Informal Summit of Heads of State of Organization of Turkic States was held in Shusha

06 July 2024, 12:22
Informal Summit of Heads of State of Organization of Turkic States was held in Shusha

An Informal Summit of Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States was held in Shusha.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, Vice President of the Republic of Türkiye Cevdet Yilmaz, President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar, Secretary General of the Organization of Turkic States Kubanychbek Omuraliev attended the Summit.

The head of state addressed the event.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear heads of state and government,

Dear friends,

Allow me to extend sincere greetings to all of you. Welcome to Azerbaijan, welcome to Karabakh!

Thank you for supporting my initiative to hold annual informal summit of the Organization of Turkic States, as well as for accepting our invitation to visit Shusha.

Enhancing relations with Turkic countries and strengthening the Turkic world and the Organization of Turkic States are Azerbaijan's foreign policy priorities. Azerbaijan has always made efforts to strongly unite the Turkic world, increase its political, economic and military power, and transform it into an influential global entity.

The Organization of Turkic States should become one of the prominent international forces. We cover a vast geography with positive demographic dynamics in the Member States. Our military capability has repeatedly proven itself on the battlefields. Our abundant natural resources and modern infrastructure for their delivery, transport corridors connecting Central Asia and the Caucasus with Mediterranean and Black Sea ports, our rich and ancient history and culture are our great assets. The commitment of our peoples to traditional values and their shared ethnic roots closely bind our countries. The 21st century must be a century of progress of the Turkic world.

Holding today’s Summit in Shusha acquires symbolic meaning after Azerbaijan has fully restored its territorial integrity and sovereignty on September 20 last year.

The city of Shusha, the crown jewel of Karabakh, has always been one of the important centers of the cultural, public and political life of Azerbaijan and the region.

The occupation of Shusha by Armenia in May 1992 was a significant tragedy for the Azerbaijani people. The people of Azerbaijan never came to terms with this occupation and always lived with a desire to return to Shusha and the remaining occupied territories, a goal they have now achieved.

In 2020, during the 44-day Patriotic War, the Azerbaijani army liberated more than 300 towns and villages on the battlefield that had been under Armenian occupation for nearly 30 years. On November 8, 2020, following the liberation of Shusha, Armenia was forced to sign the act of capitulation, which ended the Second Karabakh War. November 8 is celebrated every year in Azerbaijan as a Victory Day.

By my decree, the city of Shusha was declared the cultural capital of Azerbaijan in 2021. On the occasion of 270th anniversary of the foundation of Shusha by Panah Ali Khan of Karabakh, 2022 was declared a Year of Shusha in Azerbaijan. The city of Shusha was declared Cultural Capital of the Turkic World for 2023 by TURKSOY and the Cultural Capital of the Islamic World for 2024 by ICESCO.

The Shusha Declaration, which laid the foundation for the allied relations between Azerbaijan and Türkiye, was signed in 2021 by my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan and myself exactly here in Shusha.

The Karabakh Declaration will also be signed today in Shusha.

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the Great Return Program is in progress in Karabakh and East Zangezur. During the occupation, Armenia razed all the towns and villages in these areas to the ground. Life is returning to these lands now.

To date, around 8,000 former IDPs have returned to the cities of Lachin, Fuzuli, Shusha and Khojaly, as well as to four villages within the framework of the Great Return Program. By the end of this year, 20,000 people will return to the liberated lands.

The visits by the leaders of Turkic States to the liberated lands are a manifestation of brotherly solidarity. The President of Türkiye has visited Shusha, Fuzuli, Zangilan and Jabrayil, the Presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been to Shusha and Fuzuli, while the President of Kyrgyzstan has visited Fuzuli and Aghdam.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again express my gratitude to the heads of state and government of the brotherly countries for the school and creativity center, as well as for the schools to be built in the future which represent our brotherhood.

Dear friends, I believe that the current budget of the Organization of Turkic States is insufficient for the realization of and its present structure does not correspond to our goals. With this in mind, Azerbaijan has recently made financial contribution in the amount of 2 million U.S. dollars to the Secretariat of the Organization.

