United States of Turkic World: Turkey’s Ideological Bridge in Eurasia

Turkey's Strategic Role in Eurasia: The United States of Turkic World

In the complex picture of global geopolitics, regional alliances and organizations often play a crucial role in promoting peace, stability, and economic development. One such regional organization that has been gaining prominence in recent years is the Organization of Turkic States (OTS). The fact is that the organization's journey to establish an ideological connection among Turkic people in Eurasia under Turkey's leadership began just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Turkey's proactive approach in fostering trade relationships with Central Asia, despite the absence of common borders, has resulted in significant economic benefits for both sides.

United States of Turkic World: Turkey’s Ideological Bridge in Eurasia

8th Summit of Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States

During the 8th summit held in Istanbul on November 12, 2021, the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, commonly known as the Turkic Council, decided to change its name to the Organization of Turkic States (OTS).

Comprising Turkic-speaking nations from various parts of the world, this council has been involved in raising cooperation, strengthening cultural ties, and advancing economic growth among its member states. In this article, we will delve into the history, objectives, achievements, and challenges of the Organization of Turkic States, shedding light on its significance in today's interconnected world.

💻 Table of Contents:

Meet the Modern Turkic Ethnic Groups: From Altai to Anatolia

The Turkic peoples are a diverse group of different ethnic communities living in various parts of West, Central, East, and North Asia, as well as some parts of Europe. They all speak languages that belong to the Turkic language family.

Long ago, the Turkic language started in Central-East Asia, possibly in places like the Altai-Sayan region, Mongolia, or Tuva. At first, the people who spoke Proto-Turkic might have been both hunters and farmers, but later on, they became nomadic herders, taking care of animals like sheep and horses.

Throughout history, Turkic groups have had a mix of physical appearances and genetic backgrounds because they interacted with many other neighboring people. These neighbors included Iranians, Mongolians, Tocharians, Uralic people, Yeniseian people, and more.

Over time, many different ethnic groups have become part of the Turkic peoples. This happened through a variety of ways like changing their language, adopting Turkic culture, being conquered, mixing with Turkic people, or converting to the Turkic people's religions. However, even though there are many differences, Turkic peoples also share some common things, like cultural traditions, a shared genetic history, and experiences from their history.

United States of Turkic World: Turkey’s Ideological Bridge in Eurasia
First Turkic Khaganate

Some of the well-known modern Turkic ethnic groups include the Altai people, Azerbaijanis, Chuvash people, Gagauz people, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz people, Turkmens, Turkish people, Tuvans, Uyghurs, Uzbeks, and Yakuts.

A study that merged linguistic, genetic, and archaeological findings has tracked down the roots of language groups, including present-day Japanese, Korean, Turkish, and Mongolian, as well as the people who use these languages. The study reveals that these languages and their speakers can be linked back to millet farmers who lived in a region in northeastern China approximately 9,000 years ago.

From Manchuria to the Black Sea: The First Turkic Khaganate's Expansion

The First Turkic Khaganate, also known as the First Turkic Empire, was a powerful Turkic kingdom led by Bumin Qaghan and his brother Istämi, who were part of the Ashina clan of the Göktürks. This empire was located in medieval Inner Asia and took over as the dominant force in the Mongolian Plateau after the fall of the Rouran Khaganate. It expanded rapidly across Central Asia and became the first transcontinental empire in Central Asia, stretching from Manchuria to the Black Sea.

Even though the Göktürks spoke Old Turkic, their early official writings and coins were in the Sogdian language. It was in this empire that the name "Türk" was first used for political purposes. Additionally, the Old Turkic script was developed during the early 6th century.

United States of Turkic World: Turkey’s Ideological Bridge in Eurasia
Eastern Gukturk

However, in 603, the Khaganate fell apart due to conflicts and internal strife, leading to the creation of two separate entities: the Eastern Turkic Khaganate and the Western Turkic Khaganate. The Tang Empire of China conquered the Eastern Turkic Khaganate in 630 and later conquered the Western Turkic Khaganate in 657 through a series of military campaigns.

In 682, the Second Turkic Khaganate emerged but lasted only until 744 when it was overthrown by the Uyghur Khaganate.

A Historical Perspective:

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, five countries where Turkic languages were spoken—namely, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—became independent and sovereign nations. Turkey was among the first countries to recognize the sovereignty of these newly established republics. Turkey's primary objective was to build influence in these Turkic nations and address the strategic vacuum created by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The idea of creating a forum for Turkic-speaking countries was initially conceived in the early 1990s, based on their shared historical roots, ethnic connections, and linguistic similarities. The inaugural Summit of the Heads of Turkic Speaking States took place in Ankara in 1992, bringing together the presidents of six Turkic-speaking nations: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Subsequently, a series of additional summits followed.

In light of these circumstances, the concept of forming a regional organization for Turkic-speaking countries gained momentum. In 2009, the Turkic Council, officially referred to as the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States (CCTS), was established in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, through the signing of the Nakhchivan Agreement. The founding members of this organization were Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey. In 2020, Uzbekistan became a full member of the council, further enhancing its regional influence and presence.

Emblems of Unity: The Foundation of Strategic Steps

The organization came into existence on October 3, 2009, under the name Cooperation Council of the Turkic Speaking States, known as the Turkic Council. It was established through the signing of the Nakhchivan Agreement by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey. The founding Secretary-General, Halil Akıncı, noted that this marked the first-ever voluntary alliance of Turkic nations.

In 2012, during the 2nd Summit held in Bishkek on August 23, 2012, the Turkic Council adopted its official flag, which was later raised on October 12, 2012. The flag combines symbols from the four founding member states: the light blue color of Kazakhstan's flag, representing the traditional Turkic turquoise; the sun from Kyrgyzstan's flag; the star from Azerbaijan's flag, and the crescent from the Turkish flag.

Uzbekistan announced its intention to join the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States on April 30, 2018, and formally applied for membership on September 12, 2019. Since late 2018, Hungary has been an observer with the possibility of seeking full membership, and Turkmenistan was granted observer status in 2021. In November 2021, the organization underwent a name change, becoming the Organization of Turkic States. In 2022, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus joined the organization as an observer member.

United States of Turkic World: Turkey’s Ideological Bridge in Eurasia
Turkic Language Map

In 2020, Emine Ceppar, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, who is of Crimean Tatar heritage, expressed Ukraine's interest in becoming an observer in the organization. Crimea, where the Crimean Tatars come from, is currently under Russian control.

On 3rd May 2021, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan formally applied for observer status. However, after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August of that year, the status of their application for observer status is uncertain.

The Organization of United Turkic States (OUTS) strengthens political solidarity among Turkic nations through regular high-level meetings, consultations, and coordinated decision-making. They collaborate on key issues, initiate joint projects, and advocate for shared interests globally. This promotes unity and mutual support among member states, enhancing political solidarity.

Objectives of the Organization: A United States of Turkic World

The Turkic Council was founded on a set of principles and objectives aimed at promoting cooperation and solidarity among its member states. It is an intergovernmental body with the overarching goal of promoting extensive collaboration among Turkic nations. This organization aspires to form a United States of Turkic World.

The Turkic Council concentrates on enhancing cultural and historical ties, fostering economic partnerships, facilitating political discussions, participating in humanitarian and social cooperation, and advocating for common interests among its member countries. This encompasses the celebration of cultural heritage, the reduction of trade barriers through free trade agreements, the development of transportation networks, the organization of cultural exchanges, the enhancement of educational cooperation, and diplomatic outreach efforts to raise awareness of Turkic culture and history worldwide.

Turkic States Alliance: A Growing Challenge to Iran, China and Russia's Supremacy

The Organization of Turkic States (OTS) has emerged as a significant player in the geopolitical landscape, aiming to strengthen ties among Turkic states and promote regional cooperation. With its vision (Turkic World Vision - 2040), the OTS envisions a united front, focusing on cultural, historical, and economic collaboration.

Recent developments include the acceptance of Turkmenistan as a full member and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an observer. Additionally, initiatives such as the Turkic Investment Fund and the Common Alphabet Commission have been established to boost economic growth and cultural unity.

The organization also emphasizes political dialogue and joint action, with member states addressing regional issues collectively. This includes concerns like the Afghanistan crisis and conflicts in Azerbaijan-Armenia, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. Furthermore, the OTS seeks to challenge China's influence in Central Asia by enhancing regional connectivity.

However, external influences, particularly from Russia and China, may complicate the OTS's goals. Moscow holds sway over several member states, potentially hindering harmonization, while China's interests in the region could be challenged. Internal challenges include concerns about Ankara's leadership and potential nationalist ambitions among Turkic populations.

While OTS officials downplay concerns and stress cooperation, the organization's 2040 vision and the statements of political leaders suggest broader ambitions. Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has called for a more extensive Turkic world, raising questions about interference in other states' affairs. Additionally, some Turkish officials see the OTS as a potential counterbalance to China in the region.

United States of Turkic World: Turkey’s Ideological Bridge in Eurasia
Summit of Heads of State of Organization of Turkic States

Iran is often seen as an obstacle to the development of Turkic states due to a combination of historical rivalry and geographical factors. Historically, Iran has viewed itself as a dominant regional power and has sought to exert influence over neighboring Turkic states, sometimes leading to tensions and competition for influence. Geographically, Iran's strategic location in the region allows it to potentially interrupt or influence trade routes and energy resources that are vital for the development of Turkic states. These factors have contributed to a complex relationship that can hinder the progress and cooperation among Turkic nations.


The formation of the Organization of United Turkic States was a major moment in Turkic history, symbolizing unity among Turkic nations. This alliance laid the groundwork for closer cooperation in Eurasia, promoting economic integration, cultural exchange, and political solidarity. The Organization became a symbol of strength and mutual support, advancing the interests of Turkic peoples globally and working together towards a brighter future rooted in their shared heritage and common goals. 

In summary, the OTS represents a growing force in regional politics, with the potential to challenge existing power dynamics in Central Asia. While the organization emphasizes cooperation and cultural ties, its broader ambitions may impact the interests of major players like China and Russia, making it a key player to watch in the evolving geopolitical landscape.