On November 6, leaders from the Central Asian states, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Hungary met for the tenth Group of Turkic States (OTS) summit. Established in 2009 because the Turkic Council, the group seeks to advertise “complete cooperation amongst Turkic States.” The physique, which adopted its current title and kind in 2021, additionally “goals to function a brand new regional instrument for advancing worldwide cooperation in Eurasia,” and it has sought to convene recurrently.
Throughout the session, the group mentioned commerce alternatives inside the collective. Final yr, the “turnover of products between the OTS international locations exceeded $22 billion.” The OTS members at the moment are exploring avenues to extend their commerce relations, which can assist enhance the economies of the collective. Member states additionally created a street map for the “implementation of the transformation communication for 2023-27.” This system will search to modernize and diversify transportation routes from Central Asia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. Lastly, the group centered on strengthening science packages and training programs inside their international locations, they usually mentioned the significance of vitality safety.
Since its inception, the OTS has made progress. In keeping with Amir Bashbayev, the pinnacle of the evaluation and forecasting group of the Institute of Overseas Coverage inside the Kazakh Ministry of Overseas Affairs, the OTS used to function a “platform of dialogue.” Member states and international locations with observer standing would collect to debate home and worldwide points, however little or no materialized from the classes. Now, the group has modified.
“The OTS is evolving right into a union of states,” Bashbayev mentioned in an interview with the Astana Occasions. Member states are “extremely fascinated with advancing commerce and financial cooperation.”
In different phrases, after years of laborious work, it seems the group is coming to fruition. The latest OTS summit additionally got here at an attention-grabbing time as relationships inside the area seem like altering.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia has labored to ascertain itself, caught between the east and west. Whereas leaders from the international locations entertained relations with Europe, the area rapidly caught the eye of Russia and China as a consequence of its “treasure trove of pure assets.” For greater than 30 years, Russia and China slowly labored laborious to ascertain favorable relations with the area. Central Asia, already intently tied to the north from the times of the Soviet Union, established robust commerce relations with Russia. Now, the area closely depends on its commerce with Russia, that means the Russian Federation has established a commerce monopoly. In the meantime, China shaped an vitality relationship with Central Asia, the place it rapidly turned the area’s greatest gasoline client. In different phrases, because of the commerce and vitality relations that shaped, Central Asia rapidly turned depending on Russia and China.
Now, Russia and China are pursuing aggressive vitality insurance policies with the area. For instance, Russia has been making an attempt to create a gasoline union with Central Asia, one thing that might additional strengthen Russia’s maintain on vitality. In the meantime, China hopes Central Asia turns into a “main vitality companion.” These paths would solely strengthen Russia’s and China’s roles within the area.
Given these aggressive developments, Central Asia has tried to distance itself from Russia and China. For instance, following the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s international affect has declined, together with in Central Asia. The worldwide group has imposed harsh penalties on Russia, weakening the Russian financial system through sanctions, which even Central Asia states have promised Western capitals they won’t help Moscow in circumventing. Russia’s failure within the battle has additionally led a number of of its companions and allies to second-guess their relationship, notably these inside the Caucasus and Central Asia. Even the way forward for the Russian-led Collective Safety Treaty Group (CSTO) has come into query.
In the meantime, residents inside Central Asia have additionally contemplated their relationship with China. In keeping with a 2022 article for The Diplomat by Elizabeth Woods and Thomas Baker, analysis fellows at Central Asia Barometer, the “sentiment of Kazakhstanis, Uzbekistanis, and Kyrgyzstanis towards China has adopted a latest downward pattern.” The sensation seems to be mutual. In keeping with a report by the Atlantic Council’s Joe Webster for Eurasianet, the Chinese language are “considerably reluctant to imagine regional hegemony” in Central Asia.
Given these developments, Central Asia now seems to be strengthening its relationship with Europe. The OTS additionally serves to unite the European continent with Asia.
Whereas on the latest OTS summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban mentioned that the “Turkic states have to this point succeeded in defusing conflicts and lowering the dangers of escalation” all through the world. Orban additionally claimed that safety issues throughout the globe are of their worst state because the finish of the Chilly Conflict, and that the “function of the Group of Turkic States is changing into more and more necessary.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed with the significance of the OTS, stating that the group will “proceed to take steps for the peace, prosperity, and safety of the Turkish world.” He additionally mentioned that international locations inside the collective ought to deal with enhancing their vitality and transportation infrastructure, which can enhance cooperation throughout the collective.
How can the OTS members strengthen their collective safety? How would possibly they pursue better financial and vitality cooperation?
First, safety. Since its institution, the OTS has said that it’s dedicated to the aim and ideas of worldwide legislation, as outlined by the United Nations Constitution. The group acknowledged the “territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally acknowledged borders … [and the] upkeep of worldwide peace [and] safety.” With the rise of terrorist exercise throughout the globe over the previous decade, member states have labored to strengthen their border safety. The collective can be seeking to “stabilize Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal.” Monitoring developments in Afghanistan and trying to stabilize the state of affairs will assist improve safety inside the area.
Second, vitality. Central Asia is well-known for its “pure assets and know-how to attain sustainable vitality safety.” In the meantime, Turkey and Azerbaijan are gasoline suppliers, too. Lastly, the members of the OTS are exploring vitality options. Pooling their numerous assets and placing collectively their scientists, engineers, and consultants would permit the collective to turn into a number one vitality exporter within the area. It might additionally assist them fend off Russian and Chinese language affect.
Lastly, commerce. As mentioned throughout the latest summit, the members of the OTS are exploring avenues to extend commerce relations. From Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea and Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea to the Central Asian states via which the historic Silk Highway ran, there are historical pathways to be reopened in fashionable instances alongside this stretch of Eurasia. The expansion of this Trans-Caspian Center Hall may assist “play essential roles in facilitating commerce between Asia and Europe through Central Asia.”
Total, one thing new is brewing in Eurasia. Continued dialogue between international locations from Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia means that the political local weather within the area is altering. New alliances are rising, and up to date developments are serving to unite Europe with Asia. These relationships will result in better financial prosperity, and can assist strengthen the nationwide and vitality securities of those areas. There may be nonetheless a lot work to be carried out, however the future appears shiny for Eurasia.