Sept 4 2014

Turkey and Azerbaijan Focus on Friendships and Feuds

September 4, 2014 - 10:22am, by Giorgi Lomsadze

As president, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip ErdoÄ?an on September 2-3
paid his first foreign visit (not counting a trip to
Turkish-controlled Cyprus) to Azerbaijan to talk about things the two
countries share: a friendship, a feud with Armenia and pipelines.

"We are very glad that you came home to Azerbaijan, your homeland, in
less than a week after your inauguration," declared Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliyev by way of greeting to his new counterpart,
though old ally. ErdoÄ?an, for his part, wanted to emphasise that the
mi-casa-es-su-casa relationship that characterized his nine-year run
as prime minister will continue strong. "We are two countries, one
nation," he underlined.

And what keeps an alliance together better than a mutual enemy? Both
presidents condemned Armenia's occupation of breakaway
Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent Azerbaijani lands. Aliyev vowed to spare
no effort to counter the "lies about the Armenian genocide," the
Ottoman-era massacre of ethnic Armenians that Turkey claims was
collateral damage of World War I.

Some observers believe that the Karabakh conflict is an even bigger
obstacle to the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia than
the genocide row. Baku carries enough cultural and financial influence
over Ankara to thwart any attempts at reconciliation. The
Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey energy corridor is too important to Ankara
to let anything threaten the route.

Just like Armenia, energy transit projects were a must-mention at the
meeting. ErdoÄ?an said he is looking forward to launching the
construction of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline, abbreviated as
TANAP, which is set to bring Azerbaijani gas across Georgia and Turkey
to Europe. "Inshallah, the groundwork will be laid on September 20,"
he pinpointed.

On Armenia, ErdoÄ?an put it pretty plainly, saying that the
Armenian-Turkish problem will resolve itself if the
Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict is resolved. The way things stand now on
Karabakh, this means that neither of the region's two biggest problems
are going anywhere in the foreseeable future.