Azerbaijan's Aliyev addresses parliament
During an official visit to Turkey at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev yesterday met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Afterwards, Erdogan and his wife Emine hosted a luncheon in honor of Aliyev and his wife Mihriban at the official Prime Ministry residence. Aliyev yesterday also addressed deputies in Parliament, with Erdogan, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, and opposition Nationalist Movement (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli among those in the audience. In his speech, Aliyev said Turkey's initiatives and the good will of countries of the region would help make peace in the region. Saying that this is his first foreign visit since being reelected last month, Aliyev added, "This shows how relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan are at the highest level." He called Turkish-Azerbaijani relations unique and exemplary to other countries. Stating that the two countries enjoy good political and economic ties, he said, "We have made great progress in energy with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project. We're realizing important energy projects in the region. We made the Shah Sea natural gas pipeline project a reality together with Turkey. Also, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum railway project will happen. Azerbaijan has made its first natural gas exports to Turkey. Many Azerbaijani businessmen are investing in Turkey." He also said that the railway, which was started by the Turkish, Azerbaijani and Georgian presidents in June, carries great historical, economic and political importance. Praising Turkey's efforts to restore peace and stability to the Caucasus, Aliyev said that those efforts would yield fruit. Touching on the Upper Karabakh issue, Aliyev urged Armenia to end its occupation of Azerbaijani territories in line with UN Security Council resolutions. Saying that the occupation has made nearly one million Azerbaijanis refugees, Aliyev expressed hope that a recent declaration signed by Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia would help restore peace to the region. "The declaration said that the Upper Karabakh issue should be solved in line with international law," he explained. "We want Armenia to halt its occupation of the region to allow our citizens to return to their homes, and to begin discussions of the status of Upper Karabakh."