The expansion of the East-West transport corridor is one of our top priorities. In the last five years, the volume of cargo transportation through the East-West transport corridor has increased by more than 60 percent.

The annual handling capacity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, an integral part of the Middle Corridor, has been increased from 1 million to 5 million tons thanks to additional investments by Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan, with the fleet of more than 50 commercial ships in the Caspian Sea, provides important transit services for Turkic states. In light of the increasing cargo transportation, six tankers and dry cargo vessels are currently under construction at the Baku Shipyard. Next year, our country’s ninth international airport will be commissioned in Lachin. The cargo handling capacity of the Alat International Trade Seaport will be expanded from 15 million to 25 million tons.

Founding meeting of the Turkic Investment Fund in Istanbul this May is yet another successful step serving to further deepening our economic ties. I do believe that in the future investments in a number of joint projects across many fields will be made through this Fund.

Our strategic partnership in the field of energy, including cooperation in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency, is very important.

The Digital Silk Road Project, which aims to create a fiber-optic telecommunication route between Europe and Asia via Azerbaijan along the Caspian seabed, is also one of the significant initiatives.

Dear friends,

As you know, Azerbaijan will host the COP29 this year. I would like to take this opportunity to once again invite all of you to the COP29. We view holding the COP29 Presidency and organizing this conference in Baku as a vivid testimony to the international community’s enormous confidence in our country. Almost 200 countries unanimously supported our candidacy. Drawing on the experience we have gained during the four-year-long chairmanship to the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan will spare no effort to strengthen solidarity and reach consensus between developed and developing countries.

I am sure that the Karabakh Declaration that we will sign today and the decisions we have made will further strengthen solidarity in the Turkic world, while enhancing the reputation of the Organization of Turkic States in the international arena.

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Then, other heads of state made their speeches.

Current Chairman of the Organization of Turkic States, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized the steps taken towards the establishment of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. He said, “In general, there is a way to resolve any conflict and stand-off. This is a constructive dialogue. In this sense, as part of our presidency, we have been paying special attention to mediation. I would like to emphasize the positive trend towards the establishment of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We should welcome steps towards reconciliation. We are always ready to offer our platform for peace talks between Baku and Yerevan.”

Stressing the importance of the Trans-Caspian international transport route, the President of Kazakhstan said, “The full potential of the Trans-Caspian international transport route must be utilized. Today, the volume of container transportation in this direction has increased sharply. We have created a multi-modal digital platform, a digital trade corridor to reduce transportation time. We are closely cooperating with Azerbaijan in this direction.”

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pointed out that his country would actively participate in COP29. He said, “We are ready to strengthen cooperation with the Turkic world regarding climate issues. In this regard, we plan to actively participate in the COP29 climate conference to be held in Azerbaijan this year.”

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Then, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Sadyr Zhaparov made a speech. He said, “Dear Mr. President, dear heads of state, dear Secretary General, dear event participants and guests. I am pleased to see you at the Informal Summit of Turkic countries. Our meeting is taking place in the historical city of Shusha, a symbol and pearl of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, a new symbol of the unity and solidarity of Turkic peoples. First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev, for his traditional hospitality and high-level preparations.”

Expressing his confidence that Azerbaijan would successfully chair the COP29 in November, the Kyrgyz President said, “It is gratifying that brotherly Azerbaijan would play host to one of the most important global forums in November of this year – the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP29. I am sure that Azerbaijan's Presidency of COP29 will significantly advance the issues on the agenda of the upcoming conference, including climate financing.”

The President of Kyrgyzstan emphasized that his country was interested in cooperating with Azerbaijan and other member countries of the organization in the field of renewable energy. He noted, “Taking into account the fact that Azerbaijan is actively developing and promoting renewable energy, including its efforts within the framework of its presidency of COP29, we call on Azerbaijan and member states in general for the implementation of joint projects related to natural resources renewable energy.”

