POLITICS


Organization of Turkic States – A long way towards the common information space

The first systematized overview of the Turkic states’ relevant initiatives

by Jamal Ahmadov

Some call it the “Turkic EU”, some characterize it as a response to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the Eurasian Economic Union, but the undeniable fact is that the Organization of Turkic States is the full-fledged new pole in our multipolar world within the new geopolitical realities.

Events, which have been shaping the global and regional geopolitical agenda since early 2020, demonstrated that there is never enough unity among the world countries. Azerbaijan’s victory in the 44-day war and restoration of its territorial integrity, achievement of consensus with regard to the Caspian Sea between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, the united stance towards the security issues in the Central Asian region and situation in Afghanistan, joint response to the July-August’21 wildfires in Türkiye and the spirit of mutual support and assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic have shown that the Turkic factor is strong enough to unify at least 7 states even during the worst of crises. Therefore, the Organization of Turkic States can really play an exemplary role setting a successful pattern of inter-governmental cooperation and solidarity.

As known, the Organization of Turkic States was “rebranded” in 2021 as a logical continuation of inter-state cooperation’s development among the Turkic states based on the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States (Turkic Council, established by the Nakhchivan Declaration in 2009), which, in its turn, grew out of the Summit of the Heads of Turkic-Speaking States (the first one being held in Ankara in 1992). The strategic document adopted at the 8th Summit of the Turkic Council entitled the “Turkic World Vision 2040” presented a model of further partnership where the member states continue their mutually beneficial cooperation as independent actors without any losses in sovereignty or any kind of diplomatic or financial “traps”, in full accordance with norms and principles of international law.

It is obvious that the relative neighborliness of the member states, shared regional agenda, common security and economic interests are among the key factors shaping the success of this cooperation model. However, in the cornerstone of this model lie the shared cultural, or even mental, ties.

The ongoing activities and discussions within the OTS on media policy can be characterized as “3 T’s”: (1) truth-based information from trustful sources, (2) transformation of the media policy and (3) Turkic solidarity.

Cooperation in media and strategic communications of the Turkic-speaking states has been gradually growing over the previous years. The historic Shusha Declaration signed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 15 June 2021, establishment of the Türkiye-Azerbaijan Media Platform paved the way for further advancing of media cooperation among the Turkic states.

All these measures play the most crucial role in the era of hybrid war and post-truth, when in some cases it is possible to provoke the international clashes simply using fakes and disinformation. The recent emerging demand for the fact-checking journalism also showcases the need for widening the cooperation in this aspect of inter-state partnership.

Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Hikmat Hajiyev stated during the II Antalya Diplomacy Forum in March 2022 that the spread of misinformation occurs “not only on social media and in the media, but also in politics”.

This is why there was a need for a common information strategy in the 90’s (1995 Bishkek Declaration of the Summit of the Heads of Turkic-Speaking States) and there is a need for one after almost 30 years. The anti-Azerbaijani campaign during the 44-day war, the disinformation concerning the Black Sea floods, as well as the situation in Kazakhstan in early 2022 are only a few of the most recent examples which demanded joint response and informational support of the Turkic states. It is a common space with mainly common threats.

Can the Organization of Turkic States play a deciding role in shaping the unified measures of its members against the disinformation threats? Is the OTS the panacea in itself?

To answer these questions, I will introduce a brief overview of the measures undertaken in the past by the individual Turkic states and the OTS’ predecessors, as well as analyze the content strategy of the official Twitter account of the OTS, also presenting some points for possible further improvement.

Part I. A common information space – the long-delayed project of 3 decades

1. TURKSOY

Before the “Turkic EU” there was a “UNESCO of the Turkic World”. The International Organization of Turkic Culture, known as TURKSOY, has been constantly working on strengthening of brotherhood and solidarity among Turkic peoples. There can be various interpretations regarding the “solidarity” term, but it is obvious that establishment of the common information space and provision of support to media entities promoting the history and cultural heritage of the Turkic peoples is among the main goals in this regard.

