Türkiye considers threat to Azerbaijan as threat to itself: Defense chief Akar

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Any threats or provocations against Türkiye and Azerbaijan is directed against both countries, said Turkish national defense minister on Tuesday.

At a joint navy drill dubbed Fraternal Fist, Hulusi Akar hailed strong relations between Ankara and Baku.

“A friend for one of us is a friend to the other and an enemy is an enemy for both of us. There should be no doubt about this,” he added.

Akar accompanied by top commanders including Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and the Turkish Land Forces, Naval Forces, and Air Force commanders, viewed the military drill that is taking place in Baku.

Emphasizing that the world and the region is going through an era of increased uncertainty, risks, threats and dangers, Akar said: “Ensuring the security of our countries and nation is possible only if we have an effective, deterrent and respected army amid such critical period.”

“Everyone should understand that the region no longer needs a future built on conflict, grudge and hatred, but a future built on mutual development, respect for international law and friendly relations,” he added.

Akar urged all to support Turkish and Azerbaijani leaders’ efforts for permanent peace and tranquility, as he urged Armenia to grasp the olive branch extended by Türkiye and Azerbaijan.

“It is our sincere wish that Armenia will hold the hand of peace extended by Türkiye and Azerbaijan. We support sincere efforts to establish lasting peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he added.

Regarding the military drill, Turkish defense chief noted that such joint military exercises “maximize the ability of the armies to work together, coordinate and prepare for (possible threat of) war.”

On Monday, the Turkish and Azerbaijani militaries, in accordance with an agreement on military cooperation, began a joint military exercise.

“The exercises involving the military personnel of various types of troops, combat and special engineer-sapper equipment, as well as military aviation vehicles of the Azerbaijan Army and the Turkish Armed Forces, are being held in Baku, as well as the territories of the Astara, Jabrayil and Imishli regions,” said an Azerbaijani Defense Ministry statement.

ZANGEZUR CORRIDOR

Regarding the Zangezur corridor, Akar said: “It is our most sincere wish to re-establish the railway and road connections in the region, especially the opening of the Zangezur corridor, to start economic activities, and to ensure a comprehensive normalization throughout the region, including the relations between Azerbaijan-Armenia and Türkiye-Armenia.”

“Thus, we believe that the Caucasus region will peacefully and confidently advance towards the future,” he added.

The Zangezur region was part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets gave it to Armenia in the 1920s, leaving Azerbaijan deprived of its direct overland route to Nakhchivan.

Following a 44-day conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in September 2020, Baku liberated numerous cities, villages and settlements in Karabakh from Armenian occupation, ending in a Moscow-brokered truce.

Since then, Azerbaijan has focused on planned connections including motorways and a 43-kilometer (26.7-mile) railway through the corridor.