An hour of solidarity: Turkic leaders show determination for further integration
    Together through tough times

    ANALYTICS  17 March 2023 - 17:55

    Murad Abiyev

    The earthquake that hit fraternal Türkiye on February 6 this year killed some 50,000 people. The entire world, with the exception of some unhealthy segments infected with Turkophobia, mourned for the victims of the disaster. The Turkic states in particular have taken the tragedy to heart.

    At the same time, in the camp of Türkiye's rivals, there is ill-concealed gloating. They claim that the country is "weakened" and its geopolitical ambitions are not destined to come true. In Armenia, this tragic event seems to have even added adventurism to foreign policy statements. It is not surprising, because behind the neighbouring country looms a state that loathes anything related to Turks and Islam. Although the opponents of the Turkic world are wishful thinking when they talk about Türkiye's "collapse", it does not exclude the fact that the elements have challenged Türkiye and its brotherly countries. A disaster of this magnitude is in any case a serious moral and material blow, and their readiness for future challenges depends on how quickly and effectively the Turkic countries overcome the consequences of this catastrophe. Thus, what happened in Türkiye was undoubtedly a severe test of strength for the whole Turkic world against the background of potential threats, including those of a military nature.

    The Azerbaijani leadership is well aware of this. It was not by chance that President Ilham Aliyev convened an emergency summit of the Organisation of Turkic States in Ankara entitled "Disaster - Emergency Management and Humanitarian Aid", dedicated not only to a high-level discussion of the emergency situation caused by the earthquake in Türkiye, but also to the need to create mechanisms within the OTG for close multilateral cooperation and coordination in combating natural disasters, and to hold regular consultations on the current challenges.

    In his speech at the summit, President Aliyev emphasised Türkiye's special role for the whole Turkic world: "Everyone in the world now sees Türkiye's military power, its great success in the defence industry. Ensuring continued stability in Turkey in these years, the development of the country is an important condition for the whole Turkic world".

    It would be hard to overestimate the role of the Republic of Türkiye in the Turkic world. With its unbroken centuries-long experience of statehood and its rich, no less importantly, military construction practice, this country is and will be the backbone of Turkic integration.

    In the recent past, for a number of objective reasons, Türkiye itself was not ready to assume the leading civilizational role of uniting the Turkic world. With the Justice and Development Party led by Erdogan coming to power in the country, solidarity with other Turkic states has received much more attention and energy. A prime example of this policy was assistance in the training of military personnel for the Azerbaijani Army and support for Azerbaijan on the diplomatic front during the 44-day war.

    The alliance between Azerbaijan and Türkiye has demonstrated to all others that unity with the most powerful Turkic state is significant, I would say decisive factor in defending the national interests of each individual Turkic country.

    However, Türkiye is not yet a superpower. But many Turkic countries cannot strengthen their foreign policy status on their own. It follows that only by working together, using a range of levers of engagement, optimising goals and forces, helping Türkiye to lead and seeking its diplomatic, state and military support when needed, can a common Turkic alliance be elevated to a political alliance with superpower status.

    In the light of the expanding agenda of the Turkic world, Ilham Aliyev in his speech also touched on the issue of the Turks living outside the Turkic countries.

    "Dear colleagues, the Turkic world is not limited to the borders of Turkic states. The Turkic world covers a much larger geography. There are more than 50 million Azerbaijanis living in the world. Only 10 million of them live in the independent Republic of Azerbaijan", said the head of state.

    I would like this message to be correctly understood in those countries that tolerate aggression against the Turks, hoping for resignation of this part of numerous population. On the other hand, this statement clearly calls on independent Turkic states not to ignore violations of the rights of the Turkic populations of any countries.

    Continuing this thought and talking about the post-conflict situation in the South Caucasus, Aliyev stressed: "Just as we, the Azerbaijani state, will ensure the individual rights and security of Armenians living in Karabakh, Armenia must also ensure the rights and security of Western Azerbaijanis based on the principle of reciprocity."

    Thus, slowly but steadily, the interests of Turkic communities around the world will come under the scrutiny of the OTS.

    The integration of the Turkic world is not a nationalist project. It developed against the background of neo-colonial encroachments from the West, the North and the East. Situated inside the "West-Russia-China" triangle, the Turkic world, first, has realized its nodal importance in world economic processes concerning the export and transit of goods and energy resources; and second, it has sensed the vulnerability to external threats. It is this bundle of issues - economic optimization and state security - that makes it increasingly clear to the Turkic leaders the need for closer integration reinforced by ethnic, cultural and religious commonality.

    It is not by chance that Turkmenistan, which has been acting as an observer in the OTS with some caution until now, finally expressed hope through the mouth of Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov that it would be accepted into the Turkic Union during the next summit.

    The credibility of the organisation and its significant role in economic processes was demonstrated by the presence of a high guest at the forum - Hungarian Prime Minister (the country has observer status in the OTS) Viktor Orban, who said the following: "I think that the Turkic states of the South Caucasus and Central Asia will play a key role in this sense (speaking about Hungary's economic interests - ed.). By continuing our relations within the framework of mutual respect, we can set an example for the whole world. To this end, Hungary intends to contribute to the strengthening of joint efforts in the fields of energy, trade and transport."

    Two important documents were adopted at the end of the summit: a protocol on the establishment of a civil defence mechanism of the OTS and an agreement on the establishment of a Turkic Investment Fund.

    Thus, in a difficult hour, the Turkic leaders found the strength to be determined to further integration. Solidarity has been declared the cornerstone. All that is left to do is to turn it into reality.


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