ANKARA–Calling on the leaders of Turkic-speaking Central Asian nations to join forces, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested establishing a union of Turkish-speaking States as a primary tool for coordinating joint moves in the foreign policy arena.
The prime minister also urged a common stance on regional issues, such as Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and warned that a lack of cooperation in the face of these problems could prove costly. "What will our state of affairs be if we do not cooperate?" Erdogan said. "The way to success passes through full cooperation and solidarity in today’s world. If we don’t cooperate, then they will tear us to shreds. It is not possible for us to reach the level we deserve by isolating ourselves from the world."
Erdogan made his call for a union of Turkic-speaking states and political unity among these states on Saturday, when he was delivering a keynote speech at the 11th Congress of Friendship, Brotherhood and Cooperation of Turkic-speaking Countries and Communities held in Baku. Foundations of brotherhood in the Turkic world are based on its ancient values and its strong historical, cultural and humanitarian ties, Erdogan told the gathering, which was attended by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat.
The union is a project the Turkish government has long been working on remarks, a senior government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman on Sunday. The idea was originally introduced by Turkey back in September 2006, at the 10th Congress of Friendship, Brotherhood and Cooperation of Turkic-speaking Countries and Communities held in Turkey’s Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya, the same source said, adding that the idea was taken one step further in Baku.
"Erdogan has in mind a dream of a Turkic world that moves together particularly in the foreign policy field and which protects the rights of one another in every issue," the source said. Bringing to mind the fact that neither Turkmen’stan nor Uzbekistan participated in the gathering in Baku, he added that Erdogan will pay visits to both of these countries in the near future as well as to other Turkic-speaking countries to promote the idea.
Before the establishment of such a union, Erdogan will make an effort to resolve disputed issues among the Turkic republics. The prime minister in particular aims to help resolve border disputes between Azerbaijan and Turkmen’stan and between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The Turkish government, for now, doesn’t envision the planned union serving as a mechanism of economic cooperation, however, it believes that economic cooperation may become one of the key aspects of the union, especially if full harmony is achieved.
"We should well know that there is no barrier before us preventing us from burning a torch of revival via resurrecting opportunities that we have missed, and we should make sure that this historical opportunity is realized," Erdogan said in Baku. "As the English-speaking, French-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries come together around the same language and culture, we can also constitute such a structure which will allow coordination among us concerning foreign policy issues," he said, noting that it was time for institutionalizing the summit of the heads of state of Turkic-speaking countries via establishing a permanent secretariat.