CIS GETS FRESH IMPETUS
In the unanimous opinion of all members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the year of Turkmenistan's chairmanship of this association was eventful, informative and fruitful. Given its successful experience of chairing the CIS in 2012, Turkmenistan approached this mission with full responsibility in 2019, realizing the scale and ambition of the tasks to be addressed.
In the period of its chairmanship, the main goal for Turkmenistan was to provide comprehensive support to strengthening cooperation and partnerships among the CIS member states on the basis of equality, good neighborliness and mutual respect to maximize the CIS potential and efficient development and increase well-being and quality of life of its peoples.
One of the priority tasks singled out by Turkmenistan was the establishment of favorable conditions for scaling up and enhancing mutually beneficial trade and economic partnerships, full integration of the CIS into the international economic relations as a territory in which large-scale joint production projects are being successfully implemented and modern infrastructure and logistics centers are being created.
Ashgabat also stated its intention to continue strengthening cooperation between the CIS countries in the cultural, humanitarian, scientific and educational fields and to support sport contacts.
In the foreign policy sphere, Turkmenistan prioritized the comprehensive promotion of processes designed to maintain lasting peace, stability and security in the CIS, strengthen confidence and mutual understanding between the member states, tackle modern challenges and threats and prevent risks of conflict.
Strengthening the CIS partner relations with the United Nations and its specialized agencies, primarily for the implementation of sustainable development programs, was an important aspect of Turkmenistan's chairmanship.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has repeatedly noted that the CIS's lasting commitment to the principles and goals laid down in its foundation is the most important factor guiding the CIS activities. This refers to the fact that the CIS has preserved its focus as an instrument of cooperation based on the goodwill of its member states, equality and mutual respect, correlation of national interests of each country. Following these principles enables the CIS to retain viability and flexibility, reveals new facets and prospects of partnership and conditions the CIS existence as a factor of sustainability of the system of international stability and security. Turkmenistan believes that the political reputation and diplomatic tools of the CIS can and should be used to maintain a balance of regional and international security, prevent conflicts and promote negotiation tools as the only acceptable means of conflict resolution.
At the meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government in Ashgabat in May 2019, the President of Turkmenistan referred to the CIS as an original and largely unique association. He noted that the CIS reached a new stage in its development. United by geography, common historical experience and multiple humanitarian ties, the CIS countries need to find their rightful place in the changing world and use their objective advantages, primarily in terms of geo-economics, to ensure their comprehensive, effective and equal participation in the global and continental processes.
This is, above all, the focus of Turkmenistan's initiatives to bring partnerships within the CIS with all its importance and value to the greater geographical and economic horizons. First of all, this is about the well-known proposals in the field of transport, logistics and energy that Turkmenistan initially put forward at the CIS Summit in Sochi in 2017. These initiatives envisaged the CIS participation in large-scale infrastructure projects in Eurasia, along the East-West and North-South routes that go beyond the CIS borders.
As of today, there are good examples of implementation of such projects with participation of the CIS countries. There were built railways along Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran and Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Tajikistan routes. Linking these states, they can be extended or branch out to the Asia-Pacific region.
In fact, the establishment of an integrated railway network is under way, which is designed to cover vast spaces in the continent. The CIS countries' involvement in this configuration is natural and beneficial. It also fits into the logic of ensuring the legitimate interests of the CIS countries with no direct access to the sea, including through construction of the so-called "dry ports".
As Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted, the CIS countries' participation in yet another large-scale project looks highly promising. This project is intended to establish the combined transport corridor between the Caspian and Black Sea regions.
The leader of Turkmenistan also proposed using the Caspian Sea and its coastal infrastructure as a strategic hub in the context of uniting business interests of not only the coastal states but also non-regional countries, including the CIS members.
Turkmenistan calls on the CIS partners to consider joining multilateral projects in the energy sector. This is predominately about long-term exports of energy to the regions adjacent to the CIS in the eastern and southern directions, such as China, Pakistan and India, given the fact that many CIS countries are the largest hydrocarbon producers and suppliers in Eurasia. A powerful resource base and transit advantages make it possible to carry out large-scale and, in many ways, unique projects for energy exports to international markets.
This is strikingly exemplified by the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, part of which runs through the territories of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Construction of another branch of the gas pipeline along Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan-China route is upcoming. These projects open up various prospects for participation of other CIS countries. It can be construction of relevant infrastructure, provision of services, supply of equipment and construction machinery, etc.
The same applies to the ongoing Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India gas pipeline project.
The CIS potential can be used much more extensively in such promising area as communications. Only the availability of modern and reliable communications infrastructure can open the way for the CIS countries to fully integrate into the system of international economic relations and achieve leading positions in trade and economic partnership in the continent in the future.
At the Ashgabat meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government, Turkmenistan suggested that consideration should be given to extending economic cooperation beyond the CIS borders to neighboring regions. The CIS countries have reviewed and evaluated these initiatives and made many useful amendments and recommendations.
Economic issues were discussed in detail at the October meeting of the CIS Council of the Heads of State in Ashgabat. The importance of introducing new, modern partnership schemes and models, both within the CIS and with other states and international economic associations, was the recurring topic. According to the President of Turkmenistan, these forms of partnership should be responsive to the changing realities of the global geo-economics and take into account the emergence of new economic centers, widespread introduction of innovations and digital technologies. All this requires certain rethinking of the nature of the CIS cooperation and exploration of new, promising areas. This must be done quickly and efficiently in the competitive global environment.
In this regard, Turkmenistan has come up with a draft Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of the CIS Member States. The document is designed to create a coordinated approach towards realization of economic interests of each member state and the CIS as a whole and establishment of effective partnership mechanisms to improve economic ties both within the CIS and with other integration associations and individual states. This document was adopted at the Ashgabat Summit.
The traditional year-end informal CIS summit in St. Petersburg summed up, among other issues, the outcomes of Turkmenistan's chairmanship of the CIS. It was noted that almost all planned activities were carried out. There were held meetings of the Council of Heads of State and Heads of Government, Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Economic Council of the CIS in which important agreements were reached on cooperation in the political, trade, economic and humanitarian spheres, and individual ministries and departments contacted each other at the working level.
The adoption of the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of the CIS Member States is one of the significant achievements. It laid the foundations for the progressive multifaceted partnership between the CIS countries on a new basis and in accordance with the objective requirements of modern development.
One also has to note the adoption of another major document such as the Program of Action on Enhancing Partnership between the Foreign Ministries of the CIS Member States.
These decisions aim to further strengthen cooperation, reflecting a shared interest in promoting the full potential of the CIS and strengthening its constructive influence in the world.
Interaction continued in 2019 through the most important international organizations. The CIS countries consistently upheld the principles of equality and respect in interstate relations, supported the establishment of the culture of peace and dialogue in the global arena, strengthening of universal stability and security and made a significant contribution to the achievement of the sustainable development goals. In this context, one need to note the current practice of mutual support of the CIS countries in considering and adopting important resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and voting for candidates to elected UN bodies.
The cultural agenda of the CIS was meaningful and substantive. The Forum of Creative Intelligentsia of the CIS countries was successfully held in Ashgabat. A number of other events also took place.
Much work lies ahead. It is important to fulfill the agreements reached earlier. First of all, this is about implementing the agreements on expanding and diversifying economic ties, increasing mutual trade, introducing innovative methods and models into joint management practices and promoting large-scale infrastructure projects.
Celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War will be the most important and landmark event this year. As is known, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov proposed to hold official flower-laying ceremonies at the Victory memorials in all CIS countries on 9 May 2020 and organize festive fireworks to celebrate the anniversary date.
Completing its mission as Chair of the CIS, Turkmenistan seeks to implement in full all the goals stated at the high-level forums last year, including strengthening confidence and enhancing mutual understanding between the CIS countries, promoting initiatives aimed at supporting stability and security in the CIS, increasing cooperation with international organizations, enhancing political and diplomatic interaction to strengthen global peace and strategic stability.