Tariq Saeedi, Raviliya Kadyrova, Elvira Kadyrova
The concept is simple: For peace to exist there must be mutual trust among all the parties. Moreover, peace, once achieved, cannot continue to exist without active maintenance of the trust. —– Consequently, peace is a joint responsibility and the required level of trust is also a joint responsibility.
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the General Assembly on 25 September 2018, said that the world was suffering from a bad case of ‘Trust Deficit Disorder.’
He pointed out the rising polarization and populism within nations, ebbing cooperation among them and “fragile” trust in international institutions.
Guterres warned, “Democratic principles are under siege.”
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Even though UN Secretary General cautioned the world about the heightened connection between peace and trust in his speech on 25 September 2018, several countries including Turkmenistan had reached this conclusion already.
The foreign office of Turkmenistan informed the foreign diplomats and media on 24 September 2018 that the active agenda of Turkmenistan at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly includes a proposed resolution to declare 2019 as the year of Peace and Trust.
This idea featured prominently in the speech of President Berdymuhamedov at the General Assembly session.
On return from New York, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, conducted a briefing for the diplomatic missions, international organizations, and foreign media based in Turkmenistan on 5 October 2018.
The importance given by Turkmenistan to this briefing can be seen from the fact that all the three deputy ministers of foreign affairs – Vepa Hajiyev, Berdy Matiyev, and Serdar Berdymuhamedov – were present at the briefing. Also present were the academics and scholars who were part of the Turkmen delegation during the New York visit.
With the idea of declaring 2019 as the year of Peace and Trust as central theme of a holistic concept, Meredov spoke in detail about the steps Turkmenistan plans to take to stimulate peace and trust regionally and globally.
The other speakers included:
- Professor Esen Aydogdiyev, rector of Turkmen international university of humanities
- Natalia Gherman, special representative of UN Secretary General for Central Asia, head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy (UNRCCA)
- Elena Panova, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative, UNFPA Representative in Turkmenistan
- Shaheen Nilofer, UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan
- Paulina Karwowska, WHO Representative in Turkmenistan
Ambassador Diego Ungaro of Italy, Ambassador Mirwais Nab of Afghanistan, and Lubomir Frebort, the head of the EU liaison office in Turkmenistan, also gave their input.
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Here are the main points of the briefing and summing up remarks of Rashid Meredov:
We declared our position at the UN General Assembly session on a number of issues including security, confidence building measures, environments, and important challenges of today.
We launched the initiative to declare 2019 as the year of Peace and Trust, presented our analysis of the contemporary situation, contributed to awareness of the international and regional conflicts, and highlighted other issues.
We are working on a composite programme to implement our initiative and for this we are working with the relevant UN agencies. Together, we will hold a number of major events dedicated to international peace and security.
We are planning to organize forums on neutrality day, day of peace, UN day, day of sports and other landmark days in collaboration with the UN agencies.
We cooperate at the regional and global level in the fight against terrorism.
The visit of the UN Secretary General to Turkmenistan last year was an event of great importance.
Together with the UNRCCA, the third phase of the programme to realize the UN strategy in Central Asia is underway.
Turkmenistan is ready provide its political space and other support for the workshop of the Central Asian countries on cooperation in counter terrorism.
At the UNGA session we underlined the importance of disarmament.
Turkmenistan, in close cooperation with the UN and OSCE, plans in 2019 to conduct several events including the conference on disarmament.
Turkmenistan, with its experience, can provide proposals for further disarmament not only on the regional but also the global level.
In 2010, Turkmenistan hosted a conference on disarmament with participation of Central Asia and Caspian region countries, where about 20 international organizations also took part. The proposals discussed at the conference became the solid foundation for work on disarmament.
The president of Turkmenistan, at the UNGA session, spoke about the importance of security in the regional and global context. He especially mentioned the fight against drug trafficking. In this area, Turkmenistan is ready to implement several concrete measures. Next year we plan a number of consultations with UNODC, the programme for which will be announced later.
The president of Turkmenistan also spoke about the special role of the youth. In 2019 we will hold an international youth forum, which will be designed to provide impetus to youth diplomacy.
Speaking of SDGs, Turkmenistan was among the first countries to start the national consultations in 2013 on UN strategy for Agenda 2030. In 2014 and 2015 we presented our reports and we are happy to note that some of our proposals were incorporated in the SDGs.
Of the 169 tasks in SDGs, 148 have been put forward for implementation. We will continue our dialogue and interaction with the UNDP in Turkmenistan.
Starting from 1 October 2018, a whole month is dedicated as the SDGs Days. We are grateful to the UN system in Turkmenistan for their readiness to conduct the SDGs Days.
At the UNGA session, the president of Turkmenistan brought up the water and environment issues.
I would like to draw your attention to the subject of Aral Sea. We met on 24 August 2018 to discuss the results of the Aral Sea summit.
On the sidelines of the UNGA, there was a session of the UN programme on the Aral Sea.
I would like to remind that six years ago at the Rio+ summit, the Turkmen president stressed that the Aral Sea problem was far beyond the region in scope – he described it as a global problem.
We proposed to appoint some agency with the UN to deal with the Aral Sea problem. We have started working on this issue – on establishment of special programme on Aral Sea. We are planning to hold consultations in New York, Ashgabat, and other places.
We will hold some consultations on the draft resolution on IFAS, putting forward our vision, in line with the Aral declaration.
The cooperation with the regional organizations is another area in IFAS activities. We appeal to all the countries and look forward to their support.
In the context of water, and environmental security, we plan to hold in 2019 a symposium on water diplomacy; it is an issue important to us all.
