Turkic Council summit in Kyrgyzstan brings hope of greater co-operation
BISHKEK -- The Turkic Council held its sixth summit in Cholpon-Ata earlier this month on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, bringing hope of greater integration and co-operation between member states.
The presidents of the council's member states -- Kyrgyzstan's Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev, Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- discussed their relations at the summit.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attended as guests of honour at the September 3 event.
The summit coincided with the 3rd World Nomad Games, held in Cholpon-Ata September 2-8. The foreign presidents arrived a day before the summit to enjoy the event.
Kyrgyzstan takes over rotating chair
Kazakhstan, which has chaired the council since the previous summit in September 2015 in Astana, handed over the rotating chairmanship to Kyrgyzstan as part of the meeting.
During Kazakhstan's leadership, the participating countries supported the development of tourism, science and education, according to Nazarbayev.
Because of the pressure of globalisation, the Turkic countries must pay special attention to maintaining national culture and traditions for future generations, he said, also pointing out the importance and potential of the region's shared transport network.
"Our states are in the middle of the continent, connecting West and East, North and South. ... active work is needed to simplify administrative procedures and policy on shipping rates," Nazarbayev said, according to his press office.
At the end of the summit, member states adopted the Concept (policy statement) of the Integration of Turkic States, which highlights the development of their traditional sports and of youth policy.
The next meeting of the Turkic Council is scheduled for Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2019.
Analysts see great potential
The creation of the Turkic Council was a natural process, according to Kairat Osmonaliyev, a political scientist from Bishkek.
"This is logical from the point of view of the evolution of our countries, which have shared cultural and human denominators: language, customs, traditions and faith," he told Caravanserai.
Osmonaliyev said he was optimistic about Uzbekistan's new regional policies, which comprise active inclusion and integration in both bilateral and multilateral formats.
"The new leadership of Uzbekistan has taken actions that allow us to hope for a final resolution of the remaining issues that have haunted [Central Asia's] international relations," he said.
The potential for a union of Turkic-speaking countries is high, adding that another sign of progress will come if Uzbekistan joins, said another Bishkek political scientist, Mars Sariyev.
At the same time, he said, Turkic co-operation allows the countries of Central Asia to be less dependent on superpowers that continue to keep influence in the region.
"Russia is losing influence in the region and cannot resist Turkic unity," he told Caravanserai. "This process also will put the brakes on Chinese penetration of Central Asia and is stabilising the situation in the region."
Positive changes in Uzbekistan are responsible for creating the conditions for peaceful, productive interaction between regional countries, said John Clark, president of the International University of Central Asia in Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan.
Such changes have become one of the important prerequisites for Turkic co-operation, he told Caravanserai, adding that some barriers remain, such as over-dependence on personalities rather than on institutional mechanisms to drive regional integration.
"For truly effective co-operation, it is essential that the governments of these countries work in a way that people can trust the entire system, not individual politicians," Clark said.