementation of joint reconstruction and construction projects in Karabakh.

After the official part, Aliyev decided to conduct an excursion around Shusha for Erdogan. 

“Remind about Turkey’s role in victory”

Interestingly, the Day of National Salvation is celebrated in Azerbaijan on June 15. It is believed that Heydar Aliyev, who headed the Supreme Council on this day in 1993, saved the country from a coup and separatism.

Erdogan is expected to address the Azerbaijani parliament on June 16.

According to experts, with his visit, Erdogan, first of all, is trying to consolidate his role in the region. This opinion was expressed in an interview with Gazeta.Ru by a senior researcher at IMEMO RAN , turkologist Viktor Nadein-Raevsky .

“He wants to show that Turkey’s actions, which made it possible to win this victory, are not an accident, but fit into the framework of a common pan-Turkist policy. Erdogan sought to eliminate the Armenian wedge that divides the Turkic world. And this policy should not be confused with elements of the policy of neo-Ottomanism, which is spreading on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire – the Arab countries, Syria, Iraq, and partly Libya.

Here we are talking about the creation of a supranational community in a new area. The goal is to unite the Turkic-speaking peoples. During the war, Turkish generals took part in the command at the fronts, officers were in each military unit, the Turks also trained Azerbaijani special forces. And this visit is another confirmation of the policy that Erdogan has adopted, ”the Turkologist is sure.

At the same time, the expert points out that Russia “did not allow Turkey to develop in full force.” Thus, only 60 Turkish officers are employed in the joint Russian-Turkish observation point.

At the same time, not all experts are inclined to believe that the application of the term “pan-Turkism” to Turkey’s foreign policy is appropriate.

What are Erdogan goals?

“Rather, it refers to political philosophy, ideology and journalism. And if we talk about the attempts of the cultural influence of Turkey, then it extends far not only to the Turkic countries. After all, Georgia has a Turkish university, and Germany has Turkish mullahs, ”recalls Nikolai Silaev, a leading researcher at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies .

At the same time, the expert identified three goals that Erdogan pursued during his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. “Firstly, he was traveling with the aim of strengthening political ties with Azerbaijan. Secondly, it was necessary to remind once again about the role of Turkey in the Karabakh war, since without it Baku either would not have won, or, at least, not with such results. Third, it is the exploitation of the political capital that Erdogan acquired by providing military assistance to Azerbaijan. Erdogan came to celebrate the victory with Aliyev , they will do it for many years to come. The trip also has great symbolic meaning, ”says Silaev.

Vadim Mukhanov, senior researcher at the MGIMO Center for Eurasian Studies, agrees that Erdogan’s visit to Shusha is also important for the Azerbaijani leadership headed by Ilham Aliyev against the backdrop of an incompletely resolved conflict with Armenia, including over the issue of the transit corridor.

“In general, Erdogan has repeatedly spoken about Turkic unity. Close relations between Baku and Ankara fit well into this framework, ”the expert said.

Nadein-Raevsky is sure that

Azerbaijani President Aliyev is not ready to share power with anyone, and therefore is not interested in a significant strengthening of Turkish influence in his country.

The role of Shushi and the road through Armenia

“This is evidenced by the fact that Turkish military bases have not appeared in Azerbaijan. He also suspended the settlement of territories by Turkomans, who traditionally cover the faces of women. The Azerbaijani population is still not ready to accept such a return to the Middle Ages, they are Europeanized. The role of religion in this country was significantly reduced during the Soviet era, and Azerbaijan became largely secular, ”reminds the Turkologist.

Shusha is a key city in Nagorno-Karabakh with a population of 4.5 thousand people. In Armenia and Karabakh there is an expression “who owns Shushi, he owns Karabakh”. During the 1992-1994 Karabakh war, victorious for the Armenians, the Azerbaijani population left the city.

Shusha is a key city in Nagorno-Karabakh with a population of 4.5 thousand people. In Armenia and Karabakh there is an expression “who owns Shushi, he owns Karabakh”. During the 1992-1994 Karabakh war, victorious for the Armenians, the Azerbaijani population left the city.

During the operation on November 8-9, 2020, the city was again under the control of Azerbaijan. And it was the date of November 8 that was chosen by Aliyev for the Victory Day holiday in the whole war.

Later, he laid the foundation for the construction of a new mosque in Shusha, citing the fact that allegedly “at one time there were 17 mosques”, and began restoration of the Cathedral of Holy Christ the All-Savior, which had suffered during the war. A number of Armenian observers are suspicious of this initiative, seeing the possible motives of the Azerbaijani authorities in the desire to destroy the Christian heritage.

The corridor

The Syunik (or Zangezur, as it is called in Azerbaijan) automobile corridor through the territory of Armenia, which is mentioned in the Shusha Declaration, existed in the Soviet years until the early 1990s – the message was interrupted due to the events of the first Karabakh war.

Under the terms of the peace treaty concluded with the participation of Moscow in November 2020, it is envisaged to build a road linking the main territory of Azerbaijan with its exclave – the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, surrounded by the territories of Armenia, Turkey and Iran.

“By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be ensured,” says the 9th clause of the agreement without specifying a specific route for the future road.

At the end of April, the head of Azerbaijan already said that in case of Armenia’s refusal to voluntarily agree to the construction of the corridor, Baku could use force again. Yerevan is in no hurry to agree on the construction of infrastructure, calling Aliyev’s threats a provocation.

As earlier Vadim Mukhanov from MGIMO explained to Gazeta.Ru, now in the Armenian society revanchist sentiments are gaining popularity. At the same time, they are not completely satisfied with the results of last year’s war in Azerbaijan, where they just want to unblock old and create new communications. “This is a very interesting attempt on the part of Aliyev. Therefore, we can in this regard Erdogan’s visit to Karabakh as support for the expansion of Azerbaijan, ”the expert said.

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