BAKU/JUNE 15 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed off the influence he has built up in the region by visiting a town captured by Azerbaijan in a war against Armenia last year and by hosting Kyrgyz Pres. Sadyr Japarov for only his second visit to a foreign leader outside Central Asia since grabbing power in October.
With Azerbaijani Pres. Ilham Aliyev by his side Mr Erdogan toured Shusha, Azerbaijan’s biggest trophy from its victory over Armenia for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, in what some analysts described as a victory lap.
Turkey helped Azerbaijan in the war, supplying drones and military advisers. In return, it now has a permanent military presence in Azerbaijan and can count on Baku’s staunch loyalty.
“We call on everyone, who has an influence on the region, to see the facts, acknowledge the Azerbaijani people’s victory and look to the future,” Mr Erdogan said after signing the ‘Shusha Declaration’ with Mr Aliyev. Armenia criticised his visit to Shusha as provocative.
On June 9, Mr Japarov, the Kyrgyz president, had flown to Ankara to meet with Mr Erdogan. Other than two meetings with Russia’s Pres. Vladimir Putin, this was his first trip outside Central Asia since taking power last year. At their meeting, the two leaders talked up relations and the threat from Gulenists, followers of an exiled cleric that Mr Erdogan blames for a failed coup in 2016.
There was no mention, though, of Orhan Inandi, a Kyrgyz-Turkish Gulenist businessman and educator who disappeared in Bishkek in May. His wife has said that Turkish security forces abducted him and are holding him in the Turkish embassy in Bishkek.
— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021
— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021