Erdoğan-linked companies benefit from Azerbaijan’s victory against Armenia

Turkish companies close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have won multimillion-dollar contracts from Azerbaijan after Ankara’s critical military support to Baku in last year’s conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Several construction, mining, and energy firms from Turkey will be participating in the reconstruction of newly-acquired Azeri territories, Eurasianet news website reported on Thursday.

The most significant among them is Shusha, a historic centre for culture for both Azeris and Armenians. In February, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev vowed to make Shusha into a global cultural hub, before awarding the bid for a master plan for the city to British company Chapman Taylor, Eurasianet said in a separate report.

Aliyev has made comments inviting what he called friendly countries to take on projects, which have received criticism for a lack of transparency in how the bids were awarded, it said.

Announcing the first contracts signed with Turkish companies in December, Aliyev had said awarding them in this manner was “natural”, according to Azeri newspaper Sherg.

In February, Aliyev visited the Turkish capital where 11 contracts were signed between Azerbaijan and Turkish companies, Eurasianet said. “We are very pleased to see our Turkish brothers in the restoration projects,” Azeri Prime Minister Ali Asadov said at the time.

In May, Eti Bakır, a precious metals company owned by close Erdoğan ally Mehmet Cengiz, won a contract for exploration and exploitation of the Gashgacai mining field in Kalbajar, another area Azerbaijan recently took control of. Contracts for two more mining fields, Elbeidash and Agduzdag, went to Cengiz Holding and another ally of the Turkish president, Kalyon Group.

The main road leading into Shusha is currently being constructed in part by two more allies, Kolin Construction and Özgün Construction.

The recent boon continues in mainland Azerbaijan as well, with Demirören Holding undertaking the management of Azerbaijan’s national lottery. Demirören, another conglomerate friendly with Erdoğan, has investments in energy, industry, real estate and tourism sectors, while also controlling one of Turkey’s most prominent media groups.

Despite criticism, the recent partnerships have also received support from the Azeri community. “May God bless the Turks, they deserve even more than this,” Eurasianet cited economist Gubad Ibadodlu as saying.

In September, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive against pro-Armenia forces in the enclave of Nagorno- Karabakh, regaining control of much of the territory that it had lost in the first war between the two sides in the 1990s. A ceasefire was signed in November.

Turkey provided Azerbaijan significant military support during the clashes, including armed drones credited with giving Azeri forces the decisive edge over their Armenian counterparts.