Last month, Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Turekmenistan to discuss bilateral ties. In an email interview, Bayram Balci, a visiting scholar focusing on Turkish foreign policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained Turkey’s broader relationship with the Central Asian republics.
WPR: What has been the recent evolution of Turkey's relationship with Central Asia, and why does Turkey prioritize the region in terms of its foreign aid?
Bayram Balci: The last major political event between Turkey and Central Asia was the 10th summit of Turkey and the other Turkic republics—Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan—which took place in Istanbul in 2010. The summit launched just after the collapse of the Soviet Union with big political ambitions, but because Central Asian countries wanted to preserve their complete sovereignty, the summit progressively came to prioritize cultural exchanges.