Speech of Berdimuhamedov
The speech of President Berdimuhamedov at the conference ‘Turkmenistan and International Organizations – Cooperation for Peace and Development,’ was based on a broader context, stitching together the various dynamic aspects of neutrality.
Here is the summarized translation of his speech:
As an active member of international life, in order to make a worthy contribution to ensuring sustainable development and prosperity at the global level, Turkmenistan has put forward a number of important international initiatives on pressing issues of our time.
Being a supporter of both bilateral and multilateral cooperation, our country at various levels, in particular, within the framework of international organizations, regularly puts forward tasks that are of great importance for present and future generations, and seeks to solve them.
Therefore, Turkmenistan is not limited to introducing important initiatives aimed at building up a broad international partnership and meeting the fundamental interests of all countries and peoples, but is taking measures to implement them in practice. The current meeting is evidence of this.
The issues affecting the national and universal interests would be considered today. There is an exchange of views on them and the definition of joint work for the near future.
[The above passage was delivered in the Turkmen language. After that, the president started his formal speech in Russian]
This year, our country, together with the entire international community, will widely celebrate the 25th anniversary of international recognition of the status of neutrality of Turkmenistan. This is a really important date, a significant event in the independent history of the Turkmen state, a milestone in our foreign policy.
At the same time, this is a good reason to comprehend the path that has been traveled over a quarter century, to take stock, to evaluate the current development of Turkmenistan as a neutral state. Today we do this together with our friends and partners representing major and reputable international organizations. Your opinions and recommendations are interesting and valuable to us.
There is special importance of this in the context of preparations for the High-level International Conference “The policy of neutrality and its importance in ensuring international peace, security and sustainable development”, which is scheduled for December 12 in Ashgabat.
Concrete proposals on organizational issues and the substantive component of this Conference would be gratefully accepted. In particular, we need to jointly determine the theme of this Forum, its program and conduct, and develop the final document of the Conference. We are confident that the representatives of international organizations present here will actively participate in the organization and holding of the above-mentioned International Conference.
For Turkmenistan, which gained independence in the most difficult conditions of a radical change in the entire system of international relations, the issue of choosing a foreign policy was one of the most important.
What should this course be like, how do we build relations with the world community, and on what principles do we develop international cooperation?
The fate of Turkmen statehood, independence and sovereignty largely depended on the answers to these questions, on the correctness of our choice.
For history knows many examples when mistakes in choosing a foreign policy model led to the loss of the real independence of states, their drawing into an orbit of interests, very far from the true goals of national development.
Turkmenistan chose a model called positive neutrality and formulated its fundamental provisions: peacefulness, non-interference in the affairs of other states, respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-participation in international military organizations and treaties.
We began to purposefully pursue a sovereign, neutral, but at the same time active and constructive foreign policy. Therefore, it is not surprising that the world reacted kindly and with understanding to our efforts to consolidate the neutrality of Turkmenistan as an international legal status. Our country received support first from its neighbors in the region, then in the Non-Aligned Movement.
On December 12, 1995, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Resolution “Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan.”
It was a wise, visionary decision. Time has shown its conformity with the long-term goals of the UN, the interests of the development of the states and peoples of the planet in peace and security. Further events have confirmed this with obvious evidence.
The neutrality of Turkmenistan has become a significant factor in international peacekeeping efforts in our region. A series of negotiations were held in Ashgabat under the auspices of the UN, which played an important role in achieving peace and harmony in Tajikistan.
The capital of our neutral state became the venue for negotiations to resolve the intra-Afghan conflict in the late 90s of the last century.
Turkmenistan has become a reliable ally and effective partner of the United Nations in maintaining and promoting political stability in the region, developing good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation. This was confirmed by the decision of the international community with the support of all the states of the region to open in 2007 in Ashgabat the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
We took this as a huge responsibility and at the same time as evidence of confidence in Turkmenistan from the United Nations.
Today, Turkmen neutrality is a significant factor in regional security. Its basic principles are fully consistent with the UN strategic objectives in Central Asia, aimed at turning the region into a zone of peace and cooperation, a strong link of continental stability. In this context, the UN can always count on the support of Turkmenistan, using the political and diplomatic means inherent in neutrality to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust, favorable conditions for equal and constructive partnership.
The importance of neutrality in modern conditions is eloquently evidenced by the fact that the UN General Assembly, at the initiative of Turkmenistan, declared 12 December as the International Day of Neutrality. The unanimously adopted Resolution, in particular, emphasizes the importance of a policy of neutrality in strengthening peace and security at the regional and global levels, its role in the development of peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relations between countries.
