'Three Brothers - 2021': Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan start joint military exercises
International drills kick off with solemn opening ceremony in Azerbaijan's capital Baku
Joint military drills between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan started in Baku on Sunday, the first such drills between the three countries.
The "Three Brothers - 2021" exercises kicked off with a solemn opening ceremony. While national anthems of the participating countries were played and their flags raised, a minute of silence was also observed to commemorate their "martyrs".
Speaking at the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Hikmat Mirzayev, Azerbaijan's special forces commander, said he was pleased to see the representatives of Turkish and Pakistani special forces in his country.
"Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan have entered the history of mankind as close friends and brothers. At the heart of these relations is the close ties between our peoples. Evidence of this can be seen in the solidarity and support of Turkey and Pakistan to Azerbaijan from the first day of the 44-day counter-offensive operations launched by Azerbaijan against the Armenian armed forces on Sept. 27, 2020," Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry quoted him as saying.
He was referring to the second Karabakh war, which began last September and ended six weeks later following a Russia-brokered truce in November.
Azerbaijan liberated several cities and some 300 settlements and villages after a nearly three-decade occupation.
"Today, cooperation between our countries in all areas is at the highest level. Important measures are being taken to further strengthen and develop our relations to ensure the region's and peoples' security," Mirzayev said.
He hoped that the exercises, which will be held until Sept. 20, will provide an extensive exchange of experience and views between servicemen of the three countries and will "greatly contribute" to further improvement of the professional training.
The heads of Turkish and Pakistani delegations, Lt. Col. Kursat Konuk and Lt. Col. Aamir Shahzad, said the existing bond of friendship between the nations and armies "would stand the test of time" in a rapidly changing global environment.
The "three brothers will grow closer" as reliable regional partners and collaborators despite international political changes, they added.
The readout said that the joint military drills will serve to "further strengthen the existing" ties between the armies, as well as provide an opportunity to discover new ways to combat terrorism.