Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan Thwart Pan-Turkish Expansion

Last year the summit took place in Nakhichevan

ANKARA (Hurriyet)—Turkey’s dream of uniting the Turkic world has hit a snag with the exclusion of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan from a new mechanism to be established Thursday to bolster ties between Turkey and Central Asia.

Turkmenistan, which typically abstains from attending summits of Turkic-speaking countries, will be represented by President Gurbanguli Berdimuhammedov at the leadership summit of the Turkic-Speaking Countries Cooperation Council, to be held Thursday in Istanbul. The country will not, however, join the council due to the “neutral policy” it employs in international relations.

“I cannot say we have received a positive signal from Turkmenistan about joining the Turkic council, but we hope they will do so,” a Turkish diplomat told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review in remarks interpreted to mean that efforts were still being made to convince Ashgabat to change its policy.

Turkish diplomats also expressed hopes that the council would be joined in the future by Uzbekistan, which has either sent a low-level representative or no one at all to the summits of Turkic-speaking countries organized since 1998.

That leaves Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as the founding members of the council, which Turkish President Abdullah Gul will host in Istanbul.

Heads of state of Caspian and Central Asian states have come together for a summit on Wednesday to discuss establishing a council to strengthen cooperation among the Turkic-speaking countries.

Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are holding meetings with their Turkish counterpart as part of the 10th Summit of the Heads of State of Turkic Speaking Countries between Sept. 15 and Sept. 16.

During the 9th summit, held in Nakhchivan last October, leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed an agreement on the establishment of a Cooperation Council to foster a comprehensive umbrella of cooperation and solidarity among the countries.

This agreement will come into effect on Oct. 3.

The 10th summit will also appoint a Secretary General to run the council’s secretariat, which is to be established in Istanbul. Turkish Ambassador to Russia Halil Akinci is expected to be appointed the first secretary general.

During a press conference at Istanbul’s Ciragan palace, Akinci explained that while there were still a few weeks before the council began its activities, this week’s meeting will take place as if it already started.

“Just the very establishment of this council will increase the weight of Turkic states globally,” said Akinci.

He added that currently the agreement was between four states, but he expressed “hope that the 5th and 6th ones will join in the future,” referring to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow was not present at the opening day for the bilateral meetings on Wednesday, but will participate in the group summit on Thursday. Uzbekistan is not attending the 2010 summit.

Akinci also explained that alongside the establishment of the council, these summits serve to create projects that strengthen cooperation, including institutions such as business councils, Turkic history museums and a research and development fund.

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