This is 2021. This is the International Year of Peace and Trust. Turkmenistan proposed and the world agreed in 2019 that we are in need of a full year dedicated to the pursuit of peace and trust. This is the year.
Turkmenistan hosted on 29 January 2021 an event to mark the official launch of the Year of Peace and Trust. In a mix of online and physical participation, the international and regional organizations and the envoys of several countries expressed their support for the shared cause.
Before moving to the details of the event, let’s first try to spotlight peace and trust.
Of course, we want peace and trust in the world. Everyone does.
However, do the words ‘peace’ and ‘trust’ fire up the same images in everyone’s mind? — If they don’t, there is the real risk of ‘peace and trust’ becoming a stock phrase, devoid of meaning.
We need to tag the images and we need to do that in synch.
The first thing about peace is that we cannot make it selective. We cannot make it conditional by attaching ifs and buts to it. We cannot give the impression that peace in some places is less important than peace in other places.
If we want peace where our own flag flies but take the conflict to some other land through the proxies, we are committing a dishonesty of purpose.
By cherishing peace for ourselves but denying peace to someone else, we generally proceed under the assumption that we can get away with our actions. There was a time when we could actually avoid the consequences of our actions if we were sufficiently powerful or clever, or both. That time has passed.
The ‘consequences’ have learned to be unpredictable. The ‘consequences’ love to catch up with us, sooner or later, sometimes when we least expect them. The ‘consequences’ don’t wear the t-shirt with the slogan ‘I am the consequence.’ They come in any guise.
The image we need to attach with ‘peace’ in our mind is a clean, minimalistic image. Simple, uncluttered.
Now, let’s look at trust.
Trust is deeply linked with peace but it has an entire portfolio of its own too.
We cannot treat trust merely as a means to leapfrog toward peace; trust is definitely a milestone but it is also a destination.
When we bracket trust with peace, there are three separate elements that mesh together:
- Trust among the people, starting from local communities and going global in concentric circles
- Trust between the people and the government
- Trust among the countries and nations
It takes a lot of work to establish the trust and it is a nonstop job to maintain the trust. The ‘breath of trust’ is a real thing and it can take place so very easily.
Anyone with even the smallest desire for peace and trust remain wary of the idea of the ‘breach of trust.’
For instance, if the NATO says that it will stay in Afghanistan beyond the agreed deadline, it is breach of trust. If done unilaterally, it will have consequences.
The breach of trust can easily squander the hard-earned trust. That can push us away from the chance of peace.
Another thing that is the enemy of trust, and peace, is the double standards.
In a totally unrelated but understandable example, when you paint your window red, you call it bold. When I paint my window red, you call it garish. You get the point?
A counter-productive concept in the pursuit of trust and peace is that ‘We will talk peace after we have softened them with ruthless pounding.’
This line of thought is as flawed as the notion of American Exceptionalism.
When we say that the trust has to be based on honesty and sincerity, and the peace has to be universal and unconditional, we are actually setting the boundaries of our ambition. We will see how much of it we can cover before the sunset.
Here is the press release of the foreign office of Turkmenistan, giving the details of the event of 29 January 2021:
Opening event to launch the International Year of Peace and Trust was held in Ashgabat
On the 29th of January, 2021, the Opening event to launch the International Year of Peace and Trust was held in the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.
The heads and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis (Parliament), chiefs of diplomatic missions and representative offices of international organizations in Turkmenistan, Rectors of the institutions of higher education of the country, Editors-in-chief of press and representatives of national mass media, as well as foreign journalists accredited in Turkmenistan took part in the event.
The heads and representatives of the United Nations and its structural agencies, Economic Cooperation Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, as well as other regional and international organizations, and foreign mass media participated to the event via videoconferencing.
During her opening remarks, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan Christine Weigand noted the importance of the International Year of Peace and Trust initiated by the President of Turkmenistan for the sake of sustaining peace, stability and mutual understanding between people which is the key to sustainable development.
In continuation of the topic, the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov underlined that the unanimous adoption at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly of the Resolution declaring the year 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust has become a reflection of the efforts of the permanently neutral Turkmenistan calling for strengthening of the culture of peace and trust in the international relations. “Putting forward this idea, the Leader of Turkmen nation has specifically stated that it has a concrete nature and thus urged the international community to reinforce the adopted document with practical content, enrich it with real actions,” said R.Meredov. The head of the MFA of Turkmenistan underlined the significance of applying the means of diplomacy, the political dialog based on mutual understanding and cooperation in the advancement of friendly ties between countries and people and to achieve this Turkmenistan actively cooperates with the international partners.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia, Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalya Gherman underlined the importance of the International Year of Peace and Trust, which meant greater cohesion for the sake of peace and prosperity of the world community.
The timeliness of the International Year of Peace and Trust was also highlighted in the speech of the President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Volkan Bozkir. Thanking the Government of Turkmenistan for initiating the International Year of Peace and Trust, he underlined that in view of the global situation, the need in peace and trust is high as never before. Mr. Bozkir urged the international community to continue cooperating through political dialog and solidarity on the way to peace, security and sustainable development.
His words were complemented by the Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the United Nations Aksoltan Atayeva who noted the efficiency of peaceful initiatives of the President of Turkmenistan that help to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Minister of Foreign affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov highlighted in his speech the specific need in conducting International year of peace and trust which calls upon to activate efforts and activity on advocating the culture of peace.
In her speech the Head of the OSCE Center in Ashgabat Natalya Drozd spoke about the importance of strengthening the culture of peace and trust.
The Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization Hadi Soleimanpour also gave a speech at the event. He highly appraised the level of cooperation between Turkmenistan and the ECO, as well as emphasized that the economic progress is inseparably linked to the security in the region and in the world, and to attain this it is necessary to strengthen trust between countries and people.
About the importance of strengthening peace and trust between countries and people has also spoke the Chairman of the Executive Committee – Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergey Lebedev. He highlighted the effective role of Turkmenistan in the development of friendly ties not only in the region, but also in the whole world.
The Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament Tatiana Valovaya and the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Lassina Zerbo highly appraised the role of Turkmenistan in the development of friendly and constructive ties between countries.
In turn, the President of the General Conference of UNESCO Altay Cengizer and Assistant Director-General for the Africa Department of UNESCO Firmin Edouard Matoko emphasized the timeliness of holding the International Year of Peace and Trust. They noted that the notion of peace and trust are the keystones of international cooperation.
Furthermore, the UNODC representative, Permanent representatives of Afghanistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, China, Nepal, Indonesia and Bangladesh at the UN have underlined the importance of conducting International year of peace and trust in the context of fully strengthening solidarity and mutual support on regional and global levels to create cohesion for addressing pressing issues of present.
During the event, the participants discussed the possibilities of holding joint events in the framework of the International Year of Peace and Trust. A constructive exchange of views and proposals on the improvement of activities on the platform of regional and international organizations for the sake of peace, stability and sustainable development took place. Thus, upon the outcomes of the event, the Roadmap of the International Year of Peace and Trust was adopted. /// nCa, 1 February 2021