Ambassador of Turkmenistan Mr Yazmurad Seryaev writes on his country’s 25th Anniversary of Independence
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s declaration of independence. On 27 October we will celebrate its main national holiday, Independence Day. This significant date is a good opportunity to look back at the past, to evaluate achievements and assess Turkmenistan’s current stage of development as a neutral state.
Any country that has chosen the path of true independence is forced to solve a multitude of challenges in a limited time frame in order to establish their place in the new reality. Turkmenistan, which gained independence in 1991, was unable to avoid this. Indpendence came at a time of complex processes, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The country’s foreign policy became its most important and difficult challenge. The fate of Turkmen statehood, independence and sovereignty largely depended on making correct foreign policy choices.
Our country has chosen the positive neutrality model based on the UN General Assembly’s draft resolution A/50/80(A) dating back to 12 December 1995. Its fundamental provision includes peacefulness, non-interference in the affairs of other states, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and not participating in international military organisations and treaties. Turkmenistan’s neutral status determines its foreign policy to be undertaken by the government. After Turkmenistan’s neutrality was recognised, the country was brought to the attention of the entire world community.
Turkmenistan’s neutrality is a fundamentally new phenomenon with an ever-increasing role on the global stage. The open and peaceful character of Turkmen neutrality, its focus on joint prospecting and the solution of problems at both regional and global levels, has been positively received around the world.
The peacemaking potential of Turkmenistan’s positive neutrality has been growing over the years, finding and implementing new formats of constructive international cooperation. Peace, security and development are the key priorities of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy, and are also the global objectives of the international community.
Political stability and national unity laid the foundation for the country’s sustainable development and progressive integration in international relations. Today, under the wise and visionary leadership of the country’s leader, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Turkmenistan has consistently promoted a productive relationship on international, regional and global levels. The country has strengthened effective partnerships with reputable regional and international institutions like the UN, European Union, Commonwealth of independent States, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Non-Aligned Movement and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Our country stands for a more focused and substantive interaction with the various countries of the world and international organisations, to work out coordinated approaches to addressing pressing issues such as the fight against terrorism, extremism, organised crime and drug-trafficking.
There has been a tangible increase in Turkmenistan’s cooperation at a bilateral level. Turkmenistan’s government has managed to build relationships with countries all over the world, including its nearby neighbours. Dialogue has been established with a number of large and economically powerful states, especially in the Arab world and Latin America. The country’s foreign policy is clearly developing in line with the long-term interests of world development.
Turkmenistan occupies an important geostrategic position in terms of the interests of some of the region’s developed and developing countries. Our country is located in the most important part of Central Asia, and is rich in natural resources and next to the Caspian Sea. The country is situated at the crossroads of major trade routes that determine the foundations of modern foreign policy.
Our esteemed President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has consistently forwarded constructive ideas and initiatives to enhance mutually beneficial partnerships in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region, to preserve peace and security, and develop successful cooperation in fields such as economy, trade, transport and communications, among others.
Taking into account these geopolitical and resource advantages, Turkmenistan’s current strategic priority is to diversify energy flows and create a multiple pipeline infrastructure. Accordingly, our country – alongside its traditional routes – has in recent years implemented two major projects linking its energy resources to world markets: Turkmenistan to Iran and Turkmenistan to China, offering a potential capacity of 65 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
The construction of the major gas pipeline Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India (TAPI) is now fully underway. The realisation of this massive project is beneficial to all participants, offering economic growth and job creation, along with the formation of social infrastructure, support and consolidation of political stability in the entire region.
Turkmenistan’s economic prosperity is based on its rich reserves of hydrocarbon. Having the fourth-largest gas reserves in the world, Turkmenistan is interested in the broad routes of its exports. By 2030, gas production in Turkmenistan should grow to 230 billion cubic metres, with 180 billion cubic metres of this exported.
The population’s quality of life has improved due to successful reforms in health protection, education, science, social protection and monetary policy. The state has guaranteed the regular growth of salaries, pensions, allowances and scholarships, along with an expanding range of social benefits and privileges for the population. The government annually spends over 70 per cent of its budget supporting social programmes in Turkmenistan. Since independence, Turkmenistan’s political stability and social and inter-ethnic harmony has undoubtedly been strengthened.
