Turkic-speaking nations move closer to int’l visibility

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived in İstanbul on Wednesday to attend the 10th Summit of Turkic-Speaking Countries.

September 16, 2010, Thursday/ 17:00:00
Following 18 years of delay, the summit of Turkic-speaking countries, based on solidarity and cooperation, is passing a landmark threshold for institutionalization.

The 10th Summit of Turkic-Speaking Countries kicked off in İstanbul on Wednesday with a foreign ministerial level meeting. Today, Turkish President Abdullah Gül will host the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, who will participate in and close the summit with a final declaration while also announcing the establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States.

The first such summit was held in 1992 at the initiative of then-Turkish President Turgut Özal. Uzbekistan, which has not been represented at the presidential level at any summit since 1998, will not even be represented at a low level during this İstanbul summit.

The establishment of the cooperation council was outlined during the ninth summit of the forum, which was held in Nakhchivan last October. Turkmenistan, however, has not put its signature on the agreement that was signed by participants of the Nakhchivan summit to establish the council. Turkmen officials cited their foreign policy based on “positive neutrality” as the reason for not signing the agreement.

However, Turkish officials were hopeful for a last minute change in Turkmenistan’s decision, a senior Turkish diplomat told Today’s Zaman yesterday. If it changes its mind concerning the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, Turkmenistan can still join the council in the future. This is also valid for Uzbekistan, which was absent from the summit.

The agreement on the “Establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States,” signed in Nakhchivan, envisages the formation of a cooperation council with the following organs: the Council of Heads of States, the Council of Foreign Ministers, the Senior Officials Committee, the Council of Elders of Turkic Speaking States and the Secretariat.

The 10th summit will discuss agreements/protocols with respect to the functioning of the cooperation council and will appoint the secretary-general of the secretariat. Ambassador Halil Akıncı of Turkey is expected to be appointed today as the first secretary-general of the secretariat, to be located at Gülhane Park in İstanbul.

“The goal is to provide a wide umbrella for cooperation and solidarity through this council. Being organized in this way will cement the participating countries’ clout in the international arena,” the same senior diplomat, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman.

“It has been a long pregnancy that took 18 years. We need to be patient while watching this process develop,” the diplomat added.

The draft final declaration, which is expected to be adopted by the heads of state today, contains concrete steps towards solidarity and cooperation among participants.

These steps include establishing a foundation for the protection of Turkic culture and heritage in Baku, establishing a Turkic business council, opening a museum of Turkic history in Astana, declaring Oct. 3 as the Day of Turkic-Speaking Countries and allocating funds for research and development through cooperation between the member countries’ universities.

Officials, meanwhile, cited as a noteworthy development that the working language of the summit, which was Turkish and Russian until the ninth summit in Nakhchivan, has changed. Accordingly, since the Nakhchivan summit, each member country is releasing declarations and regulations in its own language.

As a sign of will to unite forces in the international arena, members of the cooperation council will also coordinate their bids to head other international organizations.

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