Speech of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov at the International Conference “Turkmenistan and International Organizations: Cooperation for Peace and Development”
(Ashgabat, 14th of January 2020)
Dear participants of the Conference!
Ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, let me congratulate you all with the New Year and wish you good health, well-being, grand successes in your responsible work.
In the current year, our country, together with the world community will widely celebrate the 25th anniversary of international recognition of the neutrality status of Turkmenistan. This is indeed an important date, a momentous event in the history of independent Turkmen state, and a landmark in its foreign policy.
At the same time, it is a good cause to analyze the path passed in a quarter of a century, to summarize and appraise the current development of Turkmenistan as a neutral state. Today, we do it together with you – our friends and partners representing the major and respected organizations. We are interested in your thoughts and recommendations, which we value.
This is particularly important in the context of preparations to the high-level International Conference “Policy of Neutrality and Its Importance in Ensuring International Peace, Security and Sustainable Development,” which we plan to host on December 12 of current year in Ashgabat.
I would be grateful for your concrete proposals on the organizational matters and informative part of the Conference. In particular, we need to determine jointly the theme of the Forum, its programme and layout, develop the final Document of the Conference.
I am confident that the representatives of the international structures present here today will actively participate in the process of organizing and conducting the abovementioned International Conference.
Esteemed participants of the Conference!
For Turkmenistan, who has gained its independence in the harsh setting of fundamental changes of the whole system of international relations, the issue of selecting the external political vector became one of the most crucial. What would be the nature of this vector, how should we build the relations with the international community, which principle to follow while developing international cooperation? From the righteous responses to these questions to a large extent depended the destiny of Turkmen statehood, our independence and sovereignty.
I say this without any exaggeration because the history has witnessed a considerable number of instances when the wrong choices of the external political models brought to the loss of actual independence of states, aligning them to the interests far from the true objectives of national development.
Turkmenistan has chosen a model which gained the name of positive neutrality and formulated its fundamental principles: peace-loving, noninterference in the affairs of other states, respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, nonparticipation to the international military organizations and treaties.
We started to carry out purposeful sovereign, neutral, and at the same time active and constructive external policy. It is not surprising that the world approached with understanding our efforts on securing the neutrality of Turkmenistan as its international legal status. Our country received support from the neighboring states, and then from the Non-aligned Movement.
On December 12, 1995, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the Resolution on “Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan.” It was a wise and far-sighted decision. Time has shown that it meets the long-term goals of the United Nations, interests of the states’ and people’s development in the conditions of peace and security. Further events proved this with complete evidence.
The neutrality of Turkmenistan became a vital factor in the international peacekeeping efforts in our region. Let’s recall that indeed in Ashgabat under the UN umbrella, a number of negotiations took place which played the key role in the attainment of peace and unity in Tajikistan. The capital of our neutral state was the venue of talks on the settlement of intra-afghan conflict of late 90s of the last century.
Turkmenistan has become a reliable ally and effective partner of the UN in the process of preserving and maintaining political stability in the region, development of good neighborhood, friendship and cooperation. The resolution of the international community with support of all the countries of the region on opening of the Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia in Ashgabat in 2007 became a proof of this. We interpreted it as a grand responsibility and at the same time as the proof of trust to Turkmenistan on the part of the United Nations.
Today, Turkmen neutrality stands as an important factor of regional security. The fundamental principles of neutrality fully correspond to the strategic setup of the UN in Central Asia, aimed at turning the region into the zone of peace and cooperation, a strong link of continental stability. In this context, the UN can always rely on the support of Turkmenistan who is applying political-diplomatic means peculiar to neutrality for the establishment hereby of an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust, favorable conditions for equal and constructive partnership.
The fact of declaring the December 12 as the International Day of Neutrality on the part of the UN General Assembly, upon the initiative of Turkmenistan, expressively demonstrates the importance of neutrality in current setting. In the unanimously adopted Resolution, the importance of the neutrality policy in strengthening of international peace and security on the regional and global scales, its role in the development of peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relations between the countries is particularly emphasized.
Among one of its priority missions as a neutral state, Turkmenistan sees the affirmation of the culture of dialogue while resolving the matters and discrepancies arising. As is known, on September 12 of previous year, the UN General Assembly unanimously and in co-sponsorship of 73 member-states adopted a Resolution initiated by Turkmenistan on declaring the year 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust.
It is indicative that the important meaning of the preventive diplomacy is embedded in the text of the Resolution which is steadily promoted by Turkmenistan. There is every good reason to state that after the adoption of the Resolution, the preventive diplomacy will play a greater role in the process of preventing conflicts, strengthening and preserving peace and stability in various corners of the world, serving as one of the efficient practical mechanisms of multilateral diplomacy.
