On 12 May 2022, the first Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation was held in Ashgabat under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the Halk Maslahaty of Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
The meeting initiated by Turkmenistan was attended by:
- Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Maulen Ashimbayev
- Chairman of the Jogorku Kenesh of Kyrgyzstan Talant Mamytov
- Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matvienko
- Chairman of the Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan Rustam Emomali
- Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbayeva
- Secretary General — Head of the Secretariat of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly Council Dmitry Kobitsky.
Before the opening of the forum, the participants laid flowers at the Monument to the Constitution of Turkmenistan.
The opening session of the forum was welcomed by Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Then the Chairman of the Council of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko made introductory remarks.
In the afternoon, the Inter-Parliamentary Forum continued its work in the format of plenary sessions.
The agenda of the Forum covered blocks of issues in three areas: “The legislative body of state power: contemporary experience and cooperation”, “Medical diplomacy: exchange of experience – a reliable way forward”, “Regional cooperation for the sake of environmental well-being and sustainable development”.
Emphasizing the great importance of parliamentary diplomacy, designed to promote friendship and cooperation between countries and peoples, the Forum participants noted the increasing role of inter-parliamentary ties to strengthen equality and pluralism in addressing global challenges both in regional and global scopes.
The sides noted the importance of parliamentary diplomacy as an important tool for promoting constructive international dialogue in the interests of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring human health and global economic recovery.
The forum stressed the importance of Turkmenistan’s Global Initiative “Dialogue – a guarantee of Peace”, aimed at restoring and establishing a culture of peace, dialogue and trust in international relations.
The countries supported the initiative to turn the inter-parliamentary format “5+1” into a regular platform with a permanent secretariat in Ashgabat.
Dear Heads and members of delegations!
Ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, let me cordially welcome you to the capital of neutral Turkmenistan, thank you for responding to our invitation to participate in the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian Countries and the Russian Federation. We consider the fact of its holding in Ashgabat as a sign of respect for our country and the Turkmen people, recognition of Turkmenistan’s constructive contribution to strengthening friendship and mutual understanding between our states, establishing effective formats of close and mutually beneficial partnership in political, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
The course pursued by Turkmenistan to achieve these goals, consistent work to strengthen ties between the countries of Central Asia and Russia is based on a serious historical foundation, accumulated rich experience of interaction, understanding of the prospects that open up in the course of cooperation.
We are convinced that this approach is shared by everyone present here, it meets the strategic guidelines of the leaders of our countries, reflects the objective needs and fundamental interests of peoples, and serves the goals of their prosperity and well-being.
It is difficult to overestimate the contribution of parliaments to this process. Elected on a broad democratic basis, people’s representatives like no other feel the aspirations of people, citizens, understand their needs and aspirations, and are guided by this in their daily work.
All the more important, in my opinion, is the exchange of legislative experience, the search and application of the successes and achievements available to each of our countries, the reasonable use of established practices. Parliamentary activity is a lively creative process that always has specific goals and objectives – improving the level and quality of people’s lives, stimulating their active participation in public affairs, making important decisions.
The parliaments play enormous role in strengthening domestic political stability, affirming social harmony, social justice, development and consolidation of democratic institutions.
No less important, especially in the current conditions, is the international activity of legislators, parliamentary diplomacy. The parliamentary diplomacy is aimed to effectively influence the improvement of the international situation, create conditions for restoring trust in interstate relations, promote mutual understanding of peoples, establish an equal and respectful dialogue between people of different nationalities and political views, and build bridges of intercivilizational communication.
In this sense, I would like to emphasize the importance and success of this approach on the example of parliamentary cooperation between our countries. And I have no doubt that the people’s representatives of the countries of Central Asia and Russia today are able to make a significant contribution to the peace and stability on a global scale, give positive impulses to the entire global political agenda, and prevent the destruction of the security architecture.
We expect that during this forum the necessary decisions will be taken in this regard, clear guidelines will be defined for further joint work for the benefit of our peoples and states, their economic, social and cultural development, strengthening good-neighborly, friendly and fraternal ties.
Here I would like to continue my speech with a small digression into history. Yes, the Turkmen parliament is the same age as our independence. But the essence and character of our parliamentarism have their roots in ancient times.
