Victoria Panfilova, columnist for "NG”, exclusively to VK
The Third Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States held in Gabala confirmed the opinions of those experts who felt that the event should be treated with restraint and that its overall subject is mostly humanitarian.
This was expressed in response to strong statements by adherents of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. For some reason, any multilateral meeting in the post-Soviet area, if they are not attended or initiated by Russia, are considered to be against those alliances the existence or creation of which are in the scope of Russian interests.
By itself, the Union of Turkic-Speaking States, no doubt, has enviable potential. But this potential is yet to be implemented. There are some problems with this; simply "the caravan moves very slowly." Perhaps this explains the disappointment of Kyrgyz President Alamazbek Atambayev, who said at the summit that the organization's effectiveness should be increased. The disappointment is clear – Kyrgyzstan is in dire economic straits, and its hopes are associated with external assistance. Bishkek counts on getting out of the failure and keeping afloat using the "Turkic-speaking relatives."
The coloring of the event in Qabala was created by the participation of Turkmenistan, represented by one of its vice-premiers. This gave the summit reason to hope that the next time the meeting will be attended by the president of this country, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. As for another Turkic country, Uzbekistan, this time Tashkent did not show interest in what is happening. And here there is also a kind of consistency. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov requires concrete steps and efficiency from all alliances attended by his country. Given the lack of these points, Tashkent has suspended membership in a number of organizations in the former Soviet Union. So for Uzbekistan to be involved, or at least increasing its interest, some promising projects should be ventured. Although it would be fair to say that something has already been achieved.
In particular, Turkish President Abdullah Gul in his speech touched upon the regional construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. According to him, this project will enhance economic cooperation between the countries of the Turkic world. "The continuations of this project are the Baku-Aktau and Baku-Turkmenbashi ferry routes, and the project" Marmarai", which will allow for transport of goods from China to Europe to restore the historic Silk Road," the president of Turkey said. Abdullah Gul in his speech drew attention to the favorable geo-strategic position of Turkic-speaking states, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
The head of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev – perhaps the main supporter of integration projects in the post-Soviet space – could not conceal his satisfaction that the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States still works, contrary to the skeptics, and this is important. He expressed hope that the organization will develop, and a variety of ideas relating to economic cooperation will soon begin to move into action. In addition to participating in the official events, the leader of Kazakhstan held bilateral talks with the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and with the president of Turkey Abdullah Gul.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held a hard working week. Before the summit in Gabala, he received Russian President Vladimir Putin. Most experts believe that these meetings became a kind of support for the campaign of the Azerbaijani leader. Nevertheless, they note that, even without them, his victory is seen as predetermined. The summit in Qabala joins the already weighty "Karabakh folder" of the President of Azerbaijan with another document supporting the territorial integrity of the country. Abdullah Gul said almost immediately upon arrival in Azerbaijan that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the most important issues on the agenda of the Turkic world. He stressed that maintaining the status quo in the Karabakh conflict is unacceptable. "We will do everything possible to support the initiative for a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I hope the day will come when we will meet in a town in Nagorno-Karabakh," Gul said.
Ultimately, the 13th paragraph of the final declaration of the summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States can be called by Gul’s name, as its content is close to the performance of the Turkish president. It notes that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the biggest challenge to regional stability and cooperation. The document stipulates that the summit support steps "towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict within the internationally-recognized borders of Azerbaijan."
In addition to the Karabakh conflict, the participants in Qabala at the level of foreign ministers recorded their attitude to the events in Egypt. The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States adopted a joint statement in which it expressed regret over the deaths of hundreds of people as a result of the use of force in Egypt in response to the demonstrations: "We believe that civilian casualties are unacceptable and express our condolences to their families and wish a full and speedy recovery to the injured." The Ministers stressed the "urgent need for restraint and reconciliation in the country and called for the restoration of security, democracy and stability." At the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a protocol on cooperation was also signed.
Director of the Center for Public Policy Research, Vladimir Yevseyev, considers the creation of a common economic market as the main purpose of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States. "But here is the problem: In order to organize such a market, you need a motor. This could be Turkey. But at the moment it is not very ready to this. It’s too involved in Syrian affairs, and this brings more and more problems and great internal instability. For example, in Lebanon two Turkish pilots were kidnapped... Turkey is now even more immersed in its internal affairs - it has to ensure its internal stability,” Yevseyev said. According to him, Turkey is not now ready to change the vector that was directed not towards Central Asia but to the Middle East. "Changing the vector requires investment of resources, which may not be present under the conditions of some internal instability,” Yevseyev said. The expert does not rule out that under the current difficult situation, some states may try to replace Turkey: "Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan could take over some functions, but it is not clear how they will negotiate." "Turkey's attempts to return to Central Asia have been made, but they are not financially supported. Now it is clear that Turkey cannot undertake any major investment of money that will slow down the development of the market. But at the same time more freedom for Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan is created. For Kazakhstan, which likes integrations, there is a new opportunity, and it could come up with some initiative. The other members of the organization are led by them," Yevseyev said.