By Mehmet Sah Yilmaz and Ruslan Rehimov
ANKARA (AA) – Azerbaijan's education minister on Monday hailed the role of Turkey's Bayraktar drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in his country's recent war with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh).
Speaking at a program organized by Turkey's Ankara University ahead of the 29th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre by Armenian forces against Azerbaijanis, Emin Amrullayev said the 44-day Karabakh war that began on Sept. 27 underlined the importance of Turkish weaponry.
"The war of the 21st century is a technology war. Turkey's Bayraktar UAVs played a great role in our victory," he said, referring to the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh and other settlements from an Armenian occupation that lasted for nearly three decades.
The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
Bayraktar TB2 drones, which entered the Turkish army's inventory in 2014, are currently used by Turkey, Ukraine, Qatar, and Azerbaijan.
In recent years, Turkey's defense and aviation companies made significant achievements in research and development, as well as production and export. Turkey is among six countries in the world that can produce its own drones.
Amrullayev said the liberation of territories changed perspectives on everything, including the Khojaly tragedy.
"In the past we were a defeated nation. Now, for the first time, when we talk about Khojaly, we are speaking as victorious people. We have a lot to do to make our future generations forget Khojaly. We achieved victory, but we have a lot to do to achieve justice," the minister said.
On Feb. 26, 1992, Armenian forces committed a massacre of ethnic Azerbaijanis from the town of Khojaly. During the two-hour offensive, 613 Azerbaijanis, including 106 women, 63 children, and 70 elderly people, were killed and 487 others critically injured.
Eight families were completely wiped out, while 130 children lost one parent and 25 children lost both.
Saying that Turkey has always supported Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia, Amrullayev said the role of the Caucasian Islamic Army in liberating the capital Baku from occupation in 1918 was great, and the Azerbaijani people will never forget it.
In 1918, the Caucasian Islamic Army under the leadership of Nuri (Killigil) Pasha along with the Azerbaijani National Army and volunteer forces liberated Baku from Armenian and Bolshevik occupation.
– 'Not strangers'
Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Turkey Khazar Ibrahim said Azerbaijanis do not feel like foreigners in Turkey, adding that late President Heydar Aliyev’s principle of "one nation, two states" is very much alive.
The Khojaly Massacre is a "great wound" for the Azerbaijani people, he added.
Necdet Unuvar, the rector of Ankara University, emphasized that Azerbaijan is an "indispensable country" for the Turkish nation, and that it is hard to overstate the friendly relations between the two countries.
*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara