On November 3, Astana hosted the Summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS). The Heads of State and Government of the members and observers of the organization participated in the summit and signed important documents. There is a need to analyze the significance of the summit for Kazakhstan and the Turkic World held in the circumstances of instability and turbulence of international politics.
First of all, it is worth noting that the Astana Summit was the tenth anniversary summit of the OTS. The organization, which was established as the Turkic Council in 2009 and was renamed as the OTS in 2021, has so far held nine summits in Almaty (2011), Bishkek (2012), Gabala (2013), Bodrum (2014), Astana (2015), Cholpon-Ata (2018), Baku (2019), Istanbul (2021) and Samarkand (2022). In addition to these official summits, the Heads of State met at the first emergency summit held online due to the pandemic in April 2020 and the second emergency summit organized in Ankara on March 16, 2023 due to the earthquake in Turkiye, as well as the Informal Turkestan Summit held online in March 2021.
As we can see, the last OTS summit in Kazakhstan was held in 2015 and this year’s summit is the first summit held on the territory of Kazakhstan in eight years. Moreover, during the Presidential term of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kazakhstan became the chairman of the organization for the first time. Therefore, this summit is important both for Kazakhstan and for President Tokayev. From this point of view, the symbolic value of the tenth anniversary summit is very high.
In the past, Kazakhstan has always taken new initiatives for deepening of Turkic cooperation. In particular, it was the side of Kazakhstan that proposed the establishment of the Turkic Council. Also, the strategic document “the Turkic World Vision – 2040” was prepared at the initiative of Kazakh diplomacy. However, in recent years, Kazakhstan seems to have lost its former activity in the Turkic space. Nevertheless, this year’s OTS Astana summit proved that Kazakh foreign policy has not changed its proactive direction towards the Turkic World. The holding of the summit under the slogan “TURKTIME” is like a sign of the beginning of a new period in the OTS.
Indeed, analyzed from the point of view of international politics, it becomes clear that 2023 is the right time to start the Turkic era. First of all, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkiye. Turkiye is entering a new stage of its development. Azerbaijan, a brotherly country in the Caucasus, won the 2020 and this year’s wars, liberated Karabakh and restored its territorial integrity as a result of thirty years of struggle. At the same time, the countries of the region are trying to open a new page of their history under the slogans “New Kazakhstan” and “New Uzbekistan” based on thirty years of experience
It is apparent that the importance of the Turkic world is increasing from the geopolitical and geoeconomic points of view. The merciless wars are going on in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Stability in Afghanistan, the heart of Asia, has not been restored yet. The Turkic World, located in the center of these conflict zones, has a high potential to become a region of peace and prosperity. Cooperation among Turkic countries is also important for trade and transport between Asia and Europe.
In this context, it is also important for the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to receive the observer status of the OTS at the Astana Summit. Because this organization, whose headquarters is located in Tehran, was founded in 1985 by Iran, Turkiye and Pakistan, and in 1992 the countries of Central Asia became members of the organization. In other words, the presence of the ECO as an observer to the OTS means that the cooperation of the Turkic countries with Iran and Pakistan will increase. The Turkic World can open up to South Asia through Pakistan, while it reaches to the Persian Gulf through Iran. In addition, Iran contributes to the increase of international transport in the east-west direction between Central Asia and Turkiye and between Asia and Europe in broader sense.
In conclusion, the OTS Astana Summit reveals the efforts of Turkic countries with a common history and culture to take their proper place in the international arena of the 21st century. The Turkic World intends to establish itself as a “brand” of harmony, brotherhood, friendship, security, stability and peace. Centuries-old experience of Turkic civilization gives the Turkish statesf the right for this. Because the Turks throughout history ensured the security of international trade and communication and acted as a force responsible for stability. The time has come for the Turks to regain this historical mission. The time of the Turkic era has come.