The Turkic world was among the first to help after the deadly Feb. 6 earthquakes in southern Türkiye, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
"We called for international help. The Turkic world was among the first to help. You did not leave us alone in our most difficult moment.
"Our beloved nation will never forget your support," Erdogan said at the opening speech of the extraordinary summit of leaders of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.
He added that the Turkic world sent search and rescue teams and established field hospitals, adding: "You have helped treat our wounded."
On Feb. 6, the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 provinces — Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa, claiming the lives of nearly 50,000 people.
More than 13.5 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the devastating quakes, as well as many others in northern Syria.
"We will once again show at the highest level that the Turkic world is of one heart and band together," Erdogan said.
During the meeting, whose theme is Disaster-Emergency Management and Humanitarian Assistance, the leaders will elaborate on multilateral cooperation and coordination mechanisms in the fight against disasters, and hold consultations on current challenges in the region.
The OTS, formerly called the Turkic Council, is an international organization comprising prominent independent Turkic countries that work together to elevate relations and union among themselves.
Its members are Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, while EU state Hungary, Turkmenistan, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have observer status.
OTS becomes 'even stronger' with TRNC participation
Erdogan said the organization took important steps to increase trade and economic integration during last year's summit in Uzbekistan.
"The establishment of the Turkish Investment Fund, whose foundation agreement will be signed today, is one of these steps," Erdogan said at the Ankara summit.
Turkic states have attained a "key position" in energy security, he added, saying: "Until today, we have successfully implemented comprehensive projects in the fields of oil, natural gas, and electricity with the countries of the Turkic world in the Caspian basin."
The president said he believes that the Organization of Turkic States will assume a "strategic role" in ensuring energy security, as well as developing regional transportation and supply chains.
Turning to the TRNC, which obtained an observer status during last year’s summit in Uzbekistan, Erdogan said after the participation of the TRNC, the organization has become "even stronger."
"As the Organization of Turkic States, we have embodied our strong and determined support to the Turkish Cypriot people. We will continue to fight for the recognition of the TRNC and the lift of restrictions," Erdogan said.
About the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Erdogan said Türkiye will continue efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.
"I am in regular contact with Russian President (Vladimir) Putin and Ukrainian President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy. The Black Sea Grain agreement we mediated and the prisoner exchange showed that the parties could meet on common ground," he added.