Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to conduct joint police operations and work together against what they described as “subversive activities,” according to a new protocol, a copy of which was obtained by Nordic Monitor.
The protocol paves the way for Turkey to deploy police to Azerbaijan under various schemes including supporting Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in the event he faces civil unrest or anti-government protests, which would certainly be deemed subversive activities.
The two countries have been ruled by authoritarian leaders for years, and both have poor human rights track records. In many cases legitimate opposition is quickly branded by the governments as subversive activity, prompting criminal or administrative action by the authorities.
The Turkish police, officially the Security General Directorate (Emniyet), is the main law enforcement agency in Turkey, with manpower of nearly 330,000. It is the most important instrument in the toolbox of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for jailing and intimidating opponents, critics and dissidents.
The Erdoğan government relies in particular on the Çevik Kuvvet (Riot Police), a specialized unit and nationwide police force of some 30,000 that is often used as a blunt force for cracking down on protests and rallies. The agreement allows the deployment of personnel from this branch of the police force to Azerbaijan as well.
The protocol, dated February 25, 2020, was signed by Mehmet Aktaş, the head of Turkey’s Emniyet, and Ali Nagiyev, chief of the Azerbaijani Security Service. It introduced several amendments to the Agreement on Security Cooperation, a framework that was signed by the two countries on November 13, 2013.
Text of the protocol that amended a security cooperation agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey:Azeri_Turkish_police_coop_agreement
The protocol was submitted to the Turkish parliament for approval on March 25, 2022, and it will most likely be adopted, with Erdoğan’s party and his allies controlling the votes and the agenda in the legislature.
The amendments also suggest that Aliyev wants to make sure that Erdoğan has his back in case he faces civil unrest or protests and can call for help if he needs it.
The two countries already have a military agreement in place, under which the Turkish army helped Azerbaijan defeat Armenia in a 44-day war in 2020. According to the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, Turkey also sent Syrian jihadists to Azerbaijan to fight in that war. “Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s assistance, used Syrian fighters during the six-week war, including on the frontline,” the UN stated. “The fighters appeared to be motivated primarily by private gain and in the case of death their relatives were reportedly promised financial compensation as well as Turkish nationality.”
Turkish president’s letter submitting the protocol to parliament for approval on March 23, 2022:Erdogan_letter_Parliament_Azeri_Turkish_deal
In June 2021 Erdoğan and Aliyev signed a new protocol called “The Shusha Declaration” on Azerbaijan’s national day, emphasizing the military cooperation between the two countries as well as Turkey’s commitment to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The most noteworthy clause of the declaration is undoubtedly the wording that refers to cooperation in the defense industry and mutual military assistance. According to the protocol, if a third state or states carry out attacks or threats against one of the two parties, the countries will jointly take appropriate initiatives and assist each other militarily for the purpose of preventing that threat or attack.
In 2018 leading Turkish defense contractor Aselsan signed an agreement with its Azerbaijani counterpart for the joint production of communications facilities. Similarly, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a cooperation protocol with the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (AMEA) in September 2018 to join efforts in the fields of defense and aviation.
The same year, the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) received a defense cooperation offer from Azerbaijan’s Ministry of the Defense Industry, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Moreover, Turkey’s Roketsan and Azerbaijani military-scientific enterprise Iglim have been working on developing a long-range missile system since 2009.