The first meeting of a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council established between Turkey and Azerbaijan last year is scheduled to kick off in İzmir next week with the attendance of a large number of ministers from both countries at a joint Cabinet session. Turkey is set to hold a joint session for Turkish and Azeri ministers from Oct. 25 to 26 under the chairmanship of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in İzmir.
Erdoğan and Aliyev will also be attending the groundbreaking ceremony of a new İzmir refinery at an estimated investment worth of $5 billion, a joint initiative of national Azeri oil company State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and its Turkish partner, Turcas. The Azeri share in the new refinery to be built on Petkim field is 75 percent, and it is planned to be functional in 2015 and help reduce Turkey’s current account deficit (CAD) by enabling the production of jet fuel and other similar oils.
Aliyev will be bringing along a large number of ministers, including ministers of economy, transportation, energy and foreign affairs, for the joint Cabinet session, a tradition Turkey has practiced with other countries in the past. During the joint session, the two countries are expected to discuss ways of boosting trade relations, and possible fields where ministries may be able to cooperate further will also be investigated. Ankara hopes to reflect the “one nation two states” mentality on trade relations between the country, and the fact that the session will be held in İzmir is perceived as a gesture toward the Azeri government.
Another critical meeting is also scheduled to be held in November in Nakhchivan, where the foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran are to meet in line with a previous agreement in one of the participating countries on a rotating basis to discuss ways of increasing trade volume. The first meeting was held in April in Iran, and the second is scheduled to be held in Nakhchivan, according to diplomatic sources. The main focus of the meeting will be on providing a solution to problems arising at border crossings and issues of businesspeople trading in one of the three countries. Azeri sources also noted that many Turkish ministers will be visiting Nakhchivan in the following days.
The most recent visit from a Turkish minister to Azerbaijan came with the Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz’s visit to the country last week, when he noted that the countries agreed to cooperate and move together to meet the needs of their armed forces and bolster defenses. “We have decided to move, work and produce together to fortify the armed forces of our countries,” Yılmaz was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency on Friday, as he visited his Azeri counterpart as well as the Azeri minister of culture and tourism, and top Azeri army generals in Baku.
Yılmaz said both countries shared the same promising future and that they were sure to make progress. The minister noted that during his visit countries had reached a consensus to ink agreements on the defense field and the teams from both sides would gather in the near future to come up with solid projects to that end. The foundations of the high-level strategic council were laid in July 2010, when Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan visited Baku in the company of more than a hundred member delegation, which consisted of representatives from companies as well as press members and other government officials. The delegation was engaged in close to 500 meetings and representatives of some of the companies in the delegation signed trade agreement with their Azeri partners at sums soaring beyond $10 million. Çağlayan also negotiated the establishment of the council during his visit.
17 October 2011, Monday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL