Ambassador John MacGregor, Head of OSCE Centre in Ashgabat
On behalf of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, I sincerely join with all colleagues from Turkmenistan to welcome our distinguished visitors to Ashgabat and to this landmark event, a first time for the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, here in neutral Turkmenistan.
I would like to thank the Government and Parliament of Turkmenistan for inviting me to speak this morning, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Parliament of Turkmenistan for its long and fruitful partnership with the OSCE.
It is symbolic that today’s Conference is hosted by neutral Turkmenistan and that it takes place during 2023, in this “International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace”, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 77/32, upon the initiative of Turkmenistan.
This Resolution was co-authored by 68 states, including all countries in Central Asia, and adopted by consensus.
By initiating this Resolution, Turkmenistan demonstrated its strong commitment to its chosen, and innovative, foreign policy strategy, which is based on the principles of positive neutrality, peacefulness, good neighborliness and constructive partnership.
The Resolution assigns an important role to preventive diplomacy, which has been consistently and actively promoted by Turkmenistan.
There is every reason to believe that preventive diplomacy will play a more significant role in preventing conflicts, maintaining and strengthening peace and stability in various parts of the world, and providing one of the more effective and practical tools in multilateral diplomacy.
In this context, it is also important to note the initiative of Turkmenistan to adopt a UN resolution that would declare Central Asia “a zone of peace, trust and cooperation”.
This is yet further evidence of Turkmenistan’s continued engagement in the international arena.
Dear Friends, distinguished colleagues, esteemed representatives!
From an OSCE perspective, so much of what I’ve already mentioned is part of what the OSCE has been practicing for almost 50 years.
We have jointly been aiming to implement the consensus decisions of the OSCE participating States, agreed to by all 57 participating States.
We have been aiming to implement what know of as OSCE commitments and principles, including:
- dialogue, and
- preventative diplomacy, and
- other elements of the three dimensions of security, as know them in the OSCE.
Clearly, then, there is a strong relationship and indeed correlation between OSCE commitments and the practices of positive neutrality, as practiced by Turkmenistan.
Thus, as a global and regional actor, neutral Turkmenistan’s foreign policy practices aim to promote peace, and stability and security, in this region, and beyond.
In fact, later today, the United Nations in New York is scheduled to debate a new initiative of Turkmenistan, UN General Assembly agenda item 61, on a Concept of a “Zone of Peace, Trust and Cooperation of Central Asia”
This concept document notes that zones of peace could be considered to be an instrument of peacekeeping, complementary to the Charter of the United Nations.
The concept suggests that containment and management of regional conflicts and tensions could best be achieved by developing and strengthening regional mechanisms such as the zones of peace, so as to use them as a means of preventive diplomacy, designed to enhance the security of regional countries.
As I said a moment ago, all of this dialogue and preventative diplomacy is what we in the OSCE practice every day, every month, and every year, with the goal to increase the comprehensive security of the OSCE area.
This is true whether we’re engaged in dialogue as representatives to the OSCE in a Ministerial Council in the State of the Chairperson-in-Office; or the Permanent Council or other bodies based in Vienna, such as the Forum for Security Co-operation, or the Economic and Environment Committee or Forum, or the Human Dimension Committee or meeting; or lawmaker representatives to the various meetings of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. As the world’s largest regional forum for early warning and conflict resolution, we know that the OSCE takes a comprehensive approach to security, which goes beyond traditional military security, disarmament and border issues.
The OSCE concept of security also encompasses economic and environmental issues, as well as human rights and democracy, on an equal basis.
As a representative of the OSCE heading the field operation in Turkmenistan, there is much to support in terms of this State’s practices of permanent positive neutrality that very much promote the implementation of OSCE commitments in all three dimensions of security.
Thus, I would suggest to you that Turkmenistan’s neutrality is a significant element in regional security.
The Turkmenistan basic principles of positive neutrality are fully consistent with the UN strategic guidelines on Central Asia, which aim to turn the region into a zone of peace and cooperation: that is, a strong link to continental stability.
We have seen that Turkmenistan uses the political and diplomatic means inherent in neutrality to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust, and favorable conditions for an equal and constructive partnership.
The country’s neutrality is of particular importance in supporting reconciliation processes in Afghanistan.
As a neutral state and an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan puts great effort into promoting peaceful dialogue, and contributing to economic and humanitarian development in Afghanistan.
Esteemed delegates to this event of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly;
Today’s event serves as an excellent example of Turkmenistan’s increasingly active role and engagement in activities of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Today’s event demonstrates, once again, Turkmenistan’s commitment to making the best use of its honorable status of permanent, positive neutrality to promote peace, stability and security in Central Asia and beyond.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Referring to the local OSCE presence, the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat was established in 1999.
Since then, it has provided consistent support in the implementation of OSCE commitments across the three dimensions of security.
The Centre attaches particular importance to facilitating co-operation between the Government of Turkmenistan and the various specialized OSCE institutions.
Of note, I am pleased to note the increasing co-operation between the OSCE Centre and Mejlis of Turkmenistan.
Let me express my confidence that my Centre’s positive and open cooperation with the Government and Parliament of Turkmenistan will continue and that our joint activities will contribute further in a meaningful way to stability and peace in Central Asia and the OSCE region as a whole.
Finally, I celebrate this historic event of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
[This was the keynote address of Ambassador John MacGregor at the conference “The role of neutral states in strengthening security, stability and dialogue in the OSCE Area,” organized jointly by Turkmenistan and OSCE PA on 16 May 2023 in Ashgabat. The opening and closing parts of his speech were in the Turkmen language.] /// nCa, 17 May 2023