x x x 

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev expressed his sincere gratitude to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev for perfectly organizing the event. He said, “It has a profound meaning for us to meet you in the city of Shusha, one of the cultural capitals of the Turkic world. This holy city, rightfully considered the pearl of the beautiful Karabakh, is a bright symbol of your historic Victory. It clearly shows the courage, unique tenacity, true bravery and unity of the Azerbaijani people. In the words of the great political leader and statesman of the 20th century, the founder of the independent state of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, there is no Karabakh without Shusha and no Azerbaijan without Karabakh. Thus, this unique city evokes special feelings of respect and pride in the hearts of not only Azerbaijani people, but also of all Turkic peoples. At a time when historical justice has been restored in Karabakh liberated by Azerbaijan, we are witnessing extensive construction work and large-scale measures to restore the architectural and cultural monuments under the leadership of esteemed Ilham Aliyev. Such wonderful works of a dear brother like you make us infinitely happy and proud as your close friends. I am sure that in the example of this unique city and with joint efforts and special interest, the entire Karabakh will become a true symbol of our eternal friendship in the future.”

Recalling that his country had become a member of the Organization of Turkic States in Azerbaijan five years ago, the President of Uzbekistan said that over this short period of time, mutually beneficial and multifaceted cooperation has been established with member countries in more than 30 important fields. Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that the Summit was occurring at a time when global risks and threats were on the rise and the crisis of mutual trust was deepening. He noted, “In such a disturbing situation, it takes time to qualitatively raise our relations to a new level, to develop them with joint approaches, which are underpinned by the spirit of eternal brotherhood. Therefore, today's meeting on the topic of building a sustainable future through transport, relations and climate action is of tremendous importance.”

The President of Uzbekistan also addressed the topic of the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29), which will be held in Baku in November this year, emphasizing that it was a historic event for all our countries. “We sincerely hope that world leaders will have a successful meeting on the issue of climate change. We are ready to actively participate in this prestigious event and provide all possible assistance to Azerbaijan in this matter,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev added.

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Vice President of the Republic of Turkiye Cevdet Yilmaz addressed the participants of the Summit. He said, “I am greeting you on behalf of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I am very pleased to be visiting free Shusha, one of the cultural capitals of the Turkic world, the pearl of Karabakh. I would like to thank our dear Azerbaijan and President Ilham Aliyev for hosting this Summit.

Cevdet Yilmaz pointed to the opportunity for the development of peace, tranquility and cooperation in the region after the liberation of Azerbaijan’s native lands from occupation thanks to the glorious Victory in the 44-day Patriotic War. He noted, “Three years ago, on June 15, 2021, Turkiye and Azerbaijan signed the Shusha Declaration in this holy city, crowning the unique relations between Turkiye and Azerbaijan. On November 8, 2020, Azerbaijan's Victory in the 44-day Patriotic War was officially announced with the liberation of Shusha from occupation. As is the case in all liberated regions, we are proud to observe the development and progress in Shusha. Once again, “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” and will always be Azerbaijan.

From the very beginning, we have viewed this Victory not only as the end of occupation, but also as the opening of a historic window of opportunity for peace, stability and prosperity in the South Caucasus. In this context, I believe that with the signing of the peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, a process of tremendous effort and sensitivity, a large-scale regional solution in the South Caucasus will eliminate the biggest obstacle in front of us. The establishment of a lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus is of great importance not only for countries of the region, but also in terms of global security and communications due to the opening of regional transport lines. The opening of these lines will strengthen regional cooperation and usher ample opportunities for the entire Turkic world, including Central Asia, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea basins.

Despite the fact that international organizations had been turning a blind eye to the injustices imposed on Azerbaijan for decades, the people of Azerbaijan regained their rights thanks to their heroism and determined leadership of President Ilham Aliyev. We cannot accept the fact that the states that did not raise their voices for one million of our Azerbaijani brothers displaced from their homelands as a result of the First Karabakh War are now targeting brotherly Azerbaijan with unjust and baseless accusations. For us as the Turkic world, it is a requirement of justice, as well as our brotherhood duty, to strongly support Azerbaijan against these baseless accusations.

