Author: Natig NAZIMOGHLU
Consolidation of the trilateral format of cooperation between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan was one of the major international events of this year. The Islamabad Declaration signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries provides for the deepening of cooperation in politics, economy and security and marks a new milestone in the development of strategic alliance between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan.
The first meeting in a similar format took place back in 2017 in Baku. But it was the 44-day war of Azerbaijan in Garabagh, which ended with the crushing defeat of Armenian occupation forces by the Azerbaijani army, that completed the development of the Azerbaijani-Turkish-Pakistani troika. At such a crucial historical moment for our nation, Turkey and Pakistan did for Azerbaijan what the closest friends and allies should do, providing the country with powerful political and moral support in the holy war for Garabagh.
On January 13, foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan – Jeyhun Bayramov, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Shah Mahmoud Qureshi – convened in Islamabad. The declaration adopted at the end of the meeting expressed a firm commitment to the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognised borders of states. The document especially confirmed solidarity with the government and people of Azerbaijan, including support for Baku's efforts to restore the liberated territories of the country.
In fact, Azerbaijan's friendly relations with Turkey and Pakistan have largely contributed to the establishment and development of strategic cooperation in a trilateral format. Since the inception of independence back in the 1990s, Turkey and Pakistan not only have supported Azerbaijan in strengthening its sovereignty, but have also remained committed to a clear and fair position on the settlement of the Daghlig Garabagh conflict. Consistently supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan have refused to build any relationship with Armenia, protesting its occupation policy against Azerbaijan.
It is not surprising that security is one of the significant issues in the development of cooperation format between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan. This has been clearly visible since the end of the Garabagh war, when the troika began strengthening the trilateral alliance.
After the Islamabad meeting, many experts believe that a trilateral military alliance between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan is likely. Thus, the parties signed a number of agreements providing for the expansion of military-technical cooperation and the conduct of joint military exercises, including with the participation of special forces of the three states. By the way, on the eve of the meeting, Pakistani Air Force Commander Mujaheed Anwar Khan visited Turkey and Azerbaijan. The parties then clearly indicated their desire to expand the range of military and military-technical cooperation.
According to the Islamabad declaration, the trilateral strategic alliance between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan aims at paying particular attention to “joining efforts to combat Islamophobia, discrimination and persecution of Muslims in the international and regional arena". Moreover, it is not only about supporting Azerbaijan's just struggle against the aggressive foreign policy of Armenia. As a country bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan often becomes a target of attacks from various terrorist groups. In addition, Pakistan has confronted with India over the Jammu and Kashmir issue for decades. At the same time, the Cyprus problem and the ongoing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean are still relevant for Turkey. So, there is quite a wide room for mutual support between Baku, Ankara and Islamabad. This determines the tendency to strengthen strategic cooperation based on mutual interests. In other words, all members of the alliance are interested in protecting national interests by jointly counteracting the threats and risks to the security of all three countries.
But the main thing is that the Azerbaijani-Turkish-Pakistani format of cooperation, which also assumes military cooperation, is not a threat to any other country. Solidarity in Garabagh demonstrated by Baku, Ankara and Islamabad is the best proof that the members of the troika strictly follow international law and the principles of peaceful coexistence of states and peoples. Moreover, the format of this troika is aimed at achieving regional peace and prosperity, such as the economic and transport-communication projects supported by Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan.
For common prosperity
Economic cooperation to be one of the priority areas of the trilateral format, for example, through the proposed broader platform for regional cooperation in the South Caucasus, unblocking transport and communication corridors after the 44-day war and ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Thus, the liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan was a turning point to improve economic cooperation between Baku, Ankara and Islamabad as well. Following the approach proclaimed by Baku, only the states friendly to Azerbaijan will be involved in the large-scale works on the rehabilitation of Garabagh. That is why Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov during his visit to Islamabad called Turkish and Pakistani companies to get actively involved in the restoration of the liberated territories.
It is expected that broad opportunities open up for strengthening trade and investment ties between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan, as well as expanding cooperation in transportation, tourism, information and communication technologies as part of the trilateral format of cooperation. If the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey have long developed a high degree of economic integration and confidence, then cooperation between Baku and Islamabad promises to intensify soon. In particular, the development of cooperation between small and medium-sized businesses, investment in the textile, pharmaceutical and energy sectors.
But the most important aspect is that the Azerbaijan-Turkey-Pakistan cooperation format can play an instrumental role in common Eurasian integration, economic and transport connection of continents, and the creation of communication corridors between East and West. Therefore, the trilateral format is attractive both economically and in terms of ensuring peace and security at the Eurasian crossroads. According to the Islamabad Declaration, the three countries attach great importance to efforts to promote peace, stability and development in their regions, and also "promote these ideals for common prosperity and security in the broader region."
Azerbaijan, as the leading state in South Caucasus, has a special mission in the troika, given the strategical position of the region at the intersection of West and East, North and South. By expanding cooperation with its closest allies, Azerbaijan builds up on its defense potential and establishes itself as one of the most attractive and influential integration hubs, a unique bridge between Europe and Asia.