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The 10th jubilee summit of the Organization of Turkic States: global reach and pragmatic focus

photo: akorda.kz
7 November 2023

The 10th jubilee summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) took place on 3 November in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The heads of the states from the OTC members participated in it from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, as well as from the observer states Hungary and Turkmenistan. The final declaration of the Council of the heads of OTS states emphasizes that all the leaders confirmed their commitment to develop multi-lateral cooperation in the OTS format on the basis of common history, language, culture, traditions and values of the Turkic people. The document also talks about the importance of consultations to develop a common position on the regional and global issues pertaining to the interests of the Turkic world. On top of that, the 10th OTS summit conducted under the slogan «The Turkic Era» adopted the Astana Charter. The initiative of creating the OTS civil defence mechanism deserves special attention; the summit assigned the member countries to complete the draft agreement on this mechanism by the year end. [1]

The majority of the OTS countries media broadly and positively cover this jubilee meeting. The common focus is on the aspirations of the Turkic states to expand their connections and to strengthen the relations inside the Organization. In general, all the speeches of the OTS leaders may be divided into two categories global reach and pragmatic focus.

Large-scale tasks

For example, the Azerbaijan media emphasize in every possible way that for Baku the cooperation with OTS countries is one of the key priorities of the foreign policy. The main objective is growth of the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Turkic states up to USD 15 bn in the nearest years. It is emphasized that the Council of cooperation of the Turkic states (the Turkic Council) was established in Azerbaijan at Nakhichevan summit in 2009. Certain attention is paid to the lucky geographical position of the OTS countries on the transportation route forming the Medial corridor. Azerbaijan situates at the East-West interface plays a definitive role in the context of having high transit potential. The unreserved support of the OTS countries during the righteous struggle of Azerbaijan in Karabakh and their follow-up assistance the rehabilitation of the region is especially emphasized. [2]

Kazakhstan media are especially focused on the topic of the global role of the OTS and on the growing influence of this Organization. «The Turkic world is interacting with the global powers based on the principles of equality. Other states now have to take into account the key objectives of our Organization», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan, noted in his welcoming speech. [3] He announced eight priorities for strengthening the Turkic peoples solidarity and improving the potential of the Organization. For example, Tokayev believes that popularizing the Turkic unity is of great importance. Hence, the flags and emblems of the OTS and its structures need to be brough to a common standard. It is also necessary to systematize the standards for assuring unimpeded export of goods to the common market, and to setup a reference center to assure mutual recognition of trials of products. At the end of his speech, the Kazakhstan President proposed a series of cultural initiatives and called for expanding the inter-regional trade and focusing on investment into the economy, developing the «green» financing market. [4]

This position of Astana in many aspects coincides with the assessments by official Ankara. Who is also focused on bright foreign policy initiatives, but proposed exclusively by the Turkish President. Recep Tayyip Erdogan started his speech at the summit congratulating Azerbaijan for «putting an end to the 30-years occupation of Karabakh». In his speech he also emphasized a serious concern about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, condemning the attacks of the non-combatants and calling both parties to immediately announce the ceasefire to protect the civilians. Erdogan separately thanked the OTS leaders for granting the observer status to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, «which is an inalienable part of the Turkic world». President Erdogan also states that transportation of Caspian natural gas to Turkey and Europe will be contributing to the well-being of the Turkic states and to the EU energy security. [5]

Political pragmatism

The most part of the speech by Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the Chairman of the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan and the Leader of the Nation, was dedicated to transport and logistics. Berdimuhamedov-senior reminded of the transport corridors coming through his country and called to «using the capabilities of Turkmenistan logistics and infrastructure». The Afghanistan Turkmenistan Azerbaijan Georgia Turkey corridor is one of them (currently the work is in progress to assure it fully coming on stream), the new Caspian Sea Black Sea corridor, as well as Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Turkmenistan Azerbaijan Turkey corridor, which is still being developed. Then the Chairman of the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan expressed interest in supplying natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Turkey and then to the European countries via the Caspian Sea. Let us note here that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov did not say anything about Turkmenistan joining the OTS as a full-fledged member, even though Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed such a wish at his meeting with Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, in Ankara. [6]

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan, skillfully combined in his speech relevant issues of the global policy, future Turkic unity tasks and practical needs of the national economy. At first, he congratulated the people of Azerbaijan with the great victory complete restoration of the territorial integrity of their country. Then the Uzbek President shared his concerns about the dangerous nature of the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East and called the parties to immediately stop the military activities. In the end, Shavkat Mirziyoyev made several remarkable proposals: e.g., develop the Turkic World Charter to reflect «the unity and cohesion of the Turkic nations, their great history, abundant culture and archetypical values». His other proposals were far more pragmatic: ramp up the efforts to establish the Turkic Bank of Development and locate it in Tashkent. The Council of railway authorities of the OTS countries with the Directorate in Uzbekistan was proposed to develop the logistics chains. [7]

Sadyr Japarov, the President of Kyrgyzstan, emphasized that the current OTS summit was taking place in the time of crisis, but his participants had all the possibilities to achieve the established targets by using their political will and economic strength. «I urge to create more loyal conditions for the manufacturers and business people of the Turkic states. Business forums prove the interests of businesses in implementing joint projects», Sapar Japarov noted. The President of Kyrgyzstan emphasized the enhancement of the OTS countries interaction in the sphere of the digital transformation. Japarov also proposed the OTS leaders to ramp up their efforts to develop tourism and call Kyrgyz Dzhalal Abad the center of tourism of the Turkic world. At the end of the Astana summit, it was declared that the next summit of the Organization of Turkic States would take place in Kyrgyzstan in 2024. [8] This means that the pragmatic position always has better chances to be heard vs the romantic one.

Signed documents

12 documents were signed at the 10th OTS summit:

  • Astana Act;
  • Declaration of the 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution of the heads of the states about awarding the «Highest Order of the Turkic World» to Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan;
  • Resolution of the heads of the states about granting the status of financial centers of the Turkic world;
  • Resolution about adopting new flags of Turkic cooperation organizations;
  • Resolution of the heads of the states about appointments;
  • Resolution about granting the status of the observer to the Organization of Economic Cooperation in the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution about making 6 February the Day of Remembrance of the Disaster Victims and Solidarity of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution about the Rules of managing the budget of the Secretariat of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution about developing the Regulation on the Permanent Representatives of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Protocol of cooperation between the relevant institutions of the OTS member countries;
  • Joint Action Plan (Road Map) of the Organization of Turkic States for implementation of the Transport Program for 2023-2027.

Expert opinions

The evaluations of the OTS Astana summit outcomes by the experts are far more skeptical versus the official evaluations. Daniyar Ashimbayev, the analyst from Kazakhstan, emphasizes that neither one of the OTS presidential press relations services had published the texts of the above-listed 12 documents adopted by the summit. [9] Only the OTS Secretariat published the Final Declaration text of 156 items containing just a list of events. For example, item 121 «We welcome the setup of the Commission on the unified alphabet of the Turkic World» reflects the idea of one leader President Erdogan, while as other OTS leaders simply did not say anything on this issue. The political analyst Ashimbayev also pays attention to excessive diversity and inconsistency of the topics raised in the OTS leaders speeches.

Ravshan Nazarov, the Senior Fellow of the Institute of State and Law of the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, believes that currently the OTS is undergoing the primary integration stage similar to the European Union. According to Nazarov, the OTS is an interesting, dynamic, progressive and promising project of international integration, including the Balkan countries and Hungary. However, Alexander Karavayev, a Russian expert, believes that «the Caucasus and the Turkic states are the only region where Ankara can form certain integration communities with neo-Ottoman idea as the driver». Neither the Balkans, nor Africa, nor the Middle East have political support of Turkey comparable to Central Asia and Southern Caucasus. Exporting non-resource commodities and mutual investment in Central Asia and Turkey are still at a low level vs similar metrics of Russian-Turkish or Russia Central Asia trade turnover. [10]

Regional analysis emphasizes that for President Erdogan the priorities in the OTS are strengthening economic ties with the former Soviet republics rich with natural resources. The political regimes of Turkey and Central Asian countries are trying to coordinate their positions in foreign and cultural policy, but from the standpoint of investment, Ankaras influence is rather limited. Asel Tutumlu, the political analyst from the Middle East University of Northern Cyprus, believes that «certain groups may be formed within the Organization of the Turkic States». Five Central-Asian countries obviously attempt to develop foreign policy of a single region. And then these five countries are building their political relations with the other OTS member countries including Azerbaijan and Turkey.

These expert opinions are confirmed by specific facts. For example, Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan, talked on the summit about the investment to OTS countries in the amount of USD 20 bn. The major part of such investment goes to Turkey. [11] Other three countries of the OTS (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) have a certain sense of them not having the first positions in the Organization; besides, they have their own vision of policy priorities and their regional unity. The integration of these two sub-systems within one organization is a big a complicated issue. The future described in «The Concept of the Turkic World until 2040» will depend on how successful these two groups will be in finding the opportunities for practical interaction and cooperation.

Threats and risks

Let us remind here that the long-term OTS plan is fixed in the document «The Concept of the Turkic World until 2040» adopted two years ago. It describes the ways the Turkic organization will be using collective resources of its member countries and will become the united power influential on the global arena. However, the recent OTS summit showed that the high-sounding words are very different from specific actions. For example, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, used the Astana summit for expressing his strong support of Hamas in the conflict in the Middle East. However, his colleagues within the Turkic World are not rushing to take a similar straight-forward position. During the official part of the summit dedicated to the problems of the Middle East, only three Presidents expressed their views on the Middle East conflict, and besides the formidable Turkish President, they were the peace-loving Presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Shavkat Mirziyoyev talked only about the right of Palestinian people to have an independent state, And Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the aid to Palestinian people in the amount of USD 1 mln, and both of them were politically correct in referring to the UN Charter.

Hence, the OTS leaders did not act in a cohesive way on this issue and did not go beyond their territorial and political boundaries, which could not stay unnoticed by regional experts. Moreover, the informed sources in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan expressed certain concerns with respect of the open support of Hamas on behalf of Turkey. As we can see, after the Astana summit Turkmenistan kept its status of the observer in the OTS and obviously it is not rushing to obtain a full-fledged member status in this Organization. As the analysts of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies noted earlier, «Ashkhabad embraces the «active neutrality» concept, i.e., participates as an observer in many important regional formats from CIS and EAEU to OTS and SCO». [12] The interests of Turkmenistan are concentrated not only in creating the infrastructure for the natural gas export from Turkmenistan, but also in developing the internal infrastructure and new gas fields for the national growth. In this respect, Turkey cannot offer a lot of novelties compared to China or Russia, which historically are the stakeholders in the domestic economy of Turkmenistan.

Another important issue is the trend for creating the new collective security system in the Caspian Region. Turkey is trying to position itself as a strong player in assuring stability in its macro-region: not only by acting as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine or helping in resolving the conflicts in Southern Caucasus, but also is actively participating in forming the balance of forces in the Middle East. Now the issues of the collective security system in the Caspian Region, which appeared on the radar two years ago within the TURKSOY organization, are coming to the fore. The main novelty of the jubilee summit in Astana was the decision about creation of the so-called OTS Civil Defence Mechanism. The national governments are to adopt the draft of the respective agreement before the end of 2023. The Declaration contains the following interesting wording: organize regular inter-governmental consultations on this issue «to assure the close coordination and cooperation on security issues of mutual interest». In particular, this is about cooperation in the defence industry and military cooperation. [13] In essence, the OTS Civil Defence Mechanism should be a soft format of military integration for the Turkic World countries being the members of different military blocks, such as NATO or CSTO.

Analysts believe that, today Turkey is interested not only in selling its UAVs ror setting up their manufacturing in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but also in noticeable enhancing its military presence in the Caspian Region countries. For example, by selling tanks and modern artillery manufacturing technologies or by offering assistance in upgrading the navy forces of the Caspian Sea. We need to understand that currently over 90% of military supplies to this region are coming from Russia, and Turkish defence technologies [based on NATO standards] are not always compatible. For example, Kazakhstan may setup the manufacturing of the Turkish UAVs. But if the countries of the region will be developing their domestic defence industries based on NATO standards competing with the Russian military equipment, they may have big problems. According to the political analyst Asel Tutumlu, «the military elites of Kazakhstan and Central Asia was trained and brought up in Russian military training institutes, and this will not even come into their minds». However, the process of the generation change in the elites of the Caspian Region countries is actively going on, and this may affect their foreign policy and military priorities.

Interim results

The geopolitical context of the OTS Astana summit should be viewed in the light of on-going conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Turkey recognizes big risks for transit via the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea both from the South and from the North, because the conflict in the Middle East may be very long. Today, it is important for Ankara to create the possibility for alternative transit along the Trans-Caspian corridor, which is especially valuable in the context of the Western trade embargo against Russia. In this respect, the interests of Turkey coincide with the interests of the Central Asian countries, which are in a difficult situation due to the secondary sanctions and blocking the traditional export routes. However, this current balance of interests is not a long-term solution, but rather an equation with multiple unknowns. A lot will depend on the potential parameters of the ceasefire in Ukraine, on the scale of the growing escalation in the Middle East and on the possible de-stabilization in the Caspian Region.

