Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran seek to bolster ties


Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran discussed ways to enhance their relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday.

“At today’s trilateral meeting, we evaluated how to enhance our relations and which steps we can take, especially in the areas of energy and transportation,” Çavuşoğlu said at a news conference in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

His remarks came after the fifth trilateral meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Çavuşoğlu said the next trilateral meeting will be held in Turkey, where the businessmen of three countries will also come together.

Ankara, Baku and Tehran should strengthen ties not only in the areas of energy, economy and transportation, but also in social areas, such as culture and tourism, he added.

“Azerbaijan and Iran are two important countries in terms of energy resources. As Turkey, we import natural gas and oil both from Azerbaijan and Iran.

“We want to increase the amount of natural gas and oil that we receive from brotherly countries,” Çavuşoğlu said.

He believed that the three countries will increase the cooperation in energy area, adding: “This is one of the aims of the trilateral mechanism.”

Azerbaijan-Armenia dispute

Çavuşoğlu called on Armenia to withdraw from Azerbaijani territories, adding: “Armenia occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories.”

“Armenia must pull out from Azerbaijani territories as soon as possible and learn to respect Azerbaijani’s territorial integrity,” he added.

Azerbaijan and Armenia remain in dispute over the occupied Karabakh region. Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with Armenian military support, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.

Turkey reiterates that the dispute needs to be resolved within the framework of international law and Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Astana peace process

Çavuşoğlu hailed the Astana peace talks on Syria and added the process fulfilled an “important” duty to end conflicts in the war-torn country.

“We, of course, want to maintain this productive process. We also support the Geneva process,” he added.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are the guarantor states that brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016, leading to the Astana peace talks that are running parallel to the Geneva talks.

“As the conflicts stop, we need to focus on political solution [in Syria]. A persistent solution is a political one,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Çavuşoğlu said all the groups in Syria, except terrorist organizations such as Daesh and PKK/PYD, should gather for a political solution.

He said Syria’s constitution needs to be prepared and accepted by the Syrian people. He added Turkey’s aim, together with Russia and Iran, is to end chaos in Syria, bring peace there and protect its territorial integrity.

“We have achieved significant gains over a year and now we want to crown them with a political solution,” Çavuşoğlu added.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.

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