1. Turkey and Azerbaijan have very close relations for cultural and economic reasons. The only thing that could worsen Turkish-Azerbaijani relations in the future is an improvement of relations between Turkey and Armenia, which is very unlikely.
2. Turkish-Azerbaijani relations have become increasingly pragmatic since the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline was built. Turkey’s energy security
and its position as a transit country depend on Azerbaijan’s stability. From Ankara’s point of view, internal stability is more important than any process of democratisation in Azerbaijan.
3. Turkey is playing a major part in modernising the Azerbaijani army to meet NATO standards. However, its role in bringing the country
closer to the European Union’s structures is very small.
1. The general background of relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan
1.1. The historical heritage
Azerbaijan’s border with Turkey is asshort as 9 km. This is not the border of Azerbaijan proper but of its exclave, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is isolated from the rest of the country. Nevertheless, their common culture brings the two states extremely close to one another. Turkish and Azeri are the closest languages in the Turkic language family. Dialects of Turkish in eastern Anatolia merge smoothly develop into Azeri
dialects. Residents of the lands which are located in contemporary Azerbaijan used to call themselves Turks until 1937; it was Joseph Stalin who
renamed them as Azerbaijanis. Between the tenth and eleventh centuries, the lands of Anatolia and Azerbaijan were conquered and inhabited by
Oghuz Turks, the founders of the Ottoman Empire, from which modern Turkey eventually developed. However, Asia Minor and Azerbaijan were parts of the same state for just a few decades over this nearly millennium-long period. Nevertheless, there were numerous common cultural elements, especially among residents of eastern Anatolia and Azerbaijan, such as their nomadic lifestyle and the presence of Shia religious movements. Differences between Anatolian Turks and Azerbaijanis deepened as a majority of the latter gradually accepted Shia Islam as their religion, while most Ottoman Turks were Sunni Muslims. As a result, Shia Azerbaijanis in many Ottoman-Persian wars (from the early sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries) usually fought alongside Persians against the Sunni Ottoman Empire. The religious factor became less important in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the idea of a secular, Pan-Turkic identity emerged. Ali bey Huseynzade and Ahmet Agaoglu, who were Azerbaijanis, greatly contributed to the development of the idea of pan-Turkism in the Ottoman Empire. Attempts to Ottomanise the Azeri language were signs of opennessto the Ottoman Empire in Azerbaijan. These mutual inspirations would later be reflected in adopting the same reform, one with far-reaching consequences: Soviet Azerbaijan switched to the Latin script in 1924, and Kemalist Turkey did the same in 1928. The introduction of the Cyrillic script later on in the former area loosened the language bond between the two countries, although it was tightened again when the Latin alphabet was reintroduced in independent Azerbaijan.
In 1918, the Ottoman Empire was the first country to recognise the independence of Azerbaijan. Ottoman troops had fought alongside Azerbaijanis
against Armenian armed forces. Baku even considered the possibility of establishing an Ottoman-Azerbaijani federation at the time. However, the Turks were not interested and occupied Azerbaijan for several months. When the Ottoman Empire capitulated in October 1918, some of the Turkish officers joined the Army of Azerbaijan, which was being created then. However, Turkish-Azerbaijani relations did not improve. The new government in Turkey, which was headed by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, sought Bolshevik military support during the intervention of the Entente, and in effect accepted their occupation of Azerbaijan in 1920.
1.2. Mutual perceptions
According to a survey conducted in 2003 under the supervision of Arif Yunusov, 64% of respondents in Azerbaijan declared a positive attitude towards Turkey, which appeared to be most popular among residents of Baku and western Azerbaijan. The Absheron Peninsula, which is inhabited predominantly by Shia Muslims, was also more pro-Turkish than pro-Iranian. Turkish mass culture (TV and music) is very popular in Azerbaijan;
however, Azerbaijani opinion-formers seem to be increasingly disappointed with Turkey. Positive sentiments towards Azerbaijan have been invariably strong in Turkey. In a survey conducted in 2004 by the Pollmark research centre, more than two-thirds of respondents stated they had a ‘positive perception’ of the Turkic peoples. Christians, Jews and Arabs got much worse results; most Turksshared a negative image of those groups. In a survey carried out in the same year by Pollmark, more than 20% of Turks were of the opinion that their country should establish closer relations with Turkic countries above all. The result of a poll carried out in autumn 2006 by ANAR was very similar. In 2006, 71% of respondents in a survey conducted by A&G believed that the country was their ‘friend’. This was the best result from among nine countries, and only in the case of Azerbaijan did more than half of the respondents choose the same answer.
