The Organization of Turkic States Develops Coordinated Emergency Response
Author: Haley Nelson
Mar 20, 2023
The Organization of Turkic States (OTS) Summit on March 16 in Ankara served as a catalyst for cultural and humanitarian cooperation in the Turkic-speaking world by creating measures to assist countries affected by natural disasters while creating mechanisms to avert potential future consequences of natural disasters in the region. The OTS is placing itself as a pillar of Türkiye’s earthquake relief efforts, working to provide a framework for a unified search-and-rescue response and developing measures to overcome new humanitarian challenges as part of the “Turkic World Vision 2040.”
In the weeks following the disastrous earthquakes and floods that shocked Türkiye and Syria in February 2023, the country continued to grapple with the devastating aftermath, and pressure has begun to mount as officials fear another natural disaster. Although countries across the Caspian Region have provided immense support for relief efforts, it has become critical to reassess the region’s emergency management and response. To support this coordinated effort, OTS member states expressed their commitment to strengthen cooperation among national rescue teams and to engage in joint capacity-building activities.
With the theme of “Natural Disasters: Emergency Management and Humanitarian Aid,” the summit underlined the urgent need to unify the Turkic world in times of humanitarian tribulation. Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed the summit, reiterated his condolences to the Turkish people for the two catastrophic earthquakes that claimed tens of thousands of lives and highlighted the importance of establishing constant disaster preparedness. He proposed OTS member-states create an organization “which will coordinate efforts to assist countries affected by natural disasters.” On the basis of the Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction in Almaty, jointly created by Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2016, the proposed organization would combine emergency agencies of OTS member-states to cooperatively prepare for natural disasters and “organize international events, including training for rescuers.”
Several key agreements materialized out of the summit, most aiming to bridge gaps in emergency efforts and to provide a vehicle for cooperation across all OTS member states. All countries expressed their continued commitment to providing humanitarian relief for those affected by natural disasters, if needed. Member states were encouraged to participate in the EU’s International Donors’ Conference on March 20, 2023. And, to allow for enhanced trade and economic coordination, the Agreement Establishing the Turkic Investment Fund was opened for signing. President Erdoğan stated that the agreement to establish the Turkic Investment Fund was a ‘concrete’ result of the discussions during a post-summit media briefing.
To create a consistent, effective, and coordinated response to natural disasters, member states were encouraged to sign the Agreement on the Establishment of the Civil Protection Mechanism of the Organization of Turkic States at the 10th Summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Turkistan, the Republic of Kazakhstan. This upcoming summit was announced by President Tokayev during his remarks:
“I invite you to attend the 10th-anniversary summit of the OTS planned for October in the sacred city of Turkistan. Kazakhstan will also take over the OTS chairmanship this autumn. We plan to host several significant events during our chairmanship,” Tokayev said.
The March 16 summit was hosted by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Türkiye, and attended by Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan; President Tokayev;, Sadyr Zhaparov, President of Kyrgyzstan; Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan; Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, former President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty; Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary; Ersin Tatar, President of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; as well as Kubanychbek Omuraliev, Secretary General of the OTS.