Author: Natig NAZIMOGHLU
Undoubtedly, the 7th summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTS), or the Turkic Council, held in Baku became one of the most important events in international politics in October. The Baku Summit marked a new milestone in the process of integration of Turkic countries and a serious claim of the council to become one of the major centres of cooperation and security throughout Eurasia.
The benefits of the Nakhchivan agreement
The presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Kyrgyzstan (Ilham Aliyev, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sooronbay Jeenbekov) and the first president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev attended the Baku summit. For the first time, the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the summit as a leader of yet another full member state of the Turkic Council. Among the invited guests was Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, which has a status of an observer in the CCTS.
The Baku summit took place ten years after the signing of the Nakhchivan agreement, the founding document of the Turkic Council. The forum participants thus referred repeatedly to the historical document adopted in the ancient Azerbaijani city of Nakhchivan. President Ilham Aliyev praised the establishment in October 2009 of a new institutional format for cooperation between Turkic states. At the same time, he focused on the following fact: "Zangezur is located between the mainland Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan region. The withdrawal of Zangezur from Azerbaijan and its accession to Armenia divided the great Turkic world geographically. However, thanks to the decisions adopted in Nakhchivan and our joint work, we have further strengthened the unity of the Turkic world and continue our brotherhood. In this sense, the decision to create the Turkic Council at the Nakhchivan Summit also has a great symbolic significance for the whole Turkic world."
The first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was awarded a status of Honorary Chairman of the council at the Baku Summit and the Higher Order of the Turkic World, underlined that the Nakhchivan agreement was a document that "gave birth to a new, more meaningful and pragmatic stage in the evolution of our cooperation. Thanks to this approach, we were able to approach the current anniversary milestone with good results."
Indeed, over the past decade, the Turkic Council has established itself as an institution aimed at ensuring comprehensive cooperation between the Turkic states, and as one of the potential engines of Eurasian integration. An impressive institutional structure has been created as part of the CCTS, which includes, in particular, the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic Speaking States (TurkPA), International Organisation of Turkic Culture (Turksoy), Turkic Academy, Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation, Council of Elders, and the Turkic Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Decisions adopted at the Baku Summit were obvious indicators of the real organisational strengthening of the Turkic Council.
The most significant achievement of the recent summit was the entry of Uzbekistan into the CCTS. According to Secretary General of the Council Baghdad Amreyev, "this was our first expansion. This is undoubtedly the main event of the Baku summit."
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev said: "The fact that we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Turkic Council in Azerbaijan, where this international institution was founded, has a deep symbolic meaning. This date is a great historical event for us, as Uzbekistan has become a full member of the Turkic Council."
Another very remarkable event of the Baku Summit was the signing of an agreement between the secretariat of the CCTS and the Hungarian government on the establishment of a permanent mission of the Turkic Council in Hungary. Actually, the office has been operating in Budapest since last month but the meeting in Baku officially inaugurated the body in Hungary. Hungary has been a member of TurkPA for five years. Last year the country received an observer status in the council. Talking about the position of his country as an observer, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said: "We not only want to receive but also to give something back." As a possible contribution of Budapest to the activities of CCTS, the Hungarian Prime Minister outlined the expansion of cooperation between Turkic countries and the European Union.
Mr. Orban also mentioned the following interesting fact: "Probably not everyone present knows this but Kipchaks still live in Hungary and the Kipchak blood flows in many Hungarians. They even have a municipality, self-government. President Nazarbayev is the Honorary President of Hungarian Kipchaks. Every year, when the Kipchaks convene, we welcome him from Hungary."
The activities of the Permanent Mission of the Turkic Council in Budapest are expected to include the holding of various political, economic and cultural forums. The interaction of Turkic countries with Hungary manifests the spread of influence of the Turkic Council on Europe. In other words, the area of interests of CCTS is not limited to the Eurasian crossroads and Central Asia, as the following fact shows.
The day after the Baku summit, the Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, Moon Hi-san visited Azerbaijan and expressed his country's interest in observer status in the Turkic Council to President Ilham Aliyev. Mr. Aliyev noted that the next summit of the CCTS will be held in Turkey next year and "we will be very happy if Korea participates in it as an observer."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his confidence that Turkmenistan would become a full member next year at the 8th Summit of the Turkic Council. "We wish that with Turkmenistan, we will become six states and a single nation," Mr. Erdogan said, thereby recognizing the focus of the CCTS on further expansion.
