ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid an official visit to Istanbul, Turkey April 13 to take part in the 13th session of the Islamic Summit Conference. As part of the trip, he addressed the summit, held bilateral meetings with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Iyad bin Amin Madani, and issued a joint declaration with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on what they called Islamic rapprochement.
In his speech at the summit, Nazarbayev noted the 10-year action programme in response to the challenges of the Muslim Ummah in the 21st century comes to an end this year.
“The Muslim civilisation that gave the world a galaxy of brilliant thinkers, scholars and politicians must present new global competitive projects for development and develop the principles, directions and objectives of the comprehensive strategy ‘Ummah moving towards the 16th century [of the Muslim calendar],’” he said.
According to Nazarbayev, the main threats the Ummah currently faces come from internal strife and conflicts. Eleven OIC member states are going through protracted conflicts and civil wars and many parts of recently prosperous countries such as Libya and Syria are in ruins, he said. Iraq, too, is facing the consequences of war. The Islamic world is approaching the dangerous threat of a Sunni-Shiite split. The creation of opposing military blocks of Muslim countries is being floated.
Nazarbayev stressed that today, at least 15 OIC countries are experiencing the full onslaught of international terrorists. These are the main reasons for the flow of millions of refugees and migrants seeking a better life and protection around the world.
The world has many examples of Muslim countries where representatives of different religions and cultural traditions live in peace and harmony, Nazarbayev reminded pointing to the example of Kazakhstan where representatives of 17 religions and more than 100 ethnic groups make up a single peaceful and stable nation. He noted the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK) serves as a successfully developed national model of shared responsibility and support.
Nazarbayev called on the participants to always equate Islam with progress and made a number of framework proposals. He noted it is essential to begin work to implement the general agreement for trade, economic and technical cooperation among all OIC member states. In the future, a free trade zone must be created for all members, he stressed. In this regard, holding an OIC summit on science and technology in Astana next year was proposed.
In connection with the recent, frequent terrorist attacks in the world, the Kazakh leader said Islamic countries and the OIC should make an effort to ensure the international community realises that Islam is against terrorism. This is the most effective tool against Islamophobia, he added.
A number of Kazakhstan’s initiatives were supported and included in the summit’s final communique. The document called on all member states to continue work to finalise and adopt a comprehensive convention against terrorism, as well as take into account the country’s proposal to establish a global coalition against terrorism under the auspices of the UN.
The summit urged the OIC member states to support Kazakhstan’s bid for non-permanent membership on the UN Security Council for 2017-2018.
The session also welcomed the creation of the Islamic Organisation for Food Security (IOFS) as a new specialised body of the OIC. The new institution’s inaugural General Assembly session is scheduled to take place in Astana on April 28, it was earlier reported.
The Kazakh president also held a number of bilateral meetings with fellow leaders on the margins of Istanbul Summit.
With King Salman, Nazarbayev exchanged views on the current state and prospects of Kazakh-Saudi cooperation in trade, investment, scientific, technological, and cultural spheres. They also reviewed the most pressing issues on the international agenda and key measures to counteract terrorism and extremism globally, as well as ways to increase efficiency of the implementation of OIC summit’s decisions.
With Erdogan, Nazarbayev discussed issues of strengthening Kazakh-Turkish cooperation in the trade and economic, investment, agricultural, cultural and humanitarian spheres. The sides noted the presence of promising joint projects in these directions and stressed that their implementation may include representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises from both countries.
The two heads of state also exchanged views on topical issues on the international agenda, as well as efforts in the fight against terrorism and extremism. Nazarbayev once again expressed sympathies to Erdogan in connection with the March terrorist attack in Ankara.
Following the talks, the Presidents adopted a joint declaration on Islamic rapprochement, which reiterated their commitment to the principles of international peace, security and developing friendly relations between Kazakhstan and Turkey. Moreover, Nazarbayev and Erdogan called on the OIC member countries to devise a new paradigm of relations in the Islamic world by demonstrating goodwill and a constructive approach to the issues of interstate relations and settling conflicts and disputes.
The document proposed giving the OIC a role in advancing the process of Islamic rapprochement and requested the organisation’s General Secretariat to complete a thorough analysis of the situation and advance proposals to achieve the initiative’s objectives.
Nazarbayev and OIC Secretary General Madani discussed the major issues of the international agenda and the possibility of the OIC member states’ participation in eradicating Islamophobia and opposition to manifestations of terrorism around the world.
“Kazakhstan joins all the decisions which are planned to be adopted in the framework of the Islamic Summit Conference. In our joint appeal with Erdogan, we called on the Islamic world to unite. I express my appreciation for the inclusion of its provisions in the outcome documents of the summit,” said Nazarbayev in his speech at the summit.
Madani noted Nazarbayev’s participation in the event enhanced its significance.
“Your initiatives are important for the rapprochement of the Islamic world. They create opportunities for further progress. We need to work on its subsequent implementation,” he said.
Nazarbayev also met with Turkey’s 11th President, Abdullah Gül, to discuss key directions of bilateral cooperation between the countries, as well as the most pressing issues on the international agenda, the Akorda’s press service reported.
More than 25 heads of major Turkish companies, including Acibadem, Akfel Holding, Aselsan Electronic, Turkuaz Group, Ulker Group, Yildirim Group and Yildiz Holding, attended the session. The participants exchanged views on the possibilities of implementing joint projects in various fields of cooperation, thanking Nazarbayev for creating favourable conditions in Kazakhstan for international investors.
The Kazakh President noted more than 1,600 companies in the country operate with the participation of the Turkish capital, adding that approximately 15,000 Turkish citizens live in the country.
“In spite of certain difficulties, mutual trade between our countries exceeds $2 billion. Based on the agreements reached with President Erdogan, we need to increase this indicator up to $10 billion. Over the last decade, the volume of Turkish business investment exceeded $2 billion. Last year, out of ten foreign companies actively investing in Kazakhstan, three were Turkish. For example, at the moment 91 joint projects of Kazakhstan and Turkey totalling about $3 billion are being realised,” he said.
The President spoke about the enormous opportunities that Kazakhstan offers as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and as China’s neighbour. He added the five institutional reforms and Nurly Zhol state programme are being implemented in the country in order to create positive conditions for investors.
Nazarbayev also invited the Turkish companies to take part in the upcoming international specialised exhibition EXPO 2017 to be held in the Kazakh capital.