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President Aliyev: Turkish Army Model Fully Integrated into Azerbaijani Armed Forces

By Ilham Karimli February 20, 2024

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President Ilham Aliyev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara, Türkiye, February 19, 2024 / President.Az

President Ilham Aliyev made his first official visit to Türkiye since winning Azerbaijan’s snap presidential elections on February 7.

In one-on-one and expanded meetings on Monday, Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan reviewed critical aspects of the two countries’ strategic partnership, committing to ongoing advancement through collaborative endeavors.

President Aliyev underscored military cooperation as one of the key directions set by Baku and Ankara.

“Our armies are a single fist. Every year at least 10 military exercises are held both in Türkiye and Azerbaijan, and thus our military strength is further growing. The Second Karabakh War and the anti-terrorist operation we conducted exactly five months ago demonstrated once again that the Turkish Army model is fully integrated into the Azerbaijan one,” the President of Azerbaijan said.

He added that the anti-terror operation carried out in the Karabakh (Garabagh) region in September 2023 left no room for separatist and divisive forces within Azerbaijani territory, ensuring that there will never be a place for them in the future.

President Aliyev emphasized the defense partnership between Azerbaijan and Türkiye, encompassing plans for joint defense manufacturing.

The Armed Forces of Türkiye and Azerbaijan conducted several joint military exercises, including the “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk-2023” joint tactical exercise, which marked the culmination of their annual exercise plan. This exercise, involving personnel from both countries, occurred from October 23 to 25 last year.

The exercise was expansive, taking place across various locations in Azerbaijan, such as Baku, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, and recently liberated territories. Approximately 3,000 personnel participated, along with a significant array of military assets, including armored vehicles, artillery units, aircraft, and engineering equipment. Focused on modern combat techniques, the exercise emphasized the integration of different military branches, such as artillery, aviation, and ground forces. Activities ranged from coordinating maneuvers among units to constructing pontoon bridges for river crossings and executing airborne landings.

The primary goal of the “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk-2023” joint tactical exercise was to enhance combat coordination and command capabilities. Through cooperative troop activities, the exercise aimed to foster the exchange of experience and elevate the professionalism of military personnel.

Baku and Ankara have stepped up the frequency of joint exercises following a 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had long been at odds over the latter’s Karabakh region. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched full-blown military aggression against Azerbaijan, marking the longest and deadliest war in the South Caucasus region. The bloody war ended with a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, nearly 4,000 went missing, and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign conducted 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 counter-attack operations, which lasted 44 days, 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 statement on November 10, 2020, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

During and after the 2020 war, President Aliyev revealed Azerbaijan’s intention to strengthen the national army based on the Turkish model but on a smaller scale. As part of the army’s upgrade in line with Turkish military expertise, all-new commando units were created in areas with difficult terrain.

In 2021 and 2022, President Aliyev inaugurated new units of commando forces, the personnel of which had been through weeks-long “commando preparation” courses in Türkiye under the direct involvement and guidance of Turkish military specialists.

The Commandos played a pivotal role in the one-day local anti-terror operations conducted in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan last September.