OTS Hosts Ninth Summit in Samarkand
Author: Haley Nelson
Nov 16, 2022
The Organization of Turkic States (OTS) held its ninth summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on November 10-11 to provide a platform for multilateral cooperation in the region. OTS announced significant developments that will advance the trade and finance agenda of the organization. Those attending the summit included the heads of state of Azerbaijan, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Türkiye, and Uzbekistan, as well as former President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and OTS Secretary-General Baghdad Amreyev.
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev hosted this year’s summit that focused on the "New era for the Turkic civilization: Towards common development and prosperity." President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed the summit and held individual meetings with other member-state leaders as he passed the rotating chairmanship position to Uzbekistan. Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also announced the appointment of Kyrgyz Ambassador Kubanicbek Omuraliyev as the next Secretary-General of the Organization of Turkic States. Uzbekistan's leadership received the 20-year roadmap for the organization and region, known as the 'Vision Document,' which outlines economic, trade, investment, and transport strategies.
To increase regional connectivity, Erdoğan urged OTS member-states to develop a common security concept to form a cohesive strategy against emerging threats, and he additionally asked members to cooperate on a policy to prevent and manage irregular migration. . "In order to fundamentally change the situation in this strategic direction” Mirziyoyev called for “an initiative to establish a new area of economic opportunities.” He announced, through the creation of an International Turkic Economic Forum, that member-states and potential investors will be given the opportunity to discuss economic challenges and increase trade. He asked members “to join the system of electronic exchange of permits in the field of transport, recently introduced between Türkiye and Uzbekistan." Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev supported this notion and added that in this transition period, it is necessary for the OTS to “increase the potential of transport and transit communications and maximize the use of their capabilities.”
According to Tokayev, in the past 15 years, Kazakhstan has invested $35 billion in infrastructure to improve its logistics efficiency, and by 2025, another $20 billion will be raised from investors. He pointed to the Transcaspian route, running through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Türkiye, as a “striking example” of successful cooperation and connectivity. To attract investors to the logistics sector, the summit discussed the implementation of the Turkish Investment Fund.
Earlier this year, Çavuşoğlu had proposed the creation of the Turkish Investment Fund, a program designed to spur investment opportunities in the region. Stating that Türkiye’s main priority remains "connections and transport corridors between member countries.” He further noted that “long-term strategies […] will make us resilient in the face of shocks” and that one of these long-term strategies includes “the creation of the Turkish Investment Fund.” This investment fund will help facilitate the “efficient management of funding resources and international funding." Considering other supranational organizations, such as the European Union, which also have investment funds, this is a significant step in legitimizing the OTS.
The Turkish Investment Fund was officially established at the summit, making it the “first joint financial institution established by the Turkic states,” which “aims to mobilize the economic potential of member states.” OTS President Baghdad Amreyev stated that this fund "will mainly support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by providing them finance through the fund's assets as well as other competent financial institutions."
In the cultural sphere, several announcements aimed to increase cultural unity in the region. First, Tokayev proposed the establishment of a “unified network of universities of Turkic countries, which will allow our students to study Turkic languages and get acquainted with the history and culture of fraternal peoples." He noted that preserving, studying, and passing the Turkic identity onto future generations is one of the top priorities of the OTS. It is intended to promote cultural unity by unifying higher-education institutions, according to Tokayev.
Mirziyoyev also proposed holding a Festival of Culture of the Turkic Peoples in 2023 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the organization. Additionally, he suggested the creation of a “100-volume collection, Pearls of Turkic Literature,” that will be translated into all regional languages.
Efgan Nifti, CEO of the Caspian Policy Center, stated, regarding the Investment Fund and the recent developments, “Since independence, regional integration and connectivity have been a priority of the Caspian countries. With its wide array of working groups, OTS is becoming one of the main drivers of regional cooperation.”
With this organization, the Caspian countries are provided with a platform that enables them to promote foreign investment without the direct influence of foreign nations like Russia. A region that has had limited economic independence can benefit significantly from increased connectivity. Mr. Nifti added, “OTS’s emerging influence as a viable regional platform and actor deserves close attention from international organizations and powers.”