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2016 †N5-6(134-135)
The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention) came into force on 12 August 2006. All five Caspian littoral states proclaimed this day as Caspian Day. Turkmenistan holds various events annually to mark this day. This year, the national tourist zone "Avaza" hosted a scientific-practical conference titled "25th Anniversary of Turkmenistan's Independence: Achievements in Protecting the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea" focusing on the Caspian Sea environment.
It is important to note that since independence and the start of its participation in the all-Caspian dialogue Turkmenistan has pursued a policy of building an equal and mutually respectful negotiation process on the Caspian Sea issues and actively participated in this process. It was in 2002 that the first meeting of the heads of the Caspian states took place in Ashgabat. In fact, this meeting laid a systemic foundation for the five-sided long-term cooperation that gave a strong impetus to the first substantive interaction of the littoral states on various topics of the Caspian dialogue.
Since the high-level meeting in Ashgabat, five littoral states have conducted a large-scale work on almost all major issues of cooperation in the Caspian Sea. The understanding of the fact that a multilateral dialogue on the Caspian issues should take into account the interests of all its participants based on equality and mutual respect was the key characteristic of this process. This is the only way to move consistently towards reaching mutually acceptable solutions and achieving specific results and agreements.
Turkmenistan has always believed the Caspian Basin region is the unique centuries-old archetype of relations between states and peoples, their traditions, cultures and spiritual values. There is now emerging a geo-strategic center of global significance with important energy, transportation and communication hubs. That is why it is now particularly important for the regional countries to join efforts and cooperate closely with international organizations based on the understanding of community and continuity of the main goals and objectives. The five-sided cooperation in the Caspian Sea is a unifying factor that reflects the aspiration of countries for peace, harmony and cooperation. Any issues in this regard should be discussed in the atmosphere of true neighborliness and close partnership.
While actively participating in the international dialogue on a wide range of Caspian issues, Turkmenistan demonstrates an example of the most efficient development of the coastal infrastructure. An uninhabited coastal zone has turned into the international resort in a negligibly short period of time. The initiative for creation of a national tourist zone was put forward in due time by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Since then, he has been keeping the pace of development of the resort under his personal control. The coastal infrastructure is being constantly upgraded, and new hotels, yacht clubs and sanatoriums are put into operation annually. These facilities please the eye with their exquisite architectural shapes and provide the guests with high-class recreation services round the year.
A seven-kilometer long channel traverses part of the recreation area accommodating the facilities of the national tourist zone "Avaza". The channel's blue ribbon of water outlines the area of intense construction work. It has completely transformed the appearance of Avaza, creating the unique atmosphere of comfort and coziness. An artificial river is an unusual and multipurpose hydraulic structure. In fact, the banks of the channel have made it possible to enlarge significantly the sea beach area. In addition, the twisting channel serves as a city landmark that teems with recreation areas and parks, cafes, restaurants and bars. The channel also operates a fleet of small boats that can access open sea through the lock chambers. The channel has 11 bridges, each of which has the original architectural appearance. Seawater falls into the channel approximately at its middle level through the powerful pumps and a system of decorative waterfalls. The sea and channel water level difference creates a natural flow that prevents stagnation of water. The original engineering and architectural solutions create the unique flavor, i.e. an original business card of the international resort.
The city of Turkmenbashi got a new international airport with the capacity of 800 passengers per hour. The airport can receive seven flights at a time, while ensuring international standards of service. Following the opening of the new air terminal, tourist zone "Avaza" got a super modern air harbor worthy of its status, which is capable of providing the highest level of comfort for all guests of the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.
An extensive road network provides easy access from the airport to the coastal resort area. The main roads of the resort were built in accordance with the requirements of the first technical category. All the roads have three-row traffic in each direction, roundabouts and a landscaped dividing strip. Any part of the tourist zone can be now reached in a matter of minutes.
A new high-tech enterprise, namely a desalination plant with the daily capacity of thirty-five thousand tons of water can rightfully be regarded as the pride of the resort area. This amount of water not only meets all the needs of the resort area but also solves the problem of supplying fresh water to the city of Turkmenbashi.
