President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was to visit Azerbaijan Tuesday, on March 15. It was anticipated that in Baku, the Turkish leader would urge his Azerbaijani opposite number to speed up the implementation of the Trans Anatolian gas pipeline project (TANAP). The project will ensure gas supplies to Turkey and Europe from the Shah Deniz-2 and other southern gas fields of the Caspian Sea.
Earlier, the Turkish president planned to visit Baku on February 17 to attend the high-level meeting of the Turkey-Azerbaijan Strategic Cooperation Council. However, his visit was canceled, as car bomb killed 28 and wounded 68 in Istanbul on that day. Kurdistan Freedom Falcons TAK affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the terror attack. Later, Erdoğan told reporters that the terror attack killed more than 20 high-ranking military officers. However, the Turkish leader did not specify the ranks and names of the killed.
Now, on the eve of Erdoğan’s visit to Azerbaijan, a new large-scale terror attack shattered Turkey. A car bomb exploded in the center of Ankara on March 13 killing 37 and wounding 125 people. Experts in Azerbaijan say the terror attacks on the eve of Erdoğan’s visits to Baku is an attempt by some forces to break the Turkish leader’s trips to Azerbaijan.
Although Turkish officials said the visit of the president would not be cancelled, things went wrong. The president of Azerbaijan phone called with his Turkish counterpart and suggested a meeting in Ankara. Erdoğan welcomed the idea calling it confirmation of the fraternal relations of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Commenting on the upcoming Turkish-Azerbaijani high-level meeting, the political analyst Elhan Shainoglu told EADaily that Erdogan-Aliyev meeting should mark the beginning of an important period in the bilateral relations. “First, in the current heavy economic situation, Azerbaijan needs Turkey’s investments. It is necessary to spark the interests of big Turkish companies and holdings so that they start investing in our country, since Azerbaijan’s falls short of expectations from Arab countries. Second, Erdogan does care for Baku’s stand on Syria. Ankara hopes Baku will keep neutral and do not help Moscow or Tehran,” he said.
He said that Erdogan will probably voice the “pressing issue” of visas. “Ankara anticipates sooner solution to the issue. Otherwise, Turkey will soon have to cancel the visa – free arrangements with Azerbaijan. In June, the European Union may lift the visa requirements for the citizens of Turkey and demand Ankara to introduce visas for the non-EU countries,” the political analyst said. This may become a serious problem with Azerbaijan, he said for conclusion.