By Faruk Zorlu
ANKARA (AA) – Ankara and Baku have signed the Shusha Declaration to boost post-war cooperation and promote stability in the region.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday to ink the joint declaration in Azerbaijan's historic city of Shusha following Monday's NATO summit in Belgium.
The pact focuses on defense cooperation, promoting stability and prosperity in the region, and establishing new transportation routes.
The declaration affirms joint efforts by the two armies in the face of foreign threats.
It also pledges joint efforts for the restructuring and modernization of the armed forces.
Besides, the two nations affirm to encourage the execution of joint projects with the aim of developing capabilities in the field of sea, air, and space.
– New transportation routes
The pact pledges to further develop the transit-transportation potential in the Turkey-Azerbaijan sections of international transport corridors.
The opening of the Zangezur corridor between Azerbaijan's western part and the Nakhchivan autonomous region as well as the construction of the Nakhchivan-Kars railway as a continuation of the corridor will further enhance relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan, it states.
Zangezur was part of Azerbaijan, but in the 1920s, the Soviets gave the region to Armenia. With this Azerbaijan lost its link with Nakhchivan, an autonomous republic, and some parts of the railway between the two countries were destroyed.
Once those parts are repaired, Azerbaijan will be able to reach Iran, Armenia, and the Nakhchivan exclave uninterruptedly by train.
The railway will also link Turkey with Russia through Azerbaijan.
To boost trade-economic relations under the pact, the countries will establish mechanisms for the free movement of products.
Underlining the pioneering role of Turkey and Azerbaijan in realizing the strategic Southern Gas Corridor, which contributes to the energy security of the region and Europe, the pact affirms to further develop the corridor.
– National interests and benefits
The pact vows to conduct an independent foreign policy aimed at protecting and ensuring bilateral national interests and benefits.
The declaration underlines the importance of maintaining political dialogue at all levels and high-level mutual visits.
It also pledges to provide mutual support to each other within the framework of international and regional organizations including the UN, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe, the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
It promises to further develop and deepen the close relations between their peoples on common values in the fields of humanitarian, social security, science, education, health, culture, youth, and sports.
– Joint efforts against terrorism and organized crime
The Shusha Declaration assures to expand and deepen joint efforts and cooperation in the fight against terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, illegal migration, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The two nations affirm to combine efforts in order to further develop cooperation between the Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas.
It also condemns Armenia's baseless claims against Turkey and its attempts to distort history, harm peace and stability in the region.
Additionally, the parties emphasized that Turkey's contribution plays a significant role in the activities of a joint Turkish and Russian center at Azerbaijan's liberated land.