Speech by conference participants
Ms. Natalya Gherman, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia, Head of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, expressed appreciation for the initiative to organize this important conference, reflecting Turkmenistan’s deep and multifaceted cooperation with international organizations, and in particular the United Nations.
The UN welcomes the significant and timely initiatives of the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, aimed not only at consolidated cooperation and solving key issues of the regional and global agenda, but also at confirming the central role of the Organization in peace, security and sustainable development in the region and at the global level, said Ms. Herman.
The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative noted that following a course of neutrality, Turkmenistan not only achieved significant results in various spheres of life, but also made a significant contribution to strengthening peace and stability in the Central Asian region. Today, it is safe to say that the choice of Turkmenistan was timely and justified, and the model of the country’s foreign policy development was the most optimal and in line with national interests, long-term goals of the world community and the principles of the UN Charter, she emphasized.
The neutral foreign policy of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov allows for constructive action on the world stage and the intensive development of political, trade, economic, humanitarian and other ties. This, in particular, is evidenced by the main priorities of Turkmenistan, presented at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, consistent with the main priorities of the United Nations.
Natalia Gherman praised the Turkmen idea of developing the UN Code of Practice on the effective application of the principles of neutrality in resolving international issues and ensuring peace and security, as well as the initiative to organize, under the auspices of the UN, a wide multilateral dialogue on the practical application of the principles of neutrality in order to prevent conflicts and eliminate their causes and the consequences, humanitarian issues.
As Ms. Gherman said, when assuming office of the UN Secretary-General in early 2017, Antono Guterres proposed his vision of UN activities, where preventive diplomacy was given priority. In his first address to the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General clearly stated his position, formulating it as follows: “Conflict prevention is not just one of the priorities, it is the main task. If we fulfill our commitments, we will save lives, reduce suffering and give hope to millions people”.
In this regard, it was noted that the Regional Center was one of the first UN structures designed to use and promote preventive diplomacy as a tool for maintaining interstate dialogue and developing cooperation between countries. In this context, Natalia Gherman emphasized the relevance of the thesis of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov that positive neutrality and preventive diplomacy are inseparable. Prevention is our common goal to ensure peace and stability in the Central Asian region and at the global level.
The Regional Center, within the framework of fulfilling its mandate, interacts with the states of the region on the most pressing issues of regional cooperation, facilitates the exchange of information in the region, including with regional organizations and UN agencies, and also conducts a comprehensive analysis of the situation in the region and beyond.
Over the past years, we have managed to implement many positive and useful initiatives, as well as create new formats and platforms for common interaction, said Ms. Herman. This also applies to the new format of annual meetings of deputy foreign ministers under the auspices of the UNRCCA, which since 2017 began to include not only the countries of Central Asia, but also Afghanistan. Representatives of Afghanistan are now also regularly participating in all activities conducted by the Center.
It is important that the UNRCCA has continued to support the countries of Central Asia in the process of preparing for the annual consultative meeting of the heads of state of the region. This was done through the organization of the Central Asian Expert Forum, as well as major regional thematic events to develop recommendations for consideration by the Presidents of these states.
Given the global situation and the priorities of the countries of Central Asia, the Center continues to strengthen its activities on counter-terrorism issues. As part of the 3rd phase of the project to implement the Joint Plan of Action for the Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia, the Center, in collaboration with the UN Office for Counter-Terrorism, organized a series of activities to build the capacity of the region’s states in border control, combating the financing of terrorism and preventing the use of the Internet in propaganda and recruitment purposes.
Last year, the Center, together with the UN Counter-Terrorism Directorate, contributed to the development of the National Strategy of Turkmenistan to prevent violent extremism and counter terrorism.
At the same time, a new three-year UNRCCA strategy to support regional cooperation on transboundary water management was agreed with the countries of the region and adopted. This new expert platform is designed to build confidence; improving relevant institutions and the legal framework, as well as working on the development of cooperation.
Considering that youth is a huge resource for maintaining peace and development in the region, last year the Regional Center launched its new initiative “Preventive Academy”, the task of which, inter alia, is to play the role of a platform for dialogue between young people and government leaders. The center also works on gender issues in the region in the context of the UN Women, Peace and Security agenda.
The head of the UNRCCA noted that in 2020, when the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality symbolically coincides with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, initiated and invited everyone to participate in a large-scale and open global discussion on the role of international cooperation in building the future we want.
