Turkey’s President Erdogan makes the call at his ECO summit address, urging the Asian and Caucasus regional leaders to improve relations with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for regional economic prosperity.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the 14th Economic Cooperation Organisation in live connection with the Leaders Summit.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the 14th Economic Cooperation Organisation in live connection with the Leaders Summit. (AA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged members of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) to improve relations with Northern Cyprus and support the Turkish Cypriots against the injustices they face.

The island of Cyprus has been divided into the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the north and the Greek Cypriot administration in the south since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.

During the ECO Leaders Summit, he highlighted the significance of strong regional, global cooperation amid pandemic, saying “mandatory restrictive measures” were “undoubtedly accurate” for joint trade relations.

The summit was virtually held with the participation of leaders from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

ECO is a political and economic intergovernmental organisation founded in 1985 in Tehran by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey with a goal of sustainable economic development of member states, and the region as a whole. 

Afghanistan and former Soviet republics also joined the organisation in 1992, forming one of the biggest regional blocs in Asia and beyond.

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Regional economic prosperity and stability

On sanctions against Iran, Erdogan said the end of the unilateral sanctions will contribute to the economic prosperity and stability of the region.

During his term, former US President Donald Trump embarked on what he called a "maximum pressure" campaign that included unilaterally withdrawing the US from the 2015 nuclear deal world powers struck with Iran, and imposing biting economic sanctions that have hobbled the Iranian economy.

In retaliation for the US move to reimpose sanctions, Tehran has taken successive steps away from its agreements under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that it maintains are reversible, but vows it will not take such action until Washington lifts the sanctions imposed during the Trump administration.

Underlining the importance of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Erdogan said Turkey supports this initiative on a "win-win" basis.

China’s BRI is an ambitious program to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors for improving regional integration, boosting trade, and stimulating economic growth.

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Reiterates support for Azerbaijan

Regarding recent developments in the region, Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan.

"From now on, our priority is to help establish security and stability in Karabakh to eliminate the damage of the 30-year occupation together,” Erdogan said.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on September 27 last year, Armenia launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, and even violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the six week-conflict, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce, Azerbaijan liberated several strategic cities and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages from Armenian occupation. 

The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

Before the recent conflict, about 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory had been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.

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Source: AA