Since the year of 2000, the TURKSOY has been publishing its specialized magazine focusing on the news and events of the organization, as well as the key events of the member states and scientific articles on the Turkic history.

It is also worth mentioning that the Secretary General of TURKSOY, prof. Dusen Kaseinov also stated that “media also plays a key role, not only in terms of the promotion of cultural and traditional values of a country, but also in terms of intercultural communication, which can only take place via a common platform of information.”

To prove this point and show the special importance of the media sector cooperation for TURKSOY, we can also mention the TURKSOY Press Award presented annually since 2009 by the General Secretariat to the journalists and members of the Press media in recognition of their contribution to the promotion of Turkic culture worldwide as well as to the building of cultural bridges among various countries of the globe. As of today, more than 200 journalists from over 20 countries have received this award which is a statue symbolizing "Unity and Solidarity for Strength".

Therefore, we can say that even though the TURKSOY is not the driving force of the Turkic common information space’s establishment process, it surely plays a significant role encouraging joint work and networking of Turkic journalists.

2. Previous initiatives on establishment of joint media platforms

a. Media Platform for Turkic Speaking Countries and Communities

“Media Platform of the Turkic-speaking Countries and Communities” established by the initiative of Türkiye in 2011 brought together journalists not only from the Turkic-speaking countries but also from the Turkic communities of Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, the Balkans and a number of other countries.

On 21-22 December 2010, the Media Forum of the Turkic-speaking States was launched in Ankara in cooperation with the Directorate General of Press and Information and the Center for Strategic Research (SAM) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye. The I Forum was dedicated to the topic of “Media in Globalized World: Opportunities and Challenges.” At the Forum, decisions were taken to advance cooperation in the Turkic geography implementing necessary steps towards the unification of the media in the Turkic world.

On 28 October 2011, the “Media Platform for Turkic Speaking Countries and Communities” (TÜRKMEP) with the General Secretariat in Ankara was established during the II Media Forum of the Turkic-speaking States to use all means to develop relations between the Turkic communities. Besides that, the Turkic Press Board of Crimea was established during the II Forum.

Overall, 4 meetings of the Forum were held over the years:

I Forum – 21-22 December 2010, Ankara, Istanbul;

II Forum – 28 October 2011, Baku, Azerbaijan;

III Forum – 8-9 November, 2013, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan;

IV Forum – 15-17 November 2014, Lefkoşa, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The ways to improve web information resources, role of media in economic, political and social fields, as well as public diplomacy and ethics were discussed within the frameworks of the events.

The Platform was active for nearly 8 years before its website was shut down in 2018. It is also interesting to note that the Directorate General of Press and Information was restructured and transformed into the Directorate of Communications in July 2018 and due to this fact it is possible to suggest that the Platform’s activities were ceased due to performance optimization measures, repetitiveness with relevant activities of the Turkic Council and loss of the Platform’s relevance due to this reason.

b. Joint TV programs

Over the years, there have been numerous telebridges and joint programs (“From Khazar to the World”, Azerbaijan Public TV – TRT Avaz telebridges, “Turkic world” program of Azerbaijan, Türkiye, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan state televisions, etc.), as well as the documentaries and media entities dedicated to the Turkic world successfully broadcasting in several countries. As the most recent such example we can mention the TMB media group (Türk Millətlər Birliyi – Union of Turkic Countries) broadcasting the music videos of the Turkic states’ performers, which will also open a new office at the center of Baku. On February 1, 2022, a new radio station called Radio TMB began broadcasting in Azerbaijan. It is also worth mentioning that since 2013, the TMB TV channel has been the organizer of the TurkVizyon music festival for Turkic-speaking countries.

The official News Agencies of the Turkic states continue their cooperation on a permanent basis. On May 24, 2021 the “Turkic.World” joint media platform created by Türkiye’s Albayrak Media Group and Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency was presented in Baku. The web-platform is currently presenting news of the Turkic-speaking countries in 8 languages (Azerbaijani, English, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian, Turkish, Turkmen and Uzbek).

The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) has been playing a central role in establishment of the common information space for the Turkic states for many years. In order to effectively face the modern challenges and goals, in 2008 the TRT was restructured and its “TRT-World” website was launched, currently operating in 35 languages.

