Trend interviewed Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan Hulusi Kilic on the eve of October 29 - Republic Day in Turkey
Azerbaijan, Baku, October 26 / Trend R. Hafizoglu /
Q: Azerbaijan and Turkey established the Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation. What impetus may it give to the development of relations between the two countries?
A: Turkey and Azerbaijan are fraternal countries, two countries of one nation. As you know, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a joint document on the establishment of the Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation at the Istanbul summit of the heads of Turkic-speaking countries in September. This document will create conditions for further development and strengthening of close ties in several spheres between the two countries.
I would like to stress the possibility to further intensify and advance cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan through this Council.
Jointly achieving great success in political, economic, cultural and social spheres by Turkey and Azerbaijan is our common desire and dream.
Q: Turkish officials have repeatedly said that the Turkish-Armenian border will not open without resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. May Turkey's interests change with regard to Azerbaijan in the future?
A: Resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the most important conditions to establish lasting, permanent peace in the South Caucasus. The normalization process that Turkey conducts towards Armenia, should be considered as a step towards establishing lasting peace in the South Caucasus.
Thus, our country believes that the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia will have a positive impact on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and accelerate it.
It is important to lead the South Caucasus out of the current conflict and to turn it into the region of stability and cooperation for the future of all countries in the region and prosperity.
Creating such a situation in the South Caucasus will benefit regional countries. Otherwise, if there is not permanent peace in the region, we think that the actions to normalize the process will not be long.
We have brought our position on this topic to the attention of all concerned sides at the highest level from the very beginning of the process.
There were not any changes in Turkey's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. I can say that we hold the same position with Azerbaijan on this issue.
Q: What is the progress with with the project of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway? What prospects does the project have in freight and passenger transportation?
A: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is one of the important projects. Georgia and Turkey operate within this project. If you remember, Baku successfully held the second meeting of the Coordinating Council on Aug. 2-3, 2010. The operations are sheduled to accomplish by late 2012. The route will be put into operation in 2013.
This project implies regular transportation from China to England. The project will link mainly Asia to Europe. It is very important that Azerbaijan plays a significant role in it.
Q: How do you assess the energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey? Is it possible to expect signing new projects in this area?
A: There is no another example of such cooperation as a partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan in the energy sphere.
Azerbaijan's rich natural gas resources are important from the standpoint of European and world energy security. They are delivered to the world markets via Turkey.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway show the essence of the role played by Turkey and Azerbaijan in energy security. Energy ministers and energy companies of the two countries signed important documents at the Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) during Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Turkey on June 7, 2010.
These documents form the basis of agreement reached by Turkey and Azerbaijan in various fields, beginning from the price for natural gas to transit conditions. It enabled to achieve progress in the transition to the second phase of the Shah Deniz field development.
Work is underway to determine to which country of Europe, which potential buyers and in which mode the Azerbaijani natural gas will be transported through Turkey.
Supplying gas, which will be produced under the Shah Deniz Phase 2, to the European market will become another success of the Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation and another harbinger of Azerbaijan's future development.
On the other hand, a Joint Energy Committee on energy relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan will be created as part of an agreement on strategic partnership and mutual support signed by the presidents of the two countries in August 2010.
Q: The world media reports urge that the referendum held in Turkey targeted weakening the army and turning away from European values in favor of the Islamic world and thus, the country sooner or later will become an Islamic republic. What do you think about it?
A: A package of amendments to the Constitution, envisaging changes in more than 20 articles, were put to a vote and approved Sept. 12, 2010. First of all, the package adopted May 6, 2010 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was approved as a result of the referendum, which was attended by a majority of voters, and was an important step towards a more democratic constitution. The Western countries showed highly positive reaction on results of the referendum.
So, giving priority to fundamental rights and freedoms in many areas now our constitutional system is adjusted to our international obligations.
Majority of the amendments created the conditions for implementing the recommendations within the negotiations on Turkey's EU the membership, the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venice Commission, Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the PACE, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other international organizations.
In addition to our people's support to process of democratic reforms, this referendum has also accelerated our entry into the EU.
Constitutional amendments will create conditions to apply the European standards in many spheres of our nation's life and improve the country's foreign image, showing that Turkey is moving toward a modern democracy, which is its right.
Q: Although Turkey is conducting fundamental democratic reforms in the country, the country's entry into the European Union is still delayed due to some reason. Can the delay in this process push Ankara to create alternative organization?
A: The fact that Turkey is a member of several important international and regional organizations having different functions and geographical coverage, or supports relations with them through dialogue demonstrates the multivariate foreign policy in the best way.
Along with the process of EU membership, at present Turkey is a member of many influential organizations such as the UN, Council of Europe, NATO, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), OSCE, WTO, OIC, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) , Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
Turkey has led the South-East European Cooperation Process from June 2009 to June 2010 and will chair the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in 2010-2012.
Turkey will chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from November 2010 to May 2011.
Turkey is a permanent observer in the Organization of American States, the Association of Caribbean States and the African Union. The Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum was created based on the agreement signed in 2007 with the League of Arab States.
So far, the process of joining the EU has been a long and hard way for candidate countries.
Our country is now carrying out important work to achieve this goal. Our goal is to achieve full membership.
In accordance with EU member states' unanimous decision, Turkey is holding negotiations with the EU for its admission to the EU. A long way has been passed to realize it.