The geopolitical context of the OTS summit looks like a continuation of multi-year efforts of Ankara to build its own macro-region. Let us note that any empire structure has very high costs for the parent state, and the Turkish economy is currently facing very hard times. Regional experts believe that today the OTS targets are overly ambitious. More than that, so far only Azerbaijan and Turkey are ready to invest additional efforts into implementing such a huge project. We also need to take into consideration that Russia has very strong economic and political influence in three OTS member countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Despite the pompous rhetoric of the Turkish politicians about the cultural heritage and enhancement of stability and influence, regional analysts note that the trade turnover between Turkey and the Caspian countries is practically not growing, contrary to the trade with Russia and China. In such situation, Ankara may be tempted to substitute its economic weakness for a military component the proposal to provide power donorship and military technologies to the OTS countries. However, for Russia and its allies the switch of the standardization process from the economic sphere to the military one is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to negative implications.

Both Western and regional media after the OTS summit are writing a lot about the forthcoming and allegedly inevitable competition between Russia and Turkey. In the current realities many contradictions and conflicts are quickly eliminated within the strategic partnership of Moscow and Ankara. The long-term cooperation of Russia with the Central Asian countries within other organizations and treaties (CIS, EAEU and CSTO) will continue. It seems that currently the objectives of Turkey and Azerbaijan are complementary enough to the interests of the Central Asian countries and do not contradict to the interests of Russia. Moscow understands that developing alternative corridors is useful for the Russian economy as well. As was noted in the previous CISS materials, the strategically correct step to remove the potential contradiction is the accession of Russia to the OTS with a status of an observer country, and then as a full-fledged member of this Organization. Kazakhstan as the closest ally of Moscow and the OTS chair in 2024, could practically promote this important initiative.

1. Final Declaration of the 10th OTS summit adopted. TRT Russian, 03.11.2023. https://www.trtrussian.com/novosti-mir/prinyata-itogovaya-deklaraciya-h-sammita-soveta-glav-gosudarstv-otg-15673084

2. The OTS jubilee summit: on the way to the invincible Turkic union. 1news.az, 03.11.2023. https://1news.az/news/20231103123102128-YUbileinyi-sammit-OTG-Na-puti-k-nesokrushimomu-tyurkskomu-soyuzu

3. The Turkish World is interacting with the global powers on the principles of equality Tokayev on the OTS summit. CentralAsia (KZ), 03.11.2023. https://centralasia.media/news:2013944

4. The «Turkic World», traditions, priorities and integration. Tokayevs statements at the Turkic states summit. Kursiv, 03.11.2023. https://kz.kursiv.media/2023-11-03/lsbs-tokaevotgsamm/

5. The leaders confirmed their commitment to develop multi-lateral cooperation within the OTS based on the common history, language, culture, traditions and values of the Turkic nations. Anadolu Agency, 04.11.2023.

6. The Chairman of the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan took part in the summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Astana. TURKMENISTAN.RU, 04.11.2023. https://www.turkmenistan.ru/ru/articles/47248.html

7. The speech of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, at the session of the heads of the states of the Organization of Turkic States. Official website of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 04.11.2023. https://president.uz/ru/lists/view/6831

8. The next summit of the Organization of Turkic States will take place in Kyrgyzstan in 2024. TASS, 03.11.2023. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/19192295

9. The 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States was conducted. Official website of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 03.11.2023. https://www.akorda.kz/ru/sostoyalsya-x-sammit-organizacii-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-3105444

10. Erdogan is expecting the expansion of the Organization of Turkic States. Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 02.11.2023. https://www.ng.ru/cis/2023-11-02/5_8869_organization.html

11. Ilham Aliyev took part in the Astana summit of the Organization of Turkic States. Official website of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 03.11.2023. https://president.az/ru/articles/view/62077

12. Turkmenistan proposes new initiatives on security and cooperation in Central Asia. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 31.10.2023. https://caspian.institute/product/direkciya-mezhdunarodnyh-programm-kisi/turkmenistan-vydvigaet-novye-iniciativy-po-bezopasnosti-i-sotrudnichestvu-v-centralnoj-azii-38506.shtml

13. The 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States: will life be safer? Exclusive.kz, 06.11.2023. https://exclusive.kz/x-sammit-organizaczii-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-zhit-stanet-bezopasnej/

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Reports

The 10th jubilee summit of the Organization of Turkic States: global reach and pragmatic focus

photo: akorda.kz
7 2023

The 10th jubilee summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) took place on 3 November in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The heads of the states from the OTC members participated in it from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, as well as from the observer states Hungary and Turkmenistan. The final declaration of the Council of the heads of OTS states emphasizes that all the leaders confirmed their commitment to develop multi-lateral cooperation in the OTS format on the basis of common history, language, culture, traditions and values of the Turkic people. The document also talks about the importance of consultations to develop a common position on the regional and global issues pertaining to the interests of the Turkic world. On top of that, the 10th OTS summit conducted under the slogan «The Turkic Era» adopted the Astana Charter. The initiative of creating the OTS civil defence mechanism deserves special attention; the summit assigned the member countries to complete the draft agreement on this mechanism by the year end. [1]

The majority of the OTS countries media broadly and positively cover this jubilee meeting. The common focus is on the aspirations of the Turkic states to expand their connections and to strengthen the relations inside the Organization. In general, all the speeches of the OTS leaders may be divided into two categories global reach and pragmatic focus.

Large-scale tasks

For example, the Azerbaijan media emphasize in every possible way that for Baku the cooperation with OTS countries is one of the key priorities of the foreign policy. The main objective is growth of the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Turkic states up to USD 15 bn in the nearest years. It is emphasized that the Council of cooperation of the Turkic states (the Turkic Council) was established in Azerbaijan at Nakhichevan summit in 2009. Certain attention is paid to the lucky geographical position of the OTS countries on the transportation route forming the Medial corridor. Azerbaijan situates at the East-West interface plays a definitive role in the context of having high transit potential. The unreserved support of the OTS countries during the righteous struggle of Azerbaijan in Karabakh and their follow-up assistance the rehabilitation of the region is especially emphasized. [2]

Kazakhstan media are especially focused on the topic of the global role of the OTS and on the growing influence of this Organization. «The Turkic world is interacting with the global powers based on the principles of equality. Other states now have to take into account the key objectives of our Organization», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan, noted in his welcoming speech. [3] He announced eight priorities for strengthening the Turkic peoples solidarity and improving the potential of the Organization. For example, Tokayev believes that popularizing the Turkic unity is of great importance. Hence, the flags and emblems of the OTS and its structures need to be brough to a common standard. It is also necessary to systematize the standards for assuring unimpeded export of goods to the common market, and to setup a reference center to assure mutual recognition of trials of products. At the end of his speech, the Kazakhstan President proposed a series of cultural initiatives and called for expanding the inter-regional trade and focusing on investment into the economy, developing the «green» financing market. [4]

This position of Astana in many aspects coincides with the assessments by official Ankara. Who is also focused on bright foreign policy initiatives, but proposed exclusively by the Turkish President. Recep Tayyip Erdogan started his speech at the summit congratulating Azerbaijan for «putting an end to the 30-years occupation of Karabakh». In his speech he also emphasized a serious concern about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, condemning the attacks of the non-combatants and calling both parties to immediately announce the ceasefire to protect the civilians. Erdogan separately thanked the OTS leaders for granting the observer status to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, «which is an inalienable part of the Turkic world». President Erdogan also states that transportation of Caspian natural gas to Turkey and Europe will be contributing to the well-being of the Turkic states and to the EU energy security. [5]

Political pragmatism

The most part of the speech by Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the Chairman of the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan and the Leader of the Nation, was dedicated to transport and logistics. Berdimuhamedov-senior reminded of the transport corridors coming through his country and called to «using the capabilities of Turkmenistan logistics and infrastructure». The Afghanistan Turkmenistan Azerbaijan Georgia Turkey corridor is one of them (currently the work is in progress to assure it fully coming on stream), the new Caspian Sea Black Sea corridor, as well as Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Turkmenistan Azerbaijan Turkey corridor, which is still being developed. Then the Chairman of the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan expressed interest in supplying natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Turkey and then to the European countries via the Caspian Sea. Let us note here that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov did not say anything about Turkmenistan joining the OTS as a full-fledged member, even though Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed such a wish at his meeting with Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, in Ankara. [6]

