Strong Azerbaijani-Turkish Relations Reinforced through Güler’s Visit to Azerbaijan
Author: Josephine Freund
Aug 29, 2023
The 'two states, one nation' concept persists as Türkiye continues to back Azerbaijan “on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.” As tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to flare up, on August 27, Türkiye reiterated its commitment to Azerbaijan’s security interests with a meeting between Turkish National Defense Minister Yaşar Güler and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
President Aliyev received Minister Güler in Baku at the Zagulba presidential residence for an official reception, where the two leaders discussed cooperation between Azerbaijani and Turkish armed forces. During this meeting, which Azerbaijani Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov also attended, Aliyev commended Güler for the strong contributions he has made to the partnership between the armed forces of Türkiye and Azerbaijan since he assumed his role in June.
This meeting reflected the ongoing strong partnership between Türkiye and Azerbaijan. Güler emphasized his commitment to this trend, stating, “As in the One Homeland Operation, we will continue to stand by our Azerbaijani brothers and stand together with one heart. We are always with Azerbaijan.”
In a move emphasizing the two countries’ shared historical camaraderie, Güler visited the Baku Turkish Martyrs’ Cemetery, where he paid homage to Ottoman Empire soldiers who lost their lives in Azerbaijan during World War I. His commemorative statements emphasized the significance of nurturing the 'two states, one nation' concept as the bedrock of Turkiye-Azerbaijan relations. During his statement, Aliyev echoed the importance of the new Air Force Central Command Post inaugurated during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Azerbaijan in June.
In a separate meeting with Hasanov at the Ministry of Defense, Güler discussed the already high-level military cooperation between the two countries. The focus was on continuing and expanding this cooperation in areas such as military, military-technical, and military-educational domains, as well as enhancing regional security.
Güler’s visit to Azerbaijan is not anomalous in the grand trajectory of Azerbaijani-Turkish relations. The two countries share a strong cultural and historical affinity, which has been a considerable driving force toward strong bilateral cooperation, particularly in the military realm. Historically, linguistic similarities between Azerbaijani and Turkish have facilitated collaboration between their armed forces. Azerbaijan and Türkiye signed their first formal military training cooperation agreement in 1992, and since then, the two countries have only continued in this form of cooperation, especially following the Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Support in 2010, which involved both countries’ military personnel participating in each other’s military exercises.
Nevertheless, Türkiye’s most talked about military contribution to Azerbaijan’s military pursuits was its presence in the 2020 Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia. During this conflict, Türkiye provided Azerbaijan with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), specifically the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, and air defense systems such as MAM-L-type laser-guided bombs from Roketsan, contributing to Azerbaijan’s military victory over the disputed Karabakh region.
While Türkiye’s cooperation with Azerbaijan is not a new phenomenon, it is certainly a relationship that will be an assured fixture in the future of global military dynamics. Türkiye and Azerbaijan’s partnership can also be seen as a gateway toward greater Turkish cooperation with other Turkic-heritage countries of the Caspian Region, especially working through the Organization of Turkic States (OTS).
As Russia presses on with its war in Ukraine, the countries of the region have had to grapple with the uncertainties of their traditional partnerships in the region. For many, it has become clear that it is high time to diversify their relations with other countries and not rely so heavily on Russia, especially in the defense realm. As the future of Russian-affiliated military entities such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) comes into question, Turkic entities, such as the OTS, have become more prominent. Through shared linguistic and cultural ties with many Caspian countries, Türkiye can emerge as a uniting force and a possible alternative to Russian patronage.