Ashgabat, 31 March 2013 (nCa) — The history of the Turkmen-Russian relations has always been based on trust, mutual respect and equality. Turkmenistan has always and everywhere held and continues to adhere to these principles, both with Russia and with the rest of the international community.
Our ancestors carried along on their shoulders all the hardships of the Second World War, heroically fighting the “brown plague”. We have 70 years of common history as part of superpower USSR, more tightly linking the destinies of our peoples. The collapse of the USSR in the late 20th century was marked by the appearance on the world map of new independent states, one of which is Turkmenistan. Definitely the way to becoming the young state was sometimes cloudless, and sometimes thorny. But in spite of this, our state has always been honest in relationships with the fraternal peoples and with their citizens. And I want to say with certainty that no one could ever accuse Turkmenistan of insincerity and violation of the obligations on their shoulders.
Dissolution of the Union brought in its wake a series of confusions among the previously harmonious multinational people, shook the faith in the future, and introduced to our lives a lot of unresolved issues. In light of this, the heads of the newly independent states, as one of the priorities, took actions to calm the people, to give them the opportunity to create the conditions for an informed decision about their fate, and the fate of their children. With this main goal in mind, the Agreement between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation on the settlement of the issue of dual citizenship was signed in 1993 and it came into force on 18 May 1995.
During the term of this agreement Turkmenistan strictly adhered to its treaty obligations, as evidenced by the absence of any complaints from the other side. Moreover, in Turkmenistan, the persons granted the status of dual nationals were often given more rights than the ordinary citizens. Guided by the principles of humanism, the state practically for a nominal fee gave away the housing, i.e. state property, which in principle belongs to all people, to those who decided to leave the country permanently. And, importantly, all this time, dual nationals were treated on equal terms for all social benefits and political rights as other citizens.
The agreement has long served its purpose. Accordingly, the logical continuation of the bilateral relations led to the signing in April 2003 of the Protocol “on termination of passed in December 1993 the Agreement between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation on dual citizenship.”
In light of recent events that remain unclear, some quarters from the Russian side claim further continuation of the enforcibility of the Agreement of 1993. Until now, the Russian side, referring to Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the international treaties (agreements) referring to the fact that the state, with intention to withdraw from the agreement must notify at least 6 months before the renewal term agreement every five years from the date of its signature. What, then, is not the notice of termination of the agreement, if not the signing of the above mentioned Protocol?
Another factor that cannot be ignored: The Russian side claims that all Russian passports were issued to citizens of Turkmenistan based solely on interstate Treaty of 1993. In fact this is not true, as evidenced by documented facts to obtain Russian citizenship without the consent of the relevant authorities of Turkmenistan.
The obvious violation of legal basis for the issue of Russian citizenship and becoming migrant workers of the relevant authorities of the Russian Federation can easily close their eyes for a bribe. And there is also compelling evidence. So, for those acts, in February 2010, near the railway station in Ashgabat, was arrested Boris Vartanov, working at the Mission of the Russian Federation as an adviser on legal matters.
Providing the Turkmen side dual nationals unprecedented conditions for the realization of their rights has encouraged the emergence of criminal activities in the society. This is yet another argument for the correctness of the position of Turkmenistan on the issue. An example of this, as investigated and proved by the Turkmen law enforcement agencies, relates to the falsification of documents, which are selling for US $ 500-700 to the citizens of Turkmenistan.
There is another rootless but amazing statement, which is that there are violations of the alleged members of the Russian nationality living in Turkmenistan and those with dual citizenship. It seems that the facts are distorted intentionally, which are served with a biased position in a false light. In particular, it concerns the raising of the rumors about the notorious obstacles in selling their own homes by settlers.
It would be useful to recall that in the period 1992-2010, all those with the status of a migrant was granted to permit the privatization and sale of their housing. And only after some people began to use this right not to move to another country, but only to be able to sell the house, the permission for these procedures was suspended temporarily. It should be noted that representatives of the Russian nationality were not limited in anything; on the contrary, those who have the status of migrant were allowed to privatize and sell their houses. At the same time, it should be noted that the Treaty of 06.01.1998 was signed between Russia and Belarus, the Treaty on 02.06.1993, between Latvia and Russia, the Treaty on 14.06.2005, between Belarus and Ukraine, and none of them give permission to the migrants to privatize their housing. Only Turkmenistan has given this right.
