By Andac Hongur and Zeynep Rakipoglu
ISTANBUL (AA) – The foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia on Monday held a joint press conference following a trilateral meeting at the presidential office in Istanbul.
Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu, Azerbaijan’s Elmar Memmedyarov, and Georgia’s David Zalkaliani discussed numerous topics such as energy, culture, tourism, and the economy, stressing the importance of cooperation between the three countries.
Starting by marking Republic Day, the 95th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, Cavusoglu said: "On any platform or under any condition, Turkey supports the territorial and boundary integrity of Georgia and Azerbaijan. We strongly stress that at every platform."
Noting that the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) was inaugurated after last year’s trilateral foreign ministers' meeting in Baku, Cavusoglu said that commercial and personal ties have improved significantly since the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway began operating.
Turkey’s top diplomat went on to say that they discussed how to improve cooperation in transportation and energy, adding that Turkmenistan, which has a role in the projects, might be added to the three-nation mechanism.
He underlined that Turkey supported Georgia's integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations, adding that Turkey has provided the greatest support for Georgia's NATO membership.
Georgia’s Zalkaliani, for his part, said that significant projects were carried out with the participation of the three countries.
"In our meeting, we discussed these projects and took important decisions on carrying out more concrete projects. We discussed subjects on improving tourism and international relations. We hope that our cooperation will grow even further," he said.
"The Istanbul Declaration was signed today. We discussed the Sectoral Cooperation Action Plan for 2017-2019. We evaluated important topics that will ensure how the mechanism will successfully function for each country,” he added.
“We exchanged ideas. That Georgia and Turkey are located along the transportation corridor and our cooperation on reaching the European continent carries great importance."
Azerbaijan’s Mammadyarov congratulated Turkey on its 95th anniversary and added that they would join the inauguration of the new Istanbul airport later today.
Telllng how the cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia improves every time the ministers meet, he said a Sectoral Cooperation Action Plan for 2017-2019 was signed last year in Baku.
Mammadyarov said the cooperation on energy, transportation, and transit corridors led to quick implementation of the goals set out in the action plan.
He thanked Turkey for its international support for Azerbaijan on the international stage.
"The Star refinery in Izmir was inaugurated this month,” he said, referring to a facility on Turkey’s Aegean coast.
“Azerbaijan's direct investment in Turkey is worth some $15 billion. We believe that such energy projects will continue and provide benefits to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. We hope that TAP [Trans Adriatic Pipeline] will be completed by 2020."
* Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story from Ankara