Initiated by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Ankara played host to the March 16 Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States designed to rally international support for Turkiye's post-quake rebuilding efforts.
Addressing the event, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked President Ilham Aliyev for his initiative to hold the Extraordinary Summit, entitled “Disaster-Emergency Management and Humanitarian Assistance”.
Speaking at the summit, the Azerbaijani president blamed Armenia for the 30-year-long occupation and deliberate destruction of hundreds of cities and villages, historical and religious sites, and cemeteries.
"Foreign experts describe the destroyed city of Agdam as a `Hiroshima of the Caucasus'," the president said, elaborating that Armenians destroyed 65 out of 67 mosques in Karabakh and East Zangezur, and the remaining two were used as pig and cow sheds. The president added that because of the Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan is now among the countries most contaminated with landmines and after the second Karabakh war, i.e., since November 2020, nearly 300 Azerbaijanis have been killed or seriously injured by mine explosions.
"Although Armenia recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty in Prague and Sochi in 2022, it has not yet fully withdrawn its troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. Illegal Armenian detachments and criminal elements still remain in Karabakh. Armenia also evades the obligation to open the Zangazur corridor," the president added.
In remarks about the summit, Turkish political analyst, a professor at Turkiye’s Dumlupinar University Husamettin Inac, emphasized once again that the solution to the Karabakh problem does not lie with Russia or Europe - the only decisive factor here can be the joint effort of the Turkic-speaking nations. On why the summit is crucial, Inac opined that the unity of the Turkic nations can be conducive to restoring peace in Karabakh and in the region amid Armenia's obstruction of the processes.
“The extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States held at the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is of great importance. As you know, the successive earthquakes that hit Turkiye in February and the massive floods that occurred in Turkey's Adiyaman and ?anl? Urfa provinces a few days ago caused serious economic, political, and humanitarian damages to Turkiye. All this was an extremely crushing blow for Turkiye. However, I must note that against the background of what happened, the Turkic-speaking nations did not remain indifferent. On the contrary, holding such an event to support Turkiye paves the way for closer relations between Turkic-speaking nations,” the expert said.
Inac added that the summit once again proved that the Turkic-speaking countries as a joint body not only play the role of undertaking political commitment but also have the function of a beating heart within that whole body.
Speaking to Azernews on Karabakh and Pashinyan’s abortive maneuvers in the political arena, Husamettin Inac said that Armenia was ready to snatch at a chance and divert the processes for its own favor when it comes to Karabakh’s future.
“Currently facing a desperate situation, the Pashinyan government is delaying the peace process. In a way, this meeting took a very big step towards rendering harmless the so-called authority of the separatist regime in Karabakh, which is the eternal territory of Azerbaijan. The fact that Pashinyan completely closed his ears to Russia, came under the umbrella of Europe, as well as brought pro-France and pro-Armenian representatives to the border region clearly reveals Armenia’s belligerent stance. Although Armenia's game regarding Karabakh is not for the benefit of either side, it aims at least to display it to international organizations in the form of a so-called state. The summit emphasized once again that the solution to the Karabakh problem does not lie with Russia or Europe - the only decisive factor here can be the joint effort of the Turkic-speaking nations. The resolution of the Karabakh issue is interrelated to the Zangazur road, which will connect the entire Turkic world, and this was the main topic of the summit. Tukiye and our entire partners know that many works related to Zangazur have been completed as a result of the efforts of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Putting this road into operation is already considered the next main step,” the expert added
In addition to his comment, the professor added that Turkiye is actively engaged in the upcoming presidential elections, drawing attention to difficulties triggered by the devastating quakes.
“The presidential elections in Turkiye are about in two months' time. As for candidates, the rating of the ruling AKP was quite high in the period before the earthquake. You know, after the earthquake, being under western dictate, the alliance of 6 opposition parties formed against Erdogan’s AKP is trying to discredit the current government by spreading a lot of misinformation about the government. However, over the last few days, such propaganda has been overcome, and the rapid start of restoration activities in Turkiye and the reconstruction of cities managed to expose the slanders of the opposition once again. We hope that in the next two months, things will speed up and people's well-being will be brought back to normal also thanks to the consistent aids to Turkiye.”
The political analyst, who prioritizes the interests of the West, noted that the elections in Turkiye are very important for the West. He noted that "certain forces, especially those waiting for Erdogan's defeat in the elections, are assuring the main opposition in Turkiye of all financial support".
“As regards the scheduled presidential elections, it is not an ordinary event. Here, especially, the West has great interests, and of course, these interests are the interests of those who want to get rid of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and here the opposition alliance that serves the west cannot be overlooked. As for the final result, it is very difficult to predict how the current elections will end. In elections, every single day counts and can be crucial for changes in results. However, in my opinion, I can say that today the society in Turkiye trusts and sympathizes with Erdogan, who is currently in power.”