From time immemorial, it has been customary for Turkmens to choose the most worthy, wise in life and state experience, responsible and far-sighted people to delegate rights and powers to them in making important, fateful decisions. This has always been done on a broad and, as they would say now, democratic basis. We have preserved this tradition, this historical wisdom, carefully carried it through the centuries and put it into practice, taking the path of sovereign and independent development.
One of the forms of such representation has become an original body – the Council of Elders, which enjoys great authority and respect in the country.
Relying on the rich heritage of a truly popular representation, we have ensured its continuity in modern conditions. We did not adjust the process of development of Turkmen parliamentarism to an artificial time frame. On the contrary, people, citizens of our country were given the opportunity themselves, consciously and on the basis of the experience of previous generations, national mentality, moral principles to make a choice – what should be their representation in the main legislative body of the country, to determine the priorities and goals of its work.
Consistently developing its practice, the Parliament of Turkmenistan switched to a bicameral form of work. Its powers and composition were significantly expanded. And today our Parliament is not only the legislative branch of government. It is the flesh of the flesh of the Turkmen people, the continuer of our historical, time–tested traditions.
And this, I believe, is its most important qualitative characteristic, which allows to express the true interests of national development.
We have approached the issue of multiparty membership in the same consistent, step-by-step manner. In recent years, two new parties have been created in Turkmenistan based on our life realities – the Agrarian Party and the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Today, together with the Democratic Party, they are represented in Parliament and adequately defend the interests of their constituents.
I have made this short review of the past in order for our friends and colleagues from other countries to better understand what the Turkmen Parliament is. And I am proud to say: it is truly popular, it employs both experienced people and young people, representatives of various social strata. But they all have one thing in common: service to the people and the state!
The format of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Central Asian states and Russia involves the solution of many different tasks. Let me focus, on the main ones. I consider the promotion of strengthening regional peace, stability and security to be an absolute priority of our joint work. I have no doubt that the spirit of good-neighborliness and cooperation within Central Asia, as well as in relations with Russia, should not only be maintained, but also strengthened, developed, and be an absolute priority for the long term. The role of our parliaments is very important here.
It should complement and strengthen the relations of mutual respect, trust and openness that have been established between the leaders of our countries. Thus, we, the parliamentarians, will continue to contribute to ensuring interstate cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and Russia.
An important task at present, against the background of the complication of the global situation, is to unite efforts in the assertion of international law, the principles of the UN Charter, in the fight against legal nihilism, the erosion of the functions and mandates of the supporting international institutions. In this regard, I call on the parliaments of the Central Asian countries and Russia to work more actively and jointly, first of all in the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
I am firmly convinced that parliamentary diplomacy today should become an instrument of peace, cooperation and mutual understanding. In this I see its main purpose, meaning and purpose. It is in this role that our international parliamentary activity is in demand now more than ever before. And, I believe, we must work proactively, boldly, offer the world new ideas and approaches aimed at neutralizing and preventing conflicts, finding ways to bring positions closer together. In this context, I think it is necessary to use the channels of inter-parliamentary friendship groups more actively, to focus them on solving specific tasks.
I propose to create and effectively use mechanisms of youth inter-parliamentary interaction. This is a contribution to the future. Many of today’s young parliamentarians can take key positions in the public administration of their countries, in foreign policy, economy, and banking. It is necessary to use this potential, to give the youth inter-parliamentary activity a systematic character.
The same relates to the activities of women parliamentarians. Who better than them – mothers, wives, sisters, with their heightened sense of mercy and compassion – will be able to humanize international relations, give them a noble meaning, fill them with care for future generations, for our children, grandchildren.
Great and creative work awaits our parliamentarians in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Food security, ecology and environmental protection, affordable medicine and education – this is not a complete list of tasks that should constantly be in the focus of attention of parliamentarians of our countries.
I would like to draw your attention to the problems of the Aral Sea. It directly concerns all Central Asian countries as founders of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. We also highly appreciate the fact that several years ago the Russian Federation officially declared its interest and readiness to actively participate in overcoming the Aral ecological disaster.
As you know, Turkmenistan has taken the initiative to develop and adopt a special Program for the countries of the Aral Sea basin under the auspices of the United Nations.
We hope on consolidated parliamentary support from the Central Asian states and Russia.
The most important task today is to contribute to international efforts in the fight against the pandemic and its consequences, to promote scientific and medical diplomacy. I would like to appeal to you to step up cooperation in this direction.
