"When we are together, no one can twist our arms" - Erkan Ozoral | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

16 December, Monday

"When we are together, no one can twist our arms" - Erkan Ozoral

"When we are together we are stronger against the difficulties"

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3 years have passed from the 15th of July when Turkey made a history. On the eve of the anniversary of the events, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Erkan Ozoral shared his views with Eurasia Diary.

While touching upon happenings, Turkish Ambassador also spoke about the main agenda in US-Turkish relations, F-35 and S-400.

- Mr. Ambassador, 3 years have passed since July 15 events in Turkey. In brief, let's look at that period. How do you remember those days?

- What we live on July 15, is, of course, terrible in terms of those events. The firing of the people, the bombing of the parliament, the fighter planes flying over Ankara and Istanbul, and the fact that the members of such organization placed inside Turkish Armed Forces, firing against their own people, and the people we know, were terrifying. But the Turkish nation managed to handle these events. The nation demonstrated unity and went through the streets by the president's instruction in the night gave the traitors a lesson. Today, on July 15, I remember the importance of national unity, how a unity took place, and how the Turkish nation has democracy, how it came to have its own will.

Unfortunately, we lost 251 people. I commemorating them by mercy on this anniversary. 3 years have passed, we also need to see where we came from by looking back. At the moment, I see that we have taken a very serious step in the fight against the organization. The members of the organization were deciphered and revealed. Most of them got the penalty they deserve. The processes continue, investigations are going on and the main part of them has already finished. All agents who participated in the military coup will pay for it. They are also paying. As you know, in the result of investigation many sentenced. A total of 289 criminal cases were filed. About 250 criminal cases have been completed, about 40 criminal cases are still underway. I think that members of the organization will get the punishment they deserve.

- Despite the fact that a large number of FETO members have been arrested, Fethullah Gülen, the head of the organization, has not been arrested yet and has not been extradited to Turkey. Last year, despite the fact that Fethullah Gülen's talks on extradition from the United States have been held, there is no development in the last year. What kind of news is there at the moment?

- The issue of extradition is a legal one on the one hand and, of course, a political process. In this regard, negotiations with the United States have not been cut off. The Ministry of Justice is still holding talks on this issue, resorting to legal remedies and legal efforts. But, of course, the political side of the business is very important. Giving asylum to the leader of the organization in America and creating conditions for living there, of course, does not suit any kind of alliance between us and America. This is not the right decision. We require the extradition of the leader of the terror group to Turkey. We have persistent demands on this issue continue. We have insisted on this issue and there is no reduction in our desire. It continues in the same way. But as I said, on the one hand, while legal processes continue, on the one hand, the issue has political sides. All are evaluated together.


- What can you say about the support of Azerbaijan to Turkey on the struggle against FETO? Is there such support?

- Of course, there is. Azerbaijan started the fight against FETO before July 15. The measures taken by Azerbaijan go back more than three years ago. Today, we are continuing to struggle with FETO in full, close cooperation with Azerbaijan. From this point of view, Azerbaijan is a model for the whole world. Mr President Ilham Aliyev is one of the first leaders to convey his wishes to Mr President and "wish to get past" immediately after the coup attempt. As far as I see, Azerbaijan's decision on that day has not diminished and gives us every kind of support for the fight against FETO. I would like to thank Mr. President Ilham Aliyev for his support and support for all the authority of Azerbaijan.

- In the Azerbaijani media, it is also reported that there are some persons linked to the FETO in the state bodies of Azerbaijan. Do you have any information about it?

- FETO started to infiltrate to the public institutions of all Turkic republics after the collapse of USSR. You know the processes in Turkey. What they did, how they settled in the state appeared. They tried to do it in other countries where they went. There they continued their activities, and they began to apply their despicable plans.

