Central Asia is an interesting part of the modern world, it is a region that has a lot of untapped resources and everyone is saying that Eurasianism is on the rise. While Eurasia certainly has the potential to rival Atlanticism it then has to be asked what would happen next after the west has been beaten in both economics and culture.
Turkmenistan is one nation that isn’t really talked about much, although it’s a part of the perceived Eurasian unit, it doesn’t seem to really want to be. Turkmenistan has an ideal of Permanent Neutrality that is engraved in it’s constitution. Military bases aren’t allowed on it’s soil, and it’s part of a lot of economic pacts while not really being a part of them (if that makes sense). The idea of being permanently neutral is fairly interesting, it kind of reminds me of how George Washington viewed international relations, having a relationship with other power but not being entangled with them. Perhaps we can learn something from them.
This selection comes from a speech made by the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The link to which can be found below:
The Statement of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov at the International Conference to mark the 15th anniversary of neutrality of Turkmenistan
Esteemed participants of conference,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to cordially welcome all of you and congratulate on the opening of the International Conference dedicated to the 15th anniversary of Turkmen neutrality. I express my gratitude to our foreign guests, representatives of governments, international organisations, experts, scientists, journalists, who have accepted the invitation to visit Turkmenistan. I consider the fact of such wide and representative participation as a mark of respect for our country, an evidence for the interest in its achievements, experience of international cooperation, a willingness to know better about today’s realities in Turkmenistan. We are always to have guests, and I am pleased to tell you “Welcome!”
During these days we are celebrating the great event – the 15th anniversary of international recognition of neutrality of Turkmenistan. Indeed, it is a significant and joyful date for our people, a landmark event in the history of the independent Turkmen state. However, it is also a good occasion to reflect on the way done over the years, draw conclusions, evaluate the present stage of development of Turkmenistan, map out prospects and priorities for the future. Today we are doing it with you – our friends and partners from al over the world. We are interested in and value your views and your evaluations.
Any country, which has taken the road of true independence, is forced to address a myriad of challenges in a very short period of time, to seek to have its place in new realities, respond to objective questions that the history puts to it.
Turkmenistan, which gained independence after the Soviet Union collapse and in toughest conditions of destruction of the entire post-war system of international relations, didn’t avoid it. Therefore, the challenge of choosing a foreign policy strategy became one of most crucial and most difficult for us then. What should it be, how should we build relationships with the international community, what principles should cooperation be based on? The fate of Turkmen statehood and sovereignty depends to a larger extent on the correctness of our choice. I am saying this without exaggeration, for history knows many examples when a wrong choice of foreign models led to the loss of independence of states, their involvement in the orbit of interests, which are very far from the true objectives of national development.
We have chosen a model called positive neutrality and formulated its fundamental principles: peacefulness, non-interference in the affairs of other nations, respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-participation in international military organisations and treaties. What dictated this choice? Of course, first and foremost, we were guided by national interests. The young Turkmen state wanted to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours, maintain friendly and equal relations with all countries, develop mutually beneficial economic, trade contacts with them. We firmly believed that only under these conditions peace and cohesion could be guaranteed to our people and economic and social development plans could be implemented.
We had no claims – neither historical nor territorial, or any other to none of states, and we made up our mind to start our way in international politics from scratch having lent the hand of friendship and cooperation to our neighbours and the world. Neutrality became the optimal model to implement these plans and goals, a form in which the content of the Turkmen foreign policy was built in most harmoniously and natural.
We started to pursue consistently the sovereign, neutral and at the same time active and constructive foreign policy. Therefore, it is not surprising that our efforts to secure neutrality of Turkmenistan as an international legal status met with benevolence and understanding all over the world.
At first, we received support from our neighbours in the region, then from the Non-Aligned Movement.
On 12 December 1995 the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Resolution on the Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan.
It is significant that 25 states co-sponsored it. Today, on the eve of our holiday I would like to express once again profound gratitude to the countries-co-sponsors of the Resolution, all members of the international community, international organisations, statesmen and politicians for providing support to Turkmenistan.
It was a wise, prudent decision. Time has shown its consistency with long-term goals of the United Nations, the interests of the progress of states and nations of the world in peace and security.
The subsequent events confirmed this clearly. Neutrality of Turkmenistan has become a weighty factor in international peacekeeping efforts in our region.
Let’s remember that it was in Ashgabat where a series of talks, which played a crucial role in achieving peace and reconciliation in Tajikistan, were held under the aegis of the UN. The capital of our neutral state became the venue for the negotiations on settlement of the Afghan conflict in the late 1990s. Turkmenistan turned into a reliable ally and useful partner of the United Nations in preserving and maintaining political stability in the region, promoting good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation.
This was confirmed by the decision of the international community with the support of all states in the region to open the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia in Ashgabat in 2007. We viewed this as an awesome responsibility and at the same time as evidence for confidence of the UN and our neighbours in Turkmenistan.