The state radio service called the “Voice of Turkey” (TRT TSR) was launched in 1937, currently operating in 35 languages for the Turkic speaking and global audience around the world. On March 21, 2009, the “TRT Avaz” TV channel was launched broadcasting mainly in the Turkic states, the Balkans, and the Middle East. This also allowed Türkiye to address more than 27 countries with a population of 250 million people. On several occasions the Turkic Council expressed its appreciation of the role of TRT Avaz as the common channel of the Turkic world. In 2019, TRT Avaz signed the protocol with TURKSOY becoming its broadcast sponsor.

c. Türkiye-Azerbaijan Media Platform – an exemplary case of cooperation

In early September 2020, Azerbaijan and Türkiye formed a joint Türkiye-Azerbaijan Media Platform. The relevant agreement was reached during Hikmat Hajiyev’s official visit to Türkiye on September 7. To document this agreement, the countries signed the “Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Türkiye in the Field of Media” on 10 December 2020. According to the document the parties agreed to “further strengthen cooperation between relevant agencies in the field of information, communication and public diplomacy”.

The 1st meeting of the Türkiye-Azerbaijan Joint Media Platform was held on 22 October 2021, co-chaired by Türkiye Presidency's Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun and Azerbaijani presidential assistant Hikmat Hajiyev.

Azerbaijan and Türkiye decided to establish the Committees focused on the following issues covering bilateral cooperation in the field of media and communications: (1) public diplomacy; (2) international media; (3) strategic communication; (4) education; (5) legislation and regulation; (6) digitalization and internationalization.

Türkiye and Azerbaijan’s Joint Media Platform was a genuinely outstanding event standing on the nexus of development new tools for informing the public opinion and production of unified strategies for combating fakes and disinformation campaigns on digital media platforms. The Joint Media Platform bore the fruits from the very first day of its existence, it is simply enough to mention its importance in prevention of disinformation activities during the 44-day war. Initiatives and measures implemented within the Türkiye-Azerbaijan Joint Media Platform helped the journalists and media crews from the region and beyond in getting free access to all the information needed to cover this war and later events of regional importance.

This successful collaboration encouraged wider cooperation among the Turkic-speaking states, resulting in a number of joint projects launched by the Turkic state-run media broadcasters and news agencies. It should be noted that the relevant steps are underway regarding establishment of a Turkic Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities Forum (TBRAF) according to the December 2021 statement of Ebubekir Sahin, the head of Türkiye's Radio and Television Supreme Council.

3. Turkic Council

Before transforming into the Organization of Turkic States, or even the Turkic Council, the Turkic Speaking States Heads of States Summit was the first non-corporate entity which officially enshrined in its document the need for strengthening cooperation in the media field in its 1995 Bishkek Declaration. In the next summits this stance was strengthened which stimulated a number of new initiatives, which included, but were not limited to the projects, mentioned later in the text.

The official establishment, or institutionalization, of the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-Speaking States through the 2009 Nakhchivan Declaration created necessary conditions for enhancing cooperation in this field and provide platform for the exchange of views on this matter. In recent years, the events devoted to the media partnership within the Turkic Council have contributed to the development of relations between the Council states’ media entities and conclusion of a number of cooperation protocols.

Generally speaking, the Turkic Council established the necessary frameworks for cooperation and discussions on the different levels: Summits of the Council (discussions on the level of the Heads of States), Meetings of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media, Working Group on Cooperation in Media and Information Sphere (media professionals’ platform ensuring prompt responsiveness and exchange of views), the Media Forum (media professionals and guest speakers from different fields), as well as trainings and media tours for journalists.

Below I have presented the systematized overview of the relevant events, groups and measures undertaken by the Turkic Council over the 12 years of its functioning under this name.

a. CCTS Summits – discussions on establishment of the International Turkic News Channel (ITNC)

As known, the Turkic Council held 8 regular Summits, as well as 2 video Summits (Extraordinary Video Summit in 2020 and Informal Video Summit in 2021) between 2011 and 2021. The first 5 Summits were dedicated to different fields of cooperation between the Turkic states and the V summit, which was held on September 11, 2015 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, was entitled “Cooperation in Media and Information”.