We would like to return to the basic principles underlined by our country that water belongs to the entire mankind, and there should be the approach based on equality. This is a principle agreed to by all.
At the UN we underlined the Caspian issues. As you know, the Caspian summit was held recently and the convention on the legal status of Caspian was adopted. Other documents including three agreements and three protocols were also approved. On the whole, they allow for the creation of firm foundation of political conduct, political environment, and social and other issues.
The convention recognizes the Caspian as a unique body of water.
The president of Turkmenistan proposed that the next summit should be held in Turkmenistan. This idea has received full support from the littoral countries. Our government is working on the next summit.
The Turkmen president also proposed the initiation of the Caspian economic forum. This idea was first floated by him at the Astrakhan summit four years ago.
All the issues related to Caspian have to be considered as a whole complex.
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The other speakers added to the value of the narrative.
The head of UNRCCA said that the acute lack of trust in the world was a source of concern, as pointed out by the UN Secretary General.
In her later remarks she said that there was a regional joint plan of action on counter terrorism, the third phase of which was launched in April 2018 in Ashgabat. She added that there was the need for fine tuning of counter terrorism strategies in all the five countries of Central Asia.
The head of UNRCCA said that the first counter terrorism joint training exercise will be held 15-20 October 2018, which participation of all the security institutions of Central Asia, and for which the Afghan colleagues had also been invited.
She said that it would be a unique model in the joint action for counter terrorism, and could be replicated later in other regions of the world.
The head of UNDP and UN regional coordinator in Turkmenistan said that it was not by chance the president of Turkmenistan proposed to declare 2019 as the year of peace and trust. She said that SDGs will be achieved and there was the need to follow a coordinated approach in dealing with all the issues. All the stakeholders must remain in synch, she said.
She underlined the importance of innovation.
The head of UNDP and resident coordinator of UN in Turkmenistan said that next year Turkmenistan will participate in ECOSOC.
The international youth forum, planned for 2019 in Ashgabat, is line with the vision of the UN Secretary General, she said.
The head of UNICEF in Turkmenistan said that her agency remains committed to further cooperation with Turkmenistan including the planning of new joint initiatives.
Professor Aydogdiyev said that the UN Secretary General pointed the need for building confidence, which is in line with the proposal of Turkmenistan.
He said that it is important to deal with the issue of terror financing. Peacemaking in Afghanistan is also an important part of our agenda, for which we are undertaking major projects and strategic activities.
He said that partnership for development, water economy, food security, and Aral Sea are among our priorities.
The ambassador of Afghanistan said that the signing of TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan power transmission network) will take place soon – possibly in October or November.
He said that the pilot project for the Lapis Lazuli corridor – Afghanistan-Caspian-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey – was in motion.
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The connection between peace and trust is known for centuries. The originality of the initiative of Turkmenistan to declare 2019 as the year of peace and trust is in the identification of the fact that the lack of trust is the major factor defeating the efforts of peace-building in the world today.
Peace is a joint responsibility and for this reason everyone needs to follow a proactive approach in the creation and implementation of confidence building measures.
Turkmenistan, in collaboration with the world community and the UN agencies is surely putting together a comprehensive programme for the next year.
It would perhaps be helpful to add some bits of suggestions to what is already being planned.
The Law of Proximity is the first thing to keep in view when promoting peace and trust as a global agenda.
Here is the definition of the Law of Proximity by Dr. Chevette Alston:
“The Law of Proximity states that the objects that are near or ‘proximate’ to each other tend to be grouped together. It is part of the Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization and Gestalt psychology, which was founded by Max Wertheimer.”
Even though the Law of Proximity belongs in the realm of psychology, its basic idea is fully applicable to the politics, particularly in terms of peace and trust.
The countries that are located near or proximate to each other tend to be grouped together. It is for this reason that we create regional alliances and blocs. It is for this reason that we try to follow the policy of ‘zero problems’ with our neighbours.
It stands to logic that in pursuit of peace – where peace is sought through fostering of the mutual trust – every country should work on creating the mechanisms for nurturing trust with all of its neighbours. If done with genuine political will, it would generate ripple effect in all directions.
The trust, when left unattended, is likely to evaporate. The peace, when ignored and taken for granted, can turn into resentment.
There can be one set of mechanisms to build the peace and trust. And, there can be another set of mechanisms to first raise the awareness of and later maintain the peace and trust. Though both of them overlap widely, they are from two separate categories.
A number of universities, institutions, and think tanks worldwide are focused on peace and trust as an area of study and research. This is where the world governments can take their request for the deep and extended brainstorming. These are also the places to instill the importance of trust-building for the sake of peace in the future leaders.
The connectivity – hard and soft connectivity – is a very practical way of building trust and maintaining peace. Hard connectivity is the infrastructure related to rail, road, air, and sea transport, communications, power transmission, etc. Soft connectivity is the rules and procedures for the use of connectivity infrastructure in the cross-border scenario, the tariffs and rates, and the management practices to cut down the red tape.
The practice of information and intelligence sharing is a keystone of building trust and peace.
The positive social interaction at all levels is a trusted and proven method of sustained peace and trust.
The briefing on 5 October 2018 at the foreign office, therefore, should be considered as preamble to Peace and Trust.
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The international and regional organizations, the foremost being the UN and its various organs, are the ideally suited vehicles for the promotion of peace and trust.
Ms. Pollack-Beighle, the foreign minister of Suriname said at the end of her speech at the UN General Assembly session, “if there were no United Nations, today, we would be calling for its creation,” and we should “focus on what binds us, rather than what divides us.”
nCa, 8 October 2018