Azerbaijan and Türkiye celebrated the second anniversary of the signing of the Shusha Declaration with a conference held in the Azerbaijani city of Shusha.
The national anthems of both countries were performed during the event, which aimed to discuss Azerbaijan’s journey from 1993 to the liberation of Shusha from Armenian occupation and the end of the Second Karabakh War in 2020. The conference, titled “From Salvation to Victory,” was attended by numerous Azerbaijani and Turkish officials.
The post-war developments in the region have paved the way for enhanced cooperation and partnerships between the two nations, given their shared ethnic, historical, cultural, religious, and linguistic values. The Shusha Declaration, signed on June 15, 2021, in the historic city of Azerbaijan, signifies a new era in the decades-long alliance between Türkiye and Azerbaijan, expanding their ties across various domains such as defense, politics, economy, energy, trade, diaspora, and media. With this agreement, Baku has reaffirmed Ankara as its foremost and closest ally.
The Shusha Declaration was ratified by the Turkish and Azerbaijani parliaments in February 2022 and came into effect in the same month. Defense cooperation is a pivotal aspect of the document, considering the geopolitical changes in the region following Azerbaijan’s restoration of sovereignty in its Karabakh (Garabagh) region after nearly three decades.
The Declaration addresses coordinated and joint Turkish-Azerbaijani activities in the face of threats or aggression by third-party states against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, internationally recognized borders, or security of each country. The document emphasizes the need for joint consultations and the initiation of appropriate initiatives in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It also encourages coordinated military activities to defend against foreign threats and calls for efforts to modernize the armed forces of both countries, strengthen defense capabilities, enhance military security, and establish close cooperation in managing modern weapons and ammunition.
Furthermore, the Security Councils of Türkiye and Azerbaijan are tasked with holding joint meetings on national security issues, as well as discussing regional and international security developments that impact the national interests of both countries.
During and after the 2020 Karabakh War, President Aliyev expressed Azerbaijan’s intention to strengthen its national army based on the Turkish model, albeit on a smaller scale. Subsequently, the Azerbaijani and Turkish Armed Forces conducted joint military drills two weeks after the signing of the Shusha Declaration. Trilateral army games involving forces from Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and Pakistan were held in October 2021, and the Azerbaijani forces participated in the “Efes-2022” international exercises between May 9 and June 9, 2023.
The modernization of the Azerbaijani army gained momentum when newly formed commando units were launched in the liberated lands in October and November 2021. Commando personnel underwent weeks-long “Commando preparation” courses in Türkiye before joining the new “blue-beret” branch of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, adopting the renowned slogan of their Turkish counterparts.
President Aliyev, in a joint press briefing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently affirmed the development of the Azerbaijani Army based on the Turkish model.
“I said after the Second Karabakh War that the Azerbaijani Army would be developing on the basis of the Turkish model, and we can clearly see that now,” President Aliyev said this week.
In 2023, the Azerbaijani and Turkish Armed Forces are scheduled to hold 16 joint military exercises, with six already completed since the beginning of the year.
Azerbaijan and Türkiye have also explored new areas of military-technical cooperation, as showcased during the TEKNOFEST Aerospace and Technologies Festival held in Azerbaijan in May 2022. Turkish defense manufacturers displayed their latest innovations and products at the festival, attracting over 300,000 visitors. Several Turkish and Azerbaijani institutions and organizations signed cooperation agreements during the event, focusing on the export of cutting-edge defense products and expertise to Azerbaijan. Media reports indicate that Azerbaijan has expressed interest in procuring T-129 ATAK helicopters from Türkiye.
In April 2023, President Aliyev attended the TEKNOFEST Aerospace and Technologies Festival in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, Turkish defense industry representatives have revealed plans for joint production of advanced military equipment. Turkish Defence Industry Minister Ismail Demir confirmed ongoing negotiations with the Azerbaijani authorities regarding the joint production of aircraft. Selcuk Bayraktar, CEO of the Turkish Baykar Technology Company, which manufactures Bayraktar and AKINCI combat drones, also expressed interest in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge aerial devices in Azerbaijan.