In this context, the idea of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to hold an international high-level conference in Ashgabat on 12 December is relevant, especially on the eve of 2021, declared by the United Nations on the initiative of Turkmenistan as the International Year of Peace and Trust.
Natalia Gherman expressed her conviction that the representative forum in Ashgabat will become a substantive part of the process of determining the future of the United Nations that we want and which the international community should strive for. This applies not only to the Central Asian region, but to the world as a whole, which is going through difficult times in terms of consolidation.
Turkmenistan and the UN will have a lot of fruitful work to further advance the initiatives launched, develop existing formats and platforms for interaction, and deepen dialogue in all key areas in the interests of peace, stability and sustainable development, said Ms. Herman in conclusion.
Thanking the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for her informative speech, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasized that Turkmenistan, as the state on the territory of which the headquarters of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia is located, gives priority to promoting a peacemaking agenda and establishing multifaceted cooperation in the matter of early prevention of conflicts and contradictions, neutralizing threats and challenges, establishing a solid foundation for peace, security clarity and development.
For almost 12 years of its activity, the Regional Center has established itself as an effective link between the United Nations and Central Asian countries in resolving many emerging issues, the head of state said. The President also recalled that during its meeting in August 2012, the UN Security Council, noting the importance of preventive diplomacy and early settlement of disputes, supported the efforts of the Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia in this regard.
The present and future potential of the Center will be in demand in such areas as energy security, sustainable transport and communications, water issues, environmental protection, and disarmament processes, the President of Turkmenistan emphasized.
The leadership and staff of the Regional Center proved to be true professionals, dedicated to their work, rightfully earning respect and high authority among partners, the Turkmen leader said, expressing sincere appreciation to all the staff of the Center on behalf of the people and Government of Turkmenistan to Ambassador Natalya German, for their work.
Ms. Elena Panova, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, said that Turkmenistan, having accumulated solid experience of development as a neutral state, the status of which is confirmed by two Resolutions of the UN General Assembly, offers the world to use the concept of neutrality as an instrument for maintaining peace and promoting sustainable development. We are ready to support Turkmenistan in promoting the principles of neutralism, a senior UN representative said.
She also noted that Turkmenistan is one of the leading countries in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The main achievement in this regard, in her opinion, is that the country has laid a solid systemic basis for the SDGs by creating a national coordination mechanism and incorporating the goals and objectives of the SDGs into the President’s Program for 2019-2025.
Congratulating the Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on the successful presentation of the first Voluntary National Review in July last year at the UN site in New York, Elena Panova noted that this year is crucial for the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Secretary General proclaimed it the beginning of a decade of decisive action, when all countries of the world must make efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.
In this regard, the Permanent Coordinator presented to the forum participants the key priorities for 2020, the implementation of which will help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs in the country. Among them is support in mobilizing financing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In her speech, Ms. Panova proposed creating a joint coordination mechanism to attract foreign investment and financial resources of international banks for the implementation of the SDGs in the country. This mechanism assumes the participation of international financial institutions, large international companies.
Another priority area is assistance in improving the provision of statistical reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals. As noted, a lot of work has been done in conjunction with the State Committee on Statistics to develop a national database on indicators for sustainable development.
Another priority is the preparation of a new Framework Program for Cooperation between Turkmenistan and the UN for 2021-2025. Consultations on the development of this document began last year, as a result of which three areas of cooperation were identified: improving efficiency in public administration through digitalization and the promotion of human rights; economic development taking into account climate change; quality services in the health care system, education and social protection.
Particular attention in the new Framework Program will be given to youth involvement in the implementation of the SDGs and the development of youth policy. Another feature of this program will be the strengthening of the joint activities of various UN agencies.
In this regard, Elena Panova voiced a proposal to develop an effective mechanism to promote joint projects between the UN and the Government of Turkmenistan, which will be aimed at solving complex problems in the field of sustainable development, requiring the participation of several UN agencies.
Joint national funding mechanisms can also be created, for example, the National SDG Fund, which will help to mobilize and improve the use of both public financial resources and international resources of various donors. This can be done using the example of the Global Fund for the SDGs, created by the UN Secretary-General last year, the Permanent Coordinator noted.
