ARTICLE OF THE ISSUE
The Avaza National Tourism Zone on the Caspian Sea coast became the venue for the Congress titled "Asian Games 2017: International Sport Cooperation for Peace and Progress." The high-level forum was timed to coincide with the World Health Day. It brought together delegates from the countries participating in the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, heads of the Olympic Council of Asia, international sports federations and organizations, as well as distinguished guests, including well-known politicians. The leaders of Turkmenistan's National Olympic Committee, the State Sports Committee, the Executive Committee and the Organizing Committee of the Asian Games 2017 also took part in the forum.
The high-level international dialogue focused on exploring the opportunities presented by the Asian Games in the context of domestic and foreign policies of the country in order to maximize their effect and heritage not only on the national sports but also the current issues of interstate interaction, starting from the complex of social and economic spheres to implementation of the peacemaking strategy of Turkmenistan on the regional and global scale. This goal was set by the event organizers - the Executive Committee for preparation of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, the State Sports Committee and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.
The importance of the large-scale international event was underscored by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who participated in the forum. On the eve of the Congress, the head of Turkmenistan met with the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Association of National Olympic Committees, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the head of the OCA exchanged views on the pace of development of partnership, in which a special emphasis was placed on preparations for the Asian Games 2017 that will become the largest in the history of the Games. Turkmenistan is taking all necessary measures to host the V Asian Games at a high level, the head of state said, including construction of facilities in the Olympic village of Ashgabat, development of the volunteer movement in the country, promoting the exchange of experience with world-famous sports federations and leading media services.
In general, the responsible and proactive approach demonstrated by Turkmenistan to organizing and conducting the V Asian Games is designed to ensure the immediate success, the guest noted. He said he had no doubt that the Games would become a colorful and memorable event and would support the popularization of sports.
The speech by the President of Turkmenistan before the guests of the international sports forum became the main event of the Congress. Addressing the audience, the head of state once again stressed that the current Congress marks an important step in the joint work on preparation and conduct of one of the most significant sport events on our continent - the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games that will be held in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, in the period from 17 to 27 September 2017.
They will be the first competitions of such level in the history of Central Asia, and we, on all accounts, consider holding the Games in our country as a sign of great trust placed in Turkmenistan by the international sports community and recognition of Turkmenistan's contribution to the development and popularization of physical culture and sports, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.
The V Asian Games will be held under the motto "Health. Inspiration. Friendship." Their distinctive feature is the fact that sportsmen from 17 Oceania counties will for the first time take part in the Games along with sportsmen from 45 Asian countries. The President of Turkmenistan expressed confidence that such format of the Games would open a new chapter in the history of the world sport movement and contribute to its expansion and strengthening in the interests of millions of people in different parts of the world.
About 6 thousand sportsmen will compete in 21 sports during the V Asian Games. About 30 thousand foreign guests, hundreds of the mass media representatives are expected to arrive in Turkmenistan for the Games. The Turkmen people will accord hospitality and cordiality to all the participants of the forthcoming competitions, since respect for guests has always took a special place in their traditions, the head of state said.
Holding the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan in 2017, which is the largest and most representative in its series, marks a qualitatively new phase in the history of development of Turkmen sports, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said. At the same time, there open real opportunities for transforming the country into one of the leaders of international sports cooperation in the continent, for effective implementation of Turkmenistan's sports diplomacy as an integral part of the foreign policy aimed at the comprehensive and efficient integration into the world Olympic movement.