Respected leaders of the Turkic world, the processes experienced at the global level have once again revealed the importance of energy security and cooperation in the field of energy. The role of Turkic states, which are rich in resources and are located in a favorable geographical position, is of tremendous importance in this regard. Together, we are successfully implementing large-scale energy infrastructure projects connecting the East and the West. The projects we have implemented in this field together with Azerbaijan are quite exemplary. Transportation of resources from the other side of the Caspian to Turkiye and Europe, especially Turkmen natural gas, will contribute to our national prosperity and European energy security. We are pleased with the establishment of the energy mechanism under the Organization of Turkic States. In this context, we support the development of joint projects.”

Emphasizing the importance of Azerbaijan hosting COP29 in November this year, the Vice President of Turkiye said in his remarks, “We are very pleased that Azerbaijan will be hosting the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - COP29. In particular, we will continue our close cooperation and support on many topics in the process of preparations for this conference, where important decisions on climate financing will be made. Azerbaijan's hosting of COP29 is also of great importance in terms of regional cooperation. In this regard, we welcome Azerbaijan's proposal to host an initiative of the Organization of Turkic States at the conference or hold a joint event.

Noting the importance of the presence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus at the Summit in Shusha, Cevdet Yilmaz said, “Today, we are very pleased to see the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mr. Ersin Tatar, in Shusha. We express our gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for his sensitivity. We hope Mr. Tatar can also attend the upcoming Bishkek Summit and we look forward to your support in this matter.”

The Vice President of Turkiye then expressed his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for excellently organizing the event. He noted, “I hope that the Karabakh Declaration to be signed today is also successful. I am greeting you with utter respect, express my appreciation to the host country Azerbaijan, to very honorable President Ilham Aliyev. I convey my love to the peoples of the friendly and brotherly countries that are members of the organization.”

x x x

Speaking at the summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for the invitation to the prestigious event held in Shusha. He said, “First of all, let me express my gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for receiving us in Shusha, in this city, and creating the opportunity to see you here. We are expressing our utter respect for President Ilham Aliyev for giving thousands of people in the region the opportunity to live in peace. We do hope that such an opportunity is also available in Europe as soon as possible.”

Pointing out that there were risks of the world being divided into different blocs as a result of the war in Ukraine, Viktor Orban said, “Proceeding from bitter historical experiences, we would prefer a period of communication and interaction to restore global cooperation in the interests of peace. We rely on you in this fight. We see the Organization of Turkic States as a very important organization for cooperation between the West and the East.”

In his remarks, Prime Minister Viktor Orban also spoke about the priorities of Hungary's presidency of the European Union and thanked President Ilham Aliyev again for the great hospitality.

x x x

President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Ersin Tatar, expressed his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for the invitation to the historic Summit in Shusha. He said, “I want to share with you the great happiness and satisfaction I feel speaking at the Shusha Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States. I would like to reiterate my great pleasure to be among you at this Summit hosted by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Shusha, the spiritual capital of the Turkic world, in these beautiful liberated lands. First of all, I would like to thank the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, for his great support of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and for inviting us to the Shusha Summit.”

Emphasizing the historic importance of Shusha, Ersin Tatar said, “Shusha, a symbol of the traditions of the people of Azerbaijan, has a rich and distinguished history. It has made a great contribution to the world's cultural treasure and is an ancient city where many famous artists, musicians, architects and writers grew up. Shusha, which was under Armenian occupation for many years, was liberated on November 8, 2020 by the heroic Azerbaijani Army under the leadership of victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev in the 44-day Patriotic War that began on September 27, 2020. The 30-year occupation of Karabakh ended with the Victory of Azerbaijan in the Patriotic War. We are very proud and happy about this historic Victory. Karabakh, including Shusha, has become a symbol of unity and equality in the Turkic world from the point of view of the events of the 44-day Patriotic War and afterwards.

