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Summit Meeting of the Heads of State of the Turkic-Speaking Countries

Friday, August 6, 2010 - 18:04

After the disintegration of the USSR and the appearance of new independent states of Transcaucasia and Central Asia on the international stage, the governments of the young countries began to work out the major priorities in their foreign relations. Till 1992 the principle direction of the political activity in post-Soviet countries was the relations consolidation and economic relations development within the frames of the Commonwealth of Independent States. However, later the priorities changed for the West, particularly for the United States, which was mainly determined by the financial and economic aid and support for the acceptance of these countries into international organizations as full members. Simultaneously, these countries started to work out a strategy of cooperation with Muslim states, particularly with Turkey.
As we know, the Turkish Government pays special attention to the Central Asian vector in the development of its international policy which is aimed at the intensification of all types of cooperation with these countries. Thus, in the early 90 s Ankara started to implement the international doctrine that had been previously worked out by Kemal Ataturk and that in fact implied the unification of all the Turkic-speaking nations and the establishment of a single geopolitical space called Turan under the aegis of Turkey. One of the main factors that keep this scenario going is cultural and linguistic unity of the peoples that inhabit rather an extensive area. In the world there are 6 countries where it is Turkic ethnic groups that play the leading role: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Besides, the sphere of their influence also includes a number of regions, autonomous areas and national republics within other countries, ethnically different. Here we speak about Russia, China, Ukraine, as well as the state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Geographically, the panturkism area comprises the main regions of Eurasia — from the Balkans to Eastern Turkestan.
Within the frames of the Central Asian policy the Turkey Government introduced in initiative to create a transnational Turkic united political and economic space, including the formation of a common market, common energy and energy transportation systems, as well as determining a common language for the Turkic states. Thus, in 1992 a summit of Turkic-speaking countries was held for these purposes. However, skeptical attitude to the Turkish plans was shown by the countries of Central Asia which suspended the process for a while.
Nevertheless, one of the results of the Summit was a practical agreement concerning the development of cultural and educational interaction between the countries, which made this direction prioritized. According to an agreement on mutual student exchange, Turkey was to receive up to two thousand students annually from every republic, to supply them with scholarships and to distribute them among higher and secondary educational institutions. Turkish students were also sent to various republics for educational purposes.
A year later Turgut Ozal undertook an official visit to Central Asia and Azerbaijan, during which the presidents of the countries signed a Protocol on the establishment of Commonwealth of Turkic-Speaking Countries. But the unexpected death of the Turkish leader intercepted the implementation of all the ideas that were only declarative thereafter.
It should also be mentioned that the cultural and humanitarian cooperation between Turkey and the Turkic post-Soviet states was not limited only to the educational programs of student exchange. An important step was taken by the parliament of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — transition from Cyrillic alphabet to Latin. According to Turkish ideologists, this decision considerably facilitates the development of the spirit of unity among Turkic-speaking nations and is only the first stage of integration.
Afterwards, when Ahmet Necdet Sezer was president, the post-Soviet space, particularly Central Asia significantly lacked attention on the part of the Turkish administration. The Turkish international policy was primarily Westernized.
In 2006 it was already for five years that the meetings at the highest level had not been held, and the Turkish Government organized the VII Summit that took place on November 17, 2006 in Antalya. The meeting of the heads of states of Turkic-speaking countries resulted in the agreements targeted at the consolidation of the relations in the spheres of energy policy and national security. The final declaration stated that it was important and necessary to intensify and consolidate the economic and transportation relations between the Turkic-speaking countries. Besides, as it was stated in the document, the parties underlined the “importance of the conjoint fight against terrorism, spread of weapons of mass destruction, drug contraband traffic, weapon and people trade, as well as other types of criminal activities.” The declaration also reflected support for Turkey’s entrance into the European Union and peaceful settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh problem with the transition of this region to Azerbaijan.
However, the main event of the meeting was the initiative introduced by Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the establishment of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Turkic-speaking countries, which, according to international experts, proves that the Kazakh leader was interested in the full-fledged cooperation between the Turkic states. “At such meeting a lot of suggestions have been introduced, important decisions have been taken,” said N. Nazarbayev. “But unfortunately, they were primarily postponed for the future or simply not realized. The new structure could become a practical mechanism of the solution of these problems supporting further development of mutually advantageous cooperation,” declared Kazakhstani President. It should be mentioned that that initiative was supported by the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and the highest administration of Turkey as one more step towards the institutionalization of the Turkic union.
