The presidents of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan had a telephone conversation on Tuesday (26 February 2019).
They discussed the preparations for the summit meeting of the Central Asian heads of state that will take place in Tashkent on 12 April 2019.
In their conversation, President Berdymuhamedov and President Mirziyoyev focused on ‘water diplomacy,’ an area that has become increasingly important in the intra- and inter-regional relations.
The presidents agreed that it was necessary to intensity the multilateral cooperation on the water-related issued, guided by the norms and principles of the international law, mutual consideration of the interests of all the regional countries, and the with the cooperation of the international organizations.
They were unanimous in their opinion that a special programme of the UN should be prepared for the Aral Sea basin states, and the initiative for the creation of a multi-partner trust fund for the human security of the region should be pursued.
Turkmenistan is the chair of IFAS (international fund for saving the Aral Sea) for the period 2017-2019.
Water Diplomacy of Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is taking systematic and systemic steps to engage in water diplomacy with the regional countries and the world at large.
Considering that growing scarcity of water is a matter of concern for all, it is important to understand the concept of ‘water diplomacy,’ as espoused by Turkmenistan.
In a video conference with some of his top officials on Monday (25 February 2019), President Berdymuhamedov explained the main features of water diplomacy.
In remarks to a report by the deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Rashid Meredov, the president of Turkmenistan said:
“Turkmenistan has consistently taken an active and proactive stance in consolidating the efforts of the IFAS member countries in order to work out a mutually agreed solution to the challenges of overcoming the Aral crisis. Our country, currently chairing the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, actively contributes to building up fruitful cooperation on such pressing issues as improving the socio-economic and environmental situation in the Aral Sea region, rational water use, environmental protection and rehabilitation, and adaptation to climate change.
“Implementing large-scale national programs and projects in the economic, social, humanitarian and environmental spheres, Turkmenistan also seeks to realize its substantial experience and creative potential for the common good. At the same time, the solution of all the tasks set is intimately connected with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“It is obvious that the salvation of the Aral Sea cannot be considered only as an internal, regional problem. Its successful solution requires an integrated international approach, active and systematic participation in this work of the United Nations.
“In this regard, at the Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (RIO + 20) in June 2012, the Turkmen side put forward a proposal to develop a UN Special Program for the Aral Sea, including concrete plans to stabilize and improve the situation in the Aral Sea basin. In the future, this Program could also become a platform for the preparation of UN multilateral documents on inland waters.
“In the light of modern realities, the initiative of our country to promote “water diplomacy” as a new form of multilateral diplomatic communication on water issues, announced at the VII World Forum in the city of Daegu (Republic of Korea), acquires particular relevance. Turkmenistan sees the possibility of a systematic dialogue aimed at addressing all problems related to the conservation of water resources, their careful and rational use, and the development of appropriate mechanisms for international cooperation.
“There is also the need to keep in view the importance of the Resolution of the UN General Assembly “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea”, which was initiated and tabled by the Turkmen side, aimed at creating conditions for a closer partnership of the IFAS founding countries with the UN.
“As for water and environmental issues in Central Asia as a whole, our country has always advocated their consideration and decision based on generally accepted norms of international law, taking into account the interests of all states in the region and with the participation of international organizations, recognizing that here the regional consensus is the only acceptable form for effective interstate cooperation.
“The establishment of cooperation in this area should be firmly based on the relevant criteria of work at the national level, which is complementary processes that are inseparable from each other.
“For its part, Turkmenistan, implementing programs and plans in various sectors, rigorously correlates them with the environmental component of the SDGs, including rational water use as the most important aspect of state policy. Our country has accumulated considerable experience in introducing advanced water-saving technologies, the General Program for providing the population with clean drinking water is being implemented.
“Of great importance is a large-scale project to create the Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake in the Karakum Desert. Its implementation makes it possible to successfully cope with pressing environmental, economic and social issues.
“In the context of solving the problems of Aral, the steps taken to combat desertification and to improve the land ameliorative condition are also important. To this end, a set of measures has been developed and is being implemented in our country, including, including, large-scale landscaping activities.
“The IFAS heads of state summit last year at Awaza was very specific, demonstrating the parties’ readiness for further long-term cooperation, bringing traditional cooperation to a new one, meets modern realities, level.
Turkmenistan reiterates unwavering commitment to effectively combining efforts to save the Aral Sea and eliminate the consequences of the Aral crisis, its readiness for constructive regional and international partnership in this direction. /// nCa, 27 February 2019