Minnikhanov in Kyrgyzstan: nomad games, meeting with Tatars and mega-mosque in Bishkek

Experts about the importance of the Turkic Council summit: ''Today we see a rapprochement between Bishkek and Ankara with an eye to Moscow and Beijing''

The leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey gathered at the summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States in the resort town of Cholpon-Ata (Kyrgyzstan) on September 3. The president of Uzbekistan and the prime minister of Hungary arrived as guests of honour at the summit. The president of Tatarstan, who took part in the opening of the 3d World Nomad Games as part of his working visit to the republic, also met with the leaders of the Turkic countries. The competitions, called the Turkic Olympiad with political colouring, are held from 2 to 8 September on the shore of Issyk-Kul. Read more about the role of the summit and the games for Central Asia and Russia in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

The great heritage of the nomads

Only nomads were able to develop the wide spaces from the Pacific Ocean to Europe, Central and East Asia, Asia Minor and the Middle East. Their world has united hundreds of peoples over several millennia, and the world views played a major role in world development, combining the culture of the West and the East. All this ''great heritage'' is still relevant today, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov said opening the 3d World Nomad Games. Competitions are designed to preserve the culture of the nomadic peoples of the world and to develop national sports. The programme includes horse racing, national martial arts, archery, hunting competitions, intellectual games of the nomads — a total of 37 sports. From 2 to 8 September, 594 medals will be awarded.

The opening ceremony was attended by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoev, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán. The Russian delegation was represented by President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. The guests were presented the theatrical show 'Tree of Life' with the participation of 1,500 circus, theatre and ballet artists, stuntmen and musicians at the racetrack of the resort town of Cholpon-Ata on the shore of Issyk-Kul Lake. The action was devoted to the philosophy of the nomads, it consisted of nine episodes about the history of nomadic peoples, features of their culture and life.

The guests were presented the theatrical show 'Tree of Life' with the participation of 1,500 circus, theatre and ballet artists, stuntmen and musicians. Photo: tatarstan.ru

More than 1,500 athletes from 66 countries of the world, including Russia, arrived at the games, 45 Tatarstan athletes were part of our team. They will take part in six sports: alysh wrestling, goresh wrestling, the traditional bow shooting, sambo, kurash and Kyrgyz kurash. Our archers participated in the previous competitions as well. Turkey will host the next nomad games in 2019.

''You do not forget your roots in another country''

Another significant event — the opening of the Cathedral Mosque named after Imam Sarakhsi in Bishkek – took place a little earlier than the opening of the games. The ceremony was opened by the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, the events were watched by many foreign guests, including the delegation from Tatarstan (in particular, Mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin). The construction of the mosque with an area of 7,000 square metres began in 2012, it accommodates 12,000 people, with the surrounding area of 20,000 worshipers. The temple was built in Ottoman style, the painting and decoration were made by Turkish specialists. The height of the minarets is 68 metres. Turkey took over the financing of the construction, allocating 32 million dollars for this purpose.

That day, the president of Tatarstan met with the local Tatar community. Fifty thousand Tatars live in Kyrgyzstan, about 16,000 of them are in Bishkek. They all work in different fields. Besides, there are several Tatar public associations in the republic, the most mass — the Tatar-Bashkir cultural centre Tugan Tel at the Assembly of the Peoples of Kyrgyzstan. The organization is 28 already years old, they celebrate Tatar and Muslim holidays here, the song ensemble Sarman and the children's dance group Tugan Tel work there. The local television with the participation of the centre broadcasts a 20-minute program in the Tatar language. The city of Karakol has its own Tatar mosque. The head of the centre, Gulsina Ulmaskulova, asked Rustam Minnikhanov to help local Tatar youth to get Islamic education in religious schools in Tatarstan.

''We are very glad and proud of you. Far from Tatarstan, in another country you do not forget your roots, meet with each other. I want to thank you for the attention you pay to the preservation of ethnic traditions, culture and native language. It is worth a lot,'' the press service quotes the president of Tatarstan.

Many foreign guests arrived in Kyrgyzstan, including from Tatarstan. Photo: tatarstan.ru

''The leaders of Central Asian countries want to develop relations with Turkey more actively''

The Cholpon-Ata resort hosted a summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States or the Turkic Council, as it is also called. The structure includes the leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkey: Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Ilham Aliyev, Nursultan Nazarbayev and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, respectively. President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoev, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán participated as guests of honour.

