Skip to main content

Turkey-Azerbaijan relations still strong

Although Azerbaijan is warming its relations with Russia and Iran, Ankara still remains the most pivotal ally for Baku.
Oil worker Namik Aliyev stands next to a billboard of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (L) and his father late President Haidar Aliyev, as he waits for a helicopter on the island of Chilov in the Caspian Sea, about 70 km (44 miles) east of Baku, January 23, 2013. Aliyev, 32, like the country of Azerbaijan itself, has oil in his blood. His father and grandfather both worked in oil production, an industry which dates back to the 19th century in Azerbaijan and contributes more than half of the country's gro

When Turkey decided to launch an initiative to normalize its relations with Armenia in May 2009, Azerbaijan perceived it as a betrayal by the Turkish-Azeri alliance and their brotherly relations based on sharing the same ethnic background. The Azeri officials still insist to this day that Turkey did not inform them about that initiative in advance, and that they learned it from the media like everyone else. That caused a significant turmoil in Azeri confidence in Turkey. Ankara was perceived as acting solely on its own national interests, trading off the territories in mountainous Karabakh that have been occupied by Armenia since 1991. And this perception of Turkey really struck a sensitive nerve in the Azeri society.

Perhaps these two countries won’t ever trust each other as they did prior to this incident, but, nevertheless, it has also become clear that no crisis between Turkey and Azerbaijan can leave a permanent scar in this pivotal relationship. Although the Turkey-Armenia normalization efforts are long gone, technically speaking, Ankara did not actually cause any harm to Azerbaijan in the end. What’s noteworthy is that Azerbaijan started to pay more attention to balancing and improving its relationships with its powerful neighbors like Russia and Iran. It’s as if the Azeri government is trying to implement Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s failed attempt for Turkey's “having zero problems with neighbors” policy.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.