The Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum’s will to empower the youth was yet again proven in the recently held SET Talks edition with Azerbaijan’s Assistant to the President H.E Hikmet Hajiyev on the 23rd of February. The session echoed ICYF’s strong will and desire to create and sustain platforms for dialogue and cooperation between the leaders and the youths who are the future leaders. This session’s appeal was unique in every sense as it set foot on untapped lands by embracing both the power of digital and conventional media which was witnessed by many as the session was aired on EkoTürk Television as well as across all ICYF’s digital media platforms.
Speaking about the new geopolitics in the South Caucasus and perspectives of regional cooperation, Hikmet Hajiyev said with joint efforts, Azerbaijan and Turkey have changed the geopolitical and energy map of the South Caucasus region and also “brought together” the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Adriatic Sea.
He said the joint efforts which started with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline have now ended up with a recent commissioning of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) projects.
He stressed that the “last segment” of the Southern Gas Corridor is now fully operational and brings the gas of Azerbaijan from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the European market, adding Turkey is a “major transit country.”
“Through our joint effort, we are contributing to the energy landscape, energy security of Europe, and not [only] as an alternative route but as an alternative source as well.”
During his speech, Mr. Hajiyev emphasized the importance of Turkey-Azerbaijan cooperation and unity especially in trying times like these as the power of brotherly love supersedes any void and thus making us stronger.
“Turkey-Azerbaijan partnership and cooperation as an element contributes to the development of both countries, and in the meantime, this element of cooperation contributes to the enrichment of the wider region based on the principle that shared prosperity is the best way of doing business,” he said.
Azerbaijan’s nearly $20 billion investment in Turkey is a “sign of brotherhood and confidence in the Turkish economy,” he mentioned.
There was also a “transformational change” in 2020 in the geopolitics of the region of the South Caucasus, particularly in the context of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, Hajiyev said, referring to the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh and other settlements from an Armenian occupation that lasted for nearly three decades.
“As everybody knows, Azerbaijani people have been suffering from the military occupation of Armenia for more than 30 years.”
He also hailed the support of Turkey towards Azerbaijan during the 44-day Karabakh war that began on Sept. 27 last year. Hajiyev said “the brotherly” Turkey always supported justice, international law and the “just cause” of the Azerbaijani people.
He also saluted the “political and moral support” of Turkey towards Azerbaijan during the recent conflict, adding that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — “who is a great friend of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani people” – once again declared that Turkey renders its support to Azerbaijan.
“Such moral and diplomatic support of the brotherly Turkey enhanced the courage and determination of Azerbaijan to liberate Azerbaijan’s occupied territories from Armenia’s occupation.”
“The 44 days of war resulted in the victory of Azerbaijan, while Armenia signed a declaration of capitulation, and Azerbaijan ensured the withdrawal of Armenian troops from its occupied territories. But now, there are more opportunities for the peaceful development and transformation of the region. Azerbaijan, from its side, is ready for that, as it has been declared by the President [Ilham Aliyev],” he said.
Based on the trilateral statement that has been signed between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, Baku is engaged in consolidating on the practical elements of this statement, Hajiyev added.
Referring to the Jan.11 statement between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia about opening the transportation routes, Hajiyev said: “We do believe that opening of communications and also trading relations among the reginal countries will further boost the potential of the peaceful development.”
“For that purpose, there was also an initiative of a 3+3 format of cooperation among the countries of the Caucasus and also neighboring countries like brotherly Turkey, Russia and Iran, which could also join this process and have full-fledged regional cooperation.”
He added that Baku believes that Yerevan can also “gain a lot of benefits” from such cooperation.
“Under such circumstances, we can have full transformation of the region of the Caucasus, and every country, including Armenia, can get benefit from that,” he said.
“Being a self-isolated country and also having a high level of unemployment, demographic challenges and some other difficulties, Armenia can get a benefit from such international cooperation, but for that Armenia finally must end its policy of occupation and also should curb its policy of revanchism,” he said, adding that unfortunately, some political groups in Armenia are raising up “revanchist” ideas.
He said in case of “revanchism ideas” by Armenia, Azerbaijan has the “power” to respond, adding that they “will never ever allow again the repetition of such crimes against the Azerbaijani people.”