Turkmenistan has become one of the 36 countries that received funding from the Global SDG Fund to implement a joint project to improve the social services system. Its implementation begins in 2020. It involves several UN agencies and six departments of Turkmenistan. The lead performer on the part of the United Nations is UNICEF, and on the part of the Government of the country, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
On behalf of the UN mission in Turkmenistan, Ms. Panova expressed support for the initiative of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to organize the International Conference on Peace, Security and Sustainable Development, announced at the 74th session of the General Assembly. The theme of this forum is in tune with current events in the world, it will allow you to get a new look through the prism of neutrality on the global challenges of sustainable development, the UN representative said.
Thanking Elena Panova for the informative presentation, the President emphasized that for Turkmenistan’s membership in the United Nations, active participation in its activities to implement the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development is one of the main priorities of domestic and foreign policy.
We clearly see the prospects for cooperation within the UN, appreciate the progress that has become especially noticeable in recent years, and clearly recognize the importance of ongoing mutually respectful dialogue with partners, the head of state said. The President also shared the opinion expressed on the need to systematically and dynamically bring cooperation in the area of the Sustainable Development Goals to new frontiers.
Presented in New York at the ECOSOC Political Forum, Turkmenistan’s first Voluntary National Survey on Sustainable Development Goals demonstrated our country’s experience in implementing the UN Strategy until 2030.
Taking the opportunity, the head of state expressed gratitude to all UN agencies working in Turkmenistan for their active participation in the implementation of programs and projects aimed at the practical implementation of the SDGs in our country.
The head of the OSCE Center in Ashgabat, Ms. Natalya Drozd emphasized that the indisputable evidence of the universal recognition of Turkmenistan’s historical choice to base its historical course on the principles of peacefulness, respect for international military organizations and agreements was the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 12 December 1995 of a Special Resolution on “Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan”, which received unanimous support from all UN member states.
Over the past years, the Turkmen model of neutrality has become a new phenomenon in international legal practice. The President of Turkmenistan has consistently and purposefully implemented a policy of positive neutrality aimed at promoting peace, stability and cooperation, primarily in the Central Asian region. The OSCE highly appreciates the position of neutral Turkmenistan regarding the strengthening of peace and trust, as well as the settlement of all disputes between states through peaceful negotiations based on the principles of equal responsibility for peace and security.
The OSCE Center in Ashgabat, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, has established constructive cooperation with the Government of Turkmenistan. The Head of the Center dwelled on the most significant achievements of joint work in recent years. For example, during the period from 2018 to 2019, about 4 thousand representatives of government bodies, academia, the media and public organizations became participants in our training events.
Natalya Drozd praised Turkmenistan’s contribution to strengthening economic stability in the region, noting also the joint efforts to promote effective trade and transport management, innovative technologies for sustainable water resources management, the development of renewable energy sources and energy-saving technologies, as well as Turkmenistan’s implementation of international obligations in the field of environmental safety, which is one of the priorities of the policy of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
In the humanitarian dimension, the OSCE Center is actively cooperating with the Office of the Ombudsman of Turkmenistan, and is assisting in the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan and the National Action Plan for Gender Equality for 2015-2020.
The OSCE has long been supporting the development of the media. The Center has provided expert support in the development of a number of media laws, including the Television and Radio Broadcasting Law, and our partnership on media modernization is successfully continuing. Particular attention in this work is given to involving young people in the implementation of projects, said Ms. Drozd.
Speaking about the prospects of cooperation for this year, the head of the OSCE Center noted that in 2020 the implementation of the Plan of joint projects begins, envisaging dozens of events with the relevant ministries and departments of Turkmenistan.
The project plan also includes a number of events to mark the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality. Thus, the OSCE Center will conduct a course for students of leading universities – future diplomats – with the aim of familiarizing them with the mechanisms and practices of the OSCE in the field of conflict prevention and early warning.
In conclusion, Natalia Drozd expressed deep appreciation to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for his trust, continued support and comprehensive assistance in cooperation, as well as his personal contribution to strengthening the partnership between the OSCE and Turkmenistan. The success of our work is our common achievement, the result of hard work together to achieve sustainable security in the OSCE region, she said.
Thanking for the speech, the Turkmen leader noted that our country traditionally pays special attention to close partnership with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Most recently, we approved a plan of joint projects and activities planned for implementation with the OSCE Center in 2020.
