Shusha summit paves way for enhanced Turkic integration, digitalization
    Garabagh Declaration

    ANALYTICS  09 July 2024 - 15:43

    Murad Abiyev

    An informal summit of the Organisation of Turkic States (OTS) was held on 5-6 July in the city of Shusha. The event adopted the Garabagh Declaration, a policy document that sets out the OTS's development plan and roadmap for the organisation's activities in the coming years.

    One of the first paragraphs of the declaration voices an idea that can be called the leitmotif of the development of cooperation between the Turkic countries: "(The Heads of State) stress the necessity to set more ambitious goals in view of potential of Turkic States in global scope, put in force relevant mechanisms and regulations to effectively implement the OTS tasks and purposes for building sustainable future by enhancing joint efforts and undertaking regional projects of strategic importance”.

    It is within the framework of more ambitious goals that the main agenda items of the Garabagh Declaration should be understood. Among them is the call to strengthen cooperation between member states to optimise transport operations, customs procedures and the introduction of digital technologies.

    In general, the theme of digital technology and digitalisation runs through the OTS' program of cooperation as expressed in the declaration. Thus, the document notes the steady growth in regional trade and the willingness of states to take concrete measures to increase trade to its true potential in the coming years, and emphasises the importance of removing technical barriers to trade without prejudice to international obligations and accelerating the conclusion of the DEPA (Digital Economy Partnership Agreement) textual negotiations.

    The topic of digitalisation was also reflected in the paragraph regarding the implementation of the Digital Silk Way project, which aims to create a new telecommunication backbone route between Europe and Asia using the existing capacities/infrastructure of the OTS countries, as well as cooperation and exchange between the Turkic states on further development of digital government (e-government) infrastructures.

    The declaration also touched upon such an important topic as cooperation in addressing climate change and its impact on the sustainable development of Turkic states through unified climate action. The document also reflects the development of concepts of climate-resilient "smart" cities and villages in the Turkic states to improve the quality of life, promote sustainable development and stimulate economic growth by improving digital infrastructure, public services and sustainable practices with a focus on the integration of clean energy resources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric energy to support climate action. To this end, the parties will initiate discussions on the establishment of a Digital Platform of the OTS on Climate and Environment and an OTS Forum on Climate Resilient Villages.

    In general, the sides expressed their commitment to strategic partnership between the Turkic states in the field of energy, including the development of cooperation in renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, noting in particular the recent progress in the project to integrate the energy systems of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan ("Green Corridor").

    Of particular interest was the paragraph on the importance of creating a large language model of Member States for the successful development of AI projects and for promoting intercultural communication, developing educational platforms, improving health technologies and promoting economic integration.

    So, the issue of creating a common Turkic language is not far off. This process will not be easy or short, as the Turkic languages are sometimes strikingly different from each other. Specialists from a number of professions, from linguists to programmers, will have to make thorough efforts in this direction.

    A huge success of the summit, and this was enshrined in the declaration, was Hungary's accession to the Agreement Establishing the Turkic Investment Fund. And this is despite the fact that Hungary still has the status of an observer country in the OTS.

    Having reviewed the text of the declaration, I would like to return to the preamble of the document, one of the paragraphs of which expresses its core idea. It states that "current geopolitical and security challenges which the world faces, require the consolidated position of the Turkic States to act as a single force that necessitates regular consultations on regional and international matters of mutual interest".

    From this point of view, it seems particularly significant that the declaration reflects the intention to continue joint activities in the field of defence industry. At this point, perhaps it would be appropriate to quote the words from President Ilham Aliyev's welcoming speech to the participants of the Shusha Summit.

    "The Organization of Turkic States should become one of the prominent international forces... The 21st century must be a century of progress of the Turkic world… I am sure that the Garabagh Declaration that we will sign today and the decisions we have made will further strengthen solidarity in the Turkic world, while enhancing the reputation of the Organization of Turkic States in the international arena”.

    The Garabagh Declaration is the result of titanic work and, at the same time, a challenge for future achievements. The paragraphs of the declaration set before the various institutions and agencies of our states the enormous task of developing and coordinating the most complex programs, processes and projects. It puts the Turkic idea in tangible clothes of practical action. Turkic integration is becoming flesh and blood.


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