By Yunis Abdullayev
Turkey Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the declaration on allied relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey in the city of Shusha.
The declaration was an important historic event that opened the new phase in Turkey – Azerbaijan relations.
The main aim of the declaration is directed to establish the Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance in terms of defense and economy.
It is noted in the agreement that in case of threat or aggression against the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence, and the inviolability of the state borders of any of the parties, the parties will provide military assistance to protect each other in accordance with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.
The main focus on the development of regional transportations is one of the commitments of the declaration that foster the economic-social development in the region.
Besides military and economy, the declaration also covered other important issues, which will strengthen the bilateral relations between two fraternal countries over the cooperation in the international platforms, political relations, economic-commercial relations, energy, culture and education.
Eurasia Diary conducted the following exclusive interview with Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, Pakistani and expert on the regional issues, regarding the significance of the Shusha declaration and the implications of Pakistan on it.
Firstly, as a Pakistani expert, how could you appreciate the importance of the Shusha declaration in the history of Turkey-Azerbaijan relations?
– Being a prominent regional expert on Azerbaijan & CIS I really appreciate the most recently signed agreement “Shusha Declaration (SD)” between Azerbaijan and Turkey which even have historic connections too.
Azerbaijan and Turkey relations have always been enjoying brotherly relations in terms of economy, defense, trade & commerce, science & technology, political consultation, and sharing & caring since the time immortal. The proposition of bilateral relations between two great countries has been described as one nation with two states by the former President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev due to both being Turkic countries.
Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence on June 4, 1918, through the treaty of Batum Right and the first to recognize Azerbaijan’s restoration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Right from the beginning, Turkey has been a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in its efforts to consolidate its independence, preserve its territorial integrity and realize its economic potential arising from the rich natural resources of the Caspian Sea.
The Shusha Declaration (SD) aims to facilitate cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey in the spheres of defense, economy, energy, trade, diaspora and media, and other areas of mutual interest. President Ilham Aliyev said the declaration refers to the Kars Agreement that was signed a century ago, which has a great symbolic meaning for the two countries.
Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a Protocol of Alliance (PA) on June 15, 2021 which pledged to support each other in case of threat or attack by a third country. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the agreement during a visit to the city of Shusha liberated by Azerbaijan forces during last year’s war with Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Erdogan termed it a road map that aims to increase bilateral political and military cooperation.
According to PA in case of a threat or attack on the independence or territorial integrity of any of the parties by a third state, the parties will provide the necessary assistance to each other. It envisages the opening of Zangezur corridor from the Nagorno-Karabakh region to a railway line through Nakhchivan and Turkey’s eastern Kars province. Turkey will open a general consulate in Shusha to support Azerbaijan for rebuilding the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
– We know that the signing of the Shusha declaration by two leaders has set up the foundation of the Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance in terms of defense and economy. How do you think that this alliance will have the potential to contribute to the elimination of the risks of the external threat and the strengthening of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region of the South Caucasus?
– We live in a very complex and complicated world where strategic dialogues, partnerships, economic and transportation corridors, and defense shields always play a very crucial role in protecting socio-economic, geopolitical, and geostrategic vested interests and the same is the case of the Shusha declaration.
Critical analysis of the war threat of 2nd Karabakh reveals that Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) played an important and decisive role and provided Azerbaijan an upper hand in the last year’s war with Armenia in the Karabakh region. The drone fleet of the Azerbaijani army, which includes Bayraktar TB2 and cutting-edge Israeli-made UAVs and loitering munitions, is said to have destroyed more the 200 pieces of armor and artillery systems of Armenia during the 2nd war of Karabakh.
Turkish weapons have been widely used in modernizing the Azerbaijani army’s arsenal in recent years. According to the latest official data (January 2021), between January and April 2021, Azerbaijan was the second-largest buyer of Turkish weaponry after the United States. The value of arms exports to Azerbaijan was US$117.3 million in the same period.
After the victory of Azerbaijan in the 2nd war of Karabakh, the South Caucasus Region (SCR) has now become a new “hub” of socio-economic integration, geopolitical maneuvering, and geostrategic concessions. The Republic of Azerbaijan the “Queen” of the new chessboard of power politics has the comparative advantage and position of strength to deal with Armenia and other regional countries.
It has numerous befitting propositions which have national, regional as well as international repercussions. At the international level, it promotes regional cooperation, joint collaborations, political consultations, economic and trade relations, culture, education, sports, youth policy, and practically all other associated areas. It highlights the importance of energy security and the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) for Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Europe.