Our interaction is aimed at realizing the existing priorities, and we are also ready for substantive work on implementing new projects in the political, economic, environmental and humanitarian dimensions, the head of state Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted.
The current stage of development of Turkmenistan is characterized by serious reforms aimed at meaningfully updating the country’s socio-political life, introducing modern standards and norms into the practice of democratic institutions, improving the legislative framework, creating the necessary conditions for unlocking a person’s creative potential, ensuring and protecting his civil rights and freedoms .
The head of state noted with satisfaction that lately our cooperation with the OSCE in these areas has been developing quite dynamically. Relations with such structures as the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Representative on Freedom of the Media have noticeably intensified.
We are open to continuing cooperation, to creatively mastering the experience of the Organization, and highly appreciate the desire to assist us, said President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The main thing here is the correct and adequate perception by our partners of the progress and pace of reforms, their compliance with the national characteristics of the country, the specificity and originality of its historical path, traditions and mentality of the people. This approach opens up broad prospects for collaboration.
Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Delegation of the European Union to Turkmenistan, Mr. Lubomyr Frebort said that the European Union appreciates and respects the status of Turkmenistan, its policy of continuous positive neutrality, chosen as the basis for the country’s foreign course. We are grateful for the invitation of the leadership of the European Union to actively join in the celebration of this milestone in the history of Turkmenistan, and I am sure that the EU will be represented at a high level at the celebrations in December, Mr. Frebort said.
The principle of permanent positive neutrality of Turkmenistan also means its effective interaction with the integrated European Union. In the foreign policy of Turkmenistan implemented by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the EU takes the place of one of the strategic partners with an emphasis on cooperation in the field of traditional and new threats and in the field of energy security, the EU representative noted.
2019 was an important year in relations between the European Union and Turkmenistan, our important and respected partner in Central Asia, Lubomir Frebort emphasized. The opening of the EU representative office in Ashgabat in the middle of last year was the culmination of our relations and a demonstration of the EU’s interest in strengthening and expanding cooperation with Turkmenistan.
An increase in the level of our relations, the EU representative continued, allows us to gradually expand the political and economic sectors of joint actions in strategic areas such as security, energy, climate change, the environment, economic diversification and private sector development, the rule of law, human rights and many others.
It was noted that some of the initiatives of neutral Turkmenistan put forward by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov meet EU priorities, especially in matters of peace and sustainable development.
With regard to peace and security, including water security, the EU recognizes Turkmenistan’s continued contribution to the stabilization and development of Afghanistan, and this agenda is one of the key EU security priorities. We welcome the initiative of Turkmenistan at the UN to declare 2021 the International Year of Peace and Trust.
For the successful chairmanship of the Executive Committee of the International Aral Sea Rescue Program, completed last year, and taking into account that water safety is our common priority, we are ready to support a number of future projects of the Aral Sea Basin Program.
Regarding transport and connectivity, the EU welcomed the initiative of Turkmenistan to convene the first UN Conference on Sustainable Transport in November 2016, actively participated in it and was ready to support further initiatives in this regard. Welcoming Turkmenistan’s commitment to become a center for regional transport corridors, the EU is ready to support these plans through its recently adopted strategy for connecting Europe and Asia.
The EU also fully supports the policy of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to diversify gas export markets, while the construction of the strategic Trans-Caspian gas pipeline and the import of Turkmen gas remains an important part of the EU energy security strategy, and recently the new European Commission has included it in the updated list of priority energy projects. We have intensified our bilateral and multilateral energy dialogue in 2019 and are ready to continue it.
The EU Special Representative for Central Asia has already proposed holding a symposium in Ashgabat in the first quarter of 2020 to discuss the Roadmap for implementing this strategy in Turkmenistan. The new instrument of the European Commission for Neighborhood and Development will allow the EU to propose new bilateral cooperation programs with Turkmenistan.
I am confident that 2020 will provide an opportunity for the thorough preparation of the summit of the EU and Turkmenistan leadership.
Thanking the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Delegation of the European Union to Turkmenistan for the informative speech, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasized that the European direction is one of the most important vectors of our country’s foreign policy.
Forming our approaches to cooperation with the European Union, we proceed from the existence of objective mutual interests and “rapprochements” in the context of ensuring security in Central Asia and neighboring regions, the effective fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, cross-border crime, and the creation of effective mechanisms to assist Afghanistan, in a number of other important areas, such as energy, transport, ecology and climate change, the use of water resources.