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan, skillfully combined in his speech relevant issues of the global policy, future Turkic unity tasks and practical needs of the national economy. At first, he congratulated the people of Azerbaijan with the great victory complete restoration of the territorial integrity of their country. Then the Uzbek President shared his concerns about the dangerous nature of the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East and called the parties to immediately stop the military activities. In the end, Shavkat Mirziyoyev made several remarkable proposals: e.g., develop the Turkic World Charter to reflect «the unity and cohesion of the Turkic nations, their great history, abundant culture and archetypical values». His other proposals were far more pragmatic: ramp up the efforts to establish the Turkic Bank of Development and locate it in Tashkent. The Council of railway authorities of the OTS countries with the Directorate in Uzbekistan was proposed to develop the logistics chains. [7]

Sadyr Japarov, the President of Kyrgyzstan, emphasized that the current OTS summit was taking place in the time of crisis, but his participants had all the possibilities to achieve the established targets by using their political will and economic strength. «I urge to create more loyal conditions for the manufacturers and business people of the Turkic states. Business forums prove the interests of businesses in implementing joint projects», Sapar Japarov noted. The President of Kyrgyzstan emphasized the enhancement of the OTS countries interaction in the sphere of the digital transformation. Japarov also proposed the OTS leaders to ramp up their efforts to develop tourism and call Kyrgyz Dzhalal Abad the center of tourism of the Turkic world. At the end of the Astana summit, it was declared that the next summit of the Organization of Turkic States would take place in Kyrgyzstan in 2024. [8] This means that the pragmatic position always has better chances to be heard vs the romantic one.

Signed documents

12 documents were signed at the 10th OTS summit:

  • Astana Act;
  • Declaration of the 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution of the heads of the states about awarding the «Highest Order of the Turkic World» to Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan;
  • Resolution of the heads of the states about granting the status of financial centers of the Turkic world;
  • Resolution about adopting new flags of Turkic cooperation organizations;
  • Resolution of the heads of the states about appointments;
  • Resolution about granting the status of the observer to the Organization of Economic Cooperation in the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution about making 6 February the Day of Remembrance of the Disaster Victims and Solidarity of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution about the Rules of managing the budget of the Secretariat of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Resolution about developing the Regulation on the Permanent Representatives of the Organization of Turkic States;
  • Protocol of cooperation between the relevant institutions of the OTS member countries;
  • Joint Action Plan (Road Map) of the Organization of Turkic States for implementation of the Transport Program for 2023-2027.

Expert opinions

The evaluations of the OTS Astana summit outcomes by the experts are far more skeptical versus the official evaluations. Daniyar Ashimbayev, the analyst from Kazakhstan, emphasizes that neither one of the OTS presidential press relations services had published the texts of the above-listed 12 documents adopted by the summit. [9] Only the OTS Secretariat published the Final Declaration text of 156 items containing just a list of events. For example, item 121 «We welcome the setup of the Commission on the unified alphabet of the Turkic World» reflects the idea of one leader President Erdogan, while as other OTS leaders simply did not say anything on this issue. The political analyst Ashimbayev also pays attention to excessive diversity and inconsistency of the topics raised in the OTS leaders speeches.

Ravshan Nazarov, the Senior Fellow of the Institute of State and Law of the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, believes that currently the OTS is undergoing the primary integration stage similar to the European Union. According to Nazarov, the OTS is an interesting, dynamic, progressive and promising project of international integration, including the Balkan countries and Hungary. However, Alexander Karavayev, a Russian expert, believes that «the Caucasus and the Turkic states are the only region where Ankara can form certain integration communities with neo-Ottoman idea as the driver». Neither the Balkans, nor Africa, nor the Middle East have political support of Turkey comparable to Central Asia and Southern Caucasus. Exporting non-resource commodities and mutual investment in Central Asia and Turkey are still at a low level vs similar metrics of Russian-Turkish or Russia Central Asia trade turnover. [10]

Regional analysis emphasizes that for President Erdogan the priorities in the OTS are strengthening economic ties with the former Soviet republics rich with natural resources. The political regimes of Turkey and Central Asian countries are trying to coordinate their positions in foreign and cultural policy, but from the standpoint of investment, Ankaras influence is rather limited. Asel Tutumlu, the political analyst from the Middle East University of Northern Cyprus, believes that «certain groups may be formed within the Organization of the Turkic States». Five Central-Asian countries obviously attempt to develop foreign policy of a single region. And then these five countries are building their political relations with the other OTS member countries including Azerbaijan and Turkey.

These expert opinions are confirmed by specific facts. For example, Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan, talked on the summit about the investment to OTS countries in the amount of USD 20 bn. The major part of such investment goes to Turkey. [11] Other three countries of the OTS (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) have a certain sense of them not having the first positions in the Organization; besides, they have their own vision of policy priorities and their regional unity. The integration of these two sub-systems within one organization is a big a complicated issue. The future described in «The Concept of the Turkic World until 2040» will depend on how successful these two groups will be in finding the opportunities for practical interaction and cooperation.