Comprehending the way done over these years, we can realize how profound the potential of neutrality is, what vast opportunities it has opened up for our country in foreign policy, economic and trade cooperation, to promote cultural and humanitarian contacts with other countries.
Today, Turkmenistan lives in peace and harmony with all countries of the region and the world. In this case, we integrate into the main trends in modern times in the full format. A set of the vectors oriented towards the utmost involvement of Turkmenistan in international relations is being elaborated deliberately in order to implement our geopolitical, economic, resource and human potential and to rapidly promote our country to the category of states with the high life quality, dynamic economy, stable and effective relations with the external world. This is the purport of Turkmenistan’s policy of international cooperation providing new opportunities to develop each of its principal fields – the foreign policy, economic, cultural, humanitarian, scientific and educational spheres.
Today, the interests of our country have been brought out at regional as well as continental and global levels. Present-day Turkmenistan pursues the clearly defined policy in international affairs, has the standpoints on such critical issues on the global agenda as maintenance and enhancement of global peace and security, disarmament, response to new threats and challenges, promotion and protection of human rights, ecology, food security, mitigation of the financial and economic crisis, development of science, culture and education. Turkmen diplomacy has significantly boosted collaboration with international organisations in various fields, and its representatives have become frequent participants to major forums and other forms of multilateral collaboration on a variety of issues.
The space and scope of cooperation of Turkmenistan, which develops a dialogue on all geographical azimuths, considerably expanded at the bilateral level. In our field of view are the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Americas and the Middle East. In parallel with development of cooperation with traditional partners of Turkmenistan, a dialogue with some large and economically strong countries in the Arab world and Latin America has been established in recent years. The global thinking of Turkmen foreign policy based on compatibility of the national long-term interests and the contemporary global development trends becomes more explicit.
In its international activity today Turkmenistan puts particular emphasis on the economic aspect of neutrality. This is particularly evident in development of cooperation with neighbouring countries. By the concept of good neighbourliness we mean not just geographic proximity and historical affinities, but put the specific geopolitical and geo-economic sense into it.
Our country consistently promote the idea of participatory elaboration of the models of political and economic cooperation in Central Asia and the Caspian region by proposing and supporting large-scale projects with different countries.
along with well-known projects aimed at optimization and expansion of pipeline infrastructure, these are the proposals in the sphere of power engineering, water management, communications, the initiatives to lay new transport routes between countries of the region with access to promising markets in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East.
Expansion and diversity of Turkmenistan’s foreign relations created the conditions conducive to diversification of international economic, trade and investment cooperation between our countries. Given the objective geopolitical and resource advantages, a strategic priority for Turkmenistan in this regard is diversification of energy transit, development of multi-variant pipeline infrastructure.
Abiding by this, our country, along with the use of traditional routes, has completed two new large-scale projects to transit its energy to world markets: Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China and the new gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Iran. Another large-scale energy project for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is in active preparation. It is supported by all participating countries and the large international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank. The TAPI project is a logical continuation of the long-term energy strategy envisaging the construction of new international gas pipelines in different directions.
Nevertheless, we emphasize that we view such projects not only through the prism of commercial and economic benefits, but also as effective factors that have a stabilizing effect on the overall situation in the region and beyond, impart additional stability to the system of political and economic relations and contribute to maintaining the balance of interests in the energy space on the European and Asian continents.
All of these achievements, the successful implementation of joint international projects are conditioned by neutrality of Turkmenistan in many respects. We have never politicized and don’t politicize economic cooperation.
And this fact finds due understanding and highly evaluated by our partners, enables to develop equitable, mutually beneficial relations with different countries and companies. As a neutral state we can build our long-term foreign policy following the definite and comprehensible principles evolving from our international status.
Neutrality of Turkmenistan is a reality of today and our future, in which new splendid opportunities to develop wide international partnership of Turkmenistan in all directions are opened up.
A strategic priority of Turkmenistan remains close and multifaceted cooperation with the United Nations. For us the United Nations is not just the most representative international organisation. We view it as the pillar of the modern system of global interaction, the guarantor of preservation and maintenance of peace and the balance of interests in the world arena, stability of the existing security architecture.
We firmly believe that today, against the background of the new realities, the lofty humanistic ideals and principles of the UN Charter continues to be a moral and legal foundation for the international order.
Today, a number of United Nations specialized agencies including the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, the Office on Drugs and Crime, the Population Fund, the Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy operate on a permanent basis in Turkmenistan.
This cooperation is promoted on a systematic basis. We welcome this collaboration and accept gratefully support the United Nations provides to our country through implementing various projects and programmes. Turkmenistan together with the UN will do whatever is necessary to strengthen peace, stability and security.
