Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Central Asia is a strategic axis of Turkish foreign policy

By Saken Bayandarov

In his exclusive interview to the BNews.kz agency, Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan told about main aspects of the Kazakh-Turkish cooperation, the future and present of the Turkic world and his expectations from the visit to Astana.


- Mr. Prime Minister, thanks to political stability and growing economy Turkey, becoming a global power in the world in recent years, has made a steady progress. What are the main achievements in such a short period?


- Indeed, Turkey in the decade has taken an important place in the international arena, thanks to the development of the country both in economic and political spheres. The base for progress in these two areas is political stability and social peace prevailing in our country in the last 10 years.

In the latest period the Turkish government has taken bold steps on the political arena for the development of democracy and the introduction of the criteria necessary for accession to the EU. In principle, our people to a great extent supported these steps.

The structural reforms carried out in early 2000s on many issues, and the steps taken in the economic field opened up the way to free enterprise, and allowed us to make a rapid and powerful breakthrough which has real potential for the Turkish economy. In addition, the active foreign policy with the neighboring countries and in the global dimension provided us with new discoveries and opportunities in both political and economic spheres.

Our active steps, based on the stability have allowed Turkey to become the 16th country in the world in terms of economic development and the state with growing power, which becomes a topic on each agenda of the international political level.

Our only objective is to strengthen peace, stability and prosperity throughout the world, starting with our immediate geographical environment. We will continue an active policy in this regard in the near future.
- After the Nakhchivan summit the Turkic world is undergoing major changes. Could you please share your opinion about these changes and emerged in the recent years concept of "Eurasian Union"?

- The development of both bilateral and multilateral relations with the Turkic republics since their independence and to date has always been a priority of our foreign policy. Within the frames of this task Turkey in 1992 initiated the process of summits of Turkic states. Evaluating the Cooperation Council of Turkic states and the Academy of the Turkic world in Astana, TURKSOY and TurkPA, we can say that we have implemented an important stage in the institutionalization of the Turkic world.

Due to its historical experience, available human and economic resources the Turkic world can make a major contribution to cooperation in Eurasia. We should fully use this opportunity proposed by the twenty-first century.

We are confident that the work on institutionalization, namely the establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic states will strengthen existing contacts and dialogue between our two nations, united by common language, culture and roots, but also be able to raise to the highest level our spiritual unity. We set the task to make this Council a respected international organization which will strengthen mechanisms aimed at establishing multi-dimensional peace and stability on the Eurasian continent.

Turkey attaching big importance in its foreign policy to regional stability and development, positively considers the efforts made in the integrating our region. The idea of a Eurasian Union is being discussed in various circles, especially by the academic world.
- The Republic of Turkey was among first countries to recognize the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. How do you assess the development of RK for the last period under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the existing level of bilateral relations?

- During the short period since independence, Kazakhstan has taken a leading position in the region due to the farseeing and wise leadership of Mr. President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan has also turned into one of the key countries in the establishment of global peace and security. Turkey with the approval is watching all the changes taking place in the country.

Turkey, with which Kazakhstan shares common roots, taking into account the fraternal ties between the two nations, became the first country to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan. We constantly develop cooperation and solidarity with the RK. Thereby the common aspirations and efforts have raised us to the level of strategic partnership.

Kazakhstan is the most important trade partner of Turkey in Central Asia. The constantly growing volume of trade now has reached $ 3 billion. Joint efforts are focused on the objective to raise it in the near future to 10 billion U.S. dollars.

Exemplary cooperation, developed in the field of education and culture, is another important dimension of relations between our countries.

Kazakhstan’s transformation to an important player in the Eurasian region increases the prospects of cooperation. Thereby the Turkish-Kazakh relations are developing rapidly, not only bilaterally but also within the CICA, OIC, the OSCE, UN and other regional and international organizations.
- This year Astana has been declared the cultural capital of the Turkic world. Turkish businessmen made a significant contribution to the construction of the capital of Kazakhstan. As former mayor of Istanbul, and now the head of the government, are you tracking the development of our major city?

- Yes, I watch closely the grand construction of Astana. In a very short period your capital has become a sparkling star of Asia. This is really a story of success.

Turkish companies and workers invested and contributed a lot to the construction of the capital, which is a symbol of prosperity and dynamics of Kazakhstan. I am personally proud of the fact that Astana was declared the cultural capital of Turkic world in 2012.
- Soon Kazakhstan will host the IV Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions. Turkey heads the initiative of Alliance of Civilizations. What is your opinion on the contribution of such events that bring together religion and civilization to the establishment of world peace?

- Much of tensions on the planet come from ignorance and intolerance which in turn give rise to biases and fears. Under the circumstances when tension fueled by such events as problems in the Middle East and attacks on the United States on September 11reached a warning level, we jointly with the then Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero proposed the initiative of Alliance of Civilizations. It aims to prevent tension, threats, and polarization. Alliance of Civilizations, in essence, is the initiative which brings together, mixes and spreads the values that make us human.

Therefore, the support of the Alliance of Civilizations by the UN has become a very natural and appropriate achievement. The fact that the number of countries and international organizations comprising the Group of Friends of the Alliance, in a short time exceeded 130, confirmed our confidence in the principle, that, people all over the world prefer not to negotiate, not to fight.

Thereby the Alliance of Civilizations provides a major contribution to achieving peace. That’s why the responsibility of States for the Alliance is of great importance. Taking this opportunity I’d like to urge all countries to provide financial support for the Alliance of Civilizations.
- What do you expect from this visit to Kazakhstan, and what are your wishes?

- I am happy to have the possibility of another visit to the Republic. Central Asia is a strategic axis of Turkish foreign policy. We have always attached high priority to relations with the countries of the region with which we are bound by ties of common history, culture and language. So we want to further develop relations in all spheres of our friend, brother and strategic partner - Kazakhstan. This is the main aim of my visit.

During this visit we will meet with my dear brother, Mr. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Prime Minister Karim Massimov, chairman of the Senate Kairat Mami and Majilis speaker Nurlan Nigmatulin. In addition, together with the Prime Minister of RK, we will participate in the Turkish-Kazakh business forum.

Within the frames of this visit, together with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, we will sign a joint statement on establishing a mechanism for strategic cooperation between the Council at the highest level.

In addition, I want to express my confidence that the joint economic program "New Synergies" - - another important document to be signed, will become a "roadmap" in terms of mutual interests, priorities and expectations of our countries.
P. S. The agency BNews.kz and "Kazakhstanskaya pravda" would like to thank the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Kazakhstan and personally Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Lale Ulker for their assistance in organizing and conducting this interview.
"Kazakhstanskaya pravda"