In this context, Turkmenistan highly appreciates the new European Union Strategy for Central Asia, which, in our opinion, has been carefully structured and taking into account the interests of the countries of this region.
The understanding of the significance and mutual benefits of cooperation led to the decision to open the European Union Delegation in Ashgabat in July 2019. This is intended to strengthen mutual understanding and mutual trust, and gives our partnership a more effective and efficient character, and facilitate decision-making processes, the head of state noted.
Our country, with a good heart and readiness, expects that the closest cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union will provide the most favorable conditions for its successful and fruitful work in the name of common interests, the head of state said.
The head of the regional Office of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Ms. Ashita Mittal expressed gratitude to the Government of Turkmenistan for supporting the promotion of the UNODC agenda in combating transnational organized crime, drug trafficking and the prevention of terrorism, Ms. Mittal noted that today, more than ever, the principles of neutrality are central to peace, security and stability on the planet.
She also emphasized the historical role of Turkmenistan in launching the UNODC Program for Central Asian States for 2015-2020, which was signed in Ashgabat in May 2015 by all five countries of the region as the main framework document for technical cooperation in the region.
Ashita Mittal praised the initiative of the head of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, to bring interaction to an even more practical level within the framework of the recently signed Roadmap to further develop the country’s cooperation with UNODC in 2019-2021. Our Office remains fully committed to supporting Turkmenistan in its efforts to address the complex security challenges and address threats to international peace, security and sustainable development, Ms. Mittal noted.
In addition, the leadership of Turkmenistan was thanked for its proposal to hold the 55th session of the Sub-Commission on Drug Trafficking in the Near and Middle East and Related Issues in June 2020.
Turkmenistan and UNODC have established strong partnerships to implement strategic initiatives aimed at countering transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, human trafficking and the spread of extremism and terrorism, the international container control system, etc.
We hope to further strengthen our cooperation in the framework of the new UNODC Program for Central Asian States for 2021-2025, which we will develop during 2020 in close cooperation with the Government of Turkmenistan and in accordance with the UN Framework Program for Sustainable Development, said Ashita Mittal.
She emphasized the role of Turkmenistan in the development of regional economic cooperation and trade, in particular, in the development of the transport sector, trade and transit corridors in Central Asia and the wider region, which for many centuries served as the crossroads connecting East and West.
Turkmenistan is making significant efforts to strengthen international peace and stability through the development of a healthy and stable society, the prevention of crime, the rule of law and equal access to justice for all. UNODC is ready to support these strategies and promote a culture of legality, including through educational and sporting events, in order to help young people overcome challenges and provide support for their development so that the younger generation can make a positive contribution to society, said Ashita Mittal.
Our country attaches great importance to international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, and in the first place, in close cooperation with UN specialized agencies, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said. In Turkmenistan, the ongoing activities of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime are carried out through the implementation of 15 global, regional and national projects.
Our cooperation is aimed at strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies, improving national legislation by bringing it into line with international standards, creating bilateral, regional and international mechanisms for coordination and exchange of information with the aim of combating drugs, organized crime and terrorism, and strengthening security in the international container transport system.
The head of state noted that Turkmenistan has ratified the main international conventions and treaties related to the mandate of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in the field of drugs, crime and terrorism. In May 2019, our country was elected to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for the period 2020–2023.
On December 6, 2019, a new National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons for 2020–2022 was adopted, which determined that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is one of the key partners in the implementation of this action plan.
The head of the UNESCO Cluster Office, Mr. Svetan Svetkovsky noted that Turkmenistan is one of the first states to complete the Voluntary National Review of Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This Survey demonstrates the country’s comprehensive approach to the implementation of the SDGs in UNESCO’s area of competence.
Cooperation between Turkmenistan and UNESCO over the past four years has focused on the implementation of the SDGs in the fields of education, science, social sciences and humanities, culture, communication and information. Turkmenistan has been actively involved in the development of the SDGs in these areas and is one of the first states to formally adopt and incorporate them into national development plans and strategies, said Mr. Svetkovsky.
In November last year, UNESCO held its 40th General Conference and adopted the Program and Budget for the period 2020-2021. Subsequently, all program sectors and field offices adopted their detailed plans for work for the same period.
