Turkey, Asia - Pacific

Turkey, Azerbaijan solidarity keeps 'getting stronger'

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends 6th Turkey-Azerbaijan High-Level Strategic Council meeting in Baku

Turkey, Azerbaijan solidarity keeps 'getting stronger' BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - OCTOBER 31: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (R) attend joint press conference after their meeting at the Zagulba Palace in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 31, 2017. ( Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul / Handout - Anadolu Agency )

By Diyar Guldogan


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday hailed the fact that the bonds of solidarity between Turkey and Azerbaijan was continuing to "get stronger".

Speaking at a news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev following the 6th Turkey-Azerbaijan High-Level Strategic Council meeting in capital Baku, Erdogan said: "The solidarity between Turkey and Azerbaijan in political, military, economic, cultural areas continues to get stronger."

The president also praised the first official train service to connect Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia -- the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project, which was launched on Monday.

The 826-kilometer (513-mile) railway project connecting Baku with Turkey's northeastern Kars province via Tbilisi was launched in 2007 and construction began in 2008.

Erdogan said the railway line would not only serve passengers but also provide freight service that would lead to an economic boost.

He noted that bilateral trade volume between the countries was $1.6 billion, adding: "I believe that we will soon reach $5 billion."

About the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), Erdogan said work linked to the project was continuing "intensively".

"In a short period of time, Azeri gas starts to flow to Europe," he added.

 Ties at 'highest' level

The TANAP project aims to bring natural gas, produced from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz-2 gas field and other areas of the Caspian Sea, primarily to Turkey, but also into Europe via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

The project is planned to be operational by 2018 with an initial capacity to carry 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azeri gas through Georgia to Turkey. While 6 bcm will be for Turkey's domestic consumption, the rest is destined for transfer to Greece, Albania, and Italy and further into Europe.

Aliyev said ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan were at the "highest" level. "There is no other country that supports each other like this," he added.

He said consensus between the countries plays a "stabilizing" role in the region.

About the occupied Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, Aliyev thanked Erdogan for Turkey's support for the country's territorial integrity.

Aliyev said Azerbaijani people and the government would not allow the "creation of a second Armenia" in the historical territory.

Azerbaijan and Armenia remain in dispute over the occupied Karabakh region. Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with Armenian military support, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.

Turkey reiterates that the dispute needs to be resolved within the framework of international law and Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Turkey's first lady opens high school in Baku

Turkey’s first lady opened the new building of a high school in Azerbaijan’s capital run by the Turkish Religious Foundation (TDV).

"I believe that teens who graduate from here will make a great contribution to both strengthening Azerbaijan and enhancing relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan," Emine Erdogan told the opening ceremony in the capital Baku.

Erdogan called it one of the country’s most "successful" schools.

The Turkish Religious Foundation has covered the expenses of the school for nearly a quarter-century, 23 years.

A total of 827 students, including 268 girls, currently receive education there. It has 112 teachers.

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