The first meeting of the Turkey-Azerbaijan Joint Media Platform was held this weekend under the co-chairmanship of Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev.
The parties decided to establish "public diplomacy, international media, strategic communication, education, legislation and regulation, digitalization and internationalization committees," Turkey’s Communications Directorate said in a statement Saturday.
The meeting, which was held in Istanbul with the theme of "Rooted Past, Strong Future," was attended by top media and communications officials from both countries.
Speaking at the meeting, Altun said the joint platform, which became official with a memorandum of understanding signed last December between Turkey and Azerbaijan, is "a very valuable step for institutionalizing the field of media and communications."
He noted that during Azerbaijan’s liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian forces nearly a year ago, "important results" were achieved not only militarily and politically but also in the field of communications and the media, thanks to close bilateral cooperation.
"We place great importance on strengthening Turkey-Azerbaijan cooperation in the fight against fake news and disinformation in the fields of media, communications, and public diplomacy," he said. "We have a consensus on sharing experiences in these fields, evaluating opportunities, developing institutional capacity, and making joint efforts."
'Strong perspective, dynamic structure'
Altun called the platform "a great step forward" for Turkish and Azerbaijani media acting in concert, working effectively to inform the public of the two countries, and producing shared strategies for combating systematic disinformation and dark propaganda.
In line with the targets set by leaders of both nations, Altun said, "with a strong perspective and a dynamic structure," they will do work that brings "resounding" attention to both the peoples of Turkey and Azerbaijan as well as the international community.
Six committees formed under the platform "will have critical functions for the effectiveness and continuity of the joint work and projects" in the field of media and communications, he said.
"At a time when we face intense disinformation and dark propaganda activities against our countries, it is more essential than ever for us to cooperate and work in coordination," he said. "With these joint steps, we will do things that will show the power of our two states to future generations."
"At the same time, we will explain the unity of our countries and the power of our states to the international public through short-, medium-, and long-term strategic communications campaigns," Altun continued.
The committees, he said, "will strengthen our deep-rooted ties and contribute to the effective delivery of our just struggle to large masses."
Altun added that the two countries also plan to carry out joint projects in the field of popular culture, especially in the movie and TV sectors.
Benefitting from Turkey’s experience
Also speaking at the meeting, Hajiyev touted the communication cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan shown during last fall’s struggle that brought victory in Karabakh – liberating a large chunk of territory from Armenian occupation – and is now gaining a corporate identity through the new joint platform.
Saying that "successful results were achieved in a short time," he added: "Today, thanks to our leaders, Azerbaijan-Turkey relations have risen to such a level that they must maintain that level, take it further, and ensure that future generations carry the same feeling hundreds of years from now."
"Our joint media platform, which has become one of the important elements of the brotherhood and strategic alliance of the two countries with the will and determination of our leaders, will further boost its effectiveness by completing its institutional structuring," he added.
Hajiyev also said that Azerbaijan wants to benefit more from Turkey's experience in countering ongoing disinformation attacks against his country in social and international media.
Liberation of Karabakh
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and also violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.
On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.