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Ambassador: Council for Strategic Cooperation to further intensify Azerbaijani-Turkish relations

26 October 2010 [14:33] - TODAY.AZ
Interview with Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan Hulusi Kilic on the eve of October 29 - Republic Day in Turkey.
Azerbaijan and Turkey established the Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation. What impetus may it give to the development of relations between the two countries?

Turkey and Azerbaijan are fraternal countries, two countries of one nation. As you know, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a joint document on the establishment of the Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation at the Istanbul summit of the heads of Turkic-speaking countries in September. This document will create conditions for further development and strengthening of close ties in several spheres between the two countries.

I would like to stress the possibility to further intensify and advance cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan through this Council. Joint achieving of great success in political, economic, cultural and social spheres by Turkey and Azerbaijan is our common desire and dream.

Turkish officials have repeatedly said that the Turkish-Armenian border will not open without resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Will Turkey's interests against Azerbaijan be changed in the future?

Resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the most important conditions to establish lasting, permanent peace in the South Caucasus. The normalization process, conducted by Turkey towards Armenia should be considered as a step towards establishing lasting peace in the South Caucasus. Thus, our country believes that the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia will have a positive impact on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and accelerate it. It is important to lead the South Caucasus out of the current conflict and to turn it into the region of stability and cooperation for the future of all countries in the region and prosperity. Creating such a situation in the South Caucasus will benefit regional countries. Otherwise, if there is not permanent peace in the region, we think that the actions to normalize the process will not be long.

Our position on this topic from the very beginning of the process is brought to the attention of all concerned sides at the highest level. There were not any changes in Turkey's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. I can say that we have the same views with Azerbaijan on this issue.

At what stage is the project of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway? What prospects does the project have in freight and passenger transportation?

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is one of the important projects. Georgia and Turkey operate within this project. If you remember, Baku has successfully held the second meeting of the Coordinating Council on August 2-3 this year. The operations are planned to be completed by late 2012. It will be put into operation in 2013. This project is a project of regular transportation from China to England. The project will link mainly Asia with Europe. It is very important that Azerbaijan plays a significant role in it.

How do you assess the energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey? Can the agreements be signed on new projects in this area?

There is no another example of such cooperation as a partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan in the energy sphere. Azerbaijan's rich natural gas resources are important from the standpoint of European and world energy security. They are delivered to the world markets via Turkey. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway show the essence of the role played by Turkey and Azerbaijan in energy security. Ministers of energy and energy companies of the two countries signed important documents at the Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) during the visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Turkey on June 7, 2010.

These documents form the basis of an agreement reached by Turkey and Azerbaijan in various fields, beginning from the price for natural gas to transit conditions. The progress was reached in the transition to the second phase of development of the Shah Deniz field thanks to this. Currently works are underway to determine to which European country, to which potential buyers and how the Azerbaijani natural gas will be transported through Turkey.

Entry of gas to be produced in the second phase of development of the Shah Deniz field, the European market will be another success of the Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation, another harbinger of Azerbaijan's future development. On the other hand, within the agreement on strategic partnership and mutual support signed in August 2010 by the presidents of the two countries Joint energy committee on energy relations will be created between Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Today, the world media outlets voice opinions that the referendum held in Turkey was aimed at weakening the army and turning away from European values aside the Islamic world and thus, the country sooner or later will become an Islamic republic. What do you think about it?

The package of amendments to the Constitution, envisaging amending more than 20 of its clauses were put to a vote and approved Sept. 12, 2010. First of all, the package adopted May 6, 2010 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was approved as a result of the referendum, which was attended by a majority of voters, and was an important step towards a more democratic constitution. The Western countries' reaction towards the referendum results is also highly positive.

Thanks to the amendments contained in the package, giving priority to fundamental rights and freedoms in many areas our constitutional system is in compliance with our international obligations. Most of the made amendments created the conditions for implementation of the recommendations within the negotiations on the membership in the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venice Commission, Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the PACE, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other international bodies.

In addition to our people's support for the process of democratic reform, this referendum accelerated our entry into the EU. Constitutional amendments on one hand will create conditions to apply the European standards in many spheres of our nation's life, on the other hand, showing that Turkey is moving toward a modern democracy, which is its right, will improve the country's foreign image.

Although Turkey is conducting fundamental democratic reforms in the country, the country's entry into the European Union delays due to some reason. Can the delay in this process push Ankara to create alternative structures?

The fact that Turkey is a member of several important international and regional structures having different functions and geographical coverage, or supports relations with them through dialogue, demonstrates the multivariate foreign policy in the best way.

Along with the process of EU membership, at present Turkey is a member of such influential structures as the UN, Council of Europe, NATO, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), OSCE, WTO, OIC, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) , Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

From June 2009 to June 2010, Turkey led the South-East European Cooperation Process, in 2010-2012 will chair the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). From November 2010 to May 2011 Turkey will chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Turkey is a permanent observer in the Organization of American States, the Association of Caribbean States and the African Union. The Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum was created based on the agreement signed in 2007 with the League of Arab States.

So far, the process of joining the European Union has been a long and hard way for candidate countries. Our country now conducts important works towards this goal. Our goal is full membership. Turkey's negotiations with the European Union, according to EU member states' unanimous decision, are held for country's acceptance into the EU. A long way has been passed for its realization.


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