ANKARA: Azerbaijani Public Angry With The Removal Of Turkish Flags I


Today’s Zaman
Oct 19 2009

Authorities in Azerbaijan took down Turkish flags situated around
monuments commemorating Turkish soldiers who died in battle on
Thursday amid concerns over Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s
remarks slamming cheap gas prices for Turkey.

"Which country would sell their natural resources at 30 percent of
international prices?" asked Aliyev during his meeting with Cabinet
members on Saturday. Stressing that Azerbaijan is ready to export
its natural gas resources to Europe, Aliyev claims that for the
past two years Azerbaijan has been unable to export its natural
gas to Europe because transit issues between Azerbaijan and Turkey
are still unresolved. "The lack of a resolution with Turkey on the
issue of gas transit is hindering the full-scale transportation of
Azerbaijani gas to Europe," Aliyev told Cabinet members. "The step
taken by the authorities is directed not against the government,
but rather the whole Turkish state," the statement reads.

Meanwhile, Turkish flags around the monument of 1,130 Turkish soldiers
who died while fighting for Azerbaijan’s independence in 1918 were
taken down by the mayor of Baku’s Sabayıl district on Oct. 15.

Azerbaijani authorities, however, dismissed the notion that the act
was part of a campaign; rather it was done due to a law on the flags
of foreign countries and international organizations.

The Azerbaijani opposition’s moves to protest the action has been
swift. Azerbaijan’s main opposition party, the Equality Party,
prepared a statement in which it expressed its discontent over the
Turkish flag having disappeared from the memorial to Turkish soldiers
who died in the 1918 Baku liberation battle.

"The step by the authorities is directed not against Ankara, but
rather the whole Turkish state," the statement reads. "The current
tension between two countries provides no basis for the authorities
to make such a rude political mistake," the statement continues.

Observers argue that the removal of Turkish flags in Baku is a response
to the ban on Azerbaijani flags during the Turkey-Armenia World Cup
Qualifying match on Oct. 14 in Bursa.

Following the incident, the Turkish Foreign Ministry called for a
meeting with Azerbaijani Ambassador Zakir Hashimov for political
consultations. The details of this meeting have not yet made public.

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