Turkey-Kazakhstan relations hit peak

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ISTANBUL.  October 26. KAZINFORM Following an almost decade-and-a-half stall in Turkey's active engagement in brethren Turkic countries in Central Asia during the late Turkish president Turgut Özal's tenure, Turkey has started to build strong and lasting political and economic relations with Central Asian countries,  Kazinform cites Today's Zaman.

It was during Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's visit to Turkey when Turkey took the first step to establish good relations with Central Asia's pro-Russian countries.

President Abdullah Gul and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a strategic partnership agreement on Thursday to boost political and economic relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan, a long-expected and belated deal according to some observers.

Turkey was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan when it got its independence from the former Soviet Union in late 1991. President Ozal called Kazakh President Nazarbayev an hour after its declaration of independence and congratulated him. Turkey established diplomatic relations between the two countries in four months' time. Turkish contractors and investors have made substantial progress in the past two decades and have contributed considerably to the economic development of Kazakhstan. Turkey's contribution to education in Kazakhstan is also noteworthy; there are two Turkish universities and 28 Turkish schools in the country.  

During his joint press conference with Turkish President Gül after the signing of the strategic agreement, Nazarbayev said the strategic aspect of the partnership between Ankara and Astana has always been there. Noting that this is an important effort, a famous expert on Kazakhstan, Abdulvahab Kara, said in an interview with Sunday's Zaman that this is the first time Turkey has signed a strategic partnership agreement with any Turkic country. "I view this as a huge step. We may collect the fruits of such agreements in the future. It could have productive implications with regard to economic and cultural relations," said Kara. In contrast, Huseyin Bagcı, a professor of international relations at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), said it is not healthy to use the term strategic partnership every time. "The term has been widely used, and it has been watered down. It is impossible to have strategic relations with every country; we selectively use this term in international relations," Bagcı said. "However," he continued, "it is positive what has been done with Kazakhstan." Mentioning Turkey's swift recognition of Kazakhstan's independence, Bagcı said the two countries have experienced ups and downs in bilateral relations. "Kazakhstan is a rich country with abundant natural resources and is a significant trade partner of Turkey," Bagcı noted, Kazinform refers to Today's Zaman.

See www.todayszaman.com for full version.

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