Military cooperation grows between Turkey, Azerbaijan - analyst

Turkey and Azerbaijan are making plans to further deepen their military ties, analyst Paul Iddon wrote for Forbes Magazine on Tuesday.

Expanding defence ties with Azerbaijan also “helps Turkey to put some distance between itself and Russia amid the two countries’ competition for regional influence”, Iddon said, citing Emily Hawthorne, Stratfor's Senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at RANE.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Azerbaijani counterpart İlham Aliyev signed the Shusha Declaration in June, pledging for the expansion of political, economic and defence ties between their countries.  

Under the declaration, named after an important city Azerbaijan recaptured from ethnic Armenian groups last year, both countries also pledged “joint efforts” for the restructuring and modernisation of their respective armed forces.

Erdoğan also announced that Turkey would build a factory in Azerbaijan to share technology and jointly manufacture military equipment.

The “two states, one nation” motto of Turkey and Azerbaijan that they often use to address the close cultural and political ties between the countries has almost become “two states, one military”, Iddon said, citing a Jamestown Foundation article published in June.

“Azerbaijan doesn't have a substantial military-industrial base that can help Turkey develop and build weapons systems. On the other hand, Baku has plenty of energy reserves, which could help fund the research and development for new Turkish weapons systems,” Iddon said.

Evaluating Russia’s stance on Ankara’s relations with Baku, Emily Hawthorne told Iddon that Moscow would not respond to “growing ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan” by bolstering ties with Armenia, focusing on Azerbaijan itself instead.

“Russia is one of the largest suppliers of arms to both Azerbaijan and Armenia and has always sought to balance its ties with both countries,” she said.  

Relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan have reached new heights following October’s clashes in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where Turkish military support proved crucial to Azerbaijan reclaiming territory from Armenian-backed forces.

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