Promoted by our Head of State, 2016 has been declared ‘the Year of Honouring the Heritage, the Transformation of the Fatherland,’ symbolising Turkmenistan’s historical roots of independence, on whose land ancient and great civilisations were born. We must not underestimate the huge power of these historical and cultural legacies created by humankind over thousands of years.
The Turkmen land, the hearth of ancient civilisations in the East, has also made a significant contribution to world culture. The country has always attracted the attention of scientists and researchers from all over the world. In 1999, 2005 and 2007, the monuments of Ancient Merv, Kunya Urgench and Nisa became UNESCO World Heritage Sites, demonstrating their great significance at an international level. Now these historic sites are recognised as invaluable treasures of human culture.
After its declaration of independence, Turkmenistan’s foreign policy has taken a multi-vector course, with core principles of neutrality, peace, good neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperation.
The UK became one of Turkmenistan’s important and long-standing partners when diplomatic relations were established in January 1992. The UK was among the first countries to recognise our independence and establish diplomatic relations, and next year marks the 25th anniversary of this date.
During recent years, cooperation between Turkmenistan and the UK has become more active in many areas, such as politics, economy, energy, investment and educational programmes. In the short period since relations were established, there are a number of significant milestones that deserve attention.
Political dialogue is on the rise. Exchange of delegations at a ministerial level have become more frequent. Political consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries now take place on a regular basis. There is a rapidly developing Turkmen-British inter-parliamentary dialogue. Cultural and humanitarian exchanges have became more frequent. Contacts are developing between ministries, agencies and experts at various levels. Cooperation is increasing in fields such as trade and economy, investment, energy, construction, civil aviation, sports and tourism. Mutually beneficial business cooperation and commercial relations between Turkmenistan and the UK are developing dynamically in an atmosphere of mutual respect, sympathy and trust, demonstrating a new quality and progressive stage in the relationship. The main thing that unites us is a desire to cooperate and develop. The Turkmen-British partnership has a sustainable and promising future.
The enormous potential of Turkmenistan can be realised by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s strategy to diversify the country’s economy, and attract interest from British business so it expands its presence on the Turkmen market. Our country remains attractive to international investors as it has all the conditions for a successful business: favourable investment climate, huge hydrocarbon reserves, and is surely ranked among the world’s leading energy powers.
Together with the government, the President of Turkmenistan chose the political, social, economic and foreign policy model of development, based on ideals of peace, patriotism and humanism, and has proved to be amazingly effective.
We can confirm with great confidence that since independence, Turkmenistan has created and strengthened its public administration institutions, and financial stabilisation of the state has taken place. The country has developed enough capacity to maximise its economic potential, and gained a strong reputation among the international community.
From the start of Turkmenistan’s independence, inter-ethnic harmony and stability in society were established. Our country has promoted and strengthened tolerance and respect for both the individual and the whole of society, regardless of social status, nationality and religion.
After just 25 years of independent domestic and foreign policy, Turkmenistan has made a rapid leap forward in its political and socio-economic development. During its independent years, Turkmenistan has gone through massive challenges to build a successful economy and stable political and social systems. The country has proved to be a self-sufficient and successful state with long-term development objectives, proving the viability and effectiveness of the national development model. It has also built a strong reputation for peacekeeping and instigating important political, economic and environmental initiatives.
Today, the country has a strong, competitive and dynamic economy. The rate of annual growth is showing a stable 10 per cent increase, despite recent negative trends in the global economy. The national economy, based on the country’s rich resource potential, structural diversification and attractive investment climate, has avoided external market fluctuations. This provides Turkmenistan with an opportunity to calmly and confidently plan its economic development in the long-term.
Under the leadership of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, today Turkmenistan is a dynamically developing country, relying on its democratic development and the nation’s strong spiritual core inherited from its brave ancestors. Principles of fairness and justice remain the fundamental centre of activities improving the government, public institutions, national legislation and integration into the world community.