We are expecting a very well-known recognition of this feature of FETO and taking steps to that end. As I said in Azerbaijan, this is one of the example countries. This threat is not just a threat to Turkey but a threat to all countries. FETO never abandons its aim to seize governments in any state. Sometimes, when they feel themselves in insecure situation, just reduce their visibility. It is needed to be careful against the organization.

- The Ergenekon criminal case has been terminated in Turkey in recent days and all defendants have been acquitted. As you know, the Ergenekon case was the result of the FETO's establishment and several Turkish generals and officers were arrested, including the Chief of Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces. FETO's Ergenekon operation, as well as the July 15 coup attempt, has hit a moral blow to the Turkish army. Has the Turkish army been able to get rid of these moral troubles now? How do you estimate the status of the Turkish army today?

- All the facts reveal the infiltration of FETO to the Turkish Armed Forces before 15 July. We all witnessed that the criminal case filed by FETO prosecutors and judges and the penalties were given by them also. Their goal is to damage the Republic of Turkey. All of them has been revealed. However, what we lived on 15 July gave us the opportunity to cleanse our state from the rest of the organization. After such cleansing, our state has become so strong. At that time, after July 15, some things began to be made more effective, more resolutely. Because there are no forces to sabotage the activities to be carried out inside. Turkish Armed Forces lost its main part of generals and officers, they lost their connection with the army. Turkish Armed forces obtained an opportunity to act freely as well as other state bodies. Because the possibility of sabotage inside existed, but now there is no such possibility. Believe in me, Turkish Armed Forces and other state bodies have become stronger after such cleansing. Maybe, in some offices, it is needed to work much because of lack of staff, but we are doing for our state and nation. All public servants, officers and soldiers are doing this. Because we get a result from our work. The Turkish Armed Forces carried out the "Euphrates Shield" operation 40 days after the 15 July coup attempt. It succeeded. After a while, the army carried out the operation of "Olive Branch". When the organization was effective within the Turkish Armed Forces, the implementation of this work was not easy. This minute we are acting more effective, more stable and more powerful. Therefore, our whole state has grown stronger in this process.

- While speaking about the Turkish Armed Forces, what kind of advantage gives the S-400 missile complex you get from Russia to Turkey? Can this also cause Turkey to become stronger in the region?

- Turkey needs air defense systems. We didn't have air defense systems like Patriot or S-400 before. If you remember Turkey started to require Patriot from NATO members after the beginning of First  Gulf War.

At the moment, we do not have an air defense complex against the possibility of an airstrike against a rocket threat coming from Syria on our Syrian border. Turkey wishes to meet this desire without the NATO allies. Because we really need it.  It is not right to ask from our allies to say bring me, Patriot, whenever we need. From time to time, our allies desire reduces. Six months later, NATO should extend its mandate. For this reason, Turkey needs to have a defense system. First of all, we addressed our allies. We have appealed to America. You know, we still have contacts with the Americans about getting Patriot. Americans say they want to give us Patriot missiles. Our contacts are ongoing in this regard. But so far, we have received satisfactory answers from Russia on this subject. Therefore, the purchase of the S-400 missiles was on the agenda. It is a need for Turkey and Turkey has decided based on this need. At the moment you see that the work on the deployment of these missiles in Turkey continues. We have come to the final stage.

- So why did not America give Patriot till this time, but the US wants to give just after negotiating with S-400 Russia?

- This question should be given to them

- What can you say about the problems generated by the US about F-35? Can Turkey purchase these aircraft from the US?

- The president of Turkey and related officials informed the public about the discussions over F-35. We have joined the F-35 project from the very first time. When we want to buy F-35, we want to get an aircraft which we contributed to the production of it. We are confident that we will reach our request in this regard.

- Mr. Ambassador, present Azerbaijan-Turkey relations is at what level? How do you value our relationships?

