President Ilham Aliyev has highlighted the role of Turkiye in the Second Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The president’s remarks came last week at the opening ceremony of an airport in the Turkish city of Rize.
“The second Karabakh war is our common glorious history, and we have put an end to 30 years of occupation,” President Aliyev said, referring to the war that lasted 44 days in 2020.
“On the first day of the war, the words of the President, my dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan that “Azerbaijan is not alone and that Turkiye is with Azerbaijan,” sent a serious message to many. Until the last minute of the war, until our flag was hoisted in Shusha, Turkiye was with us, Turkiye was behind us, Turkiye supported us, and the Azerbaijani people will never forget this brotherhood.”
The mutual relations of Baku and Ankara reached the highest level following the bloody war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Turkish officials put political and moral weight behind Azerbaijan in the deadliest clashes the region had seen since 1994, when the first Armenia-Azerbaijan war ended with a ceasefire.
Over decades Armenia and Azerbaijan had been locked in an armed conflict over the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan. The war ended in a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 3,890 went missing, and one million others were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict took a violent turn when Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the 44 days of the war, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from a nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with the signing of a tripartite statement by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
The cutting-edge weapons, such as Bayraktar TB2 unmanned attack drones purchased from Turkiye, gave Azerbaijan an upper hand against Armenia throughout the war. The drone fleet of the Azerbaijani army, which also includes Israeli-made UAVs and loitering munitions, is said to have destroyed more than 200 pieces of armor and artillery systems of Armenia during the war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the Victory Parade of the Azerbaijani army in Baku on December 10, 2020. Baku and Ankara have further strengthened the ties with Shusha Declaration – a strategic document signed during President Erdogan’s visit to Azerbaijan’s liberated Shusha city on June 15, 2021.
Meanwhile, in his speech in Turkish Rize, President Aliyev added that Turkiye continues standing by Azerbaijan in the post-war period through its efforts to restore the war-torn liberated lands and clear mined territories. According to the Azerbaijani official data, at least nine Turkish companies have been working on various projects in these lands, including the Fuzuli International Airport, which came online in October 2021.
Turkish authorities have been supporting the Mine Action Agency of Azerbaijan (ANAMA) by deploying cutting-edge equipment and personnel training in the liberated lands. ANAMA received seven units of Turkey-made MEMATT minesweepers as part of the contract signed for the supplies of twenty pieces of equipment. The Turkish Armed Forces have so far assisted the Azerbaijani mine clearance teams in neutralizing landmines and unexploded ordnances in more than 132 square kilometers of area and trained 1,630 Azerbaijani sappers and specialists.