President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the latest Turkic Council summit historic due to the council’s growing influence.
He added that Turkey hopes the council will gain observer status in the U.N. Security Council and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
He was speaking at the 7th Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, widely known as the Turkic Council, in Azerbaijan's capital Baku.
“This summit has a historical aspect. We see that the role of structures such as the Turkic Council in global policy has been growing,” Erdoğan said, noting the importance the council attaches to its cooperation and coordination with multilateral platforms.
“We want the council to gain observer status in the U.N. Security Council and the OIC,” he added.
Erdoğan also urged members to mutually lift customs quotas to boost trade and cooperation.
On the issue of the Upper Karabakh conflict, Erdoğan said Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijani lands has forcibly displaced around a million people. "This is an unacceptable situation," he added.
"We will continue to make efforts to peacefully solve the Upper Karabakh issue as soon as possible and based on Azerbaijan's territorial integrity," he noted.
Karabakh - a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia - broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with military support from neighboring Armenia. A peace process has yet to be implemented.
Three U.N. Security Council resolutions, namely 853, 874 and 884, and U.N. General Assembly resolutions 19/13 and 57/298 refer to Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.
The Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact is a militarized separation barrier that divides Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. It was established immediately after the May 1994 cease-fire that ended the Nagorno-Karabakh War and is monitored by six Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers.
Exchanges of fire occur regularly on the line of contact.
Turkic Council backs Turkey’s anti-terror operation
Regarding Turkey’s ongoing Operation Peace Spring, Erdoğan said Turkey expects strong backing from Turkic countries in its fight against terrorism.
In a joint declaration, Turkic countries voiced strong support for Turkey's ongoing anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
"[The leaders] express their hope and belief that Turkey's Operation Peace Spring will contribute to fighting terrorism, ensuring the territorial integrity of Syria, liberating local Syrians from the oppression of terrorists and creating conditions for the safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrians to their homeland," the 7th summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States said in the declaration.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
The Turkic Council session was held with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Kazakhstan's founding President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Turkmenistan's Deputy Prime Minister Purli Agamuradov also attended the summit as observers.
The Turkic Council was established in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization with the overarching aim of promoting comprehensive cooperation among Turkic speaking states.
Its four founding member states are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
Since 2011, the Turkic Council convenes its annual summits under certain topics, where the heads of state of the Turkic Council evaluate the past period and set goals for the next year.
The diversification of Turkish foreign policy is the main motive behind the Turkic Council. Over the last 20 years, in line with its multidimensional foreign policy, Turkey has been pursuing a more active opening policy toward many regions. Until the 1990s, Turkey's foreign policy was limited to the borders of NATO in the Western world. Since the 2000s, Turkey has embraced a new foreign policy strategy as a result of questioning and redefining its position in the global order. This new strategy has diversified Turkey's foreign policy alternatives with a more independent stance and a strategy in the direction of its national interests since the 2000s.