TURKMENISTAN - EUROPEAN UNION: COOPERATION FOR REGIONAL AND GENERAL SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT
The telephone conversation of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov with President of the European Council Charles Michel on August 29 became a major event not only in the relations of our country with this largest interstate association, but also a significant factor in the context of the entire future regional agenda, opening up new horizons and platforms for cooperation.
The very fact that the head of the European Union, having initiated this conversation, turned to the President of Turkmenistan with a proposal to exchange views and assessments of the most important aspects of regional policy, indicates at least three indisputable things:
- firstly, on the recognition of the authority of our country, its role and potential in addressing key issues of security and development in Central Asia and adjacent regions;
- secondly, about the EU's interest in enhancing partnership with Turkmenistan;
- thirdly, on the understanding of the mutual benefits of such a partnership and its beneficial effect on the regional situation.
It is obvious that the field of activity for joint work of Turkmenistan and the European Union is very extensive. These are the issues of maintaining peace and security in Central Asia and adjacent zones, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, energy security, transport, ecology, and the use of water resources.
It is necessary to note that in these key areas the strategic goals and interests of Turkmenistan and the European Union coincide, in line with the mutual vision of the region as free from conflicts and confrontations, a promising economic, trade and investment partnership, an important link in world economic ties and continental cooperation schemes between Asia and Europe. Focusing on this, the President of Turkmenistan emphasized the importance of effective development of dialogue within the framework of existing partner mechanisms, in particular, the European Union-Turkmenistan Joint Committee, Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue, Dialogue on Human Rights, Consultative meetings between foreign ministries and on certain issues of cooperation.
The institutions of interregional interaction in the “Central Asia-European Union” format have proven themselves well, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said. He stressed in this context the effectiveness of regular meetings within the High-Level Dialogue on Political and Security Issues of the European Union and Central Asian countries, which allow exchanging views on serious issues of stable and sustainable development of the region.
The most important topic of the talks was the situation in Afghanistan. Despite the recent internal political changes in this country, Turkmenistan is firmly committed to brotherhood and good-neighborliness with the Afghan people, provides and will provide them with comprehensive economic support and humanitarian assistance, help resolve the situation by peaceful, political and diplomatic means. The readiness of Turkmenistan as a neighboring and neutral state to assist in establishing appropriate contacts and creating conditions for the early establishment of peace in Afghanistan remains unchanged.
One of the decisive conditions for this is the implementation of large infrastructure projects with Afghan participation, in particular, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, power transmission lines and fiber-optic communications along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route, as well as railways connecting Afghanistan with Turkmenistan. An important message was the fact that in the new conditions, the Afghan authorities confirmed their support for these and other infrastructure projects, as well as their readiness to ensure their safety. In this context, it is obvious that Turkmenistan and the European Union, having similar views on the ways of integrating Afghanistan into modern global economic realities, could effectively cooperate to achieve this goal.
At the same time, Turkmenistan, advocating the earliest possible normalization of the situation in Afghanistan, expresses confidence that as a result of the search for mutually acceptable forms of government, new national institutions in this country will be formed in the near future in the legal field and with broad ethno-confessional participation of all groups living in the country.
Concerning international participation in assistance to Afghanistan, the President of our country expressed his opinion in a conversation with the head of the European Union that it would be expedient to intensify the activities of the United Nations, OSCE and the European Union.
Another topic of negotiations in connection with the current situation in Afghanistan was the problem of refugees and migrants.
In general, it should be noted that our country gives priority to this area, invariably acts as an active participant in multilateral efforts to resolve migration crises in the world, accepting tens of thousands of refugees, providing them with everything they need and providing safe conditions for their residence on the territory of Turkmenistan.
This position is highly valued in the international community, including the European Union, where the migration component is one of the key value-political foundations of this association's activities.
Therefore, it is obvious that the partnership in this area between Turkmenistan and the EU looks natural and can make a serious contribution to solving the migration problem on a global scale. Being a permanent member of the Executive Committee of the Program of the High Commissioner for Refugees, and having extensive experience in resolving difficult humanitarian situations of this kind, Turkmenistan has never stood aside from these processes and is ready for close cooperation with European colleagues.
The most important and promising direction of the Turkmen-European interaction is the use of the neutral status of Turkmenistan and its peacekeeping potential for the development of a stable political dialogue in the region, creating a climate of trustful political and diplomatic interaction.
Here, the President of our country drew the attention of his interlocutor to a relatively recent period, a difficult time in the history of neighboring Afghanistan, when from 1996 to 2001 about 90 percent of the territory of this country was under the control of the Taliban movement. Then Turkmenistan, despite the difficult internal political situation in Afghanistan, in 1999-2000 in Ashgabat hosted four rounds of negotiations between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. It is necessary to note that the organization of these negotiations took place with the participation of representatives of the United Nations, and both sides recognized the effectiveness of the consultations.
Based on this experience, it would be logical to intensify the regional peacekeeping agenda in relations between Turkmenistan and the EU at the current stage, as well as more targeted support from the European partners for the activities of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia. Moreover, the UN General Assembly expressed unanimous support for the draft resolution put forward by Turkmenistan, concerning the provision of peace and security in Central Asia through the mechanisms of preventive diplomacy.
In general, the conversation between the President of Turkmenistan and the Head of the European Union showed a mutual desire to strengthen cooperation and partnership. For our country, relations with the EU now and in the future remain the most important direction of the foreign policy strategy. It is obvious that both sides have clear guidelines and priorities for partnership, an understanding of the need for each other. In addition, today there is reason to believe that the comprehensive dialogue of Turkmenistan with the EU is entering a new qualitative stage, closer and more targeted cooperation in the most important areas. Of course, not to the detriment of our country's relations with other states, based on equality and respect for the neutrality of Turkmenistan.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.