UNESCO Tehran Bureau is a cluster office covering four countries from four different subregions, namely Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. This allows UNESCO to develop capacity to build the regional and transboundary approaches. The active role of the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO has become a link in all communications with government agencies and with existing implementing partners.
We also plan activities related to land use based on the conservation of ecosystems and biological resources, and the creation of geoparks, the representative of UNESCO said.
In the field of social and human sciences, as part of the strategic goal of social integration and building peaceful and just societies, our activities in Turkmenistan include Intercultural and interreligious dialogue as a continuation of the International Conference on the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue along the Great Silk Road, organized by Turkmenistan in December 2018.
An expert meeting on traditional sports and games of an interactive atlas of cultural interactions along the Silk Road was also held on the sidelines of this forum in Turkmenistan.
In the field of youth involvement, we plan to expand the Competition of young ambassadors of the SDGs in Turkmenistan, as a continuation of the national campaign of Turkmenistan to promote the 2030 Agenda. In the field of sports and physical education, capacity-building activities are planned for the National Anti-Doping Agency of Turkmenistan.
A number of capacity-building activities are planned in the field of education in the field of technical and vocational education; educational monitoring and information systems, the use of information and communication technologies in teaching methods and the study of information technology.
In the natural sciences, joint efforts are focused on enhancing the role of research, science, technology and innovation in stimulating economic development. One of the regional priorities in this area is to address the strategic relationship between water, peace and security by strengthening the institutional capacity for transboundary water management. These events were the continuation of the International Conference “The Role of Water Diplomacy in Achieving Sustainable Development in Central Asia”, organized by Turkmenistan on June 5, 2019.
A number of activities have also been planned to build capacity to preserve the cultural heritage along the Silk Road, to integrate sustainable tourism management into heritage property management plans, ensure safety and risk management in museums, safeguard intangible cultural heritage, etc.
Noting the promise of multifaceted cooperation between UNESCO and Turkmenistan in the near future, Svetan Svetkovsky expressed confidence that the results of today’s conference will give a decisive impetus to an even more successful and fruitful dialogue.
Thanking the head of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the informative presentation, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that in Turkmenistan the development of culture and education, the preservation and popularization of historical heritage are one of the priorities of state policy. An integral part of it is the development of comprehensive and close ties with UNESCO.
We are proud of the achieved high level of cooperation between Turkmenistan and UNESCO, based on a mutual desire to realize the noble ideals of understanding and friendship between people, the President said.
Under the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, more than a thousand historical and cultural monuments have been identified and registered to date in Turkmenistan. A number of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In the near future, together with international experts, we plan to intensify work on the preparation of new nominations for consideration in the relevant UNESCO Committees, the head of state Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said, confirming the willingness of Turkmenistan to continue and strengthen cooperation for the long term.
The Director of the Regional Office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Yasuko Oda expressed deep appreciation to the Government of Turkmenistan for many years of successful cooperation with UNHCR, including the recent participation of the high-level Turkmen delegation in two key global events held in Geneva.
One of them is the first Global Refugee Forum held last month, which presented a wide range of significant measures for refugees and host countries around the world in accordance with the obligations of the wider international distribution of responsibilities enshrined in the Global Refugee Treaty .
And in October last year, Turkmenistan took part in the first high-level segment on statelessness, which marked the completion of the first half of a ten-year global campaign to eliminate statelessness until 2024.
While expressing appreciation for the concrete statements made by Turkmenistan in these important forums, Ms. Oda noted that in this way, our country has demonstrated a high level of commitment to protecting refugees and efforts to solve the problem of statelessness.
UNHCR established its office in Ashgabat in July 1995. Since then, much has been achieved. The country has ratified all 4 UN conventions on refugees and stateless persons. Turkmenistan is the first state in Central Asia to accede to the statelessness conventions and the only one to date. In April 2011, Turkmenistan was elected a member of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, and last year the country adopted a National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness.
UNHCR also hopes to join UN country teams to assist with the next national census in Central Asia, including Turkmenistan.
Ms. Yasuko Oda reminded those present that since the first days of independence, Turkmenistan has received thousands of refugees from Afghanistan and not only provided protection for these people, but also provided them with access to education, health care and agricultural land for their decent lives. Many were granted citizenship. This achievement should be highlighted as one of the world’s best practices, she emphasized.
