The relationship between Azerbaijan and Türkiye came as one of the key topics highlighted by President Ilham Aliyev during his speech at the Summit of Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States held in Ankara on Thursday.
President Aliyev highlighted the strong bonds between the Azerbaijani and Turkish people which were tested once again when deadly earthquakes hit neighboring Türkiye in February this year.
"The government and people of Azerbaijan were mobilized to provide humanitarian aid to brotherly Türkiye the moment the earthquake struck," he said, referring to the quick reaction from Azerbaijan to assist in overcoming the outcomes of natural disaster.
Azerbaijan acted swiftly and provided humanitarian aid and financial assistance to the Turkish government as one of the first countries to respond to the crisis and offer assistance to Türkiye.
Azerbaijan sent 940 individuals, including rescue workers, medical personnel, and volunteers, to the disaster zones in Türkiye to provide assistance following the earthquakes, topping the list of countries worldwide for the number of rescuers sent to Türkiye.
The Emergencies Ministry of Azerbaijan also transferred its field hospitals and tent shelters to the affected areas, where there was a critical humanitarian crisis. Azerbaijani rescue workers were able to successfully save 53 people who were trapped under rubble, while also recovering the bodies of 780 victims. The medical personnel provided assistance to more than 3,000 individuals during their time in the disaster zones. Furthermore, children who were affected by the earthquake were brought to Azerbaijan for rehabilitation and psychological treatment.
Over $45 million has been transferred to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and other humanitarian organizations. In addition, 5,300 tons of humanitarian aid, including essential items such as food, clothing, medicine, and medical supplies, have been delivered to the disaster zones.
“Azerbaijan and Türkiye have always been by each other’s sides on both joyful and somber days. And it will continue to be the case in the future too,” President Aliyev concluded.
According to the official figures as of March 19, the number of citizens who have died in the earthquakes stands at 49,589. Over 200,000 buildings are reported to have collapsed or been severely damaged in ten regions affected by the 7.8 and 7.6 magnitude quakes.
President Ilham Aliyev provided a special perspective on the relationship between Azerbaijan and Türkiye, praising the ongoing growth of their alliance, cooperation, and partnership to new heights.
The Azerbaijani leader also emphasized the political and moral support provided by the Turkish people and authorities to Azerbaijan during the 44-day Second Karabakh War with Armenia. During the conflict, the Turkish authorities supported Azerbaijan’s struggle for liberation of its sovereign territories on various regional and international platforms.
During the Second Karabakh War, the Azerbaijan Armed Forces deployed military hardware purchased from Türkiye, including Bayraktar TB-2 drones, to gain an advantage over Armenia's occupying forces on the battlefield. The cutting-edge drone fleet of the Azerbaijani army, which includes Bayraktar TB2 next to Israeli-made UAVs and loitering munitions, is said to have destroyed more the 200 pieces of armor and artillery systems of Armenia during the hostilities.
President Ilham Aliyev highlighted the significance of the Shusha Declaration, which was signed between Azerbaijan and Türkiye in June 2021, in the recently liberated city of Shusha. The president noted that the declaration had taken the bilateral relations between the two countries to the level of an alliance.