Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan were founding members of the “Turkish Speaking Countries Cooperation Council” which was established on 3 October 2009 by the Nakhchivan agreement that signed in Nakhichevan. Uzbekistan became a full member during the 7th Congress held in October 2019. Hungary, on the other hand, became an observer member during the 6th Congress held in the city of Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan in 2018. The member states have accepted the aims and principles of the United Nations Agreement and the universal doctrines of international law. Since 1992, the Turkish council has gathered under a common political will at the ” Congresses of the Heads of States of the Turkish-Speaking States” congresses. The Turkish Council was officially established on September 16, 2010. Its name has been updated as “Turkish Council Congresses”. (Tosun, 2020)
The Flag of the Turkish Council was presented during the 2nd Congress of the Turkish Council held in Bishkek on 22 August 2012, prior to the 2nd Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This flag bearing the symbols of the countries which are members of the Council, the star of the Azerbaijan Republic flag, the blue flag of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the sun of the Kyrgyz Republic flag and the crescent of the Republic of Turkey flag. (2021)
1. Historical Background
The Turkish communities, which started a common social structure in terms of history and culture, starting from a certain region in the beginning, have become separate structures with different stages they went through in the process. When we look at the international relations literature, we see that the understanding of regionalism is explained in two ways. Between the years 1950 and 1960, with the effect of the Cold War, it is on the axis of the east and west bloc. With the softening period in the 1970s and 1980s, when it came to the 1990s, a transition was made to a phase in which neo-liberal economic policies accelerated. With the adoption and beyond of security and free trade agreements, a new multidimensional situation has emerged for Hettne. Not only Nation States but also civil society, business, and local government mechanisms are involved. (Hettne, 2008) In this respect, the regional organization is not only cooperation but also a dynamic structure that transcends the borders of the region. In addition to economic unity, different partnerships may also be possible.
Relations started in 1989 when the USSR started to lose its control, coinciding with the time of Turgut Özal. During this period, the relations that were tried to be kept to a minimum level were definitely met with Moscow. During official visits, it was aimed to keep economic and cultural relations alive. In 1991, Kurtuluş Taşkent, Head of the Department of Economics of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Halil Akıncı, First Undersecretary of the Moscow Embassy, and his delegation visited Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan between 12-29 September 1991. (Musabay Baki, 2014)
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1992, the Republic of Turkey became the first state to recognize as the Turkish republic that declared its independence in Central Asia and the Caucasus. With this turning point, attempts were made to renew the ties that had suffered during the stagnation period. For example, Turkmenistan was recognized as a state for the first time by the Republic of Turkey. The foundation of relations with Turkmenistan was laid in the time of Turgut Özal. Many Turkish business people have been encouraged to invest in Turkmenistan. These states, which were blocs during the Soviet era, have cooperated in the fields of politics, culture, education and especially economics after the bloc was overcome. The first congress, which met the Turkish-speaking countries, was organized in 1992 under the leadership of the Republic of Turkey in Ankara. It has been important to ensure peace stability in the regional and global framework at the congresses gathered in order to solve the political and economic problems of the countries due to internal and external reasons. Congresses continued from 1992 until the 2000s. In 2006 and 2008, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan withdrew from the Congress for similar reasons. (Kaygusuz, 2021)
This organization, which officially continued under the name of the “Turkish Council” after September 16, 2010, has aimed to realize many economic moves that could not be made under the influence of the USSR before. For example, unprocessed raw materials and agricultural products were sold to the USSR in the council member Turkish states because their industry technologies were not developed. The USSR processed the raw materials it bought and exported them at a high price. For this reason, many Soviet Countries could only meet their needs and infrastructure services with their income. (Musabay Baki, 2014) At the same time, the Russification policy that has been going on since the Tsarist Russia has also been valid for Eurasia. In the event that the peoples in the occupied region, which started in the 1860s, were subjected to ethnic cleansing, many indigenous people were tried to make a minority. There were also problems with the USSR in terms of language and religion. Today, Russian is accepted as the official language in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
