By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - Turkiye will never consider its fate to be separate from that of its longtime ally Azerbaijan, the Turkish vice president said on Saturday.
Speaking at an event in the Turkish capital Ankara marking the 104th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s Republic Day (May 28) and June 26 Armed Forces Day, Fuat Oktay said that Turkiye and Azerbaijan are two "brotherly countries" that share a common history, culture, sorrow, and joys.
"May Allah always preserve our fellowship, unity, and solidarity," he said.
Stressing that Turkiye and Azerbaijan share the same spirit today as they did a century ago, Oktay dipped into history, saying: "The spirit we carry is the spirit of brotherhood of the Caucasus Islamic Army, which did not ignore the calls for independence of our Azerbaijani brothers even while the Ottoman Empire was fighting its own national struggle in various fronts of World War I."
On May 28, 1918, the Azerbaijani National Council declared the independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, also known as the Azerbaijan People's Republic, at a meeting in neighboring Georgia.
Near the end of World War I, on Sept. 15, 1918, an elite Ottoman force led by Nuri Pasha (Killigil) called the Caucasus Islamic Army was sent to Azerbaijan in response to Azerbaijan's plea, along with the Azerbaijani National Army and volunteer forces, and liberated Baku from Armenian and Bolshevik occupation, paying the price in the lives of 1,132 people.
Oktay said that with their sacrifices and courage, the "heroes" under the command of Nuri Pasha left a "glorious legacy" in Baku that will be proudly told to generations to come.
On the fall 2020 liberation of Azerbaijan's Karabakh region from Armenia's nearly 30 year-occupation, Oktay stressed that they see it as their primary duty to erase the scars of the occupation, eliminate poverty, and return everywhere the Azerbaijani flag flies to its glory years.
In 1991, the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted in September 2020, and the 44-day conflict saw Azerbaijan liberate several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
Also speaking at the event, Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Turkiye Rashad Mammadov told the guests, bureaucrats, and representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in the country about the history of Azerbaijan.
Mammadov underlined that after Azerbaijan regained its independence on Oct. 18, 1991, it faced deep political, social and economic problems and that Armenia occupied around 20% of the country's territory, adding that more than 1 million Azerbaijanis were forced to leave their homes and were subjected to forced migration.
Noting that Turkiye and Azerbaijan support and make each other stronger, Mammadov said: "Turkiye played an exceptional role in the establishment of the current victorious Azerbaijan Army, and our heroic soldiers and officers received high-level education and training together with their Turkish brothers."
"Therefore, our victory in the 44-day (Karabakh) war can be considered a joint victory of Azerbaijan and Turkiye," he added.
Mammadov highlighted that Azerbaijan invested $19 billion in Turkiye, and Turkiye invested $13 billion in Azerbaijan, adding that these investments helped consolidate the independence of both countries and reduced foreign dependency.
The envoy also said 2022 also marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Azerbaijan-Turkiye diplomatic relations.
"There is no precedent anywhere in the world for such interstate relations. As representatives of our state, we will make every effort to further consolidate these relations and to constantly raise them to a higher level," he said.
The event, which started with a moment of silence and the national anthems of both Turkiye and Azerbaijan, offered Azerbaijani cuisine to the guests accompanied by national folk music and traditional dances and performances.