GOOD NEIGHBOURLINESS STRATEGY
The state visit to Turkmenistan by President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was intended to strengthen the course on strategic partnership between Ashgabat and Nur-Sultan, which was officially formalized in 2017 by the relevant Treaty, to give it new impetus in accordance with modern realities and in line with the objective trends of the comprehensive bilateral agenda and international processes.
It should be noted that the consolidated statistics of the course of development of Turkmen-Kazakh relations, especially in recent times, looks promising. The two countries have built a solid legal framework for cooperation, including 120 international documents covering a wide range of areas – from foreign policy to agriculture.
Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan actively cooperate in strengthening regional and global security. This is clearly evidenced by the well-established, systematic dialogue between the two countries through international organizations, primarily the UN, the OSCE and regional organizations.
The sides strengthen cooperation in promoting confidence building measures in Asia, as evidenced by the active participation of the Turkmen delegation in the 6th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia held in Nur-Sultan.
Kazakhstan consistently supports Turkmenistan’s neutrality, international initiatives in such important areas as energy and transport. The recent examples include Kazakhstan’s joining the Group of Friends of Neutrality for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development, as well as co-sponsorship of Turkmenistan-initiated UN General Assembly resolutions on preventive diplomacy in Central Asia and transport cooperation during and after the pandemic. In turn, Turkmenistan also consistently supports many Kazakh initiatives and supports Kazakhstan in the elections to the UN bodies.
Contacts at the level of ministries of foreign affairs are an important element of cooperation in the foreign policy sphere. They are well-established, regular and systemic, making it possible to solve emerging issues in bilateral relations, coordinate actions and promptly respond to certain changes in the international or regional agenda.