As part of this process, Turkmenistan will support and increase cooperation with the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport, the World Health Organization, international non-governmental organizations, primarily the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia, as well as international and regional sports organizations and associations, the head of state continued. He said that Turkmenistan works on establishing systemic cooperation with the World Doping Agency in order to preserve cleanliness of the Turkmen sport and coordinate the fight against doping in sport. In this regard, the National Anti-Doping Agency was established in Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan puts a highly humanistic meaning in the concept of international sports cooperation. We associate the sports movement and adherence to the Olympic ideals with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals aimed at maximizing the human potential, addressing the global challenges in health, education, creating conditions for harmonious spiritual and physical education of the individual, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said. Sport and physical culture are the priority of the state policy. Turkmenistan adopted the National Program for Support and Development of Sports and Physical Education for 2011-2020, much work is being done to raise public awareness on nutrition, fight against tobacco smoking, popularization of sports and healthy lifestyle among all categories of the population. All state-owned organizations and public associations have been engaged in this work, while coordinating committees for various programs in the field of public health have been established. Together with the international community Turkmenistan celebrates the World Health Day, which has been included in the register of significant dates of the national calendar, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging people to engage in physical culture and sports. Turkmenistan is now rightly called the territory of morality, health and optimism.
As the head of state stressed, the decision to entrust Turkmenistan with holding the largest continental games would be impossible without a peace-loving, neutral, constructive, genuinely good-neighborly foreign policy that the country has been consistently implementing. Indeed, the country, whose foreign policy is based on the principles of peace, friendship, cooperation, respect for all peoples, their cultures and traditions and projecting these concepts to all the spheres of international activity, including sports, has every reason to be the organizer of the event that will bring together delegates from dozens of countries and peoples of the world.
The President of Turkmenistan drew the Congress participants' attention to another important aspect, yet of domestic nature, which nevertheless is directly linked to the decision to hold the Asian Games in Turkmenistan. It is about the atmosphere of respect, interethnic accord and confessional harmony that are inherent in Turkmenistan. There is an expression, saying "sport is outside politics". However, politics cannot remain outside sport. It is called upon to become one of the instruments of friendship and mutual understanding between peoples. Nowadays, rejection of racism, xenophobia, extremism is one of the mottos of the world sports that are firmly embedded in the ideology of the international sports movement. This notion is imparted to the people of Turkmenistan from their childhood at schools, universities, army units. It can be seen in the hospitality and amicability of our compatriots to foreigners, regardless of their nationality or religion. Turkmenistan in practice reaffirms its commitment to the high humanistic ideals of the international sports movement, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.
In the modern world, sport is viewed as an important part of international cooperation, making a weighty contribution to establishing an atmosphere of trust, respect and mutual understanding. Sportsmen are the envoys of peace, who affirm in a fair contest the lofty Olympic ideals through their mastery and will, who serve as an example for the youth, who promote a healthy lifestyle and formation of an active social position. And of course, the Games of such level are the great event for sportsmen and millions of people who will follow the competitions in many countries of the world, the head of state noted. Turkmenistan confidently enters the group of powers capable of organizing and adequately holding the largest sporting events. The upcoming Games will be a graphic confirmation of the achievements of the country, integrated and universal nature of its progressive movement towards the heights of world development and commitment to the great Olympic ideals.
Speaking at the Congress, President of the Olympic Council of Asia Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah expressed full support to those principles and position of Turkmenistan that President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov outlined in his speech. He noted that the Asian Olympic Council entrusted Turkmenistan with hosting the Asian Games owing to its impressive results of rapid development, including in sports, construction, transport and communications. The V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will play a historic role in the development of the sport movement in Asia, the distinguished guest said. However, there are even broader horizons and opportunities ahead, and we must reach new heights, we must go further, because it should match the beauty of Ashgabat and the highest level of sports facilities built here. The head of the OCA stressed that the main mission of the Asian Games is to create all conditions so that sportsmen from different countries treat each other not as competitors but colleagues, friends and brothers.
Among the honorary guests of the Congress was head of the International Meibukan Gojyu-Ryu Karate-Do Association Meitatsu Yagi, who announced the decision of his organization to award the 10th dan in karate-do to the President of Turkmenistan for his outstanding contribution to the development of the sports movement and cooperation in this field. As Meitatsu Yagi noted, being a sportsman that devoted his life to the art of karate, he knows it well what it means to receive such governmental support for development of sport. He expressed confidence that the forthcoming Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat this September would be a great success and bring Turkmenistan great fame.