Yulduz Khaliullin, an Orientalist, diplomat, corresponding member of the International Economic Academy of Eurasia, the head of its Moscow branch, reminded that the council was established on the initiative of the Kazakh leader in 2006, which was based on the fact that the Turkic Council should have all the necessary features of a political interregional association. For a long time, the council members did not meet.

''But now, on the wave of cooling relations between the US and Russia, China, Turkey, a different situation is created, when the leaders of Central Asian countries want to develop more active economic and political relations with Turkey — the leading Turkic power. Out of the 150 million Turkic people, about 80 million live in Turkey. And the leaders of the countries gathered today on the shore of Issyk-Kul to discuss the issues of integration through sport, education, youth policy,'' said Yulduz Khaliullin.

The leaders of the Turkic countries had the opportunity to communicate on the eve of the summit, as part of the opening of the World Nomad Games. In particular, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov met with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: ''They had problems because a few years ago in Bishkek they opened a Turkish school, established by Fethullah Gülen – the opponent of Erdoğan, who is living in the United States. Now they have closed this issue and the school — it will be replaced by Erdoğan's Turkish educational Maarif Foundation. According to the expert, the two presidents are now more concerned about education, and the trade and economic relations between the two countries are developing less actively, the trade turnover is 300 million dollars, unlike the relations between Kyrgyzstan and Russia or China, where the figures are much higher.

''The leaders of the countries gathered today on the shore of Issyk-Kul to discuss the issues of integration through sport, education, youth policy,'' said Yulduz Khaliullin. Photo: Maksim Platonov

''Today we see a rapprochement between Bishkek and Ankara with an eye on Moscow and Beijing. Representatives of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Hungary are also present at the summit, although they are not members of the Turkic Council. This is an interesting event at the end of 2018. These countries have huge debts, especially Kyrgyzstan to China and partly to Russia. They want to solve these problems this way. Moreover, the president of Uzbekistan was also very active in relations with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Of course, they need to cooperate in the fight against Islamist extremist organizations that come from Afghanistan. That is, this autumn promises to be very active on the field of Central Asia — fogs and winds come from everywhere — a signal of alarming uncertainty,'' Khaliullin said.

''We know our history and origin — the West does not like it, but we are proud of it''

With the arrival of the leaders of the Turkic countries, not only for the summit, but also the games of the nomads acquired not so much sports as political colouring.

''In a sense, it is a political game or project. It is very characteristic that they are held simultaneously with the summit of the Turkic Council. Its very first informal summits were held back in the 90s in Ankara, later registered. At first, they mainly talked about culture — then Turksoy appeared, then they began to pay more attention to the economy. And the fact that now the games are held together with the summit, of course, gives political overtones,'' said political observer of Kyrgyzstan Naryn Ayip.

It is no coincidence that even Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recalled the Turkic origin of his people: ''He said that Hungary is close to the Turkic-speaking countries. He even stressed: 'We know our history and origin — the West does not like it, but we are proud of it,'' the interlocutor of the publication retold the speech of the Hungarian prime minister.

The scale of what is happening is also shocking. Someone even compares the World Nomad Games with the local Turkic analogue of the Olympics.

''The World Nomad Games is more a festival, the festival of friendship of peoples,'' Naryn Aiyp said. Photo: kloop.kg

''I would not say so, of course, although the format is similar. A large-scale opening ceremony, more than 30 representatives of other countries, participants of the games parading — this, of course, looks like the Olympic games, but in fact it is not a competition where there are qualifying rounds, certain standards must be met, serious refereeing. Therefore, it is more a festival, the festival of friendship of peoples,'' Naryn Ayip smiled.

Besides, the expert reminded that on the eve of the opening of the games in Bishkek, the 61st session of PIAC — the Permanent International Altaistic Conference — one of the oldest and most authoritative scientific organizations in the world, which brings together major specialists in Oriental studies in the field of Turkic and Mongolian peoples, was held. The forum was attended by scientists from 45 countries: Hungary, Germany, China, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, the USA, Turkey, France, Japan and others. The conference was timed to coincide with the nomad games, which in turn play an important role for Central Asian countries in the issue of unification and dialogue with other Turkic-speaking states.

By Vasilya Shirshova