“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.” – Marc Chagall
Ashgabat, 18 June 2016 (nCa) — Turkmenistan, for several reasons, is the successor state of the Great Seljuk Empire. One such reason is the progressive mindset of all the Seljuk emperors and their ability to create the feeling of inclusiveness, partnership and harmony in the vast territories under their flag.
Malik Shah, who is described by some historians as the ‘larger pearl’ in the Seljuk necklace, said during a private gathering, while pointing to a bouquet of flowers in a vase: “All of these flowers are beautiful and fragrant in their own right but their beauty has enhanced so very much because all of them are together in this vase.”
The opening ceremony of Bagtyyar Zaman, a tastefully built modern village in Dashoguz province this Friday (17 June 2016) was reminiscent of Malik Shah’s poetic words. It was also the proof that Turkmenistan has entered the next phase of the meticulous process of nation-building.
Occupying an area of 144 hectares, it is not really a village; it is more like a very well planned mini-town for 500 families. There are 274 single-storey and 226 double-storey houses.
And, many of the proud owners who shifted to their houses Friday were ethnic Uzbeks.
The opening ceremony itself was a huge celebration of diversity. As President Berdymuhamedov walked across the main street of Bagtyyar Zaman, the people lining the street were a delightful mix of ethnicities, distinguishable by their dresses yet united under the same flag that fluttered everywhere.
The girls in the dance troupes were in either the solid colours of Turkmen style or pastel prints of Uzbek style, yet they sang the same song.
With music blaring through the sound system, people broke into dance spontaneously, each with their own moves, each with their own steps, each swaying to their own buoyant spirit, yet it gave the impression of perfect unison; the living bouquet, the flowers in the vase.
President Berdymuhamedov, who has the knack of connecting instantly with the very young, walked with a group of small children as he greeted a newly-wed couple who were shifting to their freshly acquired house in Bagtyyar Zaman, joined the throng of well-wishers as a newborn baby was brought home from the maternity centre, and visited two families who had only just taken possession of their houses.
One family was ethnic Turkmen and the other was ethnic Uzbek.
This symbolic act was so eloquent in its implications — Turkmenistan has entered the next phase of nation-building.
Turkmenistan is marking 25th anniversary of its independence this year. It is the time to rejoice because the country has faced and overcome so many challenges. It is the time to cheer that the national cohesion has withstood stress in all of its shapes and forms. It is the time to reiterate: state for the people; people for the state.
And, it is also the time to raise the curtain and let the whole world see that Turkmenistan is embarking on the next phase of its ongoing process of nation-building.
The ethnic minorities – though Turkmenistan doesn’t usually call them minorities; they are more like members of the extended family – have always been an active part of the state and society of independent Turkmenistan.
The people from the ethnic Uzbek, Russian and other groups have been and continue to be in prominent positions in government circles and private sector.
Nation-building is a fragile and never ending process. There is always the need to safeguard what has been achieved and find ways to build on the successive layers of solidarity.
Building on the successes is what we see in the opening ceremony of Bagtyyar Zaman. This is the confident and bold start of the new phase of nation-building.
As President Berdymuhamedov listened respectfully, the Uzbek grandmother said ‘thank you’ in the Turkmen and Uzbek languages: Sag bol! Rahmat!
Her daughter-in-law is ethnic Turkmen.