Among one of its priority tasks as a neutral state, Turkmenistan sees the adoption of a culture of dialogue in resolving emerging issues and contradictions. As is known, on 12 September last year, the UN General Assembly unanimously and co-sponsored by 73 member states adopted a resolution initiated by Turkmenistan on declaring 2021 the International Year of Peace and Trust.
It is significant that the text of the Resolution sets out the great importance of preventive diplomacy, which is consistently and persistently promoted by the Turkmen state. There is every reason to believe that after the adoption of the Resolution, preventive diplomacy will play a more significant role in preventing conflicts, consolidating and maintaining peace and stability in various parts of the world, and become one of the most effective practical tools of multilateral diplomacy.
The adopted resolution is highly relevant and timely, especially against the background of those difficult trends in international politics, when, despite the efforts of the world community, the situation in a number of regions of the globe remains difficult, there is an expansion of conflict zones and, at the same time, a decrease in the general level of trust and mutual understanding in views on the paths and prospects of global development.
In this context, our country will develop and submit for consideration by the UN a number of proposals for the International Year of Peace and Trust with the most practical benefit for efforts to ensure peace and security. In the formation of these initiatives and their further implementation, we hope for close cooperation with relevant UN agencies and other international organizations.
Also at the current session of the UN General Assembly, Turkmenistan took the initiative to develop a Code of Practice on the application of the principles of neutralism in ensuring peace and security. We believe that this is a very useful initiative, and we count on your support in its implementation.
Such a document could be used by the international community as an effective lever for preventing possible confrontations, preventing their escalation and flaring into a power tussle, for transferring conflict-generating processes into a peaceful, negotiating channel.
Recently, we also proposed the creation of a Group of Friends of Neutrality in the Interests of Peace and Security. We are ready for the closest cooperation with all parties interested in promoting this initiative.
The head of state emphasized that Turkmenistan was and remains an active participant in international efforts to combat modern challenges and threats, and emphasized the firm position of our country in countering terrorism, combating drug trafficking, and human trafficking.
In this regard, in our country, together with international organizations, a number of national and regional programs and projects are being implemented. In particular, on 6 December last year, the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and Countering Terrorism for 2020–2024 and the National Action Plan for 2020–2022 on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings were adopted. We hope that our partners from relevant international organizations will take an active part in their implementation.
Today the issue of supporting reconciliation processes in Afghanistan is of particular importance. Turkmenistan is a neutral state and a direct neighbor of Afghanistan; our country is ready to provide all the necessary conditions for establishing a peaceful dialogue on Afghanistan. There is no alternative to the negotiation process. All the previous experience has shown that force methods are counterproductive and have no prospects.
For many years, Turkmenistan has provided Afghanistan with concrete, targeted economic and humanitarian support. It is expressed in the construction of medical and educational institutions in the territory of the neighboring country, the preferential supply of electricity, the training of Afghan students in Turkmen educational institutions, the regular dispatch of humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan, and other types of assistance and assistance. All this is financed by Turkmenistan from its own resources.
We assure both our Afghan friends and the international community that such support will continue to be provided, moreover, on a systematic basis – in accordance with a special program developed in Turkmenistan.
The key condition for the political stabilization, economic and social recovery of Afghanistan, its successful integration into regional and world economic processes is the implementation of large infrastructure projects with Afghan participation, primarily in such vital areas as energy, transport and communications.
We will continue to work on their implementation and are ready to expand our cooperation with international organizations in providing comprehensive support to Afghanistan.
Today priority is given to the economic aspect of Turkmen neutrality, which means creating conditions for the accelerated socio-economic growth of our country, the development of its mutually beneficial foreign economic and trade ties. Our neutrality guarantees against any kind of politicization of such cooperation, ensures equal treatment of all foreign partners.
The determining criteria here are mutual benefit, economic and commercial soundness, and respect for the traditions and laws of our country. Such a position finds proper understanding and is highly appreciated by partners, and allows developing mutually beneficial relations with various countries and companies. As a neutral state, we can formulate our long-term foreign economic strategy based on clear and intelligible principles arising from our international status.
The provisions of neutrality of Turkmenistan, a non-confrontational worldview, our strict adherence to the UN Charter and international legal norms are fully manifested in the implementation of international projects in which the country participates. Their focus is determined not only by commercial and economic benefits, but also by the desire to ensure the rapprochement of states and create an atmosphere of greater trust and predictability in their relations.
In turn, this will contribute to the expansion of economic ties between countries, the practical implementation of the principles of openness and equality in international economic cooperation. These are the foundations laid in the activities of international organizations of an economic, financial and investment orientation.
Turkmenistan is ready to intensify cooperation with international financial institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank. Last year, we also intensified our work on studying the rules and procedures for joining the World Trade Organization.