2. The evolution of political contacts
2.1. Great expectations
and the triumph of pragmatism Turkey was the first country to recognise independent Azerbaijan, on 9 December 1991. After the eruption of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, Turkey offered aid to Azerbaijani refugees and condemned the Armenian aggression. Turkish businessmen were the first foreign investors in Azerbaijan. Turkish retired military officers became engaged in training the Azerbaijani army. Moreover, Turkey supplied military equipment to Azerbaijan, albeit to a limited extent. In 1993, Turkey closed its border with Armenia, although it did not impose a total transport blockade, allowing humanitarian aid to enter. No other country has offered so much support to Azerbaijan as Turkey has.
Abulfaz Elchibey, a politician with clearly pro-Turkish views, came to power in Azerbaijan in June 1992. President Elchibey was sure that the ‘Turkish
model’, i.e. a secular republican democracy, nationalism and occidentalisation, was the right solution for Azerbaijan as well. Elchibey also believed
that Azerbaijanis were Turks. He even wanted to replace Azerbaijani with Turkish as the official language of Azerbaijan, which met with strong public protests. Numerous agreements with Turkey were signed during his presidency. At that time, the theses of ‘two states, one nation’ appeared in both Turkish and Azerbaijani official discourse. Regardless of President Elchibey’s efforts, Turkey did not agree to military participation in Azerbaijan’s fight for Nagorno-Karabakh, aware of the danger of going to war against Russia, which supported Armenia. There was a strong difference of opinions on policy towards Armenia inside Turkish political elites, between the moderate Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel and the ‘hawkish’ President Turgut Ozal. The Demirel government’s policy towards Armenia was sharply criticised by both the Turkish opposition and the Azerbaijani government for being too conciliatory. When Turkey and Armenia signed agreements on the sale of electric energy in 1992, the Azerbaijani foreign minister said this was a stab in Azerbaijan’s back. However, the agreement did not come into effect due to pressure exerted by the Turkish opposition.
When Geidar Aliev became president of Azerbaijan in June 1993, some politicians in Turkey saw this as a victory for Russia, although Aliev had maintained active contacts with Turkey as the leader of Nakhchivan before 1993. He chose pragmatism, trying to keep a balance between Russia,
Turkey, the USA and Iran. During his rule, Azerbaijan rejoined the CIS, although at the same time it was participating in NATO’s Partnership for Peace project.
At the beginning, Aliev treated Turkey with some reserve, seeing the country as Elchibey’s ally. In September 1993, he withheld the implementation of the agreements which his predecessor had signed with Turkey, and removed 1,600 Turkish officers who had been training the Azerbaijani army. He even introduced entry visas for Turkish citizens. Some political circles and opposition parties in Turkey still put their hopes in the Popular Front of Azerbaijan, the party of ex-President Elchibey, who had been overthrown; a former ambassador of Turkey in Baku took part in an unsuccessful coup against President Aliev in 1995.All this had worsened mutual relations, which however were improved by Aliev in 1996, when the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline became a matter of priority for both countries. Since that time, Turkish-Azerbaijani relations have become pragmatic and are very active. Hundreds of visits have been paid by Turkish prime ministers, presidents, ministers and MPs in Azerbaijan, as well as by their Azerbaijani counterparts to Turkey, and numerous declarations and agreements have been signed since 1995.