Much of the tourist zone area is populated with parks and alleys. There is a large-scale landscaping program to ensure a favorable microclimate. The total area of tree plantations in Avaza amounts to 360 hectares. Once the pine forest is in place, the tourist zone vicinity will transform beyond recognition. No one would believe that the beautiful woodland park was once a strip of the desert coast.
The national tourist zone is currently not only a resort area but also a venue of international economic forums and artistic festivals that regularly bring together thousands of visitors from around the world. In recent years, Avaza hosted not only numerous official delegations but also many heads of state.
Turkmenistan sees cooperation in the Caspian Sea as part of the continental and global trends, where effective development of political, trade-economic and cultural-humanitarian relations is inseparable from ensuring lasting stability and security, implementing sustainable development, preserving environment and introducing high-tech production methods. In this sense, the Caspian littoral states have many field for interaction in the near and long term. Turkmenistan believes that experience of cooperation accumulated so far, the age-old traditions of good neighborliness in the Caspian Sea should be preserved, multiplied and transferred to future generations.
Turkmenistan attaches utmost importance to the Caspian cooperation in specific areas. As is known, Turkmenistan has proposed to work out an agreement on conservation and efficient use of the Caspian Sea water resources. Turkmenistan believes that solving the issues related to conservation of bio-resources should be carried out systematically through new and clearly defined international legal mechanisms that would also provide for restrictive measures on catching the most valuable fish species. Unification of relations in this area and establishment of an effective institutional framework of cooperation in line with the generally accepted international practice are designed to promote the establishment of the Commission on aquatic biological resources of the Caspian Sea as part of the agreement of the coordinating body.
Turkmenistan initiated and developed the draft of another important document - the Agreement on Cooperation in the sphere of prevention and liquidation of emergency situations in the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea is highly prone to the natural and anthropogenic risks that pose a potential threat to the ecosystem of the sea. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to establish efficient multilateral mechanisms of cooperation in this area to prevent and neutralize emergencies.
In the period of 2013-2014, Turkmenistan chaired the Coordinating Committee on Hydrometeorology and Pollution Monitoring of the Caspian Sea (CASPCOM). The country chaired the Committee with great responsibility, believing that the joint work through CASPCOM was an important part of the common efforts to preserve the unique natural heritage of the Caspian Sea. In this context, signing the Agreement on Cooperation in the field of hydrometeorology of the Caspian Sea is particularly important. It is designed to systematize the work of the Caspian littoral states in this area.
The role of the Caspian Basin as a major transport hub has objectively increased. This is a strategic direction that opens the prospects of significant enhancement of trade and economic relations both among littoral states and in the context of accessing foreign markets. At the same time, it is clear that the transport component of interaction requires a solid legal framework. Considering the importance of integration of the transport systems of the Caspian littoral states and ensuring coordination of multimodal transport at the regional level, the President of Turkmenistan put forward the initiative on development of an agreement on cooperation in the field of transport in the Caspian Sea and establishment of the Caspian regional transport and logistics center as one of the elements of such cooperation.
The Caspian Sea is rapidly emerging as one of the world's largest centers of hydrocarbons production and transportation. It is an objective reality that requires an adequate approach. Turkmenistan believes that the Caspian states cooperation in the energy sector is highly promising and capable of giving a strong impetus to regional and international development, investment activities and making a positive impact on the geopolitical situation in this part of the globe.
Preservation of natural resources of the Caspian Sea is the most important issue that goes far beyond the regional framework. The unique biological complex of the water reservoir, its coastal areas are without exaggeration the common heritage of mankind, and therefore it requires a special, focused attention of the international community. At the same time, the Caspian Sea region is rapidly emerging as one of the world's major centers of production and transportation of hydrocarbons. Speaking at the United Nations Global Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said ... "Our common goal is to join the objective economic interests, realities of international cooperation in the energy sector with the need to preserve the biodiversity of the Caspian Sea, to prevent violation of the fragile ecological balance"...
Caspian Day on 12 August is nothing more than a calendar date. Turkmenistan views the work on solving the Caspian issues as a permanent process filled with real content for each day of the year.

Ahmetdzan NURIEV

©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005