Azerbaijan and Turkey: Siamese twins

(To Andrea Gaspardo)

During the 90s, the then president-master of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, in describing the 360-degree relations between his country and Turkey, coined for the first time the effective phrase, which has now become an authentic " leitmotiv "of the geopolitics and popular culture of the two countries:" One Nation, Two States "(" Bir millət, iki dövlət "in Azerbaijani language and" Bir millet, iki devlet "in Turkish).

Thirty years after Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union, it is now virtually impossible to deny the truth of the facts, even for those who prefer to adopt the "ostrich" mode of existence, that is, hiding their heads in the ground and thinking that the best the way to solve problems is to “pretend they don't exist”.

Categorically denying both those who believe that Moscow still holds the levers of power in the South Caucasus as well as those who believe that Western, particularly European, investments in the oil sector have progressively brought Azerbaijan closer to Europe and the West, is in fact, Turkey has finally reaped the fruits of a patient strategy of thirty years of penetration during which it has even shown itself to be sufficiently shrewd to divert the international projects aimed at Azerbaijan for its own personal use and consumption, and, apparently, the " better ”has yet to happen!

With the announcement dated February 24, 2021, during which he anticipated that the government of his country is willing to invest well 20 billion dollars in joint projects on the territory of the "Anatolian big brother", the spokesman for the Presidency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Hikmet Hajiyev, formally marked the triumph of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's strategy.

Even in the midst of two very serious crises (the health one due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic one due to the explosion of the "post-dated check bubble", already extensively described in the past), the president-sultan decided to aim upwards as in a game at the casino table and unscrupulously used the geopolitical card by supporting without himself and without but his partner in Baku on the occasion of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, between on 27 September and 10 November 2020.

The result of the conflict, which exceeded all the wildest expectations of the two dictators of Ankara and Baku, allowed Aliyev to raise the reputation of his family government and gave him unprecedented popular support. In exchange he dutifully returned the favor and, as a rich and grateful vassal, pumped money into the exhausted coffers of the Turkish state, allowing Erdoğan to breathe a sigh of relief and look to the future with renewed optimism.

The triumphal predictions of those who believed that 2020 would mark Turkey's definitive economic collapse, with the national currency on the verge of exploding into yet another hyperinflation, will once again seem unfounded and the possibility that Erdoğan will be able to celebrate the 100th anniversary years since the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 2023 are becoming more concrete day by day, also given the total absence of an opposition worthy of the name.

The events of 2020 in Nagorno-Karabakh then demonstrated the goodness of Ankara's strategic choices and its reliability for its allies and elective lackeys (it should be noted that, in this whole, the author of this analysis has canceled by default the so-called "NATO allies", towards which Turkey is adopting a more ambiguous day by day attitude, not to say hostile!). In fact, in 2010, at the instigation of their respective governments, the National Assembly of Azerbaijan and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey approved the so-called "Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Support" (in English, "Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Support ”, In Azerbaijani language,“ Strateji Əməkdaşlıq Sazişi ”, in Turkish language“ Stratejik İşbirliği Antlaşması ”). Under the terms of the treaty, the contractors pledged to “support each other in every possible way in the event of a military attack or aggression directed against either country”. This agreement was initially supposed to expire in August 2020 but was subsequently renewed until 2030, being "tested" in the best possible way during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, and it does not matter if in this case the aggressor's part was covered precisely from Azerbaijan.

Thanks to the unconditional support given to the “Azerbaijani brothers”, Erdoğan has earned the perennial gratitude of Baku and, from now on, it will be very difficult to untie him from there. Moreover, the two countries are already firmly linked on several levels. Even if, from an accounting point of view, and given the differences in size, Azerbaijan is not among the ten main economic partners of Turkey either on the export side or on the import side, the converse is not true; in fact Ankara is Baku's second commercial partner both in terms of exports and imports. In fact, Turkey absorbs 9,27% ​​of exports and supplies 13,1% of Azerbaijan's imports. At the moment, only Italy and Russia occupy the most important positions, respectively on the export and import side (Italy absorbs 30,1% of exports and Russia supplies 15,8% of import) but both Ankara and Baku have announced that, between now and 2030 and with the new economic-strategic relations, Turkey will become the main economic actor in the "Caspian satrapy".

But be careful! As history shows, when a country becomes at the same time the main supplier of raw materials and the most important outlet market for the products of another country, then it expires at the "colony" level. If Turkey were to truly become Azerbaijan's first economic partner on both the export and import sides, then in this future, not even so hypothetical, Baku would have no way to oppose Ankara's "wishes" by remaining tight to it he gives a relationship that would recall that of Mussolini's Italy with Hitler's Third Reich.

Mutual economic dependence (or rather: Azerbaijan's economic dependence) is further accentuated by the large infrastructural programs that have linked the two countries closely for years such as: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) oil pipeline, the trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) and the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku (KTB) railway line and others still being defined. However, it seems that this scenario does not displease the Azeris at all, who are firmly linked to their "big Anatolian brother" also by social ties. In fact, thousands of Azerbaijani and Turkish students study every year in schools or universities in their respective opposite countries, also feeding an already large community of expats which, in the case of Azerbaijan, sees the presence of no less than 200.000 Turks of each origin (not only from the Republic of Turkey but also from the Turkish diaspora residing in the West!), and in that of Turkey as many as 3.000.000 resident and partly nationalized Azeris.

The personal, family, work and cultural relationships that this tide of people tighten contribute to bringing the two peoples closer together. Not only that, Turkish soap operas and Azerbaijani hip-hop music have found an enthusiastic welcome in their respective national markets, and it would hardly have been otherwise, given the very high degree of mutual intelligibility existing between the Turkish and Azerbaijani languages, both belonging to the same family of languages ​​and influenced each other until less than 100 years ago. However, the sector where the two countries have managed to create the greatest synergies is undoubtedly the military one; and even if Turkey started at a disadvantage here, it has managed to recover the ground greatly in the last few years.

Despite the fact that the arms diversification policy has resulted in Azerbaijan sourcing from over twenty different customers, according to data from both the country's Defense Ministry and SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), in five-year period 2014-2018, Russia supplied 51% of Azerbaijan's arsenals, Israel supplied 43% while Turkey came only in third place, light years away from the first two. Subsequently, Israel even managed to overtake Russia thanks to Azerbaijani's massive purchases of Israeli drones (Israeli drones are characterized by a high tech content, and this explains their exorbitant prices) but Turkey still lagged dramatically behind.

This state of affairs radically changed when, in 2019, Baku signed a very secret $ 200 million contract for the supply of state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems, among which KORAL, and new types of UAVs, including which the Bayraktar tb2 who turned out to be the real "star" of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. It was in fact mainly thanks to the joint use of electronic warfare systems and UAVs Bayraktar tb2 (the latter armed with UMTAS anti-tank missiles and MAM-L and MAM-C precision bombs) that the Azeris managed to unhinge the Armenian anti-aircraft defenses, creating that rift in the defensive perimeter in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) which then allowed the Baku armed forces to fully deploy their panoply of arsenals which ultimately allowed them to prevail during the aforementioned conflict.

The Azeris were so pleased with the performance of the Turkish drones that, with the corpses of Armenia and Artsakh still hot, they rushed to enter into negotiations for the purchase of additional batches of drones, to open assembly lines in Azerbaijan. in order to launch licensed production and also offered to join Turkish drone development programs as co-financiers.

In addition to the field of drones and electronic warfare systems, other areas in which the two countries have collaborated are those of infantry weapons, armored vehicles (such as the Otokar Cobra) or multiple heavy rocket systems (such as the T-122 Sakarya and the TRG-300 Kasirga).

Today, Turkey has become Azerbaijan's second largest arms supplier after Israel, but if current trends are respected over the course of this decade, the "Jewish State" will also eventually be ousted and Baku will become a full vassal of Ankara even at the level. military.

The fact that Turkey is working hard to open a military base in the territory of the Naxçıvan exclave and no less than 5 in the territory of Azerbaijan proper (including close to all major Azerbaijani air bases) speaks volumes about the fact. that, if today we cannot properly speak of "Anchluss", it is by no means certain that in a few years the conditions will mature so that the absorption of Azerbaijan by Turkey will only become a "formal" act.

Photo: presidency of the republic of Turkey / web / rocketsan