“Our greatest strength is the unity, equality and solidarity of the Turkic world,” Ersin Tatar said. He added, “We have shown what we are capable of doing when we come together and stand united. From this point of view, the presence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus here in ancient Shusha today as an integral part of the Turkic world is an extremely important and historic event.”

x x x

The Secretary General of the Organization of Turkic States, Kubanychbek Omuraliev, emphasized Azerbaijan's contribution to the development of the organization and conveyed his congratulations on the occasion of COP29 to be held in Azerbaijan. “First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Nakhchivan Agreement. Destiny has it that Shusha was declared the ‘cultural capital of the Turkic world’, and it is quite symbolic that we are holding this meeting here.`

Touching upon the importance of international transport corridors in the development of cooperation between member countries of the organization, the Secretary General noted, “The Middle Corridor plays the role of a vitally important artery in global trade. Promising the safest and shortest route between countries, this corridor is not just a way to transport goods. It is a lifeline for economic growth, innovation and collaboration. The Zangezur corridor will be an important link between East-West and North-South transport corridors.”

Emphasizing the importance of Azerbaijan hosting COP29, Kubanychbek Omuraliev said, “I would like to congratulate brotherly Azerbaijan on the occasion of hosting COP29, which is a pioneering initiative and will bring together thousands of people from all over the world to discuss one of the most pressing issues.”

Noting that an important decision had been made for the development of the activities of the Organization of Turkic States at the Shusha Summit, the Secretary General said, “At the 10th Summit of the Organization of Turkic States, the heads of state supported the proposal to increase the staff and our budget. The decision you made today regarding the mentioned issues will undoubtedly strengthen our organization. In this sense, we do appreciate the contribution of Azerbaijan, the allocation of 2 million US dollars to our budget, as noted by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.”

Touching upon the importance of the signing of the Karabakh Declaration within the framework of the summit, Kubanychbek Omuraliev said, “I think that the Karabakh Declaration to be signed today by Your Excellencies will be yet another important step in the direction of further deepening of fraternal relations.”

x x x

The Chairman of the Council of Elders of the Organization of Turkic States, Binali Yildirim, said in his remarks, “The holding of the Summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Shusha, the historical city and the cultural capital, carries a special historical significance. After the liberation of Shusha from occupation, we were here together with Mr. President in June 2021 and participated in the signing of the Shusha Declaration. From that day on, I have been following the changes in Shusha with great admiration and attention. A city that was destroyed is reviving. I would like to thank President Ilham Aliyev for this.”

Speaking about the joint implementation of important projects by the two brotherly countries, Binali Yildirim said, “I would like to thank the honorable President again for this. The honorable President took great leadership in the realization of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which we planned together in 2004. Our esteemed President made important contributions to overcoming Georgia's reservations about the project. The realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project today means the completion of the missing link of the Middle Corridor, and this has made it possible to use this corridor more efficiently. By 2030, it is possible to increase the volume of cargo transportation to 11 million tons by this route. Certain steps need to be taken for that.”

Binali Yildirim emphasized that the Summit was dedicated to a very important topic. He said, “I would like to thank Your Excellency and your team again for the kind welcome and for hosting the Shusha Summit. The choice of the Middle Corridor as the main topic of this event is very relevant for the future of our organization and our strategic plan for achieving common goals – the goal set in the “Turkic World Vision - 2040” document. It was my great pleasure to share this with you here and outline the work that will be done to ensure the further development of this corridor. I would like to thank you again for giving me this opportunity. I express my respect to all of you.”

x x x

Later, the decision to "Increase the Staff and Budget of the Secretariat of the Organization of Turkic States" was signed at the Shusha Summit.

x x x

Concluding the summit, President Ilham Aliyev said:

- Dear friends,

Today, we reaffirmed the unity of the Turkic world. We have given a new impetus to the projects we are implementing together.

With regard to the COP29 to be held in Baku in November, we have emphasized the importance of working together in the fight against the negative consequences of climate change.

We have reiterated the importance of researching and promoting the Turkic civilization, which has historically made great contributions to world civilization, and expanding the relations of the Organization of Turkic States with other international institutions.

I am sure that today's discussions and the decisions we have made will contribute to the strengthening of the Organization of Turkic States.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who currently chairs the Organization of Turkic States. I am sure that we will continue our effective and result-focused discussions at the upcoming Bishkek Summit.

Now, I invite you to sign the Karabakh Declaration.

x x x

Later, the signing ceremony of the Karabakh Declaration took place at the informal Summit of the Organization of Turkic States.

In the end, a group photo was taken.