The President of the Asian Chess Federation, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan, announced the decision to award the Turkmen leader a distinctive prize in the nomination "Man of the Year" established by the federation. According to the unanimous decision of the committee members of this annual award, the head of Turkmenistan was awarded this prize and the honorary title for his great contribution to the development of the national chess school, promotion of education and support to children's and youth sports, preservation of the rich culture and traditions of the country, strengthening of friendship and cooperation between peoples.
Expressing gratitude for the awards, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said he sees them as a sign of recognition of Turkmenistan's achievements in the development of sports and physical culture, its active role in the international sports movement, its firm commitment to the high ideals of the Olympic movement, promoting the role of sport in strengthening friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples.
Then, the Congress proceeded to the plenary session that discussed specific issues related to the 2017 Asian Games. As was noted, Turkmenistan views the upcoming sport event, above all, as a sign of respect for the country, recognition of its policy of openness to international cooperation and evidence of the international community's growing interest in increasing cooperation in the field of sports.
Speaking at the plenary session, the forum participants supported the idea of the growing role of sport and sport diplomacy in the foreign policy of states, in strengthening cooperation, solidarity, tolerance, mutual understanding and social integration at the local, national and international levels. The delegates also shared the view that sports competitions and contacts allow the peoples of different countries to learn of the cultural achievements and characteristics of each other that give rise to the feelings of friendship, respect, sympathy, promote human relations and help overcome barriers. Given the fact that sport is a universal language of communication, one can speak of its powerful potential as an efficient channel for promotion of the culture of peace.
Members of the foreign delegations shared their impressions of the visit to the Olympic village in Ashgabat, their acquaintance with its facilities and standard of equipment that match its Olympic status. Expressing admiration for the scale of this project, they were unanimous in the opinion that this huge sports complex would become the pride of Turkmenistan and place of attraction for numerous sportsmen and fans from around the world.
Summing up the results, the meeting participants praised the responsible approach that Turkmenistan demonstrates in organizing the V Asian Games and expressed deep gratitude to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for support in organizing and holding the high-level international sports Congress.
Matching the dynamics of major sporting events, the Congress program turned out to be just as eventful. Celebrations were held on the shore of the Caspian Sea with participation of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on the occasion of the opening of a large sports complex in the Avaza National Tourism Zone. The implementation of this socially significant project aims to contribute to the further development of the mass sports and recreation movement and sports of higher achievements in Turkmenistan and attraction of more young people to its ranks.
The modern sports complex that replenished the infrastructure of Avaza will turn into the universal training center for Turkmen sportsmen, the good basis for preparation of sportsmen and national teams in various sports, including those that feature in the program of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. In addition, this sports complex will be able to host high-level international competitions.
A sports town occupying 28.5 hectares is another multifunctional sports complex. The sports town includes seven facilities for playing sports, water and winter sports, martial arts that were equipped by the best world manufacturers of professional sports equipment. In addition, there is an administrative building with office rooms, a conference hall for 150 seats, a dining room for 200 seats, outdoor sports grounds for tennis, volleyball and mini football, as well as engineering infrastructure and parking space for 250 cars.
The canteen of the multifunctional complex welcomed the guests of honor with the exhibition titled "Cuisine of the World" presenting various cuisines of the peoples of Europe and Asia. Culinary specialists demonstrated high skills and successful ideas in cooking various types of meat and fish with vegetables and fruits, salads and confectionery. National cuisine is an important element of culture, as it reflects national traditions, customs and rituals. It was no surprise that the generous Turkmen dastarkhan impressed the guests with its diversity. They tasted traditional Turkmen food with great pleasure.
The Ice Palace, which is part of the multifunctional sports complex, occupies the total area exceeding 14.4 thousand square meters. All equipment and sports kits were purchased from well-known companies that traditionally supply equipment for the World Hockey Championships and Winter Olympics.
