Summit of Turkic States: A New Era of Cooperation and Unity

In the cultural heart of Azerbaijan, the city of Shusha, the informal summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) concluded on July 6 with the signing of the Karabakh Declaration. This summit marked a pivotal moment in regional cooperation and solidarity, with a focus on "Building a sustainable future through transport, connectivity, and combating climate change."

The Declaration underscored the unity of Turkic peoples based on shared history, culture, and values. It highlighted the historical and contemporary contributions of Turkic civilizations to global development and emphasized the importance of collective identity in promoting peace, security, and prosperity. The summit, initiated by Azerbaijan and attended by leaders from across the Turkic world, showcased a renewed commitment to these ideals.

Recognizing Kazakhstan's successful chairmanship of the OTS and the transformative summit in Astana in 2023 under the motto TURKTIME (Turkic Era), the declaration welcomed new initiatives to strengthen integration and unity among Turkic states. President Ilham Aliyev's proposal for annual informal summits, alongside regular meetings, was approved, reflecting a deepening commitment to cooperation and strategic partnership.

Shusha's selection as the summit's venue was highly symbolic, representing Azerbaijan's restored sovereignty and territorial integrity. The leaders expressed solidarity with Azerbaijan's efforts to rebuild liberated territories and facilitate the return of internally displaced persons.

Central to the declaration was the commitment to sustainable development through enhanced connectivity, particularly the Trans-Caspian International East-West-Middle Corridor. The summit emphasized the role of transport infrastructure in global trade and economic integration, highlighting projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and new initiatives like the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project.

Climate action emerged as a crucial area of cooperation, with plans to build climate-resilient infrastructure and develop smart cities. The leaders pledged to promote renewable energy projects and strengthen regional environmental cooperation.

The declaration also outlined steps to deepen cooperation in defense, digital economy, and cultural exchange, aiming for comprehensive development across sectors. Initiatives such as the Digital Silk Road Project and cybersecurity agreements underscored a commitment to technological progress and mutual prosperity.

The summit set a robust agenda for future OTS events, including COP-29 in Baku and regional climate summits, demonstrating a proactive approach to addressing global challenges. The leaders expressed gratitude to President Aliyev for his leadership and hospitality, reaffirming their commitment to the unity, security, and prosperity of the Turkic world. The Secretary General of the OTS was tasked with coordinating the implementation of the Karabakh Declaration, signed in Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkish, and Uzbek languages.

The next official OTS meeting is scheduled for October 2024 in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, highlighting the ongoing dynamics of Turkic cooperation and integration efforts.

The summit saw a notable gathering of leaders: President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyzstan, Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz of Turkey, Secretary General Kubanychbek Omuraliev of OTS, President Ersin Tatar of Northern Cyprus, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. The presence of these high-ranking officials underscored the importance of the meeting in Shusha.

The summit was preceded by a meeting of the Azerbaijani Council of Foreign Ministers, primarily organizational but delivering an important message from Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov to Armenia. The message outlined conditions for peace, including the removal of the provision for the reunification of Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia's constitution. President Tokayev of Kazakhstan expressed readiness to contribute to the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, potentially continuing the Almaty negotiation process on Kazakh soil.

Kazakhstan, like other OTS member countries, is keen on signing an agreement to resolve territorial disputes, signaling a final abandonment of territorial claims. The most important message from Shusha was the OTS countries' reaffirmation of their commitment to the principle of territorial integrity. This principle holds particular significance for multinational OTS member states facing internal and external pressures threatening their national unity.

The OTS sees consolidation as a countermeasure against threats to the sovereignty and integrity of Turkic states. Kazakhstan, as the current chairman of the Organization, has played a key role in enhancing the group's effectiveness. In Shusha, President Tokayev emphasized Kazakhstan's commitment to strengthening the OTS's international status and promoting cooperation under the motto "TURKTIME," encapsulated in the OTS development strategy.

This strategy, defined by eight priorities—Traditions, Unification, Reforms, Knowledge, Trust, Investment, Mediation, and Energy—charts a forward-looking path. The OTS's development trajectory suggests an increasingly prominent role in regional and global dynamics, shaping alliances and partnerships on the world stage.

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