We are confident that the Resolution adopted is to a highest degree important and timely, primarily against the background of complicated tendencies in the international policy, while despite of the efforts of the world community, the situation in a number of regions in the world continues to remain complex, conflict prone zones are expanding and simultaneous decrease of overall level of trust and mutual understanding in the perceptions of ways and perspectives of global development is observed.
In this regard, our country will develop and submit for UN consideration the proposals on passing the International Year of Peace and Trust with maximum practical use for the efforts on sustaining peace and security. In shaping these initiatives and for their further implementation we hope for close cooperation with the corresponding UN structures and other international organizations.
Also during the current session of the UN General Assembly, Turkmenistan proposed the initiative on the development of Code of Rules on applying the principles of neutralism in the provision of peace and security. We think that it is a very useful initiative and we rely on your support in its implementation. We are confident that this Document might be used by the international community as an effective lever of preventing possible confrontations, barring their growth and transition into the stage of using force, for the transformation of conflict prone processes into the peaceful and negotiable direction.
Recently, we also proposed to establish the Group of Friends of Neutrality for Peace and Security. We are ready for close cooperation with all the stakeholders who are interested in the promotion of this initiative. At the same time, I would like to note that Turkmenistan has been and remains active participant of international efforts on countering the contemporary challenges and threats. It is necessary to underline the firm position of our country in the actions aimed at combatting terrorism, drug and human trafficking.
A number of national and regional programmes and projects are being implemented in our country jointly with the international organizations. In particular, on the 6th of December of last year, the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Prevention of Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism for 2020-2024, the National Action Plan of Turkmenistan on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings for 2020-2022 were adopted. We hope that our partners from corresponding international organizations will take active part in their implementation.
Currently, the issue of assisting the processes of settlement in Afghanistan gain special importance. I confirm the position of Turkmenistan: as a neutral state and direct neighbor of Afghanistan, our country is ready to present all the necessary conditions for the establishment of peaceful dialogue on Afghanistan. We are confident that there are no alternatives to peaceful talks. The previous experience has shown that the use of power is counterproductive here and will not produce a good result.
During many years, Turkmenistan is providing concrete, specific economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. It is reflected in the construction of medical and educational facilities on the territory of the neighboring country, reduced tariff supply of electricity there, teaching Afghan students in the Turkmen institutions of higher education, regular provision of humanitarian convoys and other kinds of assistance and aid. All of this is funded from Turkmenistan’s own funds.
I can assure our Afghan friends and the international community that this kind of assistance will be continued in the future, on the regular basis and in accordance with the special programme of Turkmenistan.
The implementation of the large-scale infrastructural projects in participation of the afghan side, primarily in such vital spheres as energy, transport and communications serves as the key prerequisite for political stabilization, economic and social recovery of Afghanistan, its successful integration into the regional and economic processes. We will continue work on their implementation and ready to expand our cooperation with international organizations in the process of providing overall support to Afghanistan.
Today, the priority meaning we assign to the economic aspect of Turkmen neutrality. This implies the creation of conditions for the accelerated social-economic growth of our country, development of its mutually beneficial external economic and trade ties.
At the same time the neutrality of Turkmenistan safeguards us from any kind of politicization of such cooperation, securing equal and equitable approach to all the foreign partners. The determining criteria here is the mutual benefit, economic and commercial soundness, respect to the traditions and laws of our country.
Such position received due understanding and is highly appraised by our partners, enabling the development of equitable, mutually beneficial ties with various countries and companies. As a neutral state, we can form our long-term external financial strategy relying on the precise and reasonable principles, evolving from our international status.
The principles of neutrality of Turkmenistan, non-confrontational outlook, our firm adherence to the UN Charter and international legal norms is to the full extent reflected in the implementation of international projects to which Turkmenistan participates. Their direction is determined not only by commercial and economic benefit, but also by the eagerness to ensure the unification of states and establishment of the atmosphere of great trust and predictability in the mutual relations between them.
In turn, this will contribute to the expansion of economic ties between the countries, practical implementation of the principles of openness and equality in the international economic cooperation. Indeed these fundamental principles constitute the basis of the international organizations’ actions of economic, financial and investment scope.
Here, I find it appropriate to inform about the preparedness of Turkmenistan to intensify its cooperation with such international financial institutions as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank. Last year, we also strengthened our work on studying the rules and procedures of accession to the World Trade Organization.
Dear participants of the Conference!
Today, I would also like to exchange opinions on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, share experience accumulated by Turkmenistan in the given field.
First of all, it must be highlighted that having fully supported the given Agenda, Turkmenistan immediately started to take consistent and efficient steps on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals on the national level. Already in October 2015, the consultations between the UN agencies and the representatives of the ministries and departments of Turkmenistan took place, during which the composition of the Joint Working Group on SDGs adaptation was agreed upon and confirmed.