About Russian oppression in Turkmenistan and prejudice against all things Russian, this is out of the question. Like all citizens of the multinational Turkmenistan, Russians have all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of Turkmenistan. These principles are expressed both in the spiritual and in the material life of the Turkmen people, the representatives of different nations, including the Russian, in our country with respect for national traditions of each other and jointly celebrate national and religious holidays, have equal opportunities to education, career development, etc. There are many mixed, inter-national marriages. In our country are published Russian-language and multi-language newspapers and magazines (“Neutral Turkmenistan”, “Diyar”, “Rysgal” etc.), broadcast radio and television programs in Russian language and international channel “Turkmenistan” one of the seven channels around the clock broadcasts in Russian. Turkmen television broadcasts programmes from the most popular Russian TV channels. Many non-fiction works, journalistic writings, books on art, heritage, and others come in three languages, including Russian. There is the Russian-Turkmen School in Ashgabat named after Pushkin, the best graduates of which, by quotas, are sent to study in Russian universities. The Russian Drama Theatre named after Alexander Pushkin often goes on tour to Russia.
The Turkmen language is the national language but in most schools the Russian and English languages are also taught. The Russian language, Russian culture and literature in general are very popular in the country.
And in Turkmenistan the officially registered denominations include the Russian Orthodox Church. In our country, there are several existing Orthodox churches, attended not only by Russian, but also by the representatives of other nationalities, professing Christianity.
The head of the local Russian Orthodox Church is a member of the national council for religious affairs under the president of Turkmenistan and is constantly invited to participate in events at the highest state level.
Currently, many of the citizens of Turkmenistan are undergroing higher education in the educational institutions of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, China, Malaysia, Romania and other countries.
As previously mentioned, the Agreement between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation on the settlement of the issue of dual citizenship, which entered into force on 18 May 1995, was taken in order to assist those wishing to leave the country in solving their housing property, family and other issues. The Turkmen and Russian sides both agree that the Agreement during the period of its validity has fulfilled its historical mission.
Let us turn to the circumstances that objectively indicate that the agreement on dual citizenship has fulfilled its historical mission.
The Russian side also now says that 40000-150000 persons with dual nationality are living in Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, on the report of the Federal Migration Service of Russia in the period 1992-2003, the number of persons granted citizenship of the two states is about 49500.
According to the government of Turkmenistan, faced with these problems, in the territory of Turkmenistan there are registered about 30,000 people with dual citizenship. In this case, Turkmenistan is home to over 210,000 Russian, not counting the other ethnic groups living in the territory of Turkmenistan.
Given the fact that Turkmenistan is home to about 30,000 dual nationals, and also taking into account that some of them are Turkmens and indigenous peoples living in Turkmenistan, which originally obtained dual citizenship only for the purpose of visa-free visits to Russia, not to move to Russia, it becomes apparent that the initial introduction of dual citizenship in Turkmenistan has currently fully accomplished its mission. And the majority of dual nationals living in Turkmenistan there is the need to choose one of the nationalities, and abandon the other.
So why would most of those who have dual citizenship be willing to stay here, and take the citizenship of Turkmenistan. In the first place, the termination of dual citizenship in Turkmenistan has no negative consequences. On the contrary, the citizens of Turkmenistan have many advantages as compared to citizens of other countries, thanks to a very strong social security system. There is free gas, water, electricity, every owner of a vehicle gets free petrol or diesel, and there are very low charges for utilities and transportation, there is regular increase in wages, pensions, allowances and scholarships – all of these are a part of the government’s systematic measures for social security.
There is consistent rise in the wages of budgetary institutions, pensions, welfare payments and other income. All of these unprecedented benefits are a very powerful social support for the population of our country. There are equal starting conditions allowing all the able-bodied citizens to have a steady income.
The social and living conditions in the country are improving annually due to the allocation of large amounts of funds – up to 70 percent of the State budget – for education, science, healthcare, development, culture, etc.
Can you recall even one country where the state takes such care of its citizens?
About the author: Jennet Nazarova is an independent analyst in Turkmenistan.