Vyacheslav Beskosty, Ambassador of Belarus in Turkmenistan
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Belarus managed to maintain friendly relations with all the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia without exception and, subsequently, build mutually beneficial cooperation on the basis of a common history, and restore old and establish new cooperative ties.
An important factor contributing to both political and economic rapprochement and the development of relations in a number of other areas is a similar vision of geopolitical processes, joint work within the framework of integration projects and regional international organizations. Belarus, together with Turkmenistan and other post-Soviet countries, is in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Close relations with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have found their continuation in cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Progressive development of cooperation with the countries of the region in the trade and economic sphere are among the undoubted priorities of Minsk. After all, Central Asia is a capacious, promising and dynamically developing market, where goods and services exported by the Republic of Belarus are in demand.
With a number of countries in the region, large-scale projects related to industrial cooperation are being successfully implemented. For example, on the territory of Uzbekistan there is an assembly production of Belarusian equipment with the participation of Belarusian capital – JV “Amkodor-Agrotexmash”, the enterprise for the production of shoes “UzShoes”, the founder of which was the Belarusian holding “Marko”, the production of welding electrodes with the participation of LLC “Svetlogorsk plant of welding electrodes”, and joint projects for the production of medicines are being implemented. There are 7 joint assembly plants of Belarusian machinery and equipment in Kazakhstan.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, there are 54 representative offices of the subjects of the commodity distribution network and distributors of Belarusian enterprises, including the assembly production of tractors of OJSC Minsk Tractor Plant.
Undoubtedly, Turkmenistan is an important partner of our country in the region. The common values promoted by our countries in the international arena became the cornerstone. Among them are stability, continuity, dialogue, a focus on building equal and respectful relations with all partners without exception, and the inapplicability of the tools of force and pressure. Belarus and Turkmenistan successfully interact in the international arena, and provide mutual support in the elections to the UN bodies.
Diplomatic relations between Minsk and Ashgabat were established on January 21, 1993 – just a few months later we will celebrate a significant date – their 30th anniversary.
Since October 1995, the Embassy of Turkmenistan has been functioning in Minsk, and in July 2002, the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus began its work in Ashgabat.
The contractual and legal base of cooperation between Belarus and Turkmenistan, developed over the years of independence, consists of over 100 agreements of various levels.
An important area of bilateral cooperation is trade and economic cooperation. The Turkmen market traditionally has a wide range of Belarusian food products, and medicines. Car tires and batteries, woodworking products and a number of other items are supplied. The Belarusian automobile, tractor and agricultural machinery successfully “works” in the national economy of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan exports tomatoes, bed linen, table and kitchen linen, cotton fabrics, textile clothing, crockery and household items made of plastic, oil products.
The Belarusian side was very enthusiastic about the restoration of direct flights between the countries, which took place in October this year after an almost three-year forced break due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is every reason to expect that this step will not only activate business and interpersonal contacts, but will also give impetus to the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.
Among the immediate plans is to hold another round of consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries at the level of deputy ministers, and, subsequently, a meeting of the Intergovernmental Belarusian-Turkmen Commission for economic cooperation.
The revival of the tradition of mutual holding of Days of Culture has great potential for building up intercultural exchange.
Due to objective reasons related to the pandemic, the last such event took place more than three years ago – in October 2019, the Days of Culture of Turkmenistan were held in Minsk and Mogilev.
The signing of the Program of Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Government of Turkmenistan in the field of culture and art for the next period also has the potential for further development of cooperation in this area. It provides for the intensification of cooperation in such areas of culture as cinema, theater, library and museum work, folk art and a number of other areas. Belorussian and the Turkmen peoples have a unique historical experience and rich cultural traditions, some of which werec formed during a shared history. Acquaintance with each other’s national heritage can bring our countries even closer and mutually enrich them.
Without exaggeration, we were proud of the pre-pandemic bilateral cooperation in education. In the “best years”, more than 10 thousand citizens of Turkmenistan studied at higher and secondary specialized educational institutions of Belarus, however, in the 2021/2022 academic year, due to objective reasons, this figure dropped to 6.5 thousand people. At the same time, even today’s modest figures are more than 20 percent of the total number of foreign students.
Belarus is a tolerant and multicultural country; representatives of various countries easily adapt here. Higher education institutions are proud of many years of teaching experience and conditions for foreigners: there are curatorship programs for freshmen, the institute of student communities is developed. For example, in 17 Belarusian institutions of higher education, Turkmen communities have been created and are functioning, with a total number of 2.8 thousand people.
The Belarusian side sincerely appreciates the trust of the citizens of Turkmenistan in our education system, perceives this area of cooperation as a kind of investment in the future of bilateral relations between the countries and counts on a gradual restoration of the number of Turkmen first-year students coming to Minsk and other cities of Belarus.
Despite the influence of a number of external factors, relations with the countries of the region and Turkmenistan, in particular, there are undoubtedly great prospects. Their further progressive development fully meets the interests of both Belarus and our partners. /// nCa, 7 November 2022
About the author: Vyacheslav Beskosty is the ambassador of Belarus in Turkmenistan since October 2019. Earlier he served as the ambassador of Belarus in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (concurrently in the Republic of Ghana, the Gabonese Republic, the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Cameroon, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Mali, the Republic of Senegal and the Togolese Republic) from 2012 to 2018.
As a career diplomat, he has also served in the embassies of Belarus in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Japan.
Ambassador Vyacheslav Beskosty graduated with honors from the Ya. Kupala State University of Grodno and has completed an advanced course in macroeconomics and financial analysis at the Joint Vienna Institute, Austria. Some part of his career was spent at the ministry of foreign economic relations of Belarus.