Upon the results of such consultations, around 150 tasks and 200 indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals approved at the Governmental level were selected. Thus, according to the UN analysis, Turkmenistan became the first country in the region of Eastern Europe and the CIS that has determined its priorities of sustainable development to be realized during the upcoming 15 years.
Today, the most important parameters of the Sustainable Development Goals are harmoniously integrated into the Programme of Social and Economic Development of Turkmenistan for 2019-2025. In the economic part of the given Programme, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is expected to contribute to the provision of overall access on the part of population to the inexpensive, reliable and timely energy supply, stable economic growth and full employment, creation of flexible infrastructure, support to the stable industrialization and stimulation of innovations. Great attention is paid in this regard to the digitization of economy.
The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Turkmenistan has a vivid social focus. This concerns three crucial aspects, such as the provision of food security and betterment of nutrition of the population, general confirmation of the healthy lifestyle, and provision of full gender equality, creation of the conditions for all-encompassing, fair and qualitative education.
Starting to implement the national plans in different spheres of economy and social sphere, Turkmenistan responsibly and steadily correlates them with the ecological constituent of the SDGs.
For this reason, our country proceeds to the use of modern, ecologically friendly and resource-saving technologies in all fields of economy: in industry, agriculture, transport and other areas. We always clearly stated our position in regard to this matter: ecology and environment should not be restrained by commercial benefits, regardless of their attractiveness.
In this regard, I would like to underline specifically that the provision of sustainable development of our country, enhancement of the quality of life is directly related to the resolution of ecological tasks in the region.
One of the most important among them – saving the Aral Sea. During the Summit of the Heads of the Founder Countries of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) that took place in the city of Turkmenbashy in August 2018, our efforts in this regard were thoroughly discussed and certain agreements were attained. Thus, important steps are made on the path to perfection of the IFAS, elevation of its efficiency.
I find it necessary to move forward more actively in this direction, widely applying the potential of the world community, primarily the United Nations, its specialized agencies. We have proposed an initiative on the development of UN Special Programme for the Aral Sea basin and approach the Aral problems as a separate vector of UN activities. The Resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2018 and 2019 on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea” serve as a good basis for this.
Firm concentration of joint efforts of the Central Asian states and international structures in the provision of equal and fair access to water resources is required. The standpoint of Turkmenistan is known to all: we think that the consideration and resolution of the problems in water usage should be implemented on the basis of the norms of international law, mutual respect and consideration of interests of all the states of the region and in participation of international organizations.
In general, we expect continuation of the constructive dialogue on the problems reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals. We are assured that the continuous unification of efforts on the international, regional and national levels is required. In this regard, I express firm assuredness in the expansion of partnership with the UN Development Programme, World Health Organization, UN Population Fund, UN Environment Programme and other specialized organizations and institutes of the United Nations.
One of the priority topics of the international agenda of Turkmenistan in regard to the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 is the cooperation of our country with the UNESCO. I would like to underline that in the result of joint work with the UNESCO structures and its experts, we attained visible outcomes.
Today, the cultural monuments such as the “Ancient Merv,” Kone Urgench,” “Parthian fortresses of Nissa,” epic art of Turkmen people “Gyorogly,” Turkmen national art of singing and dancing “Kushtdepdi,” as well as the Turkmen traditional art of carpet making are entered in the List of World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. We are intending to continue further the implementation of the cooperation potential with UNESCO in such areas as education, science, ecology and sport.
I would also like to touch upon the humanitarian matters. As is known, Turkmenistan for many years is carrying out close cooperation and multifaceted cooperation with the relevant international organizations with the aim of further enhancing of democratic institutes in the country, efficient fulfillment of its obligations in the field of human rights.
Simultaneously, the most important part of our joint work is the implementation of the principle “The State is for People”! It is aimed at the establishment of the best favorable conditions for the total reveal of the human potential. We confirm our strive to intensify the partnership collaboration with such international structures as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other structures of humanitarian scope.
Dear participants of Conference!
Turkmenistan enters the jubilee year of the 25th anniversary of its neutrality in the setting of peace and creation, good neighborliness, respect and mutual understanding with its friends and partners in the world community. We clearly see the perspectives, and firmly shape plans of state and society development. The righteous progress to wide and multifaceted international cooperation allows us to move forward with optimism.
The Neutrality of Turkmenistan is today’s reality and our future where new opportunities unfold for the development of wide international partnership in various spheres. Strictly fulfilling the assumed international obligations, we declare with full responsibility our readiness to continue expanded and active cooperation with the international organizations for the sake of attaining common inspired goals!