It has also certain defense orientations. It reflects mutual military assistance which is a historic achievement. We are showing again that we will always be together. It is a guarantor of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of the internationally recognized borders, and security of each country.
It stipulates that Joint Consultations (JCs) will be conducted in case of such events, which lays the groundwork for appropriate initiatives in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and necessary assistance to each other in accordance with the UN Charter, as well as coordinated military activities to defend against foreign threats.
The SD emphasizes for joint efforts to modernize the armed forces of the two fraternal countries, implement measures aimed at strengthening defense capabilities and military security, increase the joint capacity of the two countries’ armed forces and establish close cooperation in modern weapons and ammunition management. It seems that the Security Councils (SCs) of both countries are tasked with holding joint meetings on national security issues and discussing regional and international security developments concerning the national interests of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The iron brothers Azerbaijan and Turkey have literally conquered new castles of sovereignty, comfort, prosperity, and of course national dignity. Now it is an ideal time of dances, celebrations, feats, and reunions and Shusha Declaration (SD) is the vivid reflection of pure brotherhood, mutual respect, political harmony, military deterrence, peaceful co-existence, and above all greater socio-economic prosperity and trans-regional connectivity.
It has actually formed a new political reality in the SCR. It is indeed an innovative balancing act of both sides which has certain socio-economic, geopolitical, and geostrategic befitting ramification for both countries.
It has further strengthened bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey due to which it is estimated that bilateral trade between the two countries may reach up to US$15 billion by 2022-2023. It has created a new strategic power equation in the SCR which will now reckon with the new conditions in the region. The international theory of Middle Power has now been updated and new influential power brokers have been further consolidated in the shape of new Sultans of the SCR, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
– According to some experts, the signing of the Shusha declaration is a serious message not only to Armenia but also to the regional powers and the West. How can you review the stance of Russia, Iran, and the West to the agreement on allied cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan?
– The timing and utility of the SD is significant because it apparently endorsed by the Presidents of the US and France and moreover, and support of Vladimir Putin as mentioned by the Turkish president during his speech. It would hopefully start transport links in the SCR. It is indeed development-oriented.
The SD signed on June 15, 2021 has further strengthened bilateral ties between Baku-Ankara and the unblocked of regional transport communications. As a true statesman and strategist Erdogan offered Armenia to be part of a six-sided regional platform that includes Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Iran.
It has spirits of positivity, productivity, and participation in the SCR and beyond. Turkish president while in Azerbaijan thoroughly discussed the chances of the opening of Zangezur corridor with Azerbaijan. Widespread deadly landmines are the real threats to the development of SCR due to which Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey should jointly put pressure on Armenia to provide the maps of minefields. The intensive development of the region will be beneficial for Armenia as well since communications are unblocked, new ways will open and many projects including investment mega projects will also be started soon.
– A number of experts believe that this historic declaration is of great importance not only for Azerbaijan and Turkey but also for the Turkic world and the whole region. Do you see any possibility for other Turkic countries to engage in this initiative that they will be interested in signing the agreement of alliance with Turkey and Azerbaijan?
– Being a prominent regional expert on Azerbaijan and CIS I term Shusha Declaration as the first giant step towards greater socio-economic integration and regional connectivity. It is indeed a gigantic balancing act to create a new geopolitical reality in the SCR. It has created new rules of engagements in the SCR and beyond. It guarantees the sovereignty and national pride of both countries. Chances are very bright to sign an agreement of alliance with other Turkic speaking countries in the region because the victory of Azerbaijan has opened numerous windows of opportunities for all the Central Asian Countries i.e. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.
South Caucasus Region (SCR) has now entered into a new phase of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. War is now over and some swapping of prisons and sharing of landmines have also been initiated between Azerbaijan and Armenia which has created a new window of opportunity in terms of economic cooperation, food & energy security, infrastructural development, and valuable transportation corridors in the SCR.
Chances are very high that mutual cooperation would also be further strengthened between Azerbaijan and Turkey. A joint production of Azerbaijan-Turkey Drones would be initiated as soon as possible. Joint collaboration in the 5th generation fighter jet would be a game-changer in the SCR. To conclude, a close liaison in Artificial Intelligence Technologies (AITs) would further protect the socio-economic, geopolitical, and geostrategic vested interests of both countries. Trilateral Security Dialogue among Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Turkey would further consolidate socio-economic, geopolitical, and geostrategic orientations of the Shusha Declaration in the days to come.
