The Sixth Summit of the Heads of Turkic Speaking States, held in Cholpon-Ata Sept. 3, should be considered one of the most significant events of this year. The success of the meeting is of strategic importance for strengthening Turkic integration and establishing good-neighbourly relations in Eurasia.
The summit showed how relevant and timely regional cooperation is. The decisions taken at the meeting of the heads of the Turkic speaking states will serve as a strong link in inter-regional cooperation. Over the past decade, Central Asian countries have often acted independently in the economic arena, losing out on the benefits of possible multilateral cooperation. Now the situation is changing for the better.
“One of the key results of the sixth summit was the adoption of the Concept of the Integration of Turkic States, developed by Kazakh scholars under the leadership of the International Turkic Academy,” said Ruslan Izimov, an expert at the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP) under the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The concept will open a new page in strengthening cooperation of all countries of the Turkic world. The document presents a detailed action plan for expanding mutual relations in various fields.
For the success of the summit, our country has done a lot of preparatory work. Kazakhstan has chaired the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTS) for three years since the fifth summit in Astana. This year, the chairmanship was passed to Kyrgyzstan. During that period, the Kazakh side has done a lot.
The political environment was favourable for expanding cooperation. Relations between the Turkic speaking states of Central Asia have significantly improved. Over the past two years, most of the deep-rooted problems in Uzbekistan’s relations with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have been resolved.
Even before the beginning of the summit, the heads of the five Central Asian republics launched the format of consultative meetings. The first one was held in Astana. The new format envisages the creation of conditions for in-depth cooperation in the economy, energy, transport, cultural and humanitarian areas. Following the results of the Astana meeting, the participants agreed to strengthen cooperation.
A great deal of work has been done to prepare a textbook of common Turkic history. The main role in this regard was played by the International Turkic Academy, which, in close connection with other participants from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, carried out a number of practical steps towards strengthening Turkic integration. The book was written and translated into the languages of the CCTS states. It was assumed that it would be used in all four countries: Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Kyrgyzstan. Now, with the desire of Uzbekistan to join the council, the issue of using the textbook in five countries is likely to arise. At the same time, the Turkic Academy is preparing two more similar projects on geography and literature.
Since the signing of the Nakhchivan Agreement in 2009, which provides for the establishment of the CCTS, the participants managed to implement a number of important initiatives. During this time, practically in all CCTS states, a number of influential international organisations have been established being responsible for implementation and strengthening of Turkic integration.
For the first time since the establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, it became possible to extend the list of its participants by including Uzbekistan. The leadership of this country demonstrates its intention to actively participate in multilateral associations, especially those relating to regional cooperation.
Hungary, represented at the talks in Issyk-Kul by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, gained observer status at the council.
An increase in the attention of Turkey to the integration processes in Eurasia may be considered significant. It is not a secret that in recent years Ankara’s main focus in foreign policy has been on building a constructive dialogue with the United States. However, Washington began to pursue a contradictory policy towards Turkey, forcing Ankara to significantly change its foreign policy approach. After the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, supporters of deepening Turkic integration of Ankara received a large number of power levers. In particular, the Nationalist Movement Party (NMP), together with the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP), won the parliamentary majority. All these factors objectively contribute to increasing the importance of the Turkic vector of Turkey’s foreign policy.
New opportunities were opened for Turkic integration after the sixth summit. The resumption of the summits in the CCTS format after a two-year break will strengthen the multilateral dialogue of the countries of Central Asia with other Turkic speaking states – Azerbaijan and Turkey. The Turkic states, even without common borders, have a great potential for cooperation in trade, transport projects, energy, as well as in the cultural and humanitarian area.
The Turkic speaking states may play a special role in establishing intra-continental transit and transport corridors. Numerous transport ties between the regions of Asia and Europe are gradually expanding and being modified. It is worth noting that such important initiatives as Belt and Road, TRACECA and others play an important role in the diversification of routes connecting countries, cities and regions. In this context, it is important to emphasise the role of the Turkic speaking states that are able to provide the fastest and most stable route from China to Europe. It is also important to emphasise here that the recent progress in the solution of the Caspian issue, including the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, opens up huge opportunities for a significant increase in the volume of cargo traffic. The port infrastructure on the Caspian coast is completely ready.
In this regard, it is important to note that the CCTS participants are striving not only to intensify cooperation within the Turkic speaking states, but also aim to establish and strengthen multilateral friendly and partner relations with key neighbouring countries, primarily with Russia, China, Iran and others.
This gives grounds to believe that, after the sixth CCTS summit, the member states will gain new momentum and dynamics in their development.
The author is an analyst with Kazakhstanskaya Pravda.