Apart from DPM Meredov, the briefing of 16 January 2021 featured just a few other speakers. One of them was Ms. Natalia Gherman, the special representative of the UN Secretary General and the head of the UNRCCA.
UNRCCA (UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia) is a very special structure of the United Nations. Established in Ashgabat in 2007, the Centre has been a great success in so many different ways.
In addition to doing its primary work in identifying and addressing the issues and situations in Central Asia that could potentially turn into conflicts, the Centre maintains close cooperation with UNANA, the UN mission in Afghanistan.
Ms. Gherman, in her speech, lauded the role of Turkmenistan and other regional countries in supporting Afghanistan.
Here is the translation of the complete text of her speech:
Your Excellency Mr. Minister,
Dear conference participants!
Allow me to thank you for the invitation to the round table and I take this opportunity to cordially congratulate everyone on the New Year and wish you great success in your work!
Last year we celebrated a significant event – the 25th anniversary of the neutrality of Turkmenistan. Following the course of neutrality, Turkmenistan not only achieved noteworthy results in various spheres of life, but also made a significant contribution to strengthening peace and stability in the Central Asian region and beyond. All this became possible thanks to the pursued policy of openness in relations with neighbors in the region, especially with Afghanistan, the development of international cooperation based on the principles of peacefulness, good-neighborliness and non-interference, as well as fruitful and constructive cooperation with the UN.
I would like to note that Turkmenistan is actively following the development processes and strengthening of international cooperation on safe and sustainable transport, ensuring stable and reliable international transport. The well-known initiatives of Turkmenistan related to ensuring global energy security and the formation of regional transit and transport corridors have found their way into the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly.
As we have seen, the sustainability of the transport and energy sectors becomes especially vulnerable in times of crisis. In this context, I would like to highlight the active Turkmen energy and transport diplomacy. These areas of foreign policy activity of Turkmenistan are aimed at creating international legal mechanisms to ensure stability and reliability of transit of energy resources between countries on mutually beneficial terms. We are confident that the initiative of Turkmenistan to form an open-ended international expert group on the development of modern UN international legal instruments in the field of stability and reliability of energy transit will find broad support.
I would like to highlight the traditional efforts of Turkmenistan to provide economic, political and diplomatic support to Afghanistan. For many years, Turkmenistan has viewed neighboring Afghanistan as a close partner, seeing tremendous potential for regional stability and security from developing cooperation and involving Afghans in regional interaction.
Other countries in the region have taken similar approaches, demonstrating a commitment to strengthening engagement with Afghanistan during a global pandemic. This is largely due to the deep historical, cultural and economic interdependence of these neighboring peoples within one region. The Central Asian states are unanimous in understanding the importance of deepening the integration of Afghanistan into regional cooperation on a long-term basis, developing transport and transit infrastructure, seeing in it the key to economic development, ensuring regional peace and security.
The global pandemic did not affect the positive dynamics regarding the strengthening of cooperation between the countries of Central Asia with Afghanistan. Despite the restrictions, contacts at various levels between the governments of Central Asian states and their Afghan counterparts continue, including through numerous online meetings. The countries continue to implement joint regional infrastructure projects that are critical to the future economic development, prosperity and stability of Afghanistan.
Here I would like to mention the implementation of such initiatives as CASA-1000 on the export of hydropower to Afghanistan from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, educational programs for Afghan students in educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, training Afghan women in Kazakhstan, a number of railway projects and transport transit corridors with involving Iran, India and Pakistan. Not to mention the fact that all Central Asian states are active participants in such important regional platforms on Afghanistan as RECCA, SPECA and Heart of Asia.
The work of Turkmenistan in this direction, noted by the international community, in terms of strengthening energy and transport links, as well as electricity supply with Afghanistan. Such well-known projects as TAPI, TAP are evidence of the proactive energy diplomacy of Turkmenistan and will not only contribute to the effective advancement of the Afghan peace process, but will help strengthen cooperation in this area in a wide geo-economic space, including the regions of Central and South Asia.
I am very pleased to state that work in this direction has made significant progress in the light of the recent commissioning of new infrastructure facilities by the Presidents of Turkmenistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. These are the Akina-Andkhoy railway, built in Afghanistan at the expense of the Turkmen side, a power line and two fiber-optic communication lines. I hope these projects will help improve the living conditions of the Afghan people and create new opportunities for strengthening and developing pan-regional cooperation.
The promotion of strengthening cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan has always been a priority area of the Center’s activities. I would like to note that in practice UNRCCA has long been attracting Afghan representatives to all our program activities, multilateral regional events organized or conducted by the Center. Since 2017, Afghanistan has been regularly invited to the meetings of Central Asian Deputy Foreign Ministers in the new C5 + 1 + UN format, organized under the auspices of the Center. UNRCCA is committed to supporting regional efforts to promote closer cooperation and integration between the countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan through regional dialogue, involving the potential of women and the younger generation.
Let me thank the Turkmen side for its comprehensive support for the UNRCCA activities in this area, as well as for highlighting the role of preventive diplomacy in the context of common efforts to maintain peace and security.
In light of our common goal – to make the Central Asian region a model in terms of security, stability and prosperity, the Regional Center will continue to contribute to strengthening interaction between the Central Asian states and Afghanistan in the interests of ensuring lasting peace in the region.
Thank you for attention! /// nCa, 20 January 2021
To be continued . . .