Turkish Today`s Zaman publishes article on "Kudos to Azerbaijan, twice"

Turkish Today`s Zaman newspaper has published an article titled "Kudos to Azerbaijan, twice" by columnist Abdulhamit Bilici.
The article reads: "The mobilization of people across Turkey in response to the earthquake in Van and Erciş has revealed not only the depth of our sense of ourselves as a nation, it has also proven that the brotherhood of Anatolia, tested through the centuries, cannot be easily shaken despite all attempts to do so.
The relief efforts, ranging from the "My Home Is Your Home, Van" campaign launched by journalist Ahmet Tezcan to provide shelter for quake victims, to the initiatives undertaken by municipalities, schools, companies and organizations all across the country, have made for refreshing scenes, even though reflected in the disaster's mirror of sorrow.
As soon as the magnitude of the earthquake was known, the world also quickly responded. The Foreign Ministry told me that 28 countries and three international organizations offered to send aid to Turkey. This list included Germany, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, the US and Bulgaria as well as international organizations such as the EU, NATO and the United Nations. In return, Turkey thanked all of them, noting the aid they offered to send in case any need arises. Recently, Turkish authorities contacted these countries and organizations, asking them to send the most needed relief materials.
Among the countries offering to help Turkey, one stands out in two respects. First, this country sent aid materials before asking whether Turkey needed them or not. This noble-hearted country, which earned the titled of the first country to send aid to the quake site, was our sister country, Azerbaijan. Upon President Ilham Aliyev's instruction, Azerbaijan's Emergency Ministry sent two planes full of relief materials and 140 rescue workers to Turkey within just a few hours after the quake. The planes took off from Baku and landed at Van Airport the day of the quake. The first plane brought specially trained rescue dogs, and special tools for cutting, lifting, breaking and removing rubble. The other one contained two mobile field kitchens, 150 tents, 2,500 blankets and 750 sleeping bags. Another Azerbaijani plane arrived within 24 hours after the quake carrying other relief materials. Azerbaijani rescue workers worked day and night pulling victims from the rubble, and took 20-25 wounded victims to Baku for treatment. Essentially, this was what Haydar Aliyev's "One nation, two states" motto meant.
The second point, which makes this picture all the more meaningful for Turkish-Azerbaijani brotherhood, is the fact that in this year, the 20th anniversary of its independence, Azerbaijan has emerged as a strong country capable of swiftly helping other countries, even though its independence began with wars, occupation, internal chaos and economic troubles. In fact all of the Turkic republics, which are marking the 20th anniversary of their independence now, are carved in our memories as countries suffering under the great hardships of a system change, despite their huge underground and surface resources. This aid sent by Azerbaijan marks a turning point, as it is proof of the great progress our sister republics have made despite the difficulties they have encountered rebuilding not only their states but also their national identities. It has great importance in my eyes, at least. Until very recently, these countries have been in need of all manner of aid themselves, but now they are in a position to send aid to other countries.
Indeed, Azerbaijan has become the rising star of the Caucasus, even though 20 percent of its territory is under occupation, and it hosts more than 1 million refugees. Azerbaijan is responsible for 83 percent of the total economic activity in the South Caucasus. During the past eight years, its national income has tripled, its oil sector has doubled and its state budget income is nine times larger, in addition to which its self-financed investments have tripled, its foreign trade volume is 5.4 times greater and its strategic foreign exchange reserve is 19 times larger. It still has a great deal of progress to make, but it has jumped from the 101st to the 67th place on the UN Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI).
The Azerbaijani Week activities held in Turkey offered a good chance to get a glimpse of the new face of Azerbaijan. These activities were organized in Erzurum, Trabzon, Kars and Iğdır on Oct. 25-28, and allowed scholars and intellectuals from both countries to discuss bilateral relations, the ongoing Armenian occupation, Azerbaijani foreign policy and many other issues. Congratulations to Azerbaijan, both for its help with the Van earthquake relief effort and on the 20th anniversary of it independence."



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