Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey move to expand regional cooperation

April 18, 2011, Monday/ 17:21:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey have released a joint declaration which outlines cooperation in various fields, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has stated that these three countries will expand regional cooperation.

The declaration was issued in the Iranian city of Orumiyeh on Saturday following the first trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Saturday, April 16, 2011, turned out to be a very important day both in regards to Turkey’s relations with Iran and in regards to developments in Caucasia, Davutoğlu said, speaking to reporters following the meeting as he recalled that, also on Saturday, Turkey and Iran opened a new border crossing between Kapıköy in eastern Anatolia’s Van and Iran’s West Azerbaijan province.

In Orumiyeh, the three countries officially launched the process of trilateral meetings, Davutoğlu said. “This is an extremely important development in regards to many aspects. These three countries have a very deeply rooted historical past,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

“We have the intention to intensify cultural relations and increase mutual comings and goings. Additionally, we will carry out joint economic projects. We will expand fields of regional cooperation on the borders of the three countries,” he added.

The three countries -- from the Caspian to the Indian Ocean and from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean -- will work to unify their potential, he explained. Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan are at the same time Caucasian countries, he said, highlighting that the trilateral cooperation among them is important also within the context of Caucasia.

“We highlighted the understanding of joint work as a principle for enabling building peace, security and stability in the Caucasus,” Davutoğlu said. The trilateral meetings will be held every six months and the next meeting is planned to be held in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, in October.

Back in December, in İstanbul, a regional trilateral meeting was held between Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey on the sidelines of a Eurasian summit of 10 nations, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). At the time, they released a joint statement calling for intensified contact between countries in Eurasia, saying it will bring prosperity and stability to the diverse region.

In addition to illustrating Turkey’s growing influence, the economic summit -- gathering leaders from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian states together in İstanbul -- also offered an opportunity for Turkey to seek more support for its bid for the creation of a new and modernized Silk Road. Ankara believes that historical, economic and political relations, which were maintained within the region historically thanks to the Silk Road, can be revitalized via today’s railroads, highways and air links. Turkey is a traditional ally of Azerbaijan. Recently it has also developed close ties with Iran, actively making efforts to resolve tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

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