Another topic of today’s exchange of views, the head of state outlined the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, where Turkmenistan is also ready to share the experience gained in this direction.
Turkmenistan, fully supporting this Agenda, immediately began to take consistent and substantive steps to implement the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level.
Already in October 2015, consultations were held between UN agencies and representatives of ministries and departments of Turkmenistan, during which the composition of the Joint Working Group on SDG adaptation was agreed and approved.
Based on the results of such consultations, about 150 tasks and about 200 indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals, approved at the government level, were selected. Thus, according to the UN assessment, Turkmenistan became the first country in the region of Eastern Europe and the CIS to determine its sustainable development priorities for implementation over the next 15 years.
Today the most important parameters of the Sustainable Development Goals are organically integrated into the Program of socio-economic development of Turkmenistan for the period 2019-2025. In the economic part of this Program, the implementation of the SDGs is designed to promote universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy supply, stable economic growth and full employment, the creation of a flexible infrastructure, support for sustainable industrialization and the promotion of innovation. Great importance is given to the widespread digitalization of the economy.
The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Turkmenistan has a pronounced social orientation. We are talking about such crucial aspects as ensuring food security and improving the nutrition of the population, the widespread adoption of a healthy lifestyle, ensuring full gender equality, creating conditions for inclusive, fair and high-quality education.
Starting to implement national plans in various sectors of the economy and the social sphere, Turkmenistan responsibly and rigorously correlates them with the environmental component of the SDGs. To this end, the country is moving to the use of modern environmentally friendly and resource-saving technologies in all sectors of the economy: in industry, agriculture, transport and in other areas.
We have always clearly stated our position on this issue: ecology and the environment should not become hostages of commercial benefits, no matter how attractive they may seem. Ensuring the country’s sustainable development and improving the quality of life of the population are directly related to the resolution of environmental challenges in the region.
Among them, one of the main ones is the salvation of the Aral Sea. At the Summit of the founding states of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) in August 2018 in the city of Turkmenbashi, our efforts in this direction were discussed in detail, and certain agreements were reached. Thus, important steps have been taken towards improving the IFAS, and increasing its effectiveness.
There is the need to move more actively in this direction, to use the potential of the international community, primarily the UN, its specialized structures more widely. We put forward an initiative to develop a UN Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin and to highlight the Aral Sea issues as a separate area of the United Nations activities.
The UN General Assembly Resolutions “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea” adopted in 2018 and 2019 are a good basis for this.
It is necessary to concentrate more efforts of the Central Asian states and international structures in ensuring equal and equitable access to water resources. Turkmenistan’s position here is well known: we believe that consideration and resolution of water use problems should be based on international law, mutual respect and consideration of the interests of all states in the region and with the participation of international organizations.
In general, we expect continued constructive dialogue on the issues of the Sustainable Development Goals, which provides for joining forces at the international, regional and national levels.
In this context, we express strong confidence in expanding the partnership of Turkmenistan with the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Environment Program and other specialized agencies and institutes of the United Nations.
One of the priority topics of the international agenda of Turkmenistan in the context of the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 is the cooperation of our country with UNESCO.
As a result of many years of joint work with UNESCO structures and its experts, we have achieved significant results. Today, such cultural monuments as “Ancient Merv”, “Kunyaurgench”, “Parthian Fortresses of Nisa”, the epic art of the Turkmen people “Gorogly”, the Turkmen national art of singing and dancing “Kushtdepdi”, the traditions of Turkmen carpet weaving are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Humanity .
In the near future, we intend to make efforts to realize the potential of cooperation with UNESCO in such fields as education, science, ecology, and sports
As is known, over the years, in order to further improve the country’s democratic institutions and effectively fulfill its human rights obligations, Turkmenistan has carried out close and multifaceted cooperation with relevant international organizations.
At the same time, the main thing in our joint work is the implementation of the principle “The state is for people!”, Aimed at creating the most favorable conditions for the full utilization of the potential of the human person.
We reaffirm our desire to intensify partnerships with international organizations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the International Labor Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other structures with humanitarian focus.
Turkmenistan has entered the jubilee year of the 25th anniversary of its neutrality in an atmosphere of peace and creation, good neighborliness, respect and mutual understanding with its friends and partners in the world community.
We clearly see our prospects, and confidently formulate the development plans for the state and society. A verified course towards broad, multifaceted international cooperation allows us to look forward with optimism.
The neutrality of Turkmenistan is the reality of today and our future, which opens up new opportunities for the development of a broad international partnership in all areas. Following a strict commitment to our international obligations, we declare with all responsibility that we are ready for wide and active cooperation with international organizations in the name of achieving common creative goals.