FM: Turkey, Azerbaijan could cooperate in Central Asia (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 18 / Trend A.Taghiyeva /
Turkey and Azerbaijan are cooperating successfully, but the countries could cooperate jointly in the Central Asia, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview with Trend today.
"The establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states was the initiative of Turkey and Azerbaijan," Davutoglu said. "The countries could expand the partnership in Central Asia, by creating a trilateral format of cooperation, for example, on the basis of Azerbaijan- Turkey-Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan-Turkey-Turkmenistan."
"Turkey aims to strengthen the relations with all regions - whether the Middle East, or the Caucasus or the Central Asia," Davutoglu added.
"Ankara's objective is to intensify the diplomatic and economic relations, as well as to expand the cultural relations with these regions," he stressed. "These are the main goals, but their realization in each region has its own difficulties and peculiarities."
"For instance, the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform was established in the Caucasus at Turkey's initiative in 2008," Davutoglu said. "The purpose of the platform is to create unity among the Caucasian countries. However, the desired results have not obtained in this issue."
"The frozen conflicts in the Caucasus are the main problem in the creation of the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform," he said. "First of all, this is the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, and the issue of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the Southern Caucasus. These problems pose obstacles to the full cooperation in the Caucasus."
"That's why, Turkey intends to maximally expand the cooperation in possible directions of cooperation such as the trilateral and bilateral cooperation in the Caucasus," he said.
"A striking example of the trilateral cooperation is the cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia through such energy and transportation projects as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway," he stressed.
"Moreover, Turkey is successfully expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan and this is an important example of bilateral cooperation," Davutoglu said.
"The relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey are based on fraternal relations and "One nation - two states" slogan which are unique in the world," he said.
"Moreover, the Georgian-Turkish cooperation can be cited as an example of successful bilateral cooperation in the Caucasus," he said. "Ankara and Tbilisi have agreed not only to abolish visas, but refused to show passports when crossing the border."
"Turkey has no problems with any neighbor in the Caucasus except Armenia," Davutoglu emphasized. "The problems between Turkey and Armenia are primarily connected with the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. We hope that Armenia will abandon its wrong policy and cease occupying Azerbaijani lands. Only in this case, it will be possible to normalize the relations with Yerevan."
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.
Turkey's accession to the EU
At present, the EU has no reason to reject Turkey's membership bid, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview with Trend today.
"Turkey has undertaken important reforms for the EU accession," he said. "The Turkish economy is one of the rapidly developing and strongest in the world today. The Turkish economy is stronger than the economy of some European countries taken together. The same can be said about the democratic reforms in Turkey. Thus, the EU has no reason to reject Turkey's membership."
According to Davutoglu, Turkey's accession to the EU requires a desire of both sides, not only Ankara's. "It might seem that there are all opportunities for Turkey's accession to the EU, but Turkey actually faces the EU-created barrier."
"First of all, this barrier is connected with the Cypriot issue," he said. "There are some countries, which try to prevent Turkey to join the EU, using the Cypriot issue, as well as pointing out the cultural difference as a reason. Spread of Islamophobia in Europe is one of the reasons of Turkey's failure to become an EU full member."
"But despite all EU-created barriers, Turkey is determined to continue the policy of joining the EU and will never give up this policy," Davutoglu said.
"At present, the EU shows its indecisiveness," he said. "One day, when the EU understands Turkey's importance, Ankara will have an opportunity to join the EU."
"While intensifying the partnership with other international organizations and associations, Turkey is not looking for an alternative to the EU," he said. "The policy of rapprochement with any region or an organization does not mean Turkey's alienation from the EU."
"Even if Turkey becomes an EU full member, the cooperation with the Central Asian region will remain one of the priorities for Turkey's foreign policy," Davutoglu said.
The official negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU started in 2005. The parties have not commenced considering any new technical item for the last three years. At present, Turkey was able to finish the negotiations only on one of the items.
Situation in Egypt
Egypt's military coup at the beginning of the month is not a solution to the country's problems, on the contrary, it will bring more confusion into the country, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview with Trend.
"After the elections were held in Egypt and Mohamed Morsi was elected president, Turkey supported him," he said.
"Turkey would support anyone who would have been elected in Egypt, because we support people's will, rather than a certain person," he said. "Only democratically elected political leader is entitled to represent people."
"Turkey has done much to normalize the situation in the countries that have suffered from the revolutions," he said. "Around $2 billion were allocated only to Egypt."
"Egypt is an important country, because the situation will not stabilize in the entire region without establishing stability in Egypt," Davutoglu added.
Clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi have been continuing after the Egyptian military suspended the constitution of Egypt and ousted Morsi from power on July 3.
Egyptian Islamists do not recognise these decisions and demand the legally elected president to return to power.
On July 10 Egypt's Prosecutor General's Office issued a decree to arrest the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
"As for Syria, the situation there is even more complicated, as the death toll in Syria exceeds 100,000 people," Davutoglu said.
"Many victims of the Syrian events were killed as a result of air strikes," he said. "Everybody knows that all this was committed by the Syrian regime as the Syrian opposition does not have such weapons."
"Initially, the Syrian opposition held peaceful demonstrations without violence," he said. "The opposition demanded to hold the democratic elections and to conduct reforms, but the Syrian regime did not meet the people's requirements."
"There are about 500,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey today," Davutoglu added. "Turkey has allocated $1.5 billion to the refugees."
The clashes between the government forces and armed opposition have been continuing in Syria for over two years. According to UN statistics, the total number of victims of the conflict in Syria is more than 100,000 people. The Syrian authorities say they are opposed by well-armed militants.