- There are two basic principles in relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. One of them is Ataturk's words "The joy of Azerbaijan is our joy, the sorrow of Azerbaijan is our sorrow”. The same thing happens to Turkey when we look at Azerbaijan. Here with you, we speak the same language. Our second principle is "One Nation, Two States" as national leader Heydar Aliyev said. Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are always shaped on the basis of these principles. On September 15, 2018, the100th anniversary of the arrival of the Caucasian Turkish Islam Army were held. Just like 100 years ago, in the military parade on this anniversary, the troops of the two countries crossed along side by side. During the parade, leaders of two countries greeted together two troops. This move indicates the top point of the relations. This shows that our relations lay upon brotherhood and beyond the strategic alliance. Today, our relations have become the highest level. Azerbaijan is already the biggest investor in Turkey. Today, we are continuing our efforts to further these relations. The major projects like the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, TANAP, and STAR are key projects that changed the world's political map, not only in our region but also in the energy map of the world. Two countries have the power to make big things when they are together. Our relations are going according to this. Our guides are our presidents, we, as a representative of the state, are attempting to increase the level of the relations on the way of our guides.

- You have provided information on some of the implemented projects. But are there any new projects that we do not know?

- At this stage, we need to complete the TAP project first. You know that the construction of TANAP has already been completed and Azerbaijani gas went to the Turkish-Greek border. The next target is to complete the TAP in 2020 as planned.

- When will the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars passenger train to Turkey be realized?

- Well, we are working on that. Railway administrations of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia negotiate on this issue and work very hard. Hopefully, it will start soon. The beginning of this is very important from the point of view of increasing our humanitarian relations. The movement from Turkey to Azerbaijan, from Azerbaijan to Turkey will be even easier by this railroad. Therefore, we hope to be implemented soon.

 - When it comes to departure, the Azerbaijani citizens have been travelling to Turkey for many years without visa by the decision of the Turkish government. However, visa is required for Turkish citizens to arrive in Azerbaijan. There is no progress for a long time for some reasons. Will be there any change on this issue?

- Well, we're still working on that. That is, we have contacts with the Azerbaijani authorities. Hopefully, this issue will be a breakthrough in the near future.

- Hopefully. This is an important issue for our relations ...

- That's it. Well, you know that there is no visa between Turkey and Georgia between Turkey and Ukraine. The citizens from Turkey to these countries and from these countries to Turkey travel not with foreign passports but with ID card. Hopefully, Azerbaijan will also reach this level.


- It is well-known that Turkey has always supported Azerbaijan in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group for more than 25 years do not seem to be interested in solving the problem. Therefore, some politicians and MPs in our country consider Turkey to be the co-chairman of the OSCE's Minsk Group. Do you think Turkey's co-chairmanship is possible?

- The format of the Minsk Group was established in 1992 and Turkey is a member of the Minsk Group. There are 14 members of the Minsk Group, and three of them - the US, Russia and France - co-chairs. At the moment, the activity of the Minsk Group and the discussions continue to be more on the level of these co-chairs. Of course, this process did not generate a serious result. It should have been more effective. Because there is a great injustice. Twenty percent of Azerbaijani lands are under occupation, there are about one million refugees and displaced people. As this process goes on, this injustice will also increase. This issue should be resolved as soon as possible. The Minsk Group co-chairs are also expected to take concrete steps in their view of what they will do in this context. As for the change in the structure of the co-chairing institute, namely the co-chairing of Turkey, it is a decision that all parties can give. If so, we can discuss it as well.

- Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much that you gave us an opportunity to take an interview. Finally, do you have anything that you want to say?

- There is one thing we must always take into account: Turkey and Azerbaijan are two states, one nation. As Mr. Ilham Aliyev said, Turkey's power is the power of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan's power is also the power of Turkey. When we are together, we are stronger against the challenges and it is easy to handle difficulties. When we are together, no one is able to twist our arm. On this occasion, I would like to express my gratitude to all the people of Azerbaijan, including Mr. President Ilham Aliyev, for the support of Azerbaijan in the fight against the FETO and on the attempt to fight against the coup. Thank you very much.


Interviewed by Aqil Aslan and Tabriz Abbasov

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