Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb.21 / Trend A. Taghiyeva /
Turkey and Azerbaijan are trying to promote the role of the OSCE Minsk Group in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through consultations with each other, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ismail Alper Joshgun said in an interview with Trend on Wednesday.
"Turkey and Azerbaijan are not going to give up on the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The countries are holding consultations regarding what can be done to stop the Armenian occupation in the shortest possible time," Joshgun said.
He said the international community and the OSCE Minsk Group in particular are passive in this matter as there is no open military conflict in the region. Turkey and Azerbaijan are trying to explain to the world that the absence of warfare is not a guarantee of peace and security, clashes occur periodically, resulting in losses of the Azerbaijani and Armenian army.
The Ambassador noted that the stability in the region can only be achieved after the end of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands.
"The occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia is the main obstacle to the normalisation of the situation in the region. Development of the entire region can be considered only after ending the occupation of Azerbaijani lands," Joshgun said.
Turkey has always supported and continues to support Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict issue and this support is the result of close relations between the countries, he said.
The Ambassador said that despite the fact that all international organisations and in particular the UN, support the just position of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, there has been no progress in the issue for more than 20 years.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation in tourism sphere
Along with existing tourism projects, Azerbaijan and Turkey could create a single tour package, Joshgun said.
"The countries could implement a project to redirect tourists," the ambassador said. "So, tourists, who visit Turkey may familiarize themselves with Azerbaijan's tourism potential and vice versa. Tourists could get the opportunity to visit the two countries. This envisages changing tour packages that involve rendering the services of visiting two countries within one tour package."
According to the ambassador, despite its relatively small territory, Azerbaijan has unique natural and climatic features, which makes it very interesting to tourists.
The number of tourists in Turkey in 2012 increased by 1.7 percent, reaching 36.7 million people compared to 2011, the Turkish Statistics Institute's report said earlier.
Turkey's tourism revenues in 2012 increased by 1.8 percent reaching $ 23.4 billion compared to the same period in 2011.
According to the information, around 75.1 percent of tourism revenue was received from foreign tourists.
Economic cooperation and Turkish-Azerbaijani joint investments
It is time for Azerbaijani and Turkish investors to jointly invest in third countries, Joshgun said.
"Turkey and Azerbaijan must increase their efforts in the field of joint investments," he said. "Azerbaijani and Turkish investors must start joint investment in third countries."
According to the ambassador, joint projects between Azerbaijan and Turkey have a significant impact on the global economy. One can mention the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project as an example. If one takes into account its connection to railway projects in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe through the "Marmaray" project, they too create a global impact.
According to the ambassador, economic relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan are at a fairly high level. As of 2012, bilateral trade turnover amounted to $4.2 billion.
"Despite a good level of economic relations between the two countries, I believe that these figures do not reflect the real potential for cooperation that exists in reality," he said. "The countries must make efforts to achieve the existing potential."
The energy and transport spheres are main areas of cooperation between the two countries, this includes projects such as the successful TANAP (Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline). It is planned to be implemented in the near future. SOCAR's investments in Turkey, in particular, in the construction of Star new refinery in Izmir, port construction in the complex Aliaga and others, the ambassador said.
Constructing a railway from Nakhchivan to the Turkish Igdir is being considered.
"Today, each of the countries is conducting operations on its own territory," he said. "After preliminary work is over, Turkey and Azerbaijan will work together to implement this project."
Joshgun said that besides the economic partnership, Azerbaijan and Turkey cooperate closely in the international arena, which is a result of the policy pursued by the presidents of the two countries.
"The third element of strengthening relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan is the growing interest of Turkish investors in the Azerbaijani economy, as well as the strengthening of the Azerbaijani private sector in the Turkish economy," he said. "Taking into account all of these aspects, one can say that trade turnover and mutual investment, and, as a consequence, economic partnership between Azerbaijan and Turkey will continue developing."
The ambassador also said that a meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council is expected to be held between Turkey and Azerbaijan this year. However, the date and venue of the Council are unknown.
According to the ambassador, the most interesting areas to Turkish investors in Azerbaijan are agriculture, construction, which is rapidly growing, and tourism. Despite the relatively small territory, Azerbaijan has unique features of nature and climate, which makes the country very attractive for tourists, Joshgun said.
He stressed that besides the above-mentioned spheres, the countries can also cooperate successfully in the field of telecommunications. Turkey has rich experience in this field. While cooperating with Azerbaijan, the country could carry out a number of projects in this field.
Azerbaijani investors may be interested in the Turkish tourism, electronic industry and energy.
Joint production in defense industry
Azerbaijan and Turkey could implement a project on joint production in the field of defense industry, which is the main topic discussed at the state level between the countries, Joshgun said.
He also said that there are agreements on trade in products of the defense industry between Turkey and Azerbaijan, which are being successfully implemented.
"Turkey has recently achieved good results in the development of defense industry," he said.
Joshgun stressed that today Turkey has achieved significant results in the sphere of defense industry and produces such products as fighters, tanks, military satellites.
Export of Turkish defense industry production increased by 35.7 percent and hit $1.2 billion in 2012 compared to 2011, Turkish Defence Industry Exporters' Council said in its report earlier.
In 2012 the biggest quantity of defense industry production worth $490 million was exported to the U.S. The parts of combat aircrafts and helicopters were mainly exported to this country. After the U.S. the second biggest export of defense production was made to UAE - $101 million and the next one - $99 million to Saudi Arabia.
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