EMPOWERING TURKMEN INITIATIVE
In late 2019, the Moscow office of the CIS Executive Committee hosted a scientific-practical conference titled "The Role and Importance of the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of the CIS Member States in Enhancing Economic Integration in the Eurasian Space". The conference discussed in detail the Declaration that was initiated by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and adopted unanimously at the Summit of the CIS Heads of State in Ashgabat on 11 October 2019.
The expert meeting was organized by the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation and the CIS Executive Committee. It brought together heads and representatives of the CIS Executive Committee departments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, heads and diplomatic staff of the Embassies of the CIS member states accredited in Moscow, as well as representatives of the Russian scientific, financial and economic communities.
Highly appreciating the substantive discussions of the conference topic, the participants noted that the Declaration aims primarily at enhancing the use of the CIS socio-economic potential to promote integration processes among its member states. The conference participants emphasized that the CIS countries currently implement large-scale transport and energy projects and build modern infrastructure, communications, international transport corridors and logistics centers of interregional and global scale.
In their practical recommendations, experts spoke in favor of harnessing the enormous constructive potential inherent in the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of the CIS Member States in Enhancing Economic Integration in the Eurasian Space.
The editorial office of "Turkmenistan" magazine asked Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee, Executive Secretary, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation Sergey Nikolaevich Lebedev to comment on the outcomes of the conference.
- Sergey Nikolaevich, why, in your opinion, the expert community of the CIS gave serious consideration to the Ashgabat Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of the CIS Member States?
- It is very important and praiseworthy that following the adoption of the fundamental political and economic document such as the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation all of us did not waist time to hit the ground running and made targeted efforts towards practical implementation of this important document. We know from personal experience and we have seen it on many occasions that important documents are often being wasted after their adoption, and it may take very long to get to their implementation. It seems very timely that our Turkmen friends came up with the initiative to hold a wide range of events that specify steps and plans for the implementation of the Ashgabat Declaration.
We held a round table on this topic quickly enough at the headquarters of the CIS Executive Committee in Minsk. Today, we gathered in the office of the CIS Executive Committee in Moscow to take another look at this document and analyze its provisions that are very important for the further development of economic cooperation of the CIS countries. Not least, we gathered to work out some proposal to ensure that this document does not remain "ink on paper" but contributes to the strengthening, development and improvement of our economic interaction.
- Does it mean that the Ashgabat Declaration is viewed as a serious attempt to breathe new life into the economic vector of the CIS development, something that the CIS lacks at times?
- In 2019, the highest bodies of the CIS made many responsible decisions that guided the CIS development in the mid-term, taking into account relevant political and economic challenges and realities. The heads of our states constantly pay attention to this. That is why a couple of years ago we decided to tune up the CIS activities to the current realities. At the same time, we must not lag behind time. We must keep abreast of the times. Therefore, in this context, the outcomes of the Ashgabat meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State are naturally of great importance for the current stage of development of multilateral relations in the CIS space.
Well, it is obvious that the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation adopted by the CIS Council of Heads of State in Ashgabat on 11 October 2019 will now play a significant role in the emerging system of new partnership mechanisms. And this is quite natural. The Declaration was unanimously supported. All the speakers highly rated it and expressed their intention to take efforts to implement the provisions of the Declaration and put them into practice.
Firstly, this document was signed by the heads of all states participating in the meeting of the Council. This means that we have balanced the national interests, agreed on the common approaches and priorities to continue building up mutually beneficial cooperation.
On the other hand, I would like to emphasize the fact that in the process of preparing the Declaration, the Turkmen side, being the initiator of this document, took into account the views of all CIS countries and organically interwove the wealth of the CIS experiences into the development and improvement of economic cooperation.
All speakers at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State in Ashgabat rightly noted that the provisions of the Declaration aim to ensure the sustainable improvement of the effectiveness of economic ties based on the fuller use of the socio-economic potential of each CIS member state and the CIS as a whole, and we have such potential.
I also want to quote President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich Berdimuhamedov. While presenting the Declaration at the Council meeting, he said "We have to be able to translate the competitive advantages of our countries into reality. This is about geography and infrastructural compatibility, as well as experience and traditions of our partnership." These wise words succinctly convey the scale and creativity of the CIS program document.
I am sure that the conference participants share the view that the Ashgabat Declaration outlined the key source of economic development of our countries and focused our efforts on enhancing the role, authority and influence of the CIS on the basis of a balance of national and regional interests.
- What steps should be taken to introduce the provisions of the Ashgabat Declaration into the CIS practice?
- Yes, indeed we face a complex and crucial stage of implementation of the Declaration in practice. To this end, the main provisions of the document were incorporated into the draft programs on development of the CIS, including a Concept on the further development of the CIS and a Strategy for economic development of the CIS until 2030.
We work very actively in both directions. At the end of October 2019, we held a regular meeting of the working group at the headquarters of the CIS Executive Committee in Minsk to promote the provisions of the Concept on the further development of the CIS and a draft plan on its implementation.
As a result, the draft Concept was agreed upon and submitted to member states for approval, and the work under the action plan on promotion of the Concept provisions will be continued in 2020.
Let me add that the text of the draft Strategy on economic development of the CIS for the period until 2030 was also agreed at the expert level and submitted to the CIS Economic Council for consideration at its regular meeting. We strongly believe that these basic program documents will be submitted to the highest CIS bodies for consideration in 2020.
At the same time, the work on practical implementation of the declaration provisions will certainly not be limited to the above-mentioned documents only. The course laid down in the Ashgabat Declaration on the expansion of equal, mutually beneficial and comprehensive cooperation to increase the competitiveness of national economies and strengthen the international reputation of the CIS member states requires a creative approach. First of all, it is important to create new innovative partnership mechanisms to ensure the effective use of the entire range of opportunities available in our Commonwealth.
- The meeting of the CIS Council of the Heads of State on 11 October 2019 was marked by another important event. It was in Ashgabat that the heads of the CIS countries once again extended Sergey Lebedev's powers as Chairman of the Executive Committee, Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States until 31 December 2022.
- Yes, I would have belied my thoughts if I had not accepted the trust placed in me by the heads of state, which was an extremely important event for me personally. I was especially pleased that the initiative to extend my powers in the CIS was first put forward by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
What lies ahead now is a complex, interesting and extremely important work on implementation of tasks set by the heads of our states. We can achieve a positive result only through effective joint work and collective efforts of the CIS member states and bodies. I would like to wish all of us good luck and achievement of our goals!