An informal CIS summit in St. Petersburg has in fact kick-started Turkmenistan's presidency of this interstate association in the coming year. It means that in accordance with this status Turkmenistan will play a major role in organizing a number of important events for the whole year 2019. They include meetings of the CIS Council of Heads of State, Government and Foreign Ministers, sector-wise meetings, meetings of workers of culture, sports competitions, etc. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov discussed these and other pressing issues in the northern capital of Russia both in the framework of the general meeting of the CIS leaders and during bilateral talks.
It should be noted that Turkmenistan successfully presided in the CIS in 2012. Both then and now, the country assumed this mission with full responsibility and understanding of the scale and importance of the tasks to be addressed.
Turkmenistan came up with the Concept of Presidency of the CIS for 2019 that reflects views and approaches to the further development of intergovernmental cooperation, taking into account the needs that in Ashgabat's opinion seem to be the most important.
Providing a comprehensive support to strengthening cooperation and partnership between the CIS member states on the basis of equality, good neighborliness and mutual respect to ensure the most efficient implementation of the CIS potential, effective development the CIS member states, increasing welfare and quality of life of its peoples are the main objective of Turkmenistan's presidency.
One of Turkmenistan's priority tasks is to establish favorable conditions for the intensification and enhancement of mutually beneficial trade and economic partnership, full integration of the CIS into world economic relations, presenting it as a space where its member states successfully implement large-scale joint industrial projects and create modern infrastructure and logistics centers.
Ashgabat also intends to continue strengthening cooperation between the CIS countries in the cultural, humanitarian, scientific and educational spheres, and supporting sports contacts. To this end, Turkmenistan plans to hold special events with participation of the CIS countries in the coming year.
In the foreign policy sphere, the priority task for Turkmenistan is to promote the processes aimed at maintaining lasting peace, stability and security in the CIS, strengthening trust and mutual understanding between the member states, neutralizing modern challenges and threats and preventing the risk of conflict.
To this effect, Turkmenistan believes that it is important to strengthen cooperation through the enhanced dialogue between the CIS foreign ministries, creating a systematic, permanent mechanism of political consultations based on the medium-term action program. It is important that such consultations reflect topical issues facing the CIS countries.
Turkmenistan's another priority lies in the sphere of trade and economic relations. In this regard, as the president of the CIS, Turkmenistan intends to use its experience in promoting the CIS mechanisms - sector wise councils and committees - to intensify partnerships, search for promising forms of cooperation and identify specific areas of multilateral interaction.
Broadening the CIS economic relations in the continental and international contexts is an urgent task. This echoes the initiative put forward earlier by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on engagement of the CIS countries in large-scale projects in Eurasia as a full-fledged strategic partner. It is obvious that the CIS cumulative potential - resource, industrial, technological - provides opportunities for the CIS countries to more actively integrate into the international economic relations. Above all, it concerns such areas as transport, energy and logistics.
In this regard, Turkmenistan will continue working actively with partners in the CIS to establish a broad multilateral dialogue on issues relating to transportation of energy resources, ensuring security and reliability of their supplies and developing clear and well-defined principles for the member states in their activities in the international energy market.
Cooperation in the transport sector is one of the promising areas. In terms of geographical configuration, the CIS presents a natural space connecting Asia with Europe, ensuring the efficient operation of transport, transit and trade corridors along the East-West and North-South directions. With this in mind, Turkmenistan proposes to significantly strengthen this strategic vector of partnership through an in-depth analysis and forecasting of all the benefits of the long-term cooperation of the transport systems of the CIS countries.
In this area, Turkmenistan will focus on the maximum use of opportunities that open up for the CIS countries in implementing a number of major transport projects. In particular, this is about using the capacity of the Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran railway, as well as the combined transport link between the regions of Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and Baltic basins. Turkmenistan believes that strengthening partnerships with the UN, its specialized agencies and institutions, primarily in implementing the sustainable development goals, will be an important aspect of its CIS presidency.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has repeatedly noted that the CIS countries' adherence to its founding principles and goals is the most important factor in the CIS work. This refers to the fact that the CIS has not strayed from this path and considers it a tool of cooperation based on the goodwill of the member states, equality and mutual respect and association with national interests of each member. Adherence to these principles ensures the viability and flexibility of the Commonwealth of Independent States, opens new facets and prospects of partnership, maintains the CIS as a factor of sustainability of the system of international stability and security. Turkmenistan believes that political reputation and diplomatic tools of the CIS can and should be used to maintain a balanced regional and international security, prevent conflicts and assert negotiation tools as the only acceptable means of conflict resolution.
As the presiding country, Ashgabat emphasizes its positive and constructive spirit for the upcoming work. It is based on Turkmenistan's confidence that strengthening cooperation and partnerships between the CIS countries truly meets the interests of the peoples of the CIS countries and helps to promote the maximum use of the great potential of this unique interstate organization.