At the previous session of the UN General Assembly, Turkmenistan presented a concrete plan for cooperation and coordination of international efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It includes a number of proposals for the research and prevention of dangerous infectious diseases. In this context, I would like to emphasize that this plan is deeply thought out and is conditioned by the goals of effective international counteraction to these diseases. I urge the parliamentarians of the Central Asian countries and Russia to think about forming a common position on this issue, promoting it and supporting it on international parliamentary platforms.
Economic ties play a special role in the multifaceted cooperation of our states.
This is natural: the countries of Central Asia and Russia form a natural and mutually complementary space with significant human potential, the largest reserves of natural resources, production and technological capacities and united by geographical proximity.
To realize this resource, to establish mutually beneficial long-term partnerships is an objective need for our countries, an important factor in their economic and social development. I am convinced that parliamentarians cannot stand aside here either.
In such strategic areas as transport, energy, industrial cooperation, it is necessary to create and use mechanisms of international legal support, work on the convergence and harmonization of national legislation, elimination of legal and other barriers that hinder partnership and business ties. We expect demanded and prompt decisions from parliamentarians.
A few words about the cultural and humanitarian sphere. The peoples of Central Asia and Russia have lived side by side for centuries.
We are connected by a huge layer of personal, family, and professional ties.
We have passed hard trials together, achieved outstanding victories and achievements together. It is not surprising that with all the diversity and identity of each of our peoples, they are united by strong cultural ties, basic values, moral foundations and traditions. They are based on creativity, love for the Motherland and the hearth, the sanctity of family ties, respect for other peoples, justice, solidarity and mutual support.
I am convinced that we need to develop and strengthen these values, create clear, understandable and solid legislative foundations that will provide a political and spiritual margin of safety for moving forward in accordance with our ideas and the sovereign choice of the model of state and social structure.
Culture and education are the most important, and perhaps the decisive factor. I urge you to use parliamentary levers more actively to strengthen and develop cooperation in these areas, to create conditions for closer cultural interaction, the creation of joint educational programs and projects, contacts between creative and scientific intelligentsia. I am sure we have something to be proud of and something to offer each other.
The Parliament and its effective work are one of the main pillars of successful state-building, the development of the political system, healthy and harmonious social relations, dynamic socio-economic growth. This places a special responsibility on us.
I see the meaning and content of modern parliamentarism in a thoughtful, far-sighted attitude to each, even seemingly insignificant issue, always to bring the activity in line with the needs of citizens.
Populism, the pursuit of short-term political benefits, blind imitation have never benefited either the state or society in the long term. At the same time, of course, we do not need to shut ourselves off from the really useful practices and experience of international parliamentarism and lawmaking, but take the best and confirmed by life practices from them.
In this context, our openness to each other, established ties play a great positive role. The Turkmen Parliament, all its members are committed to the closest, systematic, trusting cooperation with colleagues from Central Asia and Russia, are always ready to share their experience, best practices and plans.
The current forum is designed to give our interaction creative impulses, ensure its consistency, irreversibility, and enrichment with new meaningful ideas and ideas.
Our countries and peoples have accumulated invaluable baggage of good neighborliness, deep mutual respect and sympathy, and equal partnership.
I am convinced that we, as people’s deputies, must preserve and multiply this great asset, put it at the service of people, provide them with the opportunity to work with dignity, raise children with firm confidence in the future of their states, their prosperity and development. I have no doubt that all the goals set will be achieved.
During the present meeting, important, interesting and meaningful discussions were held on the development of modern parliamentarism, ways to strengthen inter-parliamentary ties were identified, prospects and priorities for further cooperation were outlined.
The speeches made showed the highest professionalism of the participants, their deep commitment to the high ideals of serving the law, the state, and people. We have heard many innovative ideas and approaches, opinions and assessments, which will certainly enrich the theory and practice of lawmaking, and will become good guidelines for future work.
The current meeting demonstrated that the format of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and Russia is useful and has huge potential. The spectrum of its development is wide and diverse.
It includes issues of domestic and foreign policy, ensuring regional and global peace and security, economy and trade, transport, communications, energy, industrial cooperation, ecology, the agenda of Sustainable Development Goals, culture, science and education, and a number of other topics.
This suggests that today parliamentary activity in our countries is increasingly focused on solving practical problems, promoting concrete plans for interstate cooperation. I think this is the strength of our work in this format.
