Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to Azerbaijan Cahit Bagci’s interview with APA
-It is already some time that you started activity in Azerbaijan. Could you get used to your new job in Azerbaijan? How have you established your activity?
- To say frankly, it is not the first time that I came to Azerbaijan. I first had been to Azerbaijan as a deputy in 2008. Until I was appointed as an ambassador I had visited Azerbaijan as both deputy, and my official duties. Therefore when I start my activity in Azerbaijan, I did not have any difficulties. Our brothers and friends help us. We feel ourselves at our home.
-An increase in the number of visits of Turkish officials to Azerbaijan is observed. What is the main purpose of these visits?
-5 staff of Turkish officials visited Azerbaijan last week alone. The 10th meeting of ministers of the economy of the Turkish Council was held in Baku. Along with this bilateral meetings of Turkish officials attending this meeting was also held. Then Extensive delegation of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation visited Baku. The head of Turkish Radio and Television Corporation Abubakir Shahin held discussions for developing relations in media field at the meetings that he held. Then Ombudsmen of Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan carried out fact-finding missions in Karabakh. Shusha Declaration has also impact on the development of relations between two countries.
It is necessary to relate the development with Shusha Declaration too. The signature between our presidents on June 15 is a historic signature. We should not see it just as a Declaration, although the Declaration consists of 7 pages, its basis is made up by two words: deepening and development of relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Therefore, development of relations in all fields is basic. Development of relations in parliamentary diplomacy, trade is talked about. The issue of joint investments in other countries is already on the agenda, not mutual investments between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Issues such as joint oil extraction, joint gas extraction, joint military investments are discussed. Relations during the Karabakh war and after the war have been realized in “three-party”, “five-party”, “six-party” platforms. The purpose here is bringing peace and stability in the South Caucasus. Revealing value and potential of the region keeping the issue in the forefront is one of main goals. In order to provide stability and peace in the region, problems between countries are tried to be resolved, countries are tried to be brought together. Purpose of increasing efforts of Turkish officials is not only development of bilateral relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan, but also protection of peace and stability in the region, increase trade.
-In recent days, you have visited the territories, liberated from the occupation, together with the fact-finding mission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Ombudsman Association (OICOA). Which changes did you notice in the liberated territories during this visit in comparison to your previous visit?
-I have visited Karabakh 8 times and Shusha 5 times. These are not tourist visits. I would like to remind one expression of Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “Turkey is ready to provide every kind of support in development and restoration of Karabakh”. Within the framework of this, today, there are works carried out in Karabakh. On the one hand, visits are organized to Karabakh within the diplomatic framework, on the other hand, I make visits in order to support Turkey’s works regarding Karabakh. Ombudsmen of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan were implementing fact-finding missions on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Ombudsman Association (OICOA). The report will cover the determination of damage committed against historical and cultural monuments in Karabakh during the occupation, as well as, mines planted during the occupation of Karabakh and war. Many people- civilians and servicemen have planted these mines and died. The purpose of this report is to bring these to the attention of the international community. Chief Ombudsman of Turkey has also explained in his statements the purpose of the fact-finding mission in detail. We also stood by our Chief Ombudsman in the investigations in Shusha, Fuzuli, Aghdam, and Tartar.
-Turkish-Armenian border has been closed after the occupation of Kalbajar in 1993. Karabakh, as well as Kalbajar, have been already liberated from the occupation. Armenia has stated its readiness to normalize relations, dialogue with Turkey at the level of Prime Minister Pashinyan. On the other hand, Pashinyan has proposed a meeting to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through his Georgian colleague. To what extent can Armenia’s statements in the direction of normalizing relations with Turkey be accepted as sincere and realistic?
-Actually, currently, the main issue is to provide normalization. It has been already put an end to the occupation of Armenia, Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity has been ensured. From now, we must provide the stability of the region and prepare a way to peace. These are in favor of all countries. Here, Turkey is a country that recommends not only development of the bilateral relations, but also "triple", "five" and "six" platforms. Both Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Ilham Aliyev are being conducted works in this direction. They try to carry relations to "triple", "five" and "six" platforms. These are steps directed to provide stability, peace in the Southern Caucasus. If peace and stability are achieved here, Armenia will also benefit from it. Within the framework of these, attempts to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey, Turkey’s activity in this direction is directed to protect peace and stability in the Caucasus. I hope that Armenia will take steps on the path to peace without any preconditions. This is the main condition for peace in this geography, provision of stability. Look economies of all world countries have frustrated as a result of the closing of Suez Canal for a week. There is an alternative corridor in the middle. We are talking about a trade corridor that runs from East to West through the Caspian Sea and can be used by all countries around the Caspian Sea. This corridor will not only benefit Azerbaijan but also Armenia, Georgia, Iran, and Russia. It is needed to see and discuss these. Turkey’s activities in this framework are directed to provide peace in the region, to sign a peace agreement, and to develop trade relations. After achieving peace, the six countries in the region can come together and deepen relations. This is desired. Because they struggle with small problems among themselves, they do not look to the future of their countries. But it is needed to look to the future of the country, the future of their children.