The accession of Hungary, as well as the South Korean intention are by no means manifestations of global interest in the phenomenon of the Turkic Council, an institution based on traditional values, historical experience and modern ambitions of one of the greatest civilisations in the history of mankind.
The leaders of Turkic states demonstrated a high degree of mutual support, which is yet another indispensable attribute of the success of any integration structure.
Remarkably, in the Baku Declaration adopted at the end of the summit, the member states expressed support for Turkey’s military operation Peace Spring.
The discussion of the Karabakh issue at the summit is also a sign of mutual support. Undoubtedly, the efforts of the Turkic countries aimed at resolving conflict problems hindering their development contribute to the achievement of regional security. The 22nd meeting of the Conference of Special Services of Turkic Speaking States held in September in Baku highlighted the importance of cooperation between the Turkic states in terms of strengthening their security and ensuring regional stability in general. It is no accident that the CCTS leaders stated the importance of cooperation on security as a factor strengthening security throughout the Eurasian space.
Priorities and suggestions
Another noteworthy event of the Baku Summit was the transfer of chairmanship of the Turkic Council from Kyrgyzstan to Azerbaijan. President Ilham Aliyev assured that "the development of cooperation between the Turkic-speaking states is one of the priority areas of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy", therefore, "throughout its chairmanship, Azerbaijan will continue efforts aimed at further deepening cooperation between our countries both at bilateral and multilateral levels".
The above facts show huge potential for cooperation between the Turkic states. The key to this is rich natural resources, including energy, strategically extremely important geographical location of the Turkic countries and their growing prestige in international arena.
Azerbaijan, which plays an instrumental role in the establishment of the East-West and North-South transport and communication corridors, makes a significant contribution to expanding economic cooperation between the Turkic states. As Ilham Aliyev said in his address, "cooperation between our countries historically located along the ancient Silk Road in the transport sector is one of the important directions. Azerbaijan is an active participant in the East-West transport corridor. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway commissioned in October 2017 is our joint contribution to the restoration of the historic Silk Road."
The Baku summit was also remembered by a number of specific proposals aimed at strengthening the economic interaction of the Turkic states. Thus, the President of Turkey Erdogan took the initiative to abolish the existing quotas in trade relations between the countries, members of the Turkic Council. The Uzbek leader Mirziyoyev proposed creating joint technology parks, innovative start-up companies and venture funds, a joint investment fund, opening trading houses for Turkic-speaking countries, and establishing a forum of young entrepreneurs within the framework of the Turkic Council. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban offered to take advantage of the opening by the Hungarian Eximbank of a credit line for entrepreneurs of member countries. Almost all the leaders participating in the summit advocated improving cooperation in tourism.
To a bright future with a great heritage
Ideas regarding the deep content of Turkic integration had a special place in the list of initiatives put forward during the Baku Summit. For example, the elder of the Turkic world Nursultan Nazarbayev said: "The Turkic civilization has deep roots. If we take a look back, we are the descendants of peoples who have always played a significant role on the largest continent of the planet. It is enough to look at the geographical map of the world to realize the significance of the Turkic world at its present stage."
The call of the first president of Kazakhstan to proceed with the establishment of new horizons for the common Turkic future also makes great sense. Hence, he offered the development of the "Turkic Vision-2040" program, which reflects the long-term goals of the Turkic-speaking community and ways to achieve them. In addition, Mr. Nazarbayev proposed raising the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states to the level of organisation, the Organisation of Turkic (and not Turkic-speaking) states. This initiative, which removes any ambiguity regarding the ethnic roots of Turkic peoples, can also be considered as an achievement of the Baku Summit.
A statement made by the Turkish President Erdogan to get an observer status for the Turkic Council in the UN General Assembly and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation also aroused great interest. This was another sign of the growing ambitions of the Turkic community in the international arena.
Thus, despite global political transformations taking place in the world, the Turkic Council made a solid claim as one of the influential integration hubs in Eurasia. The Baku summit showed that the Turkic community, which is increasingly strengthening its role in Eurasian politics and economics, has enormous prospects for accomplishing the mission set ahead.