The Director of the Office of the UN High Commissioner’s Regional Office also expressed gratitude to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan for inviting Kenyan refugee athletes to participate in the Asian Games in 2017, as well as for holding the Conference on Refugees in the Muslim World in 2012 in conjunction with UNHCR and the Islamic Organization Cooperation, which resulted in the adoption of the Ashgabat Declaration calling for close cooperation of all interested parties to solve problems ant and stateless persons.
She also highlighted another important area of cooperation – emergency preparedness. UNHCR and Turkmenistan conduct annual trainings in this area. In no case will it be an exaggeration to appreciate the due diligence, regular training of personnel, preparedness for any emergency situations, as well as the timely adoption of all measures for the most vulnerable segments of the population.
Based on these specific efforts in Turkmenistan and the region, as well as taking into account the United Nations Framework for Cooperation on Sustainable Development, the UNHCR regional strategy for Central Asia for 2020-2021 consists of three areas – statelessness, refugees and emergency preparedness together with governments.
Thanking Ms. Yasuko Oda for the informative presentation, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that Turkmenistan attaches great importance to cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and seeks to contribute to a practical solution to this problem affecting the fate of millions of people.
As you know, in May 2012, in close cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkmenistan hosted an international conference on the problem of refugees in Muslim countries.
In parallel with efforts at international sites, active work is ongoing at the national level. Since 2005, Turkmenistan has granted its citizenship to more than 23 thousand refugees and stateless persons, the head of state added, saying that the state will continue to give priority attention to these issues.
Summing up the reports, assessments and summarizing the opinions expressed, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov once again expressed sincere gratitude to all participants for their informative speeches. Today’s meeting with all conviction showed a high degree of mutual understanding in determining the goals and objectives of our cooperation, reflected the coincidence of approaches on key issues of world development, the head of state noted.
A characteristic feature of the interaction of Turkmenistan with major international organizations is its targeting, focus on the final result. This partnership is carried out on the principles of equality, mutual respect, on the basis of agreed plans and programs. As the President noted, this joint work covers almost all the most important areas – ensuring long-term stability and security, issues of socio-economic development, improving democratic institutions, environmental issues and much more.
Cooperation is successfully progressing within the framework of specialized international structures and institutions that work in Turkmenistan and the region, carrying out large-scale projects in various fields. We welcome this interaction and gratefully accept the support they provide to our country, the President emphasized.
At present, one of the priority areas of partnership with international organizations is the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Turkmenistan.
On this path, we were able to significantly move forward by starting to develop specific mechanisms for adapting the SDGs at the national level, adopting appropriate indicators for their inclusion in the National Program for Socio-Economic Development of Turkmenistan for the period 2019-2025, said President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
Turkmenistan’s international initiatives in the field of energy and transport are not least due to the need to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals in these most important segments of the global economy.
It is significant that the relevant Resolutions on them were unanimously supported by the UN General Assembly with the co-authorship of dozens of the states of the planet. In this context, the upcoming International Conference of Landlocked Transport Ministers in March this year in Turkmenistan is designed to reflect the inextricability of creating a balanced and extensive international transport infrastructure with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Almost a quarter of a century has passed since that memorable day when the conscious choice made by Turkmenistan in the United Nations’s conscious choice of a neutral development model and foreign policy was unanimously recognized by all member states, the head of state continued.
All these years, our country has been pursuing a responsible international policy, contributing to the strengthening of global peace and security on the basis of neutrality and active peacekeeping, contributing to the balanced development of the global economy, protecting the environment, ensuring food security, cooperation in the field of migration and assistance to stateless persons, solving many other issues on the world agenda.
Expressing special gratitude to the international organizations whose representatives participated in the current forum, for promoting our initiatives and proposals, for the unwavering willingness to cooperate, respectfulness, constructivism and high professionalism in the implementation of many joint projects, the head of state said: “In the face of neutral Turkmenistan, you will always have a sincere friend, a reliable partner and a like-minded person.”
Wishing all the participants of the meeting further successes for the benefit of development and progress, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that today the Conference raised a number of topical issues on the global agenda. Moreover, it was emphasized that their solution, first of all, is associated with a high level of international cooperation.
In this context, the head of state said that Turkmenistan’s partnership with international organizations is entirely dedicated to this task.
The implementation of strategies, concepts and other complex and long-term international documents is carried out through the program and project activities of international structures with the Government of Turkmenistan.