At this “anniversary” CCTS Summit, the participants had further agreed on the establishment of the common Turkic TV channel, the idea of which was first put forward by Kazakhstan on June 5, 2014 (IV Summit of the CCTS) by Nursultan Nazarbayev “to introduce the Turkic world to the international community and familiarize international viewers with life in the Turkic world”. In this regard, the Turkic Council established the Coordination Group for the Establishment of International Turkic News Channel which will be reviewed later in this article.

Touching upon the issues of establishment of the brand-new TV channel covering the news of the Turkic states, it should be noted that this initiative has not been yet completely implemented up to this date. In fact, this mission is implemented by the “TRT Avaz” channel, which we have already touched upon earlier. During the meeting with representatives of Türkiye's national media in Istanbul on June 28, 2019 Secretary General of the Turkic Council mentioned that the preparations are underway for “establishment of a joint television channel by the Ministries Responsible for Media”.

For instance, during the 2nd meeting of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media in Baku on May 7, 2019, it was noted that “this issue has not been resolved yet due to lack of financial resources. However, transformation of one of the existing TV channels into a common channel of Turkic-speaking states, like TRT Avaz channel could be a practical solution”. The role of “TRT Avaz” “in the implementation of joint projects” was also highlighted during the VIII meeting of the Working Group on Cooperation in Media and Information Sphere in Baku on April 9, 2021.

Moving forward it should be noted that during the VIII Summit of the Turkic Council, when it was renamed into the “Organization of Turkic States”, Secretary General Baghdad Amreyev stated that “the establishment of a single ‘International Turkic News Channel’ and strengthening of cooperation between news agencies and national TV channels are also under active consideration”.

Besides that, the Turkic Council Summits had been continuously encouraging further media integration, as well as public and private media in production of movies and documentaries about prominent figures and events that took place in the common history of the Turkic world. Some of the most recent projects were particularly dedicated to the recent 30th anniversary of independence of several Turkic countries.

Despite the wide range of implemented activities there is still a need for establishment of the unified news TV channel, which could be based on the “Euronews” experience, broadcasting in 15 languages.

b. Meetings of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media

During the Turkic Council period, 3 meetings of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media were held respectively in Astana (18 August 2015) and Baku (7 May 2019 and 10 April 2021).

The I Meeting of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media was held on 18 August 2015 in Astana. The main outcomes of the Meeting included the signing of the following documents by the participants.

-“Turkic Council Joint Cooperation Protocol on Information and Media”,

-“Protocol of Cooperation among the National TV Channels of the Member States of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States”,

-“Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation among Official News Agencies of the Member States of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States”.

Along with discussions of a number of documentaries and series produced jointly by the Turkic media entities, the participants had also adopted the “the Concept Paper for the establishment of the International Turkic News Channel (ITNC)”, which was presented by the delegation of Kazakhstan, as well as encouraged cooperation of the Turkic journalists through workshops, trainings, forums and other available partnership means.

The II Meeting of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media was held on 7 May 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The main outcomes of the Meeting can be presented as follows:

-establishment of a contact group of representatives of national public television channels was discussed,

-it was agreed to create the Joint FTP Pool for downloading programs and video materials (in various formats) on the topics of mutual importance, including news, short movies, cultural, historical and sports programs (as well as traditional sports, which is also an important factor in terms of shared history of the Turkic states);

-Public Broadcasting Institutions of the Member States of the Turkic Council signed the Multilateral Technical Cooperation Protocol.

Even though the III Meeting was firstly agreed to take place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2020, the Covid-19 changed the initial plans and it was held on 10 April 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Coincidentally, the organization of this meeting in Azerbaijan had also a great symbolical significance due to the fact that the media entities of the Turkic states provided exceptional support to Azerbaijan in delivering the truth to the world during the 44-day war in 2020.

