Askar Tazhibayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan is an important strategic partner of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. A constructive political dialogue has been established between our countries. Kazakhstan is interested in further expanding trade relations and developing interregional, cultural and humanitarian ties with Turkmenistan.
The level of political trust and cooperation between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is steadily strengthening from year to year. Our countries, based on a common history, proximity of cultures and common interests, always provide mutual support to each other in the international arena.
For 30 years, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have managed to bring bilateral relations to a qualitatively new level. The legal framework of bilateral cooperation consists of about 80 documents. Among them, the Declaration on the Development of Further Cooperation of 1997 and the Strategic Partnership Agreement of 2017 occupy an important place.
Mutual visits at the high and highest levels confirm the continued interest of both sides in enhancing political dialogue and increasing trade and economic cooperation. In the last two years alone, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has visited Turkmenistan three times. Last year, he made his first state visit to Ashgabat as head of state. During the visit, 20 bilateral documents were signed, with the Agreement on the Delimitation of the Kazakh-Turkmen State Border and the Delimitation of Adjacent Sections of Fishing Zones in the Caspian Sea taking a prominent position. An agreement was also reached to further expand cooperation in the fields of defense, transit and transport, agriculture and environmental protection, science and culture.
It is noteworthy that in the year of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the first state visit of the President of Turkmenistan, dear Serdar Gurbangulyevich Berdimuhamedov, to the Republic of Kazakhstan will take place, the preparation of which is at the final stage.
The upcoming visit at the highest level once again underlines the trust-based and friendly nature of relations between our countries.
We manage to solve many issues promptly thanks to the successful work of the Kazakh-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation. Of course, trade and economic cooperation is an important aspect of the Commission’s activity.
During the pandemic, trade indicators around the world have declined. However, we are looking positively to the future and are working on increasing trade turnover. By the end of 2021, the trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan amounted to US$254.3 million. This is almost 2 times more than in 2020. In the first seven months of 2022, the level of trade turnover amounted to US$ 228.8 million and has already approached the level of last year. At the same time, the heads of our states have set a task to bring the level of trade turnover to US$ 1 billion in the next five years.
It is gratifying to note the active development of cross-border cooperation. Much attention is paid to the potential of interaction between the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan and the Balkan province of Turkmenistan. In the future, a special trade zone will be established along the two countries’ border.
In this context, road, rail and sea transportation play a key role. Our countries have a huge transit and transport potential for the operation of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan–Iran railway, the development of Aktau and Turkmenbashi seaports in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation in transit transportation.
The agro-industrial complex may also become a priority. Turkmenistan has huge opportunities for the production of vegetable crops and the production of livestock products. And from these positions, there is an opportunity to create bridges of mutual cooperation with the western regions of Kazakhstan. In turn, Kazakhstan has experience in growing grain crops, prospects for integration in terms of breeding, seed production are opening up.
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have big plans to further foster cultural and humanitarian cooperation. There is a considerable Turkmen diaspora in Kazakhstan, and there is a Turkmen socio-culture center in Almaty, as well as national cultural centers of Turkmens in Mangistau, Kostanay, and Karaganda that actively participate in the activities of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan.
In the capital of Kazakhstan, one of the central streets is named after the great Turkmen poet Makhtumkuli. During the state visit of President Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev in October 2021, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich Berdimuhamedov proposed to build a monument to the great Kazakh poet Abai Kunanbayev in Ashgabat, which will symbolize the moral spiritual guidelines of the two peoples, as well as the development of friendship and cooperation between the countries.
Every year, a large number of Turkmen students study at universities in Almaty, Astana, Shymkent, Aktau. In the educational sphere, fruitful cooperation and exchange of experience on the basis of signed bilateral agreements are successfully implemented by the leading universities of our countries: Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, L.N.Gumilev Eurasian National University, Nazarbayev University from the Kazakh side and Makhtumkuli Turkmen State University, International University of Humanities and Development of Turkmenistan, Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan from the Turkmen side.
Kazakh-Turkmen relations meet all the conditions of mutually beneficial partnership based on the principles of equality and mutual respect. There are prospects for consistent extension and deepening of collaboration across the whole range of the bilateral agenda, as well as for elevating current relations to new heights.
On this significant day for our peoples, I want to thank fraternal Turkmenistan for its support and friendship. I am confident that the traditions of good-neighborly cooperation and friendly relations between our fraternal peoples will continue to expand and strengthen rapidly. ///Originally published by Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper, 5 Oct 2022