The proposed ZC has “multiplier” socio-economic, geopolitical, and geostrategic dividends which primarily, connect Central Asia, the CR, Azerbaijan, and Armenia from the Pacific to Turkey. It will expand the railway network between Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Armenia and will have a positive impact on regional trade activities. It hopes that the ZC will be instrumental to future SCR reconciliation and economic cooperation.
The opening of the ZC would further strengthen the Caspian Transport Network (CTN) including the “East-West” transport corridor and the “North-South” International Transport Corridor (ITC). It would also facilitate the Oil & Gas Pipeline System (OGPS) extending from the Caspian to Europe. It would further enhance the transit capacity of the region that has already played an important role for the European Union (EU), the United States (US), Russia, and China gas supplies chains.
Critical analysis of the ZC upholds that it permits the operation of a transport corridor connecting Europe and Asia, which is of strategic importance to Russia and China, promises potential economic benefits to all countries in the region. Thus it holds a grand economic, business, investment and connecting proposition to all the regional countries.
It will drastically improve Azerbaijan’s position in the “East-West” and “North-South” transport corridors, as it is situated on the historic “Silk Road” and seeks to become a logistics hub between Europe and Asia.
The East-West corridor has great significance to China and the EU. Both have a combined trade turnover of 560 billion euros in 2019 and chances are now further brightened after the signing of the new “China-EU Investment Deal”.
It is vital for trade between Turkey and Central Asia as well as Turkey-China trade turnover i.e. Є21 billion in 2019. Moreover, Turkey’s newly inaugurated corridor of Central Asia may also be benefitted with the opening of the ZC. It hopes that ZC will connect Turkic-speaking states with a combined GDP of US$1.1 trillion.
Turkey is also working on a new project to connect Nakhchivan to Turkey through the Kars-Nakhchivan railway. In the next stage, the linkage of this railway to the ZC will give a new comparative advantage to the bilateral trade relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Moreover, it would improve the South Caucasus Transit (SCT) role in the Middle Corridor i.e. China’s alternative corridors under the flagship of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) due to which cargo transportation has been tremendously increased through Azerbaijan on its way from China to Turkey, and vice versa.
It evaluates that with the development of proposed overland transportation through Armenia, the ZC would improve the Middle Corridor’s ability to link Europe and Asia. It will further improve trade activities between Azerbaijan and Turkey by shortening the transit time. In this connection, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railroad (BTK) and Georgian roads have already linked Azerbaijan with Turkey, however, the shorter route has its own strategic importance and potential to improve economic ties.
– Do you think that in the near future the leaders of Azerbaijan and Pakistan would be ready to sign such a great agreement on the allied relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan in the city of Shusha?
– For the further strengthening of bilateral relations in diverse fields of economy, trade & commerce, food & energy cooperation, science & technology, defense cooperation, military production, joint drills, training, research, cultural & educational corporation and last but not least formation of corridors of knowledge has already been started between two brotherly countries Pakistan and Azerbaijan.
Prior to this Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey have Trilateral Strategic Dialogue/Partnership. Pakistan has been assisting Azerbaijan in terms of military, naval, and air force training in Pakistan. Both the countries have been in serious negotiations for the sale of JF-17 Thunder with Azerbaijan which is now at an advance stage. Both countries have been extending their expertise in modern warfare which proved terminal in the 2nd War of Karbakah.
Chiefs of Air Forces, Naval and General Nadeem Raz have already paid a personal visit to Baku and extended their experiences and expertise for the befitting propositions of resettlement, redevelopment, reinvestments, and reconstruction of all the newly liberated areas of the Karabakh Region. Most recently Azerbaijan Naval Commander visited Pakistan and met with Naval and armed Forces chiefs and discussed matters of mutual interest pertaining to regional peace and stability.
Even the Director General of FWO paid a visit to Baku and explored various avenues of mutual cooperation in infrastructural projects, cleaning of deadly landmines, and prospective cooperation in gold mining.
Being a prominent regional expert on Azerbaijan & CIS I foresee a befitting strategic partnership between Pakistan and Azerbaijan in the days to come which would further consolidate military cooperation, economic integration, FDIs, joint ventures, food & energy cooperation, and above all cultural & education collaboration.
Note: Dr. Mehmood Ul Hasan Khan is a professional expert on regional studies, especially the Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Eastern Asia. His research and comprehensive articles have already been published in China, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, the USA, South Korea, UAE, and Kuwait. He has great experience in the socio-economic, geo-politics, and geo-strategic issues of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. He is a famous expert on CIS and Caucasus in Pakistan.