The opening of a new oil refinery in Turkey has bolstered ties between Ankara and Baku, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
"With the STAR Refinery, we further strengthened the strategic dimension of our brotherly relations with Azerbaijan," Erdogan said alongside his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, at the inauguration of Azeri oil company SOCAR's STAR oil refinery.
Speaking in the Aegean province of Izmir, Erdogan said every project that the two countries carry out together solidifies Turkey and Azerbaijan's status as regional powers.
He touted the refinery's role in localizing industrial facilities in Turkey, saying: "It aims to save around $1.5 billion every year in imports of petroleum products and to reduce external dependence on petroleum products."
"STAR Refinery, the largest investment in a single point in Turkey by the private sector, is one of the largest petroleum operations carried out in recent years in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa,” according to a statement by the Turkish Presidency.
The refinery is also the first project to earn the “Strategic Investment Incentive Certificate” in Turkey.
Also addressing the ceremony, Aliyev said Baku and Ankara reach every goal they set since there is a strong political will between the two countries.
“The stronger Turkey is, the stronger we are,” he added.
Aliyev also praised Erdogan, saying Turkey became a major global power under his leadership.
- Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan, Armenia
Erdogan also called on the international community to speak up about the Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"We expect the international community to say 'stop' to injustices in the world, particularly the Karabakh issue," he said.
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.
Three UN Security Council Resolutions and two UN General Assembly Resolutions refer to Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.
Turkey reiterates that the dispute needs to be resolved within the framework of international law and Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Unilateral actions in Eastern Mediterranean
Decrying Greek Cyprus' unilateral hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said: "We are saddened by attempts doomed to fail such as unilateral hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean."
Erdogan said Turkey continues to respond firmly to “impositions” in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey has repeatedly warned the Greek Cypriot administration about its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources around the area.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
In 2017, after two years of negotiations, the latest attempt to reunify the long-divided Mediterranean island ended in failure.
By Diyar Guldogan