2. Organizational Structure and Fields of Activity
The influence of the understanding of regionalism with a pan-Turkist approach is seen in the Turkic Council. The objectives for the region are expressed by Foreign Minister Halit Akıncı as “Strengthening and strengthening the sovereignty and independence of brother countries, ensuring the adoption of a democratic and secular society model based on a free market economy, being an intermediary in their integration with the world, and the European Security Cooperation Organization (CSCE), especially the United Nations (UN), played a pioneering role for the system to be effective integration, such as ECO, development of relations with Turkey in all fields .” (Akıncı)
It is stated that many non-governmental organizations and private sectors help to form new policies by focusing on this area. It was decided that economic planning will be carried out by Turkey Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). TIKA works towards development assistance and increasing employment. (Güneş, 2012) In addition, with the aim of mutually encouraging investment with Eximbank loans, the economy and commercial cooperation gained great momentum. Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline to be built through Turkey, has played a major role in economic diplomacy towards Eurasia. (Bilgin, 2012)
If we take a brief look at the council organization structure:
» Council of Heads of State,
» Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
» Aksakals Council,
» Senior Officials Committee
“The main decision-making body of the Turkish Council is the Presidents Council, chaired by the country holding the Presidency (in alphabetical order). The activities of the Turkish Council are coordinated and supported by the Secretariat based in Istanbul. The Turkish Council is also the International Organization of Turkish Culture (TURKSOY) in Ankara, the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkish Speaking Countries (TURKPA) in Baku, the International Turkish Academy in Nur-Sultan, the Turkish Culture and Heritage Foundation in Baku. and an umbrella organization for existing cooperation mechanisms such as the Turkish Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Istanbul.” (Organizasyon Şeması , 2021)
The Turkish Council established by the Nakhichevan agreement has a legal personality. The function of the Council, which has a unique institutional structure, is the Senior Officials Committee and then the Ministerial Meeting on emerging issues. Senior Officials Committees make preparations and submit them to the approval of the ministers. It is negotiated and finalized at the Heads of State Congress. The General Secretariat of the Turkish Council is responsible for the implementation of the decisions taken. (Kaygusuz, 2021) The Presidency of the Council is carried out by the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, Mr. Ilham Aliyev.
The Turkish Council renews its targets within the framework of comprehensive cooperation with its members. It aims to remove obstacles to development in the political field, economic issues, customs and transportation, culture, education and science, tourism, diaspora and international issues, and to implement diplomatic solutions. “Transport Coordination Board” has been established with the works carried out in the field of customs and transportation union. The idea of developing a line that produces solutions for the problems that arise was put forward. Silk road tourism is planned to be revitalized and introduced to foreign countries. There are also various partnerships in the field of education. The “Turkish Universities Association”, which was established during the congresses, was opened within 15 university councils operating in four member countries. (Tosun, 2020)
Within the Turkish Council, organizations such as the International Organization of Turkish Culture (TURKSOY), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkish Speaking Countries (TURKPA), the Turkish Academy, the Turkish Culture and Heritage Foundation, the Turkish Business Council are active.
Prepared by Sıla Bal for the The FEAS Journal.
Akıncı, H. (no date). Açılış Konuşmalar. 24-26.
Bilgin, M. (2012). Türkiye’nin Enerji Güvenliği ve Bölgesel İlişkileri”, içinde 21. Der Yayınları.
Güneş, H. (2012). Türkiye Orta-Asya İlişkileri”, İçinde 21. Yüzyılda Türk Dış Politikasının Analizi. Der Yayınları.
Hettne, B. (2008). Teori ve Pratikte Güvenliğin Bölgeselleşmesi. Uluslararası İlişkiler, 5(18), 88.
Kaygusuz, Y. (2021). Kuruluşunun 10.Yılında Türk Konseyi’nin Türkiye ile Diğer Üye Ülkeler Arasındaki Ticarete Etkileri. TESAM Akademi, 8(1), 199-236. doi:10.30626/tesamakademi.748658
Logo and Flag. (2021). Türk Keneşi: https://www.turkkon.org/tr/logo-ve-bayrak
Musabay Baki, P. (2014). Avrasya’da bölgesel işbirliği sürecinden işbirliği mekanizmasına: Türk Konseyi. Bilge Strateji Dergisi, 133-162.
Organizasyon Şeması . (2021, Nisan 8). Türk Keneşi : Retrieved from https://www.turkkon.org/tr/organizasyon-tarihcesi
Tosun, E. (2020). Türk Dili Konuşan Ülkeler İşbirliği Konseyi (Türk Keneşi). Tarih İncelemeleri, 21-25.