Threats and risks

Let us remind here that the long-term OTS plan is fixed in the document «The Concept of the Turkic World until 2040» adopted two years ago. It describes the ways the Turkic organization will be using collective resources of its member countries and will become the united power influential on the global arena. However, the recent OTS summit showed that the high-sounding words are very different from specific actions. For example, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, used the Astana summit for expressing his strong support of Hamas in the conflict in the Middle East. However, his colleagues within the Turkic World are not rushing to take a similar straight-forward position. During the official part of the summit dedicated to the problems of the Middle East, only three Presidents expressed their views on the Middle East conflict, and besides the formidable Turkish President, they were the peace-loving Presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Shavkat Mirziyoyev talked only about the right of Palestinian people to have an independent state, And Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the aid to Palestinian people in the amount of USD 1 mln, and both of them were politically correct in referring to the UN Charter.

Hence, the OTS leaders did not act in a cohesive way on this issue and did not go beyond their territorial and political boundaries, which could not stay unnoticed by regional experts. Moreover, the informed sources in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan expressed certain concerns with respect of the open support of Hamas on behalf of Turkey. As we can see, after the Astana summit Turkmenistan kept its status of the observer in the OTS and obviously it is not rushing to obtain a full-fledged member status in this Organization. As the analysts of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies noted earlier, «Ashkhabad embraces the «active neutrality» concept, i.e., participates as an observer in many important regional formats from CIS and EAEU to OTS and SCO». [12] The interests of Turkmenistan are concentrated not only in creating the infrastructure for the natural gas export from Turkmenistan, but also in developing the internal infrastructure and new gas fields for the national growth. In this respect, Turkey cannot offer a lot of novelties compared to China or Russia, which historically are the stakeholders in the domestic economy of Turkmenistan.

Another important issue is the trend for creating the new collective security system in the Caspian Region. Turkey is trying to position itself as a strong player in assuring stability in its macro-region: not only by acting as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine or helping in resolving the conflicts in Southern Caucasus, but also is actively participating in forming the balance of forces in the Middle East. Now the issues of the collective security system in the Caspian Region, which appeared on the radar two years ago within the TURKSOY organization, are coming to the fore. The main novelty of the jubilee summit in Astana was the decision about creation of the so-called OTS Civil Defence Mechanism. The national governments are to adopt the draft of the respective agreement before the end of 2023. The Declaration contains the following interesting wording: organize regular inter-governmental consultations on this issue «to assure the close coordination and cooperation on security issues of mutual interest». In particular, this is about cooperation in the defence industry and military cooperation. [13] In essence, the OTS Civil Defence Mechanism should be a soft format of military integration for the Turkic World countries being the members of different military blocks, such as NATO or CSTO.

Analysts believe that, today Turkey is interested not only in selling its UAVs ror setting up their manufacturing in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but also in noticeable enhancing its military presence in the Caspian Region countries. For example, by selling tanks and modern artillery manufacturing technologies or by offering assistance in upgrading the navy forces of the Caspian Sea. We need to understand that currently over 90% of military supplies to this region are coming from Russia, and Turkish defence technologies [based on NATO standards] are not always compatible. For example, Kazakhstan may setup the manufacturing of the Turkish UAVs. But if the countries of the region will be developing their domestic defence industries based on NATO standards competing with the Russian military equipment, they may have big problems. According to the political analyst Asel Tutumlu, «the military elites of Kazakhstan and Central Asia was trained and brought up in Russian military training institutes, and this will not even come into their minds». However, the process of the generation change in the elites of the Caspian Region countries is actively going on, and this may affect their foreign policy and military priorities.

Interim results

The geopolitical context of the OTS Astana summit should be viewed in the light of on-going conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Turkey recognizes big risks for transit via the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea both from the South and from the North, because the conflict in the Middle East may be very long. Today, it is important for Ankara to create the possibility for alternative transit along the Trans-Caspian corridor, which is especially valuable in the context of the Western trade embargo against Russia. In this respect, the interests of Turkey coincide with the interests of the Central Asian countries, which are in a difficult situation due to the secondary sanctions and blocking the traditional export routes. However, this current balance of interests is not a long-term solution, but rather an equation with multiple unknowns. A lot will depend on the potential parameters of the ceasefire in Ukraine, on the scale of the growing escalation in the Middle East and on the possible de-stabilization in the Caspian Region.