The beginning of the forum clearly demonstrated that the lawmakers of the Central Asian countries and Russia think in a modern way, understand the importance and necessity of our states for each other, realize the magnitude of the joint potential of partnership and are ready to contribute to its implementation.
The Forum is taking place at a difficult time. The world has not yet recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. The international situation has become more complicated.
In these circumstances, the firm commitment of representatives of the legislative bodies of Central Asia and Russia to the course of steadily strengthening good neighborliness, friendship and partnership is of particular importance.
This contributes to our confidence that together we will be able to successfully cope with new challenges, ensure the stability of the political systems of our states, their economic growth, and the implementation of social programs.
I highly appreciate the results of the solemn meeting. I have no doubt that its results will become an important factor in the development of relations between the Central Asian states and the Russian Federation.
Matvienko: Russia is interested in the comprehensive development of all Central Asian countries and in enhancing regional security
Valentina Matvienko, who heads the Council of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, on behalf of the IPA CIS welcomed the participants and guests of the event. She noted the relevance of the format with the participation of the heads of parliaments of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is relevant today, taking into account the increased role of parliamentary diplomacy in the modern world.
The head of the Federation Council stressed the event’s rich agenda, which included discussion of legislative issues, interregional cooperation, medical diplomacy, and ensuring environmental well-being. At the same time, special attention is paid to the women’s agenda, the participation of women parliamentarians in strengthening cooperation between nations.
Matvienko stressed the unique geopolitical position of Central Asia as a connecting bridge between West and East, North and South, which determines the special importance of its transit potential. She added that the region is increasingly involved in global economic and political processes. This is encouraged by the availability of vast natural resources, successes in industry and agriculture, and a huge demographic and human potential.
“Russia is interested in the comprehensive development of all Central Asian states, in improving the level of well-being and security in the region,” Valentina Matvienko said.
The Chairman of the Federation Council recalled that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations by the Russian Federation with all five countries of Central Asia.
Valentina Matvienko noted that cooperation commissions and friendship groups are working fruitfully within the framework of interparliamentary relations. In her opinion, interregional forums and conferences held under the auspices of the Federation Council, including jointly with Central Asia, have become an effective tool of interaction. “In addition, we actively cooperate on the platforms of international parliamentary organizations, including the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly”, she said.
The speaker of the Federation Council said that parliamentarians provide substantial support for the development of contacts at the regional level. Hundreds of agreements have been concluded between the Russian regions and the Central Asian countries. In 2021, Russia’s trade turnover with Central Asian countries reached about US $37 billion. Almost 17,000 enterprises with the participation of Russian capital operate in the region.
According to the head of the FC, the humanitarian sphere, cooperation in science and education make a significant contribution to maintaining ties. Russian Federation is developing projects aimed at teaching the younger generation of Central Asian countries the Russian language, to introduce them to Russian culture.
Russian-language schools play a special role in this process. As an example, Valentina Matvienko cited the project “Russian Teacher Abroad”, which was initiated by the Federation Council. “It already covers six countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,” she said.
The head of the Federation Council stressed that the challenges in the field of regional security require special attention. The matter is the comprehensive work to counter international terrorism and extremism, the violent overthrow of power and attempted coups. “We are interested in the continuous development of a multilateral dialogue on these issues, maintaining such cooperation mechanisms as the CSTO, the SCO, Meetings on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia,” she stated.
The Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian Countries and Russia adopted the final Ashgabat Declaration.
The document says that one of the priorities of the interparliamentary partnership is the development of effective ways of cooperation for the fullest realization of the potential of the legislative bodies of the Central Asian states and Russia in various areas.
Also, following the forum, two agreements were signed:
- Cooperation agreement between the Halk Maslahat of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia (upper houses of parliaments of Russia and Turkmenistan).
- Cooperation agreement between the Halk Maslahaty of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan and the Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan (upper houses of parliaments of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan).
Chairman of the Halk Maslahaty of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was awarded several awards including:
-Jubilee medal “IPA CIS. 30 years”, established on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States;
-Golden Order “Honorary Aksakal” (elder), the highest award of the Council of Aksakals (elders) of Azerbaijan.
– National Award “For Peace on Earth” and the Golden Order of Ulu türk, the highest awards of the National Fund of Azerbaijan “Dede Korkut”, established jointly with the International Magazine “Azerbaijan Dunyasy”.
Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matvienko was awarded the Order of Turkmenistan “For contribution to the development of cooperation”.
Ashgabat Declaration of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian States and the Russian Federation
We, the participants of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian States and the Russian Federation, held in Ashgabat on May 12, 2022;
Representing the Parliaments of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan;
Welcoming the initiative of His Excellency Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Chairman of the Halk Maslahaty Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan to hold the first Inter-Parliamentary Forum in the history of the Central Asian States and the Russian Federation;
Being committed to the observance of the Charter of the United Nations and the universally recognized principles and norms of international law;
Noting the role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) as a multilateral forum for dialogue and cooperation between parliaments of the countries of the world on topical issues of our time;
Taking into account the Strategy of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for 2022-2026, especially its strategic goals, in particular, the creation of effective and empowered parliaments, the promotion of inclusive and representative parliaments, the catalyzation of collective parliamentary actions;
Recalling UN General Assembly Resolution 74/304 of September 9, 2020 “Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union”, which recommends that the Inter-Parliamentary Union continue to actively participate in promoting the contribution of parliaments at the national, regional and global levels, including through multilateral partnerships, in support of accelerated implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030;
Attaching importance to the increasing role of inter-parliamentary ties to enhance the principles of equality and pluralism in consolidating efforts to address the global challenges of our time both in the region and in the world;
Recognizing the unique role of national parliaments and parliamentarians in using the tools of parliamentary diplomacy as an important tool to promote constructive inter-parliamentary and international dialogue in the interests of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring human health and restoring the global economy in the post-pandemic period;
Recognizing also the role of parliaments with their main legislative, control, budgetary and representative functions in ensuring the implementation of the climate change goals contained in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, as well as climate change-related components of the Sustainable Development Goals;
Noting the importance of the Global Initiative “Dialogue – a guarantee of Peace” aimed at establishing a culture of peace, dialogue and trust in international relations, which was supported in the Final Document of the Peace and Trust Forum on December 11, 2021 in Ashgabat;
Emphasizing the need to develop active inter-parliamentary ties between the Central Asian States and the Russian Federation in order to consolidate interregional and global efforts to strengthen peace and stability and ensure sustainable development;
- We confirm that one of the priorities of the inter-parliamentary partnership is the development of effective ways of cooperation for the fullest realization of the potential of the legislative bodies of the Central Asian states and the Russian Federation for interaction on the following directions: – “Legislative body of state power: modern experience and cooperation”; – “Medical diplomacy: exchange of experience – a reliable way of movement forward”; – “Regional cooperation in the name of environmental well-being and sustainable development”.
- We support and will provide all possible assistance in multiplying the measures taken in recent years by the Heads of State of Central Asia and the Russian Federation to develop parliamentarism, democratic progress and parliamentary diplomacy;
- We advocate the expansion of ties and contacts through inter-parliamentary commissions and/or Friendship Groups of the Central Asian States and the Russian Federation to further strengthen centuries-old ties, good neighborliness, mutual trust and partnership;
- We reaffirm our commitments to jointly implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
- We note our readiness for close cooperation and exchange of experience on advanced innovations of parliamentary activity in the process of lawmaking;
- We consider it important to continue legislative activities to improve the quality of medical services provided and promote medical diplomacy in addressing such issues of our time as prevention and treatment of infectious and non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, minimization of factors harming human health;
- We express our support to the World Health Organization, in particular, in its work on research, rapid response and increased preparedness for a pandemic through increased cooperation between countries, and also note the need to promote initiatives of the countries of the region on primary health care, as well as prevention, diagnosis and treatment of acute infectious diseases;
- We welcome cooperation in such areas as combating climate change and environmental protection;
- We emphasize the special importance of holding the first Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian States and the Russian Federation as a mechanism for cooperation between the legislative bodies of these countries and support the holding of such forums on a regular basis, based on the initiatives of the participating countries of the Forum;
- We support the proposals on the announcement of a new form of inter-parliamentary cooperation of the Central Asia-Russia or Ashgabat format and the creation of its Secretariat with headquarters in the capital of Turkmenistan – the city of Ashgabat;
- We express our gratitude to the President, Milli Gengesh and the Government of Turkmenistan for hosting the first Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian States and the Russian Federation at a high organizational level and for the warm hospitality. ///nCa, 13 May 2022 (photo source – Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia)