BAKU, Azerbaijan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday wished success to the Turkish Armed Forces personnel who are stationed in Azerbaijan.

He delivered his message by phone as a high-level Turkish delegation headed by National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited the capital Baku.

“Dear members of our Turkish Armed Forces, dear heroes of the Azerbaijani army, I greet you all with my heartfelt feelings,” said Erdogan, at a ceremony held for personnel of the Azerbaijani and Turkish forces who will serve at a center jointly run by Turkey and Russia.

“You have achieved an epic victory in 44 days under the leadership of my brother Ilham Aliyev, the president of dear Azerbaijan. This victory made us as happy and proud as our Azerbaijani brothers,” he said.

“Brother Azerbaijan welcomed the Turkish Armed Forces with tears of joy, with prayers and with the same excitement on Dec. 10 as they had welcomed the Caucasian Islamic Army,” Erdogan said.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade-long occupation.

Erdogan, who wished God’s mercy to the heroes who were martyred in Operation One Homeland, one of the most important military and political developments in recent history, recalled the unity and togetherness that was revealed in the liberation of Baku from occupation 102 years ago.

‘Two states, one nation’

The Turkish president said they share a deep connection with the people of Azerbaijan as they are “two states, one nation”. Therefore, he said, they share their joys and sorrows.

“I wish success to our esteemed soldiers who will serve in the region to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I want the center to be operational as soon as possible.

“I advise the Armenian forces, who are engaged in behavior that could violate the cease-fire, to rectify this mistake as soon as possible to avoid a confrontation.”

He praised the valor of Turkish soldiers.

“A Turkish soldier in the line of duty fights thinking he will either be a martyr or return a veteran.

“From Syria to Libya, Somalia to Kosovo, Afghanistan to Qatar, I wish success to all our soldiers who are fighting for peace, tranquility, and stability in many places. May God help them. I once again offer my most heartfelt greetings to our esteemed soldiers in Azerbaijan and congratulate you on your new year.”

Earlier in the day, the Turkish delegation was received by Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov at the Heydar Aliyev Airport.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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