Along with the annual summits of the heads of state of the Turkic-speaking countries, similar meetings were initiated in 1993 by Alparslan Türkeş (the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party) — they were Conferences of Friendship, Fraternity and Cooperation of the Turkic Countries and Communities (Kurultais). Till 2001 the conferences were held annually in various cities of Turkey. In 2002 the Nationalist Movement Party suffered a number of internal conflicts and lost positions in the parliament of the country, and after that neither Kurultais, nor highest level meetings were held till 2006.
Originally Kurultais were meant to be attended by the representatives of non-governmental organization of the Turkic states and Turkic communities. However, the XX Conference of Friendship, Fraternity and Cooperation that took place in Antalya on September 20–28 2006 was also attended by the representatives of the Turkish state officials. Thus, the conference was attended by the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat, State Sevretary of Kazakhstan Oralbai Abdykarimov, Vice Prime Minister of Kyrgyz Republic Daniar Usenov.
During the Kurultai Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan introduced an idea of establishing a Commonwealth of Turkic-Speaking Countries that would allow all the Turkic states to act on the world-wide arena as a united official body. Besides, the Turkish leader addressed the participants of the Conference with a request to make the Turkic cooperation a practical element of the international policy to consolidate efforts against common challenges and threats of isolation of Turkic countries, towards the soonest possible solution of the Nagorny Karabakh and Cyprus problems, as well as the situations in Northern Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Turkish Prime Minister, there is a necessity to create a common Turkic history, particularly the review of the modern interpretation of the history of Turkic nations with its further teaching at schools.
The XI Conference of Friendship, Fraternity and Cooperation was similar in character and was attended by delegations from thirty republics of the Turkic world. It took place in November 2007 in Baku. The participants of the Conference signed a number of documents refuting the facts of Armenian genocide and criticizing Armenia in its occupational policy in Nagorny Karabakh. The Conference also underlined the importance of terminating the international isolation of Northern Cyprus and of establishing economic, cultural and political relations with this unacknowledged state.
The participants of the Forum also outlined the conception of the establishment of the Association of Turkic States, the Permanent Secretariat of the Heads od State, as well as the Academy of Sciences of the Turkic World. In this respect it was decided to hold cooperative activities on the problems of Turkic countries, extend relations with expatriate communities in Europe, strengthen the position of Turkey for the entrance into the European Union.
On November 20, 2008 at the Conference Heads of Parliaments in Istanbul an agreement was signed establishing the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking States (PATS), which became a landmark in the process of the Turkic countries meetings institutionalization. However, the main organization aspects of this issue were discussed in Baku in early 2009.
Analyzing the events and final documents of both the Conference and the Summit of the Turkic-Speaking Countries, we can conclude that both of them pursue similar targets and are mutually mirroring initiatives of the Turkic administrations.
In spite of a single and unanimous (as it may seem at first sight) position, declarations at all the meetings for the past 10 years have been purely declarative in nature. In reality political agreements are the farthest of all to realization. Moreover, the documents offered for discussion have been significantly changing towards pro-Turkish position. Nowadays effective and full-potential cooperation is established only between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Interaction between other countries is limited to cultural sphere only. A vivid example can be the Modern Culture and Art Development Organization that on January 15 will celebrate its 15th anniversary.
On the basis of today’s situation in Central Asia towards the problems of integration, some countries are evidently tired of these issues and display an obviously negative attitude towards them. Besides, there are a number of factors that prevents these initiatives from being realized. First of all, it is Russia, China and Iran who are not interested in the establishment of such a political and economic formation in the territory adjacent to their borders. The establishment of the Commonwealth of Turkic-Speaking Countries actually threatens the territorial integrity of at least two of the three unconcerned states. Therefore, we can conclude that Moscow, Beijing and Teheran will attempt to hinder the project.
Secondly, we should remember the skeptical attitude of the leaders of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan towards the problems of integration. Moreover, today’s situation in the region allows both Astana and Tashkent to act as regional leaders and it seems very unlikely that they might fall under the protectorate of Turkey refusing their own image-making projects like the Central Asian Union capable of acting on the international arena as an independent political subject.
Thirdly, a number of experts underline that the creation of such a union — apart from cultural and political aspects — is practically impossible. Besides, coming back to the energy problem, it should be mentioned that a number of Turkic-speaking countries do not have an access to energy resources, and it would be most unreasonable to introduce certain discounts for them only because they are also Turks.
Source: Institute of Strategic Analysis and Forecasting, Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University



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