Of course, the role of Turkmenistan in preparing Afghanistan for the economic remake is clearly visible in two areas: creation of connectivity and energy infrastructure, and provision of fuel and other essentials at subsidized rates.
However, despite all of this, it is a fact that a country cannot benefit from advanced infrastructure and affordable essentials without the capacity to make use of them.
Turkmenistan has been making great contribution for capacity building of Afghanistan as a country and as a nation.
First, let’s put some new handles to this tired and often misused phrase – capacity building.
As we know, Turkmenistan looks at every task, every challenge under a holistic concept – everything is connected with everything else.
Because of that, peace in Afghanistan is part of the capacity building challenge as far as Turkmenistan is concerned. It is quite logical too; no progress can take place without peace.
Turkmenistan has made tremendous contribution in creating peace in Afghanistan. The peace talks in Ashgabat between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in December 2000 came very close to fruition. Had it not been for the malicious intervention of two powers, there would have been peace in Afghanistan twenty years ago.
Even now, Turkmenistan has been offering at every occasion that it is ready to provide its political space and material resources for holding the Afghan peace talks anywhere in Turkmenistan. It is an offer that should be taken seriously.
In pursuit of peace, it cannot be forgotten that a nation cannot make the best use of peace without the appropriate education and training.
Turkmenistan, for many years, has been providing education and training to the Afghan students. They get free education, lodging and boarding, and also some stipend. The teachers training institute in Turkmenabat and the energy institute in Mary are two of the Turkmen establishments that are continuously hosting the Afghan students.
If peace is a part of capacity building, and education and training are also part of capacity building, there is another part that cannot be described quite precisely – we can broadly call it inclusiveness.
Inclusiveness, as a crucial part of capacity building, means that by inviting the Afghans to various activities, Turkmenistan tacitly helps them build confidence in themselves.
The exposure they get in Turkmenistan is one way for them to learn how to do things in a certain way.
The TAPI Corridor, that is the largest development initiative in Afghanistan, will be a game changer in so many different ways, including the capacity building that will be useful in every area of life and economy.
That is why DPM Meredov, answering a question during the briefing on 16 January 2021, said that the concept behind all of our initiatives for Afghanistan including the TAPI Corridor is that instead of remaining a recipient of aid for long, Afghanistan should gather the capacity to become a party of the donor community.
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nCa asked a question during the briefing: Congratulations on the opening of railway line, power line, and fiber optic link. These are three separate projects and yet they are intrinsically linked. We also know that 2021 is the International Year of Peace and Trust as a result of the initiative of Turkmenistan. In what ways these three projects would contribute to building peace and trust in this region and the world at large?
DPM Meredov said:
This year brings responsibility for our country in terms of implementing concrete practical steps aimed at strengthening international peace, security, stability, trust between countries, creating an atmosphere of trust, which is very important at present time.
We are all witnessing a rapidly changing modern world. We have repeatedly stressed that, unfortunately, the dynamics of changes do not always occur with a plus sign.
Therefore, Turkmenistan, a neutral Turkmenistan, pursuing its foreign policy, implements the initiatives put forward in the international political arena. During 2021, Turkmenistan will naturally do everything necessary to promote the ideals and values of peace, to develop a culture of peaceful dialogue that is very important in our time.
In this regard, the implementation of such large-scale and long-term projects like gas pipeline, power line, fiber-optic lines linking Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, construction of railway from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan serve as practical things aimed at the consolidation of peas, as I have already said.
We have always said and I emphasize that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, power transmission lines or fiber-optic links along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route are not just energy, transport, and commercial projects. These are very important projects from a geopolitical point of view. We are deeply convinced that they will contribute to strengthening stability in the regions of Central and South Asia. It is clear that where a gas pipeline or railway passes, new jobs are created, economic and social problems are solved, and this opens prerequisites for peaceful life in this country or in this region.
In this regard, I thank you once again for your question, dear Tariq Saeedi, and I would like to confirm that yes, the projects that were launched the day before yesterday by the Presidents of the two countries symbolize the beginning of the international year of peace and trust and are directly related to strengthening security and stability in our region. /// nCa, 29 January 2021