Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Azerbaijan on Wednesday to join nationwide celebrations marking his close ally’s victory against Armenia in their conflict for control of disputed territory.
Azerbaijani First Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Eyyubov greeted Turkey’s presidential couple as they got off the plane at the international airport in the capital Baku, state-run news agency Azertac reported Wednesday.
The Turkish leader’s visit to Azerbaijan was an opportunity to celebrate together the “glorious victory” against Armenia for control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, Erdogan’s office said ahead of his arrival.
On Thursday, the Turkish leader is expected to hold talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev and preside over a military parade.
Ahead of that, Azerbaijan’s army showed off military hardware and weapons seized from Armenia during the six-week war over Karabakh in the capital Baku.
Erdogan’s office said the visit would provide an opportunity for the “brotherly countries” to strengthen ties and for talks promoting Azerbaijan’s “rightful cause on international platforms”.
Turkey backed its staunch ally Azerbaijan during the six weeks of fighting over the ethnic Armenian enclave that erupted in late September and left more than 5,000 people dead. Ankara was widely accused of dispatching mercenaries from Syria to bolster Baku’s army, but repeatedly denied the charge.
The clashes were ended by a peace deal brokered by Moscow after Baku’s army overwhelmed separatist forces and drew closer to Karabakh’s main city Stepanakert.
Azerbaijan’s historic win was an important geopolitical coup for Erdogan who has cemented Turkey’s leading role as a powerbroker in the ex-Soviet Caucasus region.
Referred to as “one nation, two states,” Turkey’s alliance with Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan was forged following the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and has deepened under Erdogan’s tenure.
Turkey has helped ex-Soviet Azerbaijan train and arm its military and serves as the main route for energy exports to Europe, bypassing Russia.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan links Turkey with ex-Soviet Turkic nations in Central Asia and with China.