The main outcomes of the Meeting are presented below:

-participants approved the “Action Plan for 2021-2022”;

-it was agreed to establish a Media Coordination Committee of the Turkic Council consisting of the high-level representatives of the Member States to coordinate and supervise the implementation of the Council’s decisions and deriving from the Action Plan;

-need to maximize the potential of the established Joint FTP Pool was emphasized for increasing joint production of visual and audio content by the Member States;

-participants stressed the need to establish the International Turkic News Channel and to intensify cooperation among Official News Agencies and TV channels, also organizing exchange programs and training courses for media experts;

-Turkic Council Media Forum was agreed to take place in Türkiye later in 2021.

c. Coordination Group for the Establishment of International Turkic News Channel / Working Group on Cooperation in Media and Information Sphere

Following the initiative of Kazakhstan on establishment of the International Turkic News Channel, the Coordination Group for the Establishment of International Turkic News Channel (ITNC) of the Turkic Council was established, which held 4 meetings in 2014 and 2015 chaired by then Secretary General of the Turkic Council Ramil Hasanov. The Group bringing together technical, financial and news specialists held discussions on the concept of creating a common network for the member states and also the idea of establishing a joint international news and educational Channel in English, Russian and Turkish.

In 2016, the Coordination Group was renamed into the Working Group on Cooperation in Media and Information Sphere. Unlike the Coordination Group, the Working Group covered a wide range of issues, accelerating the process of information exchange and joint project creation.

4 meetings were held under the title of Coordination Group:

I Meeting – 20-21 October 2014, Istanbul, Türkiye;

II Meeting – 23-24 February 2015, Istanbul, Türkiye;

III Meeting – 27 July 2015, Istanbul, Türkiye;

IV Meeting – 17 August 2015, Astana, Kazakhstan.

List of 4 meetings held under the title of the Working Group on Cooperation in Media and Information Sphere:

V Meeting – 10-11 March 2016, Istanbul, Türkiye;

VI Meeting – 27 April 2017, Istanbul, Türkiye;

VII Meeting – 6 May 2019, Baku, Azerbaijan;

VIII Meeting – 9 April 2021, Baku, Azerbaijan.

d. Turkic Council Media Forum

The Turkic Council Media Forum was organized under the “Deep-rooted Past, Strong Future” motto on 22-24 October 2021 in Istanbul, Türkiye. It managed to attract more than 500 participants, including prominent media representatives, academics and social media influencers. It is worth mentioning that the representatives of student community from the Member and Observer States also participated in the Forum.

Fight against misinformation, enhancing cooperation in the social media and joint TV and cinema production were among the key topics of the Forum. The Forum also included a number of additional events, such as the 1st meeting of Türkiye-Azerbaijan Joint Media Platform, digital exhibition on 30th anniversary of independence of Turkic republics, presentation of the “Turkic.World” web-portal and the series of workshops which took place under the motto "The Future of the Turkic World: The New Ulug Beys, Ali Shir Nevais, Akhmet Yassawis, Nezami Ganjavis of the Turkic World” consisting of the blocs on science, culture and art, media, sports, international relations and the new media.

e. Joint international trainings and media tours for journalists

Touching upon the cases of trainings for journalists from the Turkic states and Turkic-speaking communities, it should be mentioned that Türkiye is the main initiator of such events. The Anadolu Agency’s “Media Academy” (2011), the “Turkish Media Training Program” (TÜMEP) (2013) and “Program for Cooperation with the Diaspora” (2018) are worth mentioning in this regard.

The Turkic Council has also taken a proactive stance in terms of organization of special events for journalists in the post-pandemic period. It would be useful to emphasize 2 particular events held in 2021:

-Social Media Training Program (29-30 July 2021, Istanbul, Türkiye): different aspects of the use of social media, internet and social media law, combating disinformation, cyber security threats and experience of Türkiye were discussed. The 1st Meeting of the Media Coordination Committee of the Turkic Council was held on the margins of the event.

