President Tokayev puts forward major initiatives to enhance emergency preparedness at OTS summit in Ankara
ASTANA. KAZINFORM President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev paid a working visit to Ankara on March 16 to attend the extraordinary summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) at the invitation of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The summit focused on disaster emergency management and humanitarian assistance, months after Türkiye and Syria suffered a devastating earthquake. More about the key takeaways from the summit is in the latest article of Kazinform.
Arriving late on March 15, Tokayev met with President Erdoğan the next day, discussing the strategic partnership between the two nations. Tokayev pointed out the importance of developing cooperation in the field of emergencies and ensuring constant preparedness for possible threats.
«It is very important for nations to help each other in times of disaster. We have seen that again this time. When a brotherly country was in trouble, the Turkic people showed a great example of solidarity and involvement. Kazakhstan immediately extended a helping hand to our Turkish brothers,«said Tokayev.
Speaking about the bilateral ties, Tokayev emphasized that Türkiye is one of the country’s key trade partners, with trade turnover growing by 33 percent in 2022 and reaching $6.3 billion.
«This is the result of systematic work. Kazakhstan has an opportunity to send large volumes of goods to the Turkish market,» the President said, confirming his readiness to support projects of Turkish investors in Kazakhstan.
The two leaders also discussed the Trans-Caspian international transport route, known as the Middle Corridor, during the closed-door meeting. Kazakhstan, according to Tokayev, is ready to implement joint infrastructure projects to develop the transport and logistics route that possesses enormous potential.
Erdoğan thanked Tokayev for accepting the invitation to visit Ankara.
«49,000 people have died as a result of the earthquake. You were one of the first world leaders who made a phone call at that difficult moment. Kazakhstan’s rescuers helped the citizens who were affected. We felt a truly fraternal attitude,» he told Tokayev.
Tragedy in Türkiye is the tragedy of all Turkic people
The Organization of Turkic States, formerly known as the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, was established in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization to promote comprehensive cooperation among Turkic States.
Its four founding member states are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Türkiye. Uzbekistan joined as a full member during the 7th summit in Baku in October 2019. Hungary received observer status at the organization during its 6th Summit in Cholpon-Ata in September 2018, and Turkmenistan became an observer member during the 8th summit in November 2021 in Istanbul.
The summit on Thursday was a high-level platform for the discussion of the extraordinary agenda of the organization that emerged due to the recent earthquake disaster that happened in the southern and southeastern regions of Türkiye.
Hosted by Erdoğan and chaired by Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan, the summit was also attended by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Kyrgyzstan's President Sadyr Zhaparov, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and chairman of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
«The Kazakhs have a saying, ‘shared grief becomes less.» Our people have never stood by when their loved ones were going through a difficult time. The people of Kazakhstan immediately extended a helping hand to their Turkish brothers. Our rescuers and doctors went to Türkiye to help. The most experienced, qualified specialists were involved in search and rescue operations and equipped with the necessary equipment. Humanitarian and financial aid was provided to the brotherly country,» said Tokayev.
He spoke about the efforts of ordinary citizens to support the country.
«The Kazakhs have a good tradition, Asar. Together, people lend a helping hand to those in need. For this purpose, numerous volunteers came to Türkiye from Kazakhstan and helped out tirelessly. They are true patriots, people with great souls who are always on the front line if trouble happens,» said the President.
Kazakhstan is ready to build a social facility in the disaster area, said Tokayev, praising the efforts of the international community to help Türkiye.
«We welcome the initiative of our partners in Europe to hold an International Donors' Conference. I am sure that Turkic countries will also take part in such initiatives. At the most critical moment, Turkic states have demonstrated solidarity and responsiveness,» said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
When the earthquake struck Türkiye, Kazakhstan provided $1 million in financial aid and immediately sent several crews with rescue and search officers, besides the humanitarian aid it sent to the country.
The growing number of natural and man-made disasters has become a matter of global concern, according to Tokayev. He said the summit’s theme is relevant as ever, as prompt response to emergencies is of paramount importance.
He also reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s active role in humanitarian efforts.
Kazakhstan’s initiatives to enhance emergency preparedness
Speaking about how the organization can strengthen cooperation, Tokayev proposed establishing a joint force of the member states’ emergency authorities. He offered the Almaty-based Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction as a platform for that.
«This center was established in 2016 by the governments of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. I consider it advisable to give the joint force the status of the Civil Protection Secretariat of the Organization, which will coordinate the work on assistance to countries affected by natural disasters. With this structure in place, international activities will be organized, including advanced training courses and training of rescuers,«said the head of state.
Another initiative voiced by Tokayev is improving the readiness of search and rescue services. He suggested developing a common list of forces and technical equipment for rescue services operating in the OTS countries, which will enable countries to react quickly to a critical situation and coordinate actions to eliminate the consequences of a natural disaster.
The exchange of information and experience also contributes to preventing emergencies. Tokayev invited the rescue services of the OTS member states to the Kazqutqaru international training camp that Kazakhstan will host this fall.
Tokayev noted the importance of strengthening the cooperation of the Turkic world in the current geopolitical and economic situation in the world.
«Our organization has taken its rightful place in the international arena. Our countries must bring political, economic and cultural cooperation to a new level. This is one of the priorities of Kazakhstan's foreign policy,» the President noted.
The leaders signed the Ankara Declaration, a document to establish the civil protection mechanism of the OTS and an agreement to establish the Turkic Investment Fund.
The civil protection mechanism is expected to be created by the time Kazakhstan hosts the summit in October 2023.
In the Ankara declaration, the leaders «reiterated their readiness to continue providing humanitarian relief for those who were affected by the earthquakes if/and when needed, encourage its members to take part in the International Donors’ Conference to be co-organized by the EU Commission and the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council, which is planned on March 20, 2023, in Brussels.»
Kazakhstan prepares to host the organization’s tenth-anniversary summit in October 2023, as it will be handed over the chairpersonship at the OTS from Uzbekistan.
The significant achievements adopted at the Samarkand summit and discussed at the Ankara summit in the cooperation between Turkic states are encouraging. At a time of fundamental geopolitical transformations, the integration agenda of Turkic countries is gaining momentum. Yet, the key task that remains is to make the adopted decisions a reality.