2.2. The issue of opening the Turkish-Armenian border
The issue of the possible opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, which Turkey closed during the Azerbaijani-Armenian war, plays a very important
part in Turkish-Azerbaijani relations. Ankara closed the border because, it saw Armenia was an aggressor occupying Azerbaijan’sterritory. Currently,
the EU and the USA are pressing Ankara to reopen the border, which Azerbaijan strongly opposes. According to a report by the US Department of State, the then Secretary of State Colin Powell, during his visit to Ankara in April 2003, pressed Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to open the border with Armenia without any preconditions. This demand was reiterated by President George Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül during his visit in the USA in July 2003. The European Union has also made regular appeals to Turkey to open the Armenian border, which invariably inflames public opinion in Azerbaijan14. Inside Turkey,similar appeals have been made by business and analytical circles and by the local government of Kars, a town located near the Armenian border.
Since the situation in Iraq has worsened, the Americans have stopped putting pressure on Turkeyto open the Armenian border because they needed Turkish logistical support in their military operations in the Middle East. During his visit to was allegedly the informal ‘ruler’ of the Azerbaijani
city of Ganja. It is rumoured in opposition circles that Kurds allegedly play an important role in Azerbaijan’s security services. The opposition
accuses Geidar Aliev of ‘co-founding’ the Kurdish PKK party when he was in the Soviet KGB and using itssupport thereafter21. In May 2006, the opposition newspaper Realny Azerbaijan also wrote about the shady business of Abdulbari Gozal, a Baku mob boss, who was born in Maku (Iranian
Azerbaijan); he had allegedly collaborated with the PKK and had been wanted by Turkish counter-intelligence in Soviet times, when he was allegedly closely linked to Geidar Aliev22. Obviously, such theses are difficult to verify, and could be an attempt to depict President Aliev as being an unreliable partner for Turkey. Turkey and the opposition in Azerbaijan. Internal stability in Azerbaijan is a priority in Turkey’s policy towards this country. For this reason, Ankara does not offer active support to the Azerbaijani opposition because the issue of democratisation plays a minor role in Turkey’s foreign policy and because Azerbaijan is very important for Turkish energy policy (see further in the text). However, in the opinion of political analyst Bayram Balci, if Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Azerbaijan in late June 2005 was intended to ‘bring Ilham Aliev a message from the USA that
the upcoming election must be fair’, he did so rather half-heartedly. Erdogan and Gül appealed to the Azerbaijani government to make sure that
the election was ‘transparent’. However, it seemed that the message was in fact addressed to the European Union and not to Baku. Some Azerbaijani
opposition activists have expressed their dissatisfaction with Turkey’s recognition of the results of the recent elections25. Some opposition members in Azerbaijan have contacts with Turkish politicians, although rarely with those of the highest rank. When Ali Kerimli, the head of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, visited Turkey in June 2006, he talked to Mehmet Dülger, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Turkish parliament, and to
Haluk Ipek from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the chairman of the Turkey-Azerbaijan inter-parliamentary group26. At that time, Kerimli said the visit had been a tremendous success and emphasised that the Turkish ruling class was ‘critical of the present government of
Azerbaijan’. However,such wordsseemed to have more in common with propaganda and self-promotion than the real status of the visit. Prime Minister Erdogan went on an official visit to Azerbaijan in the same month.
3.1. The energy sector and Azerbaijani investments in Turkey
The energy sector is an area where bonds between Azerbaijan and Turkey are especially strong. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline and the Baku–Tbilisi–Erzurum (BTE) gas pipeline are the key enterprises in this field. The idea of building oil and gas pipelines connecting Azerbaijan and Turkey arose in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR. The strongest bargaining chip which Turkey used to discredit any alternatives to the
BTC pipeline (such as the northern route to Novorossiysk) was the argument that it was necessary to reduce both the workload in sea transport and the traffic of tankers going through the Black Sea straits. At first, Azerbaijan wanted the pipeline to go through Iran, which the USA opposed. The deadlock in the negotiations was broken in 1999, when a pipeline was built between Baku and the Georgian port of Supsa, so the option to lay a pipeline through Georgia appeared, and was finally chosen. Nevertheless, the OSCE and President Clinton’s administration still insisted on the idea of a ‘friendship pipeline’ because they wanted Turkey to combine the implementation of the project with mediation activities to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Turkish diplomatic service was very active in 1999 (visits to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia), although this did not result in a political agreement between Baku and Yerevan.
