Kazakhstan, Turkey: 30 Years of Strong Friendship

NUR-SULTAN – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s visit to Turkey on May 10-11 has been his first visit since he assumed the presidency in 2019. The visit was more than just a formal commitment to the enhanced strategic partnership, but a testament to 30 years of friendship between the two brotherly states.

Tokayev and Erdogan shake hands in the presidential palace. Photo credit: Akorda press service

Turkey was the first country to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan on Dec. 16, 1991, with the first foreign embassy of Kazakhstan opening in Ankara in October 1992. Since gaining independence, the First President of Kazakhstan has paid Turkey 24 state and working visits, while Turkish Presidents came to Kazakhstan 15 times, and Turkish Prime Ministers visited 6 times. But the ties between Kazakhstan and Turkey go well beyond these numbers. 

Over the past 16 years, Turkey has invested more than $4.2 billion in the country’s economy. The total capital of Turkish holdings in the economy of Kazakhstan is almost $120 billion, which is nearly 20 percent of the Turkish GDP or 70 percent of Kazakhstan’s GDP.

President Tokayev’s visit to Ankara has served as a significant boost to that goal – commercial agreements worth nearly US$1.1 billion were signed during the visit, including the joint production of the Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), in Kazakhstan. It will become the first Anka production base outside of Turkey.

President Tokayev visits the Ataturk mausoleum to lay flowers, first after he landed in Ankara. Photo credit: Akorda press service

Tokayev outlined the manufacturing industry, agriculture, health care, and tourism as strategic areas for Kazakhstan. He also told the business community in Turkey that Kazakhstan has set a path towards the “qualitative modernization of the economy by strengthening fair competition, protecting private property, and demonopolizing the economy” and all of that is expected to attract investors to Kazakhstan. 

“This opens prospects not only for large Turkish holdings and companies but also for small and medium-sized businesses,” said the head of state.

The two leaders attend the official ceremony before their meeting. Photo credit: Akorda press service

Addressing the joint press conference on May 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is expected to visit Kazakhstan in autumn, affirmed his country’s support for Kazakhstan’s political and economic reforms and commended the country’s political will. 

“The perseverance and will President Tokayev has displayed to shape the New Kazakhstan is praiseworthy. We support the comprehensive reform program implemented in this regard. Let me once again underline that we stand ready to do our part for the stability, peace, security and prosperity of our Kazakh brothers and sisters,” he said. “Türkiye and Kazakhstan, which draw strength from their shared history, language, religion, and culture, are two brotherly countries with long-standing relations”.

Kazakhstan and Turkey have been reviving their common history through greater cooperation in various multilateral formats. The most prominent example is the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States which last year turned into the full-fledged Organization of Turkic States.

Both Tokayev and Erdoğan, who shared a table tennis game after the official events, expressed high hopes for future cooperation and signed a joint statement reflecting their strong commitment to strengthening ties.

“For Kazakhstan, Turkey is one of the most important and reliable partners on the Eurasian continent. The relations between our countries and peoples, based on the common history and spiritual heritage, continue to develop and reach the level of strategic partnership. Your sincere friendship and fraternal attitude are best characterized by the Kazakh wisdom: ‘friendship is greater than wealth, but no wealth is greater than friendship’,” said Tokayev. 

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