From the first days of independence, Kazakhstan has held an open and balanced foreign policy. The country established friendly relations with many countries of the world. Turkey has a special place in these relationships.
An important factor of deepening friendly relations between the peoples of Kazakhstan and Turkey is a constructive interstate collaboration. The two countries understand and appreciate each other’s success. There are no unsolvable problems between Kazakhstan and Turkey. The Republic of Turkey recognises the leading role of our country in Central Asia and considers Kazakhstan as a priority partner in the region. The state visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Kazakhstan on April 16-17 will contribute to further development of bilateral relations in all areas of strategic cooperation.
The country located at the crossroads of East and West, Turkey, is always ready to support the initiatives of another country located in the heart of Eurasia, Kazakhstan, because we have common roots and a common worldview. Our common grounds and mutual support on many political issues are reflected in the interaction within the framework of international and regional organisations, such as the UN, OSCE, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation, the OIC, CICA, the Turkic Council and TURKSOY.
The Turkic Council clearly states the importance of common Turkic integration processes. Turkey, as well as Kazakhstan, is an active supporter of this idea. Several meetings of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, better known as the Turkic Council, were held on Turkish territory.
Historic decisions have been made by the meetings among leaders of these countries, including the creation and successful work of the Secretariat of the Turkic Council, Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Elders and Turkic Academy based in Astana.
The spectrum of interaction between Kazakhstan and Turkey in bilateral and multilateral formats is very wide. It should be noted that the current level of strategic partnership is largely achieved due to the contacts at the highest level. As it is known, the intensity of mutual visits at the highest levels can serve as an indicator of bilateral relations. The dynamics of visits between Kazakhstan and Turkey demonstrate close cooperation. Only in 2014, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid working visits to Turkey two times. During the first visit, he participated in the summit of the Turkic Council; during the second visit, Nazarbayev took part in the inauguration ceremony of President Erdogan.
The April 16-17 visit of the Turkish leader to Kazakhstan is to provide an opportunity to evaluate the 24-year strategic partnership. Many projects in many spheres were realised over the past years. Mutual ties in the spheres of trade and economy, culture and humanitarian sphere are developing steadily. At the moment, there are more than 1,400 Turkish firms and companies operating in Kazakhstan. Trade turnover between the two countries has reached $3.29 billion. However, there is a potential that can increase these numbers.
The New Synergy Programme, developed under the patronage of the Presidents of Kazakhstan and Turkey, is a fundamentally new concept on trade and economic cooperation and is aimed at increasing mutual trade turnover to $10 billion by 2015.
In 2013-2014, the Turkish provinces of Sakarya, Kocaeli, Izmir, Izmit, Eskisehir, Nevsehir, Trabzon, Rize, Istanbul, Nide, Samsun, Konya, Giresun, Malatya, Manisa and Denizli successfully hosted regional business forums with the participation of Kazakh entrepreneurs. During the same time period, the visits of Turkish business delegations were held in different regions of Kazakhstan.
A large Turkish capital has found its niche in our country. The construction industry, pharmaceutics and medicine and soft drinks are not the only areas in which Turkish businessmen showed their professionalism. Turkey has a long and successful experience in the establishment of organised industrial zones that serve as the locomotive of development of industry and the economy as a whole. The Kazakh side is interested in the study and application of this experience. The opening of joint industrial zones in Kazakhstan with the participation of the Turkish capital gives an additional opportunity to Turkish businesses to systematically enter the domestic market and improve the investment climate in our country.
Successful development of Kazakh-Turkish cooperation is continued in the cultural-humanitarian sphere. The most advanced project in the field of education has become the Khodja Ahmed Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University in Turkestan. Presently, this university is a modern higher educational institution with a solid methodological and experimental base. Education of Kazakh students and graduates in Turkey’s higher educational institutions is also continuing.
In turn, 28 Kazakh-Turkish high schools with more than 5,000 students successfully operate in Kazakhstan.There is also the private University of Suleyman Demirel opened in 1998. Many Kazakh scientists and experts teach a variety of technical and humanities disciplines in Turkish universities. Over the recent years, in the framework of the experience exchange programme between specialists of the two countries over 300 teachers, including more than 200 representatives of law enforcement agencies and more than 150 representatives of health care were trained.
On the initiative and support of the Kazakh Embassy in Turkey, two books of Kazakh classic literature, “The Book of Words” of Abai Kunanbayev and poems of Mukagali Makatayev,were translated into Turkish and published.
On the initiative of the Turkish side, a number of monuments devoted to Kazakh leaders such as Abai, Abylai Khan, Magzhan Zhumabayev, Mukhtar Auezov and Kabanbai Batyr, as well as the monument to the first President of Kazakhstan, were opened in Turkey. There are also central streets named Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kazakhstan in the cities of Kırşehir and Nevşehir.
In turn, Kazakhstan opened the majestic monument to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the bank of the Ishim River. The Turkish community expressed enthusiasm, considering this event as a tribute and a sign of confidence in their country.
In the framework of the first visit, President Erdogan will visit Astana and Turkestan. Astana will host the second meeting of the Strategic Cooperation Council with the participation the two presidents. The Kazakh-Turkish business forum will also be held there, which aims to expand and deepen economic cooperation.
In Turkestan, the Turkish President will attend the opening of the major cultural and educational facilities, including the mosque, the foundation of which started about 15 years ago.
In general, the visit and all of these examples of mutual cooperation benefit the brotherly countries and peoples. Bilateral relations have not just reached the level of a strategic partnership, but have all the prerequisites to serve as an example.
The author is the ambassador of Kazakhstan to Turkey.