Thought Archive

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Are we building our future together?

The article from Today's Zaman exposes the shallowness of claims of "One Nation - Two States" policy in Azerbaijan-Turkish relations. Azerbaijan's government is simply not interested in developing deeper, more rational strategic partnership which is based on future and does not dwell on the past. Azerbaijan is building its future balancing on the difference between Russia, Europe and Turkey and this is not real policy. Turkophiles in Azerbaijan - see beyond the hype.

There are linguistic, religious and ethnic ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijan also has the same ties with Asian countries. Azerbaijan has coexisted with people in Central Asia with Turkish roots for nearly 200 years (through the Russian Tsardom and the Soviet Union) under the same state, sharing the same cultural, political and economic life. Despite sharing so many commonalities, Azerbaijani people have a more deeply rooted sympathy and love toward Turkey than toward the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. What is the reason for Turkey's deep love toward Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan's deep love toward Turkey?

Intellectual movement between the two countries in the 19th and 20th centuries, the interaction of intellectual thoughts, the quest for strategic partnership in the early 20th century, the liberation of Azerbaijan and Baku by the Ottoman state in 1918, Azerbaijan's financial support and volunteer military support for Turkey's War of Independence in 1921, Turkey's safe haven for Azerbaijani opponents during Russian Tsardom and the Soviet Union and Turkey's quick and free political, economic, militaristic and cultural consultation with Azerbaijan after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 are representative of the events that have facilitated the affection between the two countries.

However, a common strategic future has not been built on this deep love between the two countries in the 21st century. Taking each other for granted, the countries haven't felt the need to build a future together. Activities between businessmen and high-level political meetings between presidents, prime ministers and state ministers were deemed sufficient as long as they adhered to the “one nation, two states” slogan. Considering the deep love between the two countries, why haven't relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan reached the level of relations between Turkey and Georgia or between Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation or even between Azerbaijan and Germany? Or rather, the more important question is: How can the two countries develop their relations to that level? There are no visa requirements between Turkey and Georgia for those staying under three months. There are negotiations under way to allow citizens to travel between Turkey and Georgia with just an identification card. Visa exemptions have boosted travel between the two countries and trade along the border. Turkey signed its second-most comprehensive free trade agreement, which includes agricultural products as well, with Georgia, after Bosnia-Herzegovina.

While Turkey has removed visa requirements for Azerbaijani citizens, Azerbaijan has not and would even like to adopt a stricter visa policy.


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