Yerkin Baidarov:  Great hopes anchored in the intellectual community of Turkic states – INTERVIEW

  20 February 2023    Read: 456
  Yerkin Baidarov:   Great hopes anchored in the intellectual community of Turkic states –  INTERVIEW interviewed Yerkin Baidarov, Ph.D., Kazakhstani political scientist, and leading researcher at Ramazan Suleimenov Institute of Oriental Studies under the Science Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

- What is the contribution of the Turkic countries to world civilization today? What history are the Turkic-speaking countries writing?

‘Turkic countries and peoples continue making major contributions to the global civilization. These apply to all fields of human existence – from politics to economy, from culture to science, and so on. This does not come as a surprise because the chronicles of human civilization of at least the last two thousand years have been directly related to the history and culture of the Turks. This contribution has not always been uniformed due to various reasons. The rational reason lies in differences in political systems of the states, the level of economy and GDP of the Turkic countries, the fields of education and science, cultural phenomena, etc. These existing barriers are partly related to the complex processes of cultural and civilizational self-determination of the modern Turkic states, which often manifest in the opposition of socio-creative advantages of the Turkic nomadic and sedentary cultures. They often nurture a certain feeling of hostility, which often lead to the deepening of the mutual alienation trend. The encouragement of this experience of mutual alienation by the ideologists of the Turkic countries often looks paradoxical and non-pragmatic. Spreading this mythological wave of primordial nationalism within the Turkic civilization sometimes interferes with the dialogue-oriented nature of the interaction among Turkic countries and peoples.

This is why every modern Turkic country is writing its own history. Nevertheless, their recent integration shows a level of interest among Turkic intellectuals in delivering to the Turkic peoples the idea that we are united through common origins, as well as single history and culture. The International Turkic Academy in Astana is setting a positive example in this regard through launching an initiative to include a textbook on common Turkic history, geography, and literature in the school curriculum in Turkic countries. Ministers of education from five Turkic states (Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan) signed the decision the previous summer. While the common Turkic history was taught as an elective subject at schools in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Kazakhstan, it will now be included as a subject at schools in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan as well. This will help students delve into the details of the Turkic history, study the geography of independent Turkic states, and have a clear idea of the common cultural values of the fraternal peoples.

This and other important decisions in this direction allow us to hope for new discoveries in the history of the Turkic-speaking countries, which will introduce a fresh look at our common history and re-evaluation of the contributions made by the Turks to global history and the spiritual treasury of mankind.

Therefore, we are harbouring great hopes on the intellectual community of the Turkic states, since it largely depends on them whether the Turkic history will be common for all our countries or merely history of yet another Turkic state…’

- What can the contribution of the Turkic countries be to global civilization in the future?

‘I already mentioned that the Turks have participated in over two thousand years of history of humanity. One cannot help but think of the policy of the Chinese civilization, when they say, ‘five thousand years are behind us and ahead of us is as much’. Therefore, we can confidently say that the Turkic countries and peoples will continue making their contributions into the global civilization and nothing can stop this process.

At the same time, we must clearly understand that such contribution is impossible without political and economic reforms in the Turkic countries (of Central Asia and the Caucasus), who have certain challenges in the modernization of all fields of society. One of them is science and education, which played a crucial role in the development of the Turkic states of the early and classical Middle Ages.

We must realize that the contemporary mainstream allows us to adapt new goals and targets before science and education to suit specific changes. Therefore, the current trend of reinterpreting the role of science and education is to actively include them in the canvas of the new way of life, with consideration to the process of modernization, which, by the way, must become the strategic goal of the social transformation of the Turkic communities in the Central Asia and the Caucasus. Thus, the combination of modernization values with national cultural identity and the desire to carry out optimistic scenarios for finding ways to enter the contemporary civilization through science and education has proved viable in the modernization of a number of countries in the East and Southeast Asia, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia. These countries have made gigantic leaps in socio-economic development in a short time span. The urge to overcome the historically established isolation from the rest of the world and avoid lagging in the achievements of technological process has transformed into a sustainable cultural motivation for modernization. In economy it translated into the development of modern industries, hi-tech advancement, and active support for scientific research.

It would be worthwhile to quote Ismail Gasprinsky, the outstanding educator of the Turkic peoples of Eurasia, who said that: ‘A nation without science and modern technologies will gradually disappear under the pressure of other civilized peoples. This is the war for life. The weapons of this bloodless war are profession, industry, knowledge, and science.’ If the Turkic countries forget or ignore these words by the brilliant humanist, they might end up contributing nothing into the global civilization after all.’

- What is the future for the Turkic countries? How would you evaluate the destiny of the Organization of Turkic States?

‘The transformation of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTSS) into the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) demonstrated once again that the modern Turkic states need each other’s support. The ethnic and cultural community of the Turkic countries and peoples is not an empty phrase. The leaders of the Turkic states are well aware of this, as are most citizens of the Turkic ecumene.

The future of the OTS is dualistic. If countries manage to avoid prioritizing their own leadership ambitions and can consider each other’s interests without opposing Turkic identity with their own national affiliation claiming its exclusive ‘anciency’ and ‘most-culturedness’, then the Organization will have a great future, as all Turkic states should be considered equals among equals. If they fail to do so, then it will just turn into another short-lived dot in the annals of humankind. At the same time, the OTS are in for various geopolitical ‘traps’ set by the opponents of the Turkic union.

Such union will prevent some forces from establishing their own ‘rules of the game’ regarding the Turkic world. Therefore, the Organization of Turkic States must be ready and act cautiously around them. The Turkic countries and peoples should continue their fruitful and multi-aspect cooperation not only because these countries are historically and culturally kindred, but also because it is quite lucrative. The country I represent – Kazakhstan – is the window to the East for the Turkic world, whereas Turkey is the window to the West as the farthest western part of the Turkic world. This makes cooperation among kindred countries inevitable. The main thing to keep in mind is respecting each other’s interests…’ Analytic Group 

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