Turkey and Azerbaijan Strengthen Economic, Security Ties

Turkey and Azerbaijan Strengthen Economic, Security Ties

The early-November visit to Azerbaijan of the newly elected President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, highlighted the strategic importance of the Turkey-Azerbaijan relationship and the two countries' common economic and security interests. As such, it attracted much attention in the Azerbaijani media, where analysts happily noted that Azerbaijan was the first country visited by the Turkish leader since he assumed his post in July. As Azerbaijaini political scientist Rustam Mammadov suggested in the wake of the trip, Gul's visit even had implications for the complex political situation unfolding in the Middle East. Speaking to the News - Azerbaijan agency, Mammadov said "the situation in Iran and Iraq as well as Turkey's deteriorated relations with the United States and the European Union require careful consideration on the part of the Turkish leader and his Azerbaijani counterpart."

Fighting the PKK

Indeed, Gul's visit to Azerbaijan occurred amidst events that have prompted Turkey's leaders to shore up support from long-time allies such as Azerbaijan. The Turkish leadership was particularly exercised by the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) intensified incursions into Turkey. Speaking at a press conference in Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, Gul said that the United States should bear responsibility for the fight against terrorists throughout Iraq and not just in selected provinces. He also told journalists that Turkey expected Azerbaijan's cooperation against the PKK. On Nov. 6, Azerbaijan's parliament, the Milli Majlis, announced its intentions to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, a step may help address the Turks' lingering misgivings about the PKK's allegedly deep roots in Azerbaijan.

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