ECONOMY

Turkey stresses importance of relations with Azerbaijan

's reiterated the strategic importance of between Turkey and at a reception Friday in the capital.

"Azerbaijan's happiness is our happiness and its sorrow is our sorrow," said , speaking at the opening ceremony.

The Azerbaijan Embassy held the event to mark its National Day, Armed Force's Day and the of Azerbaijan's Diplomatic Service.

Kasapoğlu underlined that bilateral relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan, two "sister countries", had rapidly developed since Azerbaijan gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

He described the two countries as leading political and commercial partners as per the late Azeri President Haydar Aliyev's motto 'One nation, two states'.

"It is one of the fundamental duties of all of us to increase this partnership, which is strengthened by the sincere friendship and the everlasting brotherhood of our peoples," Kasapoğlu said.

Congratulating Azerbaijan's National Day, Kasapoğlu added: "Turkey is Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan is Turkey."

Turkey's Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, Land Forces Commander Umit Dundar, Naval Forces Commander Adnan Özbal as well as ambassadors and diplomatic and military mission representatives in Ankara attended the reception.

- UPPER KARABAKH CONFLICT
Commenting on the Upper Karabakh conflict, Kasapoğlu said: "We hope the Upper Karabakh conflict will be resolved as soon as possible within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and in accordance with the rules of international law and the related UN decisions."

He reiterated that Turkey supports all efforts by Azerbaijan for the peaceful resolution of the problem.

Karabakh -- a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia -- broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with military support from neighboring Armenia, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.

Three UN Security Council resolutions and two UN General Assembly resolutions refer to Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.

The Armenian occupation led to the closing of the frontier with Turkey, which sides with Baku in the dispute.

- BROTHERLY COUNTRIES, STRATEGIC ALLIES
"Turkey has always stood by Azerbaijan," said Azerbaijan's Ambassador Khazar Ibrahim, underlining that Turkey was the first country to recognize Azerbaijan 100 years ago.

"Turkey and Azerbaijan are brotherly countries and strategic allies and will remain forever so," Ibrahim added.

Azerbaijani singer Elnur Huseynov performed local and foreign pieces at the event, which also featured Azerbaijani music and traditional cuisine.

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