Turkey in 2019

8 m.   |  2020-02-04

The Turkic Council

T he integration initiatives taking place between the member countries of the Turkic Council, also continued in 2019. On October 15, Baku hosted the 7th Summit of Cooperation Council (Turkic Council) Turkic-Speaking States, devoted to the development prospects of Small and Medium Enterprises. 

It should be noted, that in 2018, the concept of Integration of the Turkic World was adopted during the 6th Summit in Kyrgyzstan and N. Nazarbayev suggested developing the Turkic Speaking States project in Baku. If the concept is aimed at deepening the cooperation between the Member countries of the Council in the fields of foreign policy and “soft power” policy, trade, transit, tourism, energy and “green economy”, small and medium enterprises, then the vision is intended to set their future development guidelines. The latter also suggests renaming the Council into the Organization of Turkic States.

Furthermore, the “Turkish Quartet” was supplemented with Uzbekistan, which became the full member of the Council. Currently it’s only Turkmenistan, that though occasionally participating in the summit, isn’t yet a member of the Council. As for Hungary, which has an observer status in the Council, a representative office of the Turkic Council opened in Budapest a month before the Baku’s summit.

The opening ceremony of the Turkic Council’s office in Budapest

Foreign Minister of Turkey M. Cavusoglu, who was attending the opening ceremony, stated in his speech, that “the Budapest office will become an institution lobbying for the Turkic Council’s interests in European structures”.

Issues on information and communication technologies, cyber security and economic importance are also on the agenda of the Turkic Council’s member countries. Particularly, the construction of the Trans-Caspian fiber-optic cable line between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, which is a part of the Trans-Caspian backbone project has been launched to enhance the cooperation between the Council member countries.

According to the Secretary General of the Turkic Council Baghdad Amreyev, this initiative will increase e-services in the region, promote industrial development, economy diversification and will increase the competitiveness of Eurasian countries. According to him, the project will promote creating a digital telecommunication corridor between Europe and Asia. 

380-400 km long cables are planned to be laid under the Caspian Sea, which is expected to be completed in 2021, thus enabling to transmit the information at a speed of 4-6 terabyte per second. The joint construction of fiber optic transmission lines will be implemented by Azerbaijani AzerTelecom, Kazakhstan’s KazTransCom and Transtelecom companies in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan with an active participation of the Turkic Council.

During 2019, a number of meetings were held with the participation of heads of departmental bodies responsible for the development of information technologies of the Council’s member states. The issues related to the ways of expanding the continuous cooperation in the fields of cyber security, e-governance and satellite service were discussed.

At the same time, steps are taken towards expending the economic cooperation. In particular, the Charter to establish the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Turkic Council countries was signed in May 2019, and it officially began to act since August. The Member States of the Chamber are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Later Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan may also join them. Currently, the issues on the possible fields of cooperation (light and food industry, construction and agriculture) establishing an industrial zone in one of the Turkic speaking countries and on customs policy are being discussed in the form of offers.

As a next step, it is envisaged to create a fund with a $500 mil. start-up capital (Turkish Investment and Integration Fund), as well as to open Turkic trading houses for attracting investment.

Cyber Security

A s we have already stated in the article “Turkey’s Cyber Security Policy”

Published in 2019, Turkey develops the infrastructures of the field and has begun to pay more attention to cyber defense events. It’s worth mentioning, that over three thousand specialists from National Cyber Incidents Response Center (USOM) under the Information and Communications Authority (BTK) are monitoring Turkey’s critical infrastructure (about 14 sectors) 24 hours a day in order to immediately prevent cyber-attacks.

According to the specialists from USOM, 136411 cyber-attacks were recorded in Turkey for the first quarter in 2019 (72 975 attacks in 2018). Turkey developed its own Avcı, Azad, Kasırga computer programs, which are used by cyber security agencies so as to be protected from the cyber-attacks.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey in support with International Telecommunication Union co-organized “Cyber Shield-2019” event in Ankara, on December 19-20, 2019, which was attended by the specialists from Iran, Brazil, Malaysia and member countries of the Turkic Council. During the event, teams were created, who then organized trainings on cyber security scenarios, network security and cyber security issues for industrial complexes.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Cahit Turhan speaks at the opening ceremony of cyber exercises.

Source www.dogruhaber.com.tr

Referring to international cooperation, Turkey’s military-industrial company Havelsan signed a cooperation agreement with the Qatar-based Jaidah Group, according to which Jaidah Group[1] will benefit from Havelsan’s experience in cyber security based on Turkish company’s technologies. Moreover, Jaidah Group was obliged to work with the universities of Qatar for “nationalization” of technologies produced by Havelsan. Havelsan in its turn, will set up a cyber security center, while enabling Jaidah Group to access its cyber defense platform.

Turkey’s analytical centers

D uring 2019, there were issues of thematic interest for Turkish think-tanks, which were common to everyone, such as Turkish military operations in Syria, Turkish-American and Turkish-Lebanese relations, USA-Iran tensions, issues related to the С-400 and so on.

Alongside these topics, other issues are also being explored. Particularly, at the core of the study of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), closely cooperating with the NDP, were Ankara-Beijing economic relations and prospects for mutual strategic cooperation, prospects for Turkey’s auto-industry (including the production of passenger electric cars), opportunities for the development of Turkey’s image in international media, Islamophobia in Europe, Turkey’s military technology, different branches of the military industry, missile systems and satellite.  

The Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) standing close to the NDP and working in the sphere of energy, Turkey’s nuclear energy opportunities, armaments and international relations has also more recently specialized in cyber security, digital media and military industry. In 2019, specialists in this center were focused on the issues of security technologies used by Turkey’s digital policy, financial and banking services and issues related to Turkey’s nuclear energy and Russian information policy in Turkey through digital media.

The Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), one of the quasi-governmental analytical centers receiving support for Turkey’s foreign policy issues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from the President, mainly focuses on holding professional meetings in various formats by organizing conferences and forums within specific projects.

It’s noteworthy, that if between 2010-2018, mainly foreign policy, economic, social-cultural, Turkish Diaspora and nuclear issues were the integral part of this center’s research, over the last year its work was focused on narrow security topics, such as on foreign cooperation in the field of military industry and satellite technologies (e.g. African Security Architecture and Turkey and Turkey-Gulf Defense and Security Forums), taking place in the framework of Istanbul Security Conference.

The 5th Istanbul Security Conference.

During the Maritime and Marine Safety Forum, they discussed the issues on the security of the Aegean islands and the establishment of a Turkish naval base in Cyprus, as well as topics related to the modernization and improvement of Turkey’s naval forces, Turkish ports’ infrastructures and other security topics. A number of conferences will be held on this topics in 2020.

As a new direction, TASAM will also organize events related to bio/nanotechnologies and artificial intelligence, were they will discuss the achievements reached in this field by the six leading countries on the basis of which it is envisaged to develop Turkey’s strategy.

As expected, this year TASAM plans to hold the 6th Turkish conference on “Future of Eurasia, Turkic World and its Diaspora” in Istanbul. Considering the experience of the previous conferences, we do not exclude that topics related to Armenia and Armenians may also be included in the agenda.

[1] Jaidah Grup specializes in the fields of energy, telecommunication and automobile construction.