The opening of the sports complex was celebrated with an impressive show on the ice arena, performed by the students of the sports school of the State Sport Committee. Young skaters confidently performed complex compositions, demonstrating various elements of skating. Among those who followed with special interest their performance was Irina Rodnina, three-time Olympic champion, eleven-time world champion and ten-time European champion. As is known, the legendary sportswoman regularly holds master classes in Turkmenistan for young figure skaters and their coaches.
Using this opportunity, Irina Rodnina expressed gratitude to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for inviting her to take part in the celebrations on the occasion of the World Health Day. The guest noted that she was very pleased with an opportunity to visit Turkmenistan again and personally express her admiration for the great changes that took place in the country in recent years, including the large-scale work on popularization of sports and a healthy lifestyle. Warmly greeting the famous sportswoman, the legend of the world figure skating, the head of state thanked her for accepting an invitation to take part in the Congress.
The President of Turkmenistan also met with other honorable guests of the forum on this day, so his schedule was full of a number of memorable meetings. For example, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov received the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, leader of the LDPR faction in the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who arrived in Turkmenistan to attend the Congress.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky noted that he genuinely admired Turkmenistan's achievements in the path of fundamental reforms, the key goal of which is progressive development of the state and society, creation of all conditions for happy life of the people. Greeting the guest, the head of state stressed that Turkmenistan is open for constructive interaction with all foreign partners, which is the priority area of the foreign policy based on the principles of peacefulness and positive neutrality. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted with satisfaction the fruitful nature of the Turkmen-Russian relations.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and his guest spoke in favor of the further expansion of the interstate dialogue, including acceleration of mutually beneficial contacts and exchange of experience through public associations. As was noted, the cardinal socio-economic reforms and progressive democratic processes in Turkmenistan provide a fertile ground for this.
The meeting was followed by the ceremony of awarding the title of Honorary Elder of the People of Turkmenistan to the leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, attended by members of the Russian delegation who arrived in Turkmenistan. In addition, as part of the visit of the LDPR delegation at the invitation of the Speaker of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Avaza on the further development of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Mejlis of Turkmenistan and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov also received Governor of Astrakhan Region of the Russian Federation Alexander Zhilkin who arrived in Turkmenistan as part of the Russian delegation to participate in the Congress and the exhibition "Asian Games 2017: International Sport Cooperation for Peace and Progress."
During the meeting with the high guest, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasized the special importance of strengthening cooperation with the Russian Federation and its regions, including Astrakhan Region. Turkmenistan maintains economic and humanitarian ties with this region on the basis of historically established good-neighborly relations, the leader of Turkmenistan said. The sides noted the need to develop cooperation in the field of sports, healthy and active lifestyle. In this area, the sides have already accumulated experience of successful interaction, including in water sports and in sports tourism.
The celebrations in honor of the World Health Day were concluded by the festive concert of Turkmen and foreign artists. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was a spectator of honor at the colorful show in the amphitheater on the Caspian shore.
A number of premier performances on the topic of the Asian Games-2017 were presented to the audience. They were accompanied by videos demonstrating the country's achievements in development of sports. The audience enjoyed a composition presented by the popular vocalists and the State Dance Ensemble on one of the most striking aspects of the Asian Games program - sports dances.
Along with the compositions on sports, the concert program featured lyrical songs about love and the beauty of the native land. Popular artists from Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and the UK also performed at the concert. The People's Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Roza Rymbaeva, presented the musical culture of her country. She conquered the hearts of spectators with her unique vocal.
The audience greeted as dear friends the People's Artists of Russia and Azerbaijan - Lev Leshchenko and Polad Bulbul Oglu, who visited Turkmenistan on many occasions in recent years. And this time too, the famous guests sang favorite songs for their numerous Turkmen fans. The festive concert finished with the grandiose fireworks that lit the evening sky with blazing clusters of light.
The celebrations in honor of the World Health Day on the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea once again demonstrated to the world the national formula for good health, i.e. the comprehensive development of sport based on the real state support.