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TurkPA: Promising or Vague Future?

According to experts, the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries works only nominally and the reason is in officials who don’t raise relevant issues and don’t solve real problems. 

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Photo: CABAR.asia
In early April, the 7th meeting of the Commission on Economic Cooperation of the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries (TurkPA) was held in Baku with the participation of the members of parliaments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Azerbaijan. The participants discussed development of technologies and improvement of the business environment, and also recommended to the national parliaments to revise the national laws to create a single base.

However, despite fine and buzz words, experts think that the organisation exists only nominally.

The Parliamentary Assembly, which is called an identity of the Turkic world, was established on November 21, 2008 as a result of the Istanbul agreement signed by the chairmen of the parliaments of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.

Yerzhan Kalambai. Photo: CABAR.asia
According to expert Yerzhan Kalambai, a turkologist, there had been no institute regulating the integration of Turkic-speaking countries by law back then. That’s why the International Organisation of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY), the Turkic Academy, the Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation, and TurkPA emerged as organisations that were meant to take the integration process to a new level.

As to TurkPA, its task is to promote development of political dialogue between the countries, to harmonise legislation and to strengthen the parliamentary cooperation. However, according to experts, the expectations were not met.

“I’d give the TurkPA a C. There’s an impression that the organisation works only nominally. All they do is events and visits. Now we can say that the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries proved inefficient. It has shortcomings,” Kalambai said.

Altynbek Mamayusupov. Photo: CABAR.asia
Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries is elected for 4 years and in 2017 this office was taken by a representative of Kyrgyzstan, Altynbek Mamayusupov. According to him, by the end of the year, the organisation is going to submit for approval at least one model law to counter terrorism. He doesn’t agree with the expert assessment and thinks that TurkPA is a young organisation and it is needed to promote democratic processes and strengthen the parliamentary diplomacy.

“I would ask those people why we need a parliament? If they answer this question, they would answer their own question. The parliament is a symbol of democratic processes in the country, it’s a separate branch of power. The inter-parliamentary activities are not a part of activity, but a constant process of improvement of the legislation, establishment of direct contacts and their maintenance on continuing basis,” Mamayusupov said.

Marat Bashimov. Photo: CABAR.asia
40 per cent of activities of the Assembly are funded by Turkey, while the rest is funded by the membership fees of member states, said Marat Bashimov, director of the Expert Institute for European Law and Human Rights. However, according to him, the investment hasn’t paid off yet:

All decisions are made as recommendations only. They don’t respond to international events in any way. I think the representatives of such organisations should, first of all, be active, express their opinions, which we have never seen. TurkPA had great potential, but officials failed. They neither raise critical issues, nor solve real problems.
However, the participants of TurkPA feel quite optimistically. According to Ilkham Aliev, member of parliament of Azerbaijan, many tasks have been fulfilled since the establishment of the organisation:

“TurkPA has a promising future. The tasks set by the organisation are being fulfilled. We always keep in touch with our colleagues. I am a member of the economic committee; we discuss economic issues such as a competitive business environment, new technologies, etc.”

Photo: CABAR.asia

Sarsenbai Yensegenov, member of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan:

Sarsenbai Yensegenov.  Photo: CABAR.asia
“We used to hold sessions not only inside, but now we’ve made a decision to hold meetings on site, we are going to meet people and hold open days, i.e. we are going to change the format of work entirely. We can discuss only one issue at the meetings of TurkPA, but what’s important is that we always reach consensus. I’d like such countries as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to join us.”

Experts feel sceptical about Turkmenistan and think that the authorities of the country shouldn’t be expected to join the Assembly. However, Uzbekistan might join the Assembly this year or next year because preliminary works are in progress now, Kalambai said.

Delegation or Abolition

Nursultan Nazarbayev and Sooronbai Zheenbekov at the 6th summit of the Commission on Cooperation of Turkic-Speaking Countries. Photo: president.kg
However, it’s not only experts who doubt the efficiency of the organisation. In September 2018, during the 6th summit of the Commission on Cooperation of Turkic-Speaking Countries, the then incumbent president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev said that TurkPA reached its purpose of establishing cooperation between the parliaments of Turkic states, but its activities lack coherence.

Therefore, we need to analyse the performance of this structure. If it’s efficient, its functions should be delegated to the secretariat. Otherwise, I suggest it be abolished.
Nazarbayev explained his suggestion by duplication of the activities of the Turkic cooperation institutions and found it reasonable to unite them under the aegis of TURKSOY.

Expert Yerzhan Kalambai thinks this restructuring would be reasonable because today the member states of these organisations face economic problems. For example, raw material costs, impact of the world recession. He thinks this issue would be discussed again at the summit of presidents of Turkic-speaking countries to be held in Azerbaijan this year.

“Last year, when such suggestions were made, one year was given to analyse the performance of this structure. I think this summit will determine the future of the organisation. It will optimise the performance of the organisation, regulate its cultural and humanitarian activities, reduce the number of staff, and save money,” Kalambai said.

This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.

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