- Erdogan’s visit to Russia is expected. Can Russia be a mediator for a meeting of Pashinyan and Erdogan?
- Issues have already been transferred from a global level to regional. Occurrences in the region are preferred to be discussed with regional countries. Meeting of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Ilham Aliyev, leaders of other regional countries is directed to elimination of problems in this geography. Main point is that these meetings have been directed to removal of barriers which prevent provision of peace and stability in the Caucasus. Turkish-Russian bilateral relations and joint cooperation in other regions will also be main issue of discussion in Russian visit.
- Which contributions can be provided by visit of Turkish President Erdogan to Russia to opening of communications in the South Caucasus? Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed Shusha Declaration on June 15 of this year. Very clear expressions have been reflected in Shusha Declaration regarding opening of the Zangazur Corridor. Azerbaijani President also said that the Zangazur Corridor can not be opened without consent and participation of Turkey. Is discussion of the issue expected during Erdogan’s visit to Russia?
- Zangazur Corridor will be a trade, transit corridor. We hope that both Armenia and those countries, which are dissatisfied with establishment of this corridor, will understand that the corridor will be beneficial for them. This corridor is essential for entry of Caspian littoral states to the world markets within shorter period of time. Establishment of the corridor was an article, noted in the ceasefire agreement. There is a signature of Armenian Prime Minister under it. The issue should be assessed not on political grounds, but on rational, trade grounds by looking on behalf of futures of countries. Armenia should see that establishment of the corridor is in its favor. I think so. It is necessary to continue works in the direction of establishment of the corridor. We hope activities of both Azerbaijan and Turkey in the direction of opening the Zangazur Corridor will yield positive results. It is necessary to look at future. If we are able to provide peace in the region, number of investments here will increase, mutual relations will develop. Turkey and Azerbaijan do not discuss mutual investments in just Turkey or Azerbaijan. Two countries also conduct discussions on joint investments in other countries. The issue can be discussed with countries too. Establishment of “six-party” platform in the region can be significant for actualization of these discussions. The Caspian basin has great potential, its assessment should be thought. No doubt, Russia visit of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is very essential not juts in terms of deepening relations between two countries, but also in terms of provision of peace, stability in the region. Azerbaijani and Turkish Presidents quickly express importance of the Zangazur Corridor. The issue will absolutely be discussed at bilateral meetings with any country in the region. It is necessary not to look at the corridor as a corridor connecting Turkey with Azerbaijan. It will be brought to attention that it is a transit corridor.
- What will be the positive aspects of the restoration of Turkey's relations with Armenia for Armenia?
- It is impossible to say beforehand. First of all, a peace agreement should be signed, borders should be defined, and the conflict over borders should end. Armenia has only provided Azerbaijan with mine maps of two districts. It should also hand over other mine maps to Azerbaijan for the development of the region. Very strong work is underway to restore Karabakh. Every time I go to Karabakh, I have a chance to see construction activities, road construction, demining activities. In this regard, Armenia should hand over all mine maps to Azerbaijan. I reiterate that Turkey supports the development of relations between the two countries in a healthy, peaceful manner. It is necessary to look at the issue in this direction. I hope that Armenia will also take positive steps in this direction.
- In other words, are the establishment of Turkish-Armenian relations not considered without signing a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
- Our goal is the signing of a peace agreement in this region. Otherwise, the problems between the two countries will be on the agenda intensively and to be raised for discussion on international platforms. In other words, problems will remain and I do not think it will benefit Armenia.
- Joint training of Turkish and Azerbaijani servicemen have been held intensively for two years now. How do you evaluate the results of this training? Can we say that application of the Turkish model has already started in the Azerbaijani Army?
- Military relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan have been developing for years. Training is held both in Turkey and in Azerbaijan. Some training is held with the participation of the three countries. Those are planned training and are continued in accordance with plan. Holding training is continued within the framework of military cooperation.
The role of the "Bayraktar" UAV in the victory in the Second Karabakh War was very big. Are there any plans to establish Turkish-Azerbaijani joint ventures in the field of defence industry, including joint UAV production?
- Seljuk Bayraktar is one of the main topics of discussion on all world televisions today. In the field of technology, “Bayraktar” is one of the crucial investments of Turkey. In recent weeks, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also visited “Baykar”. When Turkey intervened in Cyprus, it faced an embargo, during the time Turkey was not provided with a single bullet or military equipment. The embargo lasted for years. Turkey came out from the embargo by developing its own military technology. However, the military technology developed by Turkey is not limited to Baykar, but hundreds of defence industry companies such as ASELSAN, Roketsan and others operate in Turkey. Everyone is queuing up to buy Turkish-made military technology. Some of them are strategic products. These products are not sold to everyone, like apples and pears. It is necessary to look at “Baykar” in this direction. “Bayraktar” is a modern model. Many surprise projects will be presented at the Technofest festival held in Turkey today. We will also see new projects there.