Interview of ambassador of Azerbaijan to Turkey Khazar Ibrahim to ONA
-Mr. Ambassador, in one of the interviews to Turkish TVs comparing your activity in the USA and Turkey you have said that you were more involved in diplomacy in the US than Turkey. I would like you to clarify this thought.
-I have made that point in the promotion of diplomatic activity. We have to introduce our national identity in the US. But here in Turkey, there is no need for this. As it comes to classical diplomatic methods, these connections exist with Turkey. In comparison to other countries, our diplomatic relations with Turkey are different. Turkey and Azerbaijan have harmonious, synchronized political relations. Two countries are committed to supporting mutually with each other. I visit the regions of Turkey. During the visit, I witness that the Turkish people are aware of well-known Azerbaijani people and the music as well as the events in our country. I have always felt the thoughtfulness of Turkish citizens toward Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis.
-Azerbaijan feels Turkey’s support in any issue, as well as Nagorno-Karabakh conflict…
- Certainly, Turkey unconditionally supports Azerbaijan in this issue, as in any other ones. However, I want to emphasize a point especially. Turkey supports not only Azerbaijan but also international law and justice, as Azerbaijan’s fair position is supported by four relevant resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations Organization and other international documents. That is why we appreciate Turkey as a fraternal country, as well as a state, which conducts policy leaning to international law.
Turkey and Azerbaijan corporate in the energy security field as well. Star oil refinery plant was operated in Izmir last year. What do you think about the advantage of this plant for two countries? Is it planned to carry out such big projects in the future?
-Star project is the largest investment of Azerbaijan to fraternal Turkey. This investment is big support given to the economy of Turkey as well. This is the financial side of the work. But there is a political even geopolitical side of the issue. Currently, undesirable aspects exist in the relations of some countries with Turkey. From this perspective, Azerbaijan's presence with Turkey plays a major role in strengthening the fraternal country. On the other side, this project makes a significant contribution to the energy security of Turkey. Azerbaijan will continue that worthwhile cooperation in the field of energy security with Turkey as it was since today.
- Do you think enough information is presented in the local media about Azerbaijan’s investments in Turkey?
- If we monitor the Turkish media, we will see that the articles on the support of Azerbaijan to Turkey are not satisfactory. This may be due to various reasons. I think that media representatives in Turkey should approach this work more objectively. Because when other countries reduced investments in Turkey, fraternal Azerbaijan significantly increased them. Azerbaijan was next to Turkey even when pressure was being put on Turkey. Of course, we see that this is highly appreciated by the Turkish government and people. But the media must perform the functions that are entrusted to them.
At the same time, I will note that we see the unsatisfactory work of Azerbaijani journalists in the Turkish media. We can say that we are not present in the leading newspapers, magazines and online media in Turkey. In Azerbaijan, one may say, there is no professional media activity in Turkish. They do not even write about Azerbaijan in the English-language newspapers in Turkey. Therefore, we should not blame only the Turkish media but should be able to qualitatively disclose Azerbaijan, present the work done.
- At what stage is the work on the creation of the Azerbaijan Cultural Center in Turkey? Will a center be created at the embassy?
- Recently, I have come across opinions on this issue in the Azerbaijani press. It is about the importance of creating a cultural center in Ankara. To begin with, I want to note that in April last year, the foreign ministers of the two countries signed an agreement on the creation of cultural centers in Baku and Ankara, respectively. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev approved this bilateral agreement. This agreement contains provisions on the activities of the center. If there is a specified agreement, then I consider any opinion in our press unprofessional. If the head of state-approved this agreement, then work on it has been going on for a long time. The Azerbaijani cultural center will operate in Turkey at a high level. The center of culture is planned to be created at the embassy of Azerbaijan.
- How are the relations of the embassy with the Azerbaijanis living in Turkey, diaspora organizations?
- If we are one nation, two states, there can be no talk of diaspora activities in Turkey. We have connections with citizens of Azerbaijan, people of Azerbaijani origin. But I think that everyone should do his job, first of all, the personality should grow. It's my personal opinion. I always tell students, work on yourself, form as an individual. If students, having left classes, want to get a job or someone could not succeed in their work and wants to engage in diaspora activities, then there will be no effect. Look, in the world, usually well-known people are engaged in diaspora activities, and this gives a more effective result.
- With the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the region’s transport map has been revitalized. How do you assess the overall potential of this project?
- “This railway line is a transport project connecting Asia and Europe and entering the New Silk Road. It’s open to say that today Asia is an economically developed zone. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line will link Asia with an economically reputable Europe. This is, of course, a megaproject. The entry of Azerbaijan and Turkey into the line connecting two of the three largest markets in the world is a great advantage. Transportation of goods by Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway started. It is very important - the goods are transported both from Asia to Europe and from Europe to Asia.
There are high expectations in connection with passenger transportation by Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. The Azerbaijani and Turkish sides are looking forward to the opening of the Baku-Ankara passenger train. In this regard, a meeting was recently held in Ankara. It is expected that in August the Baku-Ankara train will be commissioned. We even have a proposal to organize a tour for journalists during the first trip. We believe that this will be very beneficial in terms of the propaganda of Azerbaijan.
- With the participation of Turkey and Azerbaijan, trilateral meetings are held with the states of the region. How do you evaluate the format of trilateral cooperation?
- This format is highly valued not only in the region but also in the world. The format of the trilateral meeting has a positive effect on foreign policy, economic relations, the defense sector, and others. A meeting of the ministers of defense of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia was recently held in Gabala. Such meetings will be held in the future.
- For the development of relations between the two countries, meetings of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council "Azerbaijan-Turkey" are held regularly. When and where will the next meeting be held with the participation of the presidents?
- Meetings of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council "Azerbaijan-Turkey" with the participation of the presidents are very successful. At these meetings, the president sets commitments before us, and we try to fulfill them within a year. Of course, the next meeting will be, but the exact date is not yet known.
- Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia caused discontent among the United States. How do you assess the situation?
- I would regard this situation as undesirable tension. Turkey is a strategic state for both Russia and the USA. The security of the region is in the interests of all three states. Turkey is an independent state and makes its decisions within the law. Therefore, major powers interested in the region should reckon with Turkey.
- Turkey is the most popular country among Azerbaijani tourists. What work should be done in Azerbaijan to attract Turkish tourists?
- I am not an expert in this field. But I have my own opinion, as a citizen and a diplomat. For Turkish citizens, the history and culture of Azerbaijan can be interesting. In Azerbaijan - Ganja, Baku, Hajigabule and other cities, there are places that may be of interest to Turkish citizens. Turkish citizens admire our culture, music, artists. They are happy to attend exhibitions of Azerbaijani artists, concerts of our performers. Therefore, if we introduce guests from Turkey to Baku with Sheki, Ganja and other historical places, this will increase our tourism potential.