Also, we confirm our commitment to an uncompromising struggle against international terrorism, extremism, transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking.
A key priority of the foreign policy of neutral Turkmenistan will be promotion of brotherly and friendly relations with our nearest neighbours – Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. We have age-old historical and cultural bonds, wonderful traditions of mutual understanding and respect. In the modern period we implement joint large-scale energy and transport projects designed to lay the groundwork for prosperity and progress of our countries, their full integration in mainstream development processes.
In this context, we attach particular importance to providing support to our Afghan brothers in building a peaceful life, restoring the economy, resolving the situation only through peaceful, diplomatic means and methods. Turkmenistan will continue to provide assistance to Afghanistan and support further the international community in its efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
We are determined to strengthen multilateral cooperation to address all problems related to the Caspian Sea.
Together with the other littoral states and international organisations Turkmenistan stands ready to develop mutually acceptable and balanced approaches to addressing the issues regarding the delimitation of the seabed and depths of the Caspian Sea, division of water, development of the shipping and fishing regime, regulation of the use of biological resources and conservation of the unique natural wealth. The ultimate goal in this regard should be to ensure lasting security in the Caspian Sea in the name of cooperation and benefit of the Caspian states.
Relations of Turkmenistan with the brotherly Republic of Turkey, cooperation with which is time-tested and proven effective are developed successfully. We will strengthen and develop further bilateral contacts with Turkey in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres.
Our great neighbour in the east, the People’s Republic of China is one of Turkmenistan’s strategic partners nowadays.
Together we have completed the large-scale energy project for supplies of Turkmen natural gas to this country. Cooperation with China has tremendous prospects, and we intend to make maximum use of the existing potential of the two states to implement our joint plans. In this regard, I would say that our relations with the Asia-Pacific region have intensified in recent times in whole. We dynamically develop our contacts with Japan, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea and other countries in this part of the planet.
Turkmenistan is bound with the Russian Federation by strategic partnership. The recent agreements reached with the leadership of Russia reaffirmed that the countries are interested in enhancing further cooperation and give it due dynamics.
We will do this at the bilateral level as well as within the CIS. Turkmenistan as an associate member of this organization intends to use the experience of cooperation accumulated over decades due to excellent relations established with all, without exception, post-Soviet states – Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Caucasus countries and Moldova.
Relations between Turkmenistan with the states of the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar are brought to a qualitatively new level. Our meetings and talks with leaders of these countries have shown that there are several fields where collective efforts can be concerted.
We will fully take it into account when devising our future foreign policy and economic plans.
The multifaceted dialogue between Turkmenistan and the European Union, which has recently become concrete and goal-oriented, is developed today in a constructive and consistently manner. In this regard, we appreciate such decisions as the opening of Europa House in Ashgabat, the appointment of the Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Turkmenistan and the endorsement of the Interim Trade Agreement between Turkmenistan and the European Union by the European Parliament. We consider these facts the integral components of the process of expanding relationships between Turkmenistan and Europe.
These positive trends lay a good foundation for further cooperation based on equality, mutual benefit and awareness of its compliance with long-term interests. Against this background Turkmenistan welcomes intensification of political contacts with the European Union, expansion of trade and economic cooperation, collaboration in the spheres of culture, science and education.
Turkmenistan attaches great importance to further cooperation with the United States of America. U.S. companies are represented widely on the Turkmen market; cooperation is boosted through the Turkmenistan-U.S. Business Council.
We also welcome a recent upsurge in the political dialogue with the United States, including such an aspect as maintenance of peace and security in Central Asia. We intend to do everything necessary to strengthen this positive trend.
We believe that today the good opportunities are provided for cooperation with other nations of the Western hemisphere such as Canada and Latin America. We stand ready to further contacts initiated lately with them.
The foreign policy of any state is inseparable from the domestic policy.
This dialectical interaction is a key to understanding the essence of the objectives declared and practical steps taken by any country in the world arena, philosophy of its foreign policy strategy. Proclaiming and implementing the principles of peace, harmony, tolerance and humanism in the society, in the internal affairs, the Turkmen state projects also these concepts on its relationships with the external world. In this sense, neutrality of Turkmenistan is based on a firm moral framework of the state structure serving as its logical continuation and reflecting the best qualities of the Turkmen people.
Our country is celebrating the anniversary of neutrality in an atmosphere of peace and constructiveness, good neighbourliness, mutual respect and understanding with our friends and partners in the international community.
We clearly see our prospects and confidently devise the plans for development of the state and society. The well thought-out strategy for wide, multifaceted international cooperation allows us to face the future optimistically. Neutral, peace-loving Turkmenistan will continue to do whatever is necessary to strengthen peace and security on our planet, make it contribution to the development and progress of human civilization.
I would like to congratulate all of you, dear friends, on the upcoming holiday, the Neutrality Day and wish the successful work to our conference.