FROM NEVA TO KARAKUM DESERT
The visit by St. Petersburg's Governor to Ashgabat continued the tradition of fruitful cooperation between individual Russian regions and Turkmenistan. Alexander Beglov, who arrived in the Turkmen capital city at the head of the high-ranking delegation, was received by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
At the meeting, the sides exchanged views on topical issues related to development of mutually beneficial cooperation between Turkmenistan and St. Petersburg. The sides stressed that the partnership experience gained over the past years and existing partnership potential create the necessary prerequisites for enhancement of bilateral relations. This is exemplified by St. Petersburg's group of companies "Vozrozhdenie" that implemented large-scale road construction projects in Turkmenistan.
The sides singled out the promising sectors for partnerships, including industrialization of the country, energy, shipbuilding, transport, digitalization of the economy, as well as science and high technology. In this regard, Alexander Beglov noted the interest of St. Petersburg's businesses in strengthening their positions in the Turkmen market, increasing their investment activities and implementing joint projects.
The sides also discussed cooperation between Turkmenistan and St. Petersburg in the humanitarian field, in particular through education and training of qualified personnel, science and culture. Touching on this topic, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Alexander Beglov spoke in favor of the further deepening of fruitful relations in this area to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
The sides also noted that in the year of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory it is especially important to provide support to the veterans of the Great Patriotic War and preserve the historical memory. In this regard, the guest emphasized that Turkmen soldiers were among the defenders of the city on the Neva.
Confirming their readiness for active bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, the head of state and his guest noted that such interaction meets the long-term mutual interests as well as the strategic course of interstate relations.
A series of business meetings of the Russian governor in Turkmenistan included the talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, in which the high-ranking delegation from St. Petersburg was welcomed by the Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov.
The sides noted the high level of Turkmen-Russian trade and economic relations, including a number of projects implemented in Turkmenistan with participation of Russian companies. In this regard, the sides reviewed the ongoing and promising projects in the oil and gas and transport fields.
They also discussed cooperation in education, science, culture, art and sports. In particular, the sides discussed establishing cooperation between the higher education establishments of Turkmenistan and Russia by ensuring the relevant regulatory framework for exchange of experiences in the field of science, education and high technology. Speaking about rich cultures of the two countries, the sides emphasized the successful experience of holding cultural events in Turkmenistan and St. Petersburg and expressed hope for the continued cooperation in this area.
In conclusion, the sides reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to the further strengthening of bilateral relations and signed a protocol on the outcomes of the talks. The Governor of St. Petersburg also held talks at the Ashgabat Mayor Office, during which the sides discussed issues related to development of mutually beneficial partnership between the Turkmen capital city and the city on the Neva. Following the meeting, the sides signed a bilateral document.
Alexander Beglov's visit to the Turkmen-Russian school named after A.S. Pushkin was an important item on his agenda. The St. Petersburg Governor donated books to the school, including "The Blockade Book" by Daniil Granin and Ales Adamovich, which are meant to help schoolchildren better understand the tragedy and greatness of the events of the Great Patriotic War through the prism of simple human stories.
Speaking to the schoolchildren, Alexander Beglov invited them to the annual Scarlet Sails festival in St. Petersburg. "On the day of school graduates, a three-masted brig goes under scarlet sails along the Neva river. This is a brig of dreams. And, as a rule, all dreams come true in our city," Beglov said.
Other than that, the Governor of St. Petersburg viewed the State Museum of Fine Arts of Turkmenistan as part of his visit to Ashgabat, during which member of the St. Petersburg delegation, head of the International Russian-Turkmen Archaeological Expedition, Deputy Director of the Institute of the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences Natalya Solovyova presented the museum with a 3D model of the Parkhai Altar that was restored on the basis of finds discovered in Turkmenistan.
The expedition led by Solovyova has been exploring Yylgynly Depe for many years now. In 2014, there was discovered a unique complex - a specialized workshop for the manufacture of small clay plastic at the turn of the 5th-4th millennium BC. Researchers claim that the workshop at Yylgynly Depe is the oldest of those found in the entire Middle East and Central Asia. For this discovery, head of the archaeological expedition Natalya Solovyova was awarded the state prize of Turkmenistan - the Makhtumkuli Fragi medal.
"Evidence of a thousand year old civilization has been preserved in twenty meters of cultural layers. We have only dug up six of them so far, Natalya Solovyova told Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov. And almost every year we find something special."
She presented artifacts discovered during archaeological excavations, such as mosaics, household items and utensils and others. According to the historian, the presence of a workshop, as compared to just a working area, indicates that at Yylgynly Depe items were made for the entire community, whose population could reach up to 1500 people. It has been believed until recently that this society was not structured. Now, thanks to this discovery, it can be argued that there can be identified at least a class of artisans, and this proves the higher level of development of this society and its well-being.
"Life was in full swing there compared to the middle and northern parts. And this is unprecedented," Solovyova said. The expedition expects to make even greater historical finds during the exploration of Yylgynly Depe.
Alexander Beglov's meeting with residents of Ashgabat who survived the Leningrad blockade in the Great Patriotic War was a touching moment of the St. Petersburg Governor's visit to Ashgabat. "By the will of fate, you are now far from Leningrad. Many thousands of kilometers divide our city and Ashgabat. However, wherever you live, you will forever remain Leningraders. We are always with you in our hearts," the Governor said to the veterans.
He handed gifts and commemorative badges "In honor of the 75th anniversary of the complete liberation of Leningrad from the fascist blockade" to Maria Avanesova, Olga Dronova and Galina Mamedova. The blockade women also received an invitation to come to the celebration of May 9 in St. Petersburg.
"The Committee for External Relations of the Government of St. Petersburg is holding an international campaign to gather recollections of compatriots. We receive memoirs, diaries, photographs, stories of veterans and their relatives. They will be included in a special book that we plan to publish by the anniversary date. This book will also include recollections of the blockade survivors living in Ashgabat," the Governor said, emphasizing the importance of preserving the memory of the war and the blockade of Leningrad.
According to Alexander Beglov, it will be right and fair to perpetuate the feat of Leningrad in monuments and memorials in other regions and abroad, especially where Leningraders took shelter during the war. "Turkmenistan also sheltered many residents of the besieged city. We will always remember with gratefulness the history of our once common country," the Governor said.
The eventful visit of the St. Petersburg Governor was concluded with a magnificent concert by Russian artists who arrived in Ashgabat as part of the delegation from the city on the Neva. The head of the Russian delegation attended the concert as a guest of honor. Artists from St. Petersburg gave a concert at the Magtymguly National Music and Drama Theater. The concert included performances by the St. Petersburg Song and Dance Theater "Moroshka" and soloists of the State Academic Mariinsky Theater. Artists performed songs of the war years, Russian national songs and dances. Tunes from popular movies were also played. The concert culminated in the joint performance of famous Kalinka.