The geopolitical context of the OTS summit looks like a continuation of multi-year efforts of Ankara to build its own macro-region. Let us note that any empire structure has very high costs for the parent state, and the Turkish economy is currently facing very hard times. Regional experts believe that today the OTS targets are overly ambitious. More than that, so far only Azerbaijan and Turkey are ready to invest additional efforts into implementing such a huge project. We also need to take into consideration that Russia has very strong economic and political influence in three OTS member countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Despite the pompous rhetoric of the Turkish politicians about the cultural heritage and enhancement of stability and influence, regional analysts note that the trade turnover between Turkey and the Caspian countries is practically not growing, contrary to the trade with Russia and China. In such situation, Ankara may be tempted to substitute its economic weakness for a military component the proposal to provide power donorship and military technologies to the OTS countries. However, for Russia and its allies the switch of the standardization process from the economic sphere to the military one is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to negative implications.

Both Western and regional media after the OTS summit are writing a lot about the forthcoming and allegedly inevitable competition between Russia and Turkey. In the current realities many contradictions and conflicts are quickly eliminated within the strategic partnership of Moscow and Ankara. The long-term cooperation of Russia with the Central Asian countries within other organizations and treaties (CIS, EAEU and CSTO) will continue. It seems that currently the objectives of Turkey and Azerbaijan are complementary enough to the interests of the Central Asian countries and do not contradict to the interests of Russia. Moscow understands that developing alternative corridors is useful for the Russian economy as well. As was noted in the previous CISS materials, the strategically correct step to remove the potential contradiction is the accession of Russia to the OTS with a status of an observer country, and then as a full-fledged member of this Organization. Kazakhstan as the closest ally of Moscow and the OTS chair in 2024, could practically promote this important initiative.

1. Final Declaration of the 10th OTS summit adopted. TRT Russian, 03.11.2023. https://www.trtrussian.com/novosti-mir/prinyata-itogovaya-deklaraciya-h-sammita-soveta-glav-gosudarstv-otg-15673084

2. The OTS jubilee summit: on the way to the invincible Turkic union. 1news.az, 03.11.2023. https://1news.az/news/20231103123102128-YUbileinyi-sammit-OTG-Na-puti-k-nesokrushimomu-tyurkskomu-soyuzu

3. The Turkish World is interacting with the global powers on the principles of equality Tokayev on the OTS summit. CentralAsia (KZ), 03.11.2023. https://centralasia.media/news:2013944

4. The «Turkic World», traditions, priorities and integration. Tokayevs statements at the Turkic states summit. Kursiv, 03.11.2023. https://kz.kursiv.media/2023-11-03/lsbs-tokaevotgsamm/

5. The leaders confirmed their commitment to develop multi-lateral cooperation within the OTS based on the common history, language, culture, traditions and values of the Turkic nations. Anadolu Agency, 04.11.2023.

6. The Chairman of the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan took part in the summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Astana. TURKMENISTAN.RU, 04.11.2023. https://www.turkmenistan.ru/ru/articles/47248.html

7. The speech of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, at the session of the heads of the states of the Organization of Turkic States. Official website of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 04.11.2023. https://president.uz/ru/lists/view/6831

8. The next summit of the Organization of Turkic States will take place in Kyrgyzstan in 2024. TASS, 03.11.2023. https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/19192295

9. The 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States was conducted. Official website of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 03.11.2023. https://www.akorda.kz/ru/sostoyalsya-x-sammit-organizacii-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-3105444

10. Erdogan is expecting the expansion of the Organization of Turkic States. Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 02.11.2023. https://www.ng.ru/cis/2023-11-02/5_8869_organization.html

11. Ilham Aliyev took part in the Astana summit of the Organization of Turkic States. Official website of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 03.11.2023. https://president.az/ru/articles/view/62077

12. Turkmenistan proposes new initiatives on security and cooperation in Central Asia. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 31.10.2023. https://caspian.institute/product/direkciya-mezhdunarodnyh-programm-kisi/turkmenistan-vydvigaet-novye-iniciativy-po-bezopasnosti-i-sotrudnichestvu-v-centralnoj-azii-38506.shtml

13. The 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States: will life be safer? Exclusive.kz, 06.11.2023. https://exclusive.kz/x-sammit-organizaczii-tyurkskih-gosudarstv-zhit-stanet-bezopasnej/