The construction of the BTC pipeline commenced in September 2002. The pipeline opening ceremony took place in Turkey on 25 May 2005; the presidents of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan,and the president of BP were present. Additionally, the construction of the Baku–Tbilisi–Erzurum gas pipeline, which will be used to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, was officially completed in 200728.
The oil industry is one of the few economic sectors in which Azerbaijan has invested in Turkey. GNKAR, the State Oil Company of the Republic of
Azerbaijan, as the key investor, signed an agreement in late 2006 with the Turkish firm Turcas, which provides for building a petrochemical complex in Ceyhan, among other projects29. Trade exchange and investments. Between 1993 and 2001, Turkey wasthe third largest investor in Azerbaijan, preceded by the USA and the United Kingdom. The total value of its investments was US$3.8 billion, which was equivalent to 12.6 percent of all FDI30. Western investments in Azerbaijan’s energy sector have clearly increased in recent years. This trend has caused a significant reduction of Turkey’s share in foreign direct investments. Nevertheless, Turkey is still one of the major investors in the country.
Moreover, Azerbaijan is also increasingly interested in investing in the Turkish energy sector. 1,267 Turkish firms were registered in Azerbaijan in 2006; however fewer than half of them operated in reality. The most important Turkish companies operating in Azerbaijan include the Turkish National Petroleum Company, Turkcell (a cell phone operator), Azersun (light industry and other branches), Anatolu Holding (food production),
Koc Holding (car manufacture, banking services and retail trade), Teletas (telecommunication), a group of Attila Dogan’s firms (including oil industry, a joint venture with the Azerbaijani firm of Anshad Petrol), Borova (building), Ekpar (leather, construction and investments in other countries, including Turkmenistan), Enka (construction), the Tekfen group (trade, services, light industry and investments in other countries including Uzbekistan), Tepe (construction), Yücelen (tourism, construction and medical services) and Zafer (construction). Turkish investors put a lot of money into bars and restaurants, and have also opened a chain of Ramstore supermarkets. The Azerbaijan International Society of Turkish Industrialists & Businessmen (TUSIAB) is the most important organisation representing Turkish capital in Azerbaijan.
In 2006, Turkey was the third largest trade partner for Azerbaijan, in terms of both exports and imports. Turkey’s share in total trade turnover in Azerbaijan reached nearly 7 percent31. In 2007, Turkey became the first trade partner for Azerbaijan (turnover 14.3%, export 17.3 %, import 10.9%) Turkey has been trying to help Azerbaijan by offering loans to the country. In 1992, Türk Eximbank granted it one loan of US$250 million. Some problems arose during the launch of the loan procedure, such as delays in preparing projects and sending the approved projects to Turkey, which the Azerbaijani government was responsible for. Turkey agreed to defer the repayment of the credit instalments. Since 1992 Azerbaijan, along with Turkey, has been a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation (BSEC) project. It isalso a member of the Turkish International Co-
-operation & Development Agency (TIKA), and isactive in the forum of Friendship, Brotherhood and Co-operation Congress of the Turkic States
and Communities (TUDEV). Trade between Turkey and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan Nakhchivan, which is blockaded by Armenia on
the northern and eastern sides, is dependent on trade with Turkey, and sometimes even on Turkish aid (as is the case with electric power supplies, 40% of which come from Turkey, and the remainder from Iran). After the bankruptcy of wine farming in Nakhchivan (it was impossible to export wine to Iran for ideological reasons, or to Turkey due to the state monopoly on alcoholic products), Turkey supported the development of the confectionery industry in the exclave. In 2004, the volume of mutual trade exchange reached US$34 million, including US$4 million in exports from Nakhchivan to Turkey.
Frontier trading between Nakhchivan and the Turkish town of Igidir played an exceptional role between 1992 and 2002 in mutual trade exchange.
This Turkish town, located close to the border, was enjoying a real economic boom thanks to the trade in cheap fuel from Nakhchivan. A few business
fortunes were built in Nakhchivan as well. Fuel trading was very profitable because until recently the price of petrol in Turkey was nearly six times higher than in Azerbaijan. However, in 2002, Turkey imposed high taxes on fuel traders in Idgir as well as charges for border crossing. This aroused dissatisfaction and suspicion on both sides of the border. It was speculated that the decision was a result of the privatisation of Petrol Ofisi company, which had been bought by the influential capital group of Attila Dogan. Nevertheless, illegal trade in fuel, albeit on a smaller scale, is still flourishing.
3.4. Barriers to Turkish investments in Azerbaijan: corruption
The very high level of corruption is a serious problem for Turkish investors in Azerbaijan. It accompanies almost all major investments33. Turkish
authorities’ abilities to support their businessmen are limited, as was demonstrated in the case of the Barmek company. Barmek was going to start electric energy distribution in Azerbaijan pursuant to an agreement signed in 2001. However, the company’s management were accused and blackmailed by Azerbaijani senior state officials; in the early spring of 2006, the managers were even jailed. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan pleaded the company’s cause, which did not help; in the end, the firm had to withdraw from Azerbaijan. It cannot be ruled out that in this case the Azerbaijani government’s desire to monopolise the energy market was not the only reason for this turn of events; Russia might also have wanted to enhance its influence on the Azerbaijani market (President Putin visited Azerbaijan in February 2006). The Azerbaijani government reacted to the Turkish businessmen’s complaints by establishing a special commission to combat corruption. However, the position of the commission’s chairman was filled by Ramiz Mekhtiev, the head of the presidential administration, who is believed to be one of the most corrupt people in the country. Moreover, in 2006 the Azerbaijani media wrote that the government was planning changes in the structure of the country’s largest cellular telephone network Azercell, which is partly owned by Turkcell. The changes were intended to affect the Turkish stakeholders adversely.
However, itseemsthat Turkish businessmen have not been discouraged by such problems; they accept corruption as a part of the ‘local rules of the game’ and do not intend to ‘civilise’ Azerbaijan. This can be demonstrated by the fact that the numbers of Turkish investmentsin Azerbaijan and businessmen visiting the country have not decreased (for more detailed data see the section Tourism below). It is believed in Azerbaijan that
some Turkish companies do not comply with ethical standards.
Another big investment in the Southern Caucasus with Turkish shares is the construction of the 258-kilometre-long Kars–Akhalkalaki–Tbilisi–Baku
railroad, which will connect Turkey with Georgia and Azerbaijan. Turkey suggested building the railway connection as early as 1993, when it closed
its border with Armenia. However, it had to wait until 7 February 2007, when Prime Minister Erdogan and Presidents Mikheil Saakashvili and Ilham Aliev signed a framework agreement in Tbilisi confirming the participation of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan in the project. The construction work is planned to be completed by the end of 2008. The three countries intend to incur the costs of the investment, the total estimated value of which is US$600 million, by themselves. Turkey will give US$200 million in credit to Georgia for building 29 kilometres of a new railroad as well as to modernise old railways on Georgian territory. The USA and the EU willsupport the project on condition that Armenia joins it. In turn, Yerevan has made its participation dependent on a re-opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, which is opposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
According to information from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, between 2001 and 2005, the number of Turkish citizens visiting Azerbaijan increased steadily until 2004 (52,156 in 2001; 53,975 in 2002; 69,100 in 2003; 71,609 in 2004 and 70,755 in 2005). However, in the opinion of Elchin Gafarli, head of the international tourism department in the ministry, most of them are businessmen, because ‘Azerbaijan is not an attractive country for Turkish tourists’. Nevertheless, co-operation in the field of tourism between the two countries has been developing quite rapidly (especially Turkish investments in hotel business). According to estimates from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkey is visited annually by nearly 400,000 citizens of Azerbaijan, most of whom probably go there to earn money.
4.1. Military and technical co-operation
Turkey has accepted the role of Baku’s ‘teacher’ to help it accelerate the reformsrecommended by the North-Atlantic Alliance. Azerbaijani officers graduate from military academiesin Turkey, and Azerbaijani soldiers have taken part in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo (since 1999) and Afghanistan (since 2001) under Turkish command. Under an agreement which was signed in June 2005, Turkey offered US$2.1 million in financial aid for the modernisation of Azerbaijan’s army to comply with NATO standards, and is planning further aid.
Since the BTC pipeline started operating, Azerbaijan’s military security has become especially important for Turkey. When in summer 2001 an Iranian patrolshipsfired on an Azerbaijaniship which was exploring the seabed in the southern part of the Caspian Sea, Ankara immediately sent its F-16 fighter aircraft to a military parade in Baku.
5. Cultural & educational co-operation and NGO activity
5.1. Religious co-operation and Turkey’s missionary activity in Azerbaijan
Since the early 1990s, Sunni Turkey has been competing with Shia Iran for influence on religious life in Azerbaijan. The Turkish Clerical Department built the so-called Shehid Mosque in Baku in honour of those killed in the war against Armenia. One secondary school and eight mosques (three in Baku, and one each in Gusar, Agdas, Nakhchivan, Yevlakh and Mekhtiabad) are operating in Azerbaijan under the auspices of state religious institutions from Turkey. The religious influence of Turkey is more intensive at the non-governmental level. Turkish religious movements are treated with suspicion by the secular establishment in Turkey, while in Azerbaijan they can find a safe harbour. The community of Osman Nuri Topbas, whose teachings refer to the Sufi ideology of the Naqshbandiyya brotherhood, runs a Koranic and a vocational school in Sheki, and a madrasa in Agdas. The Suleymanci movement, which had been initiated by Suleyman Tunahan (who died in 1959), started missionary activity in Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. However, it totally withdrew from official activity (it was refused registration) and started clandestine operations. The Sufi Naqshbandiyya brotherhood and the Association of Muslim Students in Azerbaijan faced similar problems there. In 1995, the Turkish diplomat Farman Darimoglu, who was a member of the brotherhood, was accused of participation in an attempted coup and deported, and the brotherhood was banned. Its members found shelter in the north-western part of the country and in the Nakhchivan exclave. In the latter region they are actively engaged in underground missionary activity, and the leader of the tariqa, Sheikh Mekhman Zakhid Gotkun, occasionally comes to visit it from Turkey. In turn, the association, which officially disbanded in 1997, is involved in missionary activity at the Haji Sultan Ali Mosque in Baku, as well as in Lenkoran and Veravul. The Nurcular movement, which is associated with the Turkish religious scholar Fethullah Gülen, has the strongest influence in Azerbaijan. The movement started penetrating Azerbaijan at the end of 1991, when Gülen’s envoy, Mehmed Ali Sangul, went to carry out reconnaissance there. Gülen himself came a year later and met President Elchibey. The president allowed him to launch the Saman Yolu television station, publish the Zaman newspaper and register many companies and foundations. Gülen’s movement further strengthened its position in Azerbaijan during the presidency of Geidar Aliev, although the local press expressed anxiety about the organisation’s actions in 2001 and 2002. Currently, the activity of Gülen’s followers in Azerbaijan is financially supported by such Turkish companies as Istigbal (furniture sales), Romanson (watch sales) and Ulkar (the confectionery trade).
Gülen’s movement is strongly tied to the ruling Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamic roots. The visit by Prime Minister Erdogan to Baku in January 2003 was organised by a businessman linked to Nurcular. Schools, which avoid open proselytism and try to attract young people by the high quality of their education instead, play a special part in Gülen’s movement. The schools provide accommodation
in dormitories and organise summer camps for their students. Their graduates often receive job offers from Turkish firms. Non-governmental organisations and foundations The Azerbaijani Atatürk Foundation (Azerbaycanda Atatürk Merkezi), which propagates official co-operation between Turkey and Azerbaijan, operates in Baku. The Türksoy organisation engages in cultural and educational activity promoting the unity of the Turkic-speaking world, and offers courses in religion, the English, Arabic and Turkish languages and computer usage. In turn, the organisation named Kamer Ozel Talebe Yurdu, which receives financial backing from the building company Kamer Ltd., is linked to the Suleymanci movement, and offers accommodation for poor children and young people. Education Turkey has actively supported the development of education in Azerbaijan by promoting institutional associations and reforms based on the Turkish system. On 29 February 1992, the Azerbaijani government and a Turkish delegation signed an agreement on Turkey’s support for the reintroduction of the Latin script, launching school education reform, establishing Turkish language schools, supplying textbooks and teaching aids to schools and training courses for Azerbaijani students in Turkey. On 3 May 1992, an agreement on co-operation in teaching, expertservices, technology and scientific research wassigned in Baku. Universities in Azerbaijan accept the results of entrance examinations taken at Turkish universities, thanks to which Turkish students may study in Azerbaijan without any problems.
The Caucasus University (Qafqaz Universitesi) was established in 1993 in Khirdalan near Baku using money donated by Turkish businessmen linked
to the Nurcular movement. A Department of Religion (Ilahiyat Fakültesi) was opened at the Baku. State University, and a secondary school associated
to the faculty was established on the initiative of the Turkish Ministry of Religion. The Turkish World Management Faculty, financed by the Turkish
World Foundation (Turk Dunyasi Vakfi), is operating at the Economic University in Baku. The non-governmental organisation Cag Oyretim, which is linked to the Nurcular movement, manages a network of secondary schools, which are located in Baku, Sheki, Zakatale and Lenkoran, among other places. Baku has two secular secondary schools, Anadolu Lisesi and Atatürk Lisesi, which are financed by the Turkish government. According to the Turkish Education Minister Hussain Chelik, who visited Baku in early November 2006, nearly four thousand Turkish students were studying at the time in Azerbaijan, and nearly 1500 Azerbaijani students were studying in Turkey45. Tens of thousands of Azerbaijani and Turkish students have been on student exchange since 1992, when the agreement was signed. To sum up, Turkey – along with Iran – is the most actively engaged country in the social, educational and religious areas in Azerbaijan. From the perspective of the secular Azerbaijani government, the Turkish presence in the country’s social life is much more welcome than the engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Azerbaijani experts on religion believe that relations with Turkey have become more attractive for conservative and religious circles in their country since 2002, when the AKP, a party with Islamic roots, formed the government in Ankara.
6. Conclusions and forecasts
The ‘honeymoon’ phase in Turkish-Azerbaijani relations is certainly over. Azerbaijan no longer perceives Turkey as its ‘elder brother’, and Turkey
itself has given up its ambitious plans from the early 1990s to ‘civilise’ its post-Soviet kinsfolk. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan and Baku–Tbilisi–Erzurum
pipelines have established strong bonds between the two countries for many years. Turkey’s energy security and its role as a transit country will be increasingly dependent on the stability of the situation in Azerbaijan, which subsequent Turkish governments will have to keep in mind. As a result, Turkey will not offer any major support to the Azerbaijani opposition. The real addressees of Ankara’s appeals for ‘democratisation’ or ‘transparency’ in political life in Azerbaijan will be the EU or the USA rather the than Azerbaijani authorities. However, mutual relations will not be free from friction. Turkey will feel a growing internal and external pressure to normalise relations and open borders with its Armenia, which is becoming increasingly
isolated. This will cause anxiety in Azerbaijan. However, the effectiveness of such pressure on Turkey will depend on how realistic the prospect for its EU membership is at any given moment.
Turkey, which is in a sense a diplomatic ‘hostage’ to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, would like it to be resolved. However, its settlement is very
unlikely in the immediate future because the government of Azerbaijan is in turn ‘hostage’ to its public opinion (which is one of the few cases when they care about it).
In the field of the economy, Turkish businessmen will not fight against the omnipresent corruption in Azerbaijan; instead, they will become increasingly better ‘adapted’ to the local conditions. Corruption will not discourage Turkish capital from investing in Azerbaijan. In the immediate future, Ankara will help to reform the Azerbaijani army to meet NATO standards. In the long term, Turkey’s progress on its way to EU membership could strongly encourage Azerbaijan to become seriously interested in European integration. On the other hand, if Turkey focuses on integration with the EU, it may neglect its eastern policy. In turn, if the EU blocks the process of integration with Turkey, which is now quite likely, this could cause Ankara to increase its activity in the East, including in the Caucasus.
By: Jerzy Rohoziƒski