-Media Tour for the journalists of the Member and Observer States of the Turkic Council to Azerbaijan (30 August – 3 September 2021): the dynamic and informative agenda was prepared for the media tour of 30 journalists from the Turkic Council states – meetings with high-level officials, visits to Ganja, as well as to the liberated territories of Azerbaijan (particularly, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Shusha, Jabrayil and Zangilan). The tour ended with attendance of the special concert program dedicated to the 880th anniversary of Nizami Ganjavi. As we can see, the 5-day agenda created all the necessary conditions for comprehensive communication on various issues, covering the spheres of policy analysis, cultural exchange and getting acquainted with restoration process in Karabakh.

All the above-mentioned measures show that the tools and mechanisms embraced by the Turkic states have been gradually improving over the years turning it into organization which is only one step away from solidifying the common information space free of disinformation and digital terrorism. The Organization of Turkic States has also necessary toolkits for building on experience of the past years.

Part II. Organization of Turkic States – will it become an effective solution? Turkic states vs. disinformation

1. Official sentiment on fakes and disinformation – the plague of our days?

It would not be wrong to state that 2 recent events held respectively in 2021 and 2022 – the Turkic Council Media Forum (22-24 October 2021, Istanbul, Türkiye) and the 2nd Antalya Diplomacy Forum (11-13 March 2022, Antalya, Türkiye) became the favorable platforms for expressing the Turkic states’ opinion and approach towards the future Turkic information space, fight against disinformation and promotion of Turkic history and cultural values.

In his video address to the participants of the Turkic Council Media Forum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that social media platforms with no inspection threaten democracy, social peace and national security of states. No country is secured from the devastating effect of digital fascism.

During the panel on "Combating Disinformation in the Post-Truth Age" of the 2nd Antalya Diplomacy Forum, assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Hikmat Hajiyev stated that it's critical to gather and convey accurate information as quickly as possible, also highlighting the need for social media literacy strategy, particularly for children, who are exposed to negativity in social media. At the panel, Head of the Strategic Communication and Crisis Management Department at the Turkish Presidency's Directorate of Communications Gökhan Yücel had noted that disinformation is related to national and international security as well as human dignity.

The relevant policy measures adopted by the Turkic States, including Kazakhstan’s National Plan for the Development of the Information Sphere for 2020-2022 ( […] disinformation in social networks and instant messengers poses a threat to the information security of the country […] ) and other participants of the Organization of Turkic States, we can definitely characterize the development of strategy of fight against fake information as a common issue for all these countries, which should be addressed through joint measures. Taking into account this urgent need for enhanced cooperation in the fields of stratcom and media, it is likely that the OTS will make the fight against disinformation an agenda priority, enhancing relationships in the Turkic world as it has already done in the previous years.

2. “Turkic World Vision 2040” – towards the strong and united Turkic world

At the historic 8th Summit of the Turkic Council (12-13 November 2021, Istanbul, Türkiye), where it was renamed into the “Organization of Turkic States”, the member countries adopted the joint declaration entitled “Turkic World Vision 2040” initiated by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Council’s honorary chairman.

This strategic document will guide future multidimensional cooperation among the Turkic states, including the spheres of media and information. Particularly, the concept of “Turkic World Vision 2040” brings together the past initiatives and the issues of the most urgent importance, raised over the years within the Council’s meetings on different levels. It once again highlights the need for establishment of a Common Turkic Information and Media Space through institutionalized cooperation of public and private media institutions, production of visual and audio content on common Turkic culture and history and inter-societal cooperation among citizens.

However, there is also a significant addition to the list of initiatives – establishment “of a hub of broadcasters, media production companies, content creators, start-ups to R&D institutes and production companies across the Turkic World for collaboration, innovation policy and network building”. Currently, the "Organization of Turkic States Strategic Road Map for 2022-2026" is underway for implementation of the “Turkic World Vision 2040” document.

3. OTS’ presence in social networks – analysis of the Organization’s Twitter account

Social media, despite its exposedness to disinformation campaigns and manipulations, still remains as the most effective means for strategic communication activities of most organizations, notwithstanding their scopes of activities. The Turkic states had established a number of ambitious and genuinely prospective projects over the years. The only notable downfall was their relative hesitation to embrace the emerging dimension of the contemporary media space within the frameworks of its previous meetings and events – the social media.

Reviewing the activities of the Organization of Turkic States itself in the social media platforms, it can be stated that it has established its presence on Facebook (30K followers), Twitter (63.1K subscribers), YouTube (5.44K subscribers, nearly 284K views of the videos, which is a relatively low number for the account created back in 2011), Instagram (17.1K followers), LinkedIn (nearly 2.3K followers), VKontakte (no followers for the moment) and Pinterest (6 followers). As we can see, the largest audience of the organization is in Twitter, meanwhile the lowest possible number is observed in VKontakte account, which was created recently, in November 2021. With this in mind, I am going to present the brief analysis of the Twitter account of the OTS.

The Twitter page of the Turkic Council was renamed into the “Organization of Turkic States” on 13 November 2021. 600 tweets and retweets were posted by this account under that name between 13 November 2021 and 22 March 2022, which we will now review:

-The most often used external websites: news and articles from the Anadolu Agency (aa.com.tr) and TRT Avaz (trtavaz.com.tr) were shared the most (8 times each one) by the OTS Twitter account. Overall, 53 links to other websites were posted over the reviewed period;

-The “#TürkDevletleriTeşkilatı” (96 times) “#Kazakistan (27 times)” and “#Azerbaycan (13 times)” were the most frequently encountered hashtags in the OTS account during 13 November 2021 – 22 March 2022 period. Overall, the hashtags were used 408 times in the tweets and retweets posted by the Organization;

-The OTS did not post any replies to other accounts’ tweets over the above-mentioned period, which could be a sign of a relatively low level of interactivity;

-The most retweeted person by the OTS is Gismat Gozalov, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of Turkic States (44 times), while the most quoted account is of Mevlut Chavushoglu, Türkiye’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (4 times). There is no active Twitter account of the OTS’ Secretary General Baghdad Amreyev.

As can be seen, the Twitter account of the Organization of Turkic States widely covers the most urgent events in the participating countries, however there can be a need for a more proactive approach in the social media strategy, through tweeting and reposting the local news portals’ publications on the ongoing events and encouraging more online interactivity and reaching out to a wider audience.

Conclusion

In the new world order, disinformation and fake news can only be defeated through strategic partnerships and joint work. The Organization of Turkic States, the very foundation of which is based on the historical ties, common language, culture and traditions of their peoples, is a great platform for deepening further comprehensive cooperation in various spheres setting a successful pattern of inter-governmental partnership and solidarity in various spheres, including the field of media.

Implementation of the following measures could significantly facilitate the enhancement of the online presence and strategic communications of the Organization of Turkic States and contribute to further solidification of measures aimed at establishment of the common information space:

1. Appointment of the Spokesperson of the Organization of Turkic States and establishment of the Division of Strategic Communications within the structural chart of the OTS;

2. Preparation of the priority-oriented content strategy, as well as ensuring interactivity of the social media accounts;

3. Establishment of the Turkic states’ fact-checking network (experience of the EU DisinfoLab and Reuters could be useful in this regard);

4. Making a special emphasis on networking of the Turkic states’ bloggers within the frameworks of further institutionalization of the Media platform;

5. Enhancement of the Joint FTP Pool of content which was established back in 2019 during the II Meeting of the Ministers and High Officials in Charge of Information and Media in Baku, widening its role as the accessible unified database of content for the member states’ media entities;

6. For ensuring wider publicity and better understanding of the goals and objectives of the Organization, it is also important to create the database of documents, adopted over the years by the Turkic Council (since 2009) and the Summit of Heads of the Turkic-speaking States (since 1992). Practically none of these documents are currently presented in the official website.

It raises no doubt that the new name reinvigorates the dynamism of the evolution of the Organization of Turkic States, which brings together a family of 7 states (5 members and 2 observers) and which is also open and willing for cooperation with other interested international actors. Further interaction within the framework of this common structure will be very important in terms of revealing the huge potential of good neighborliness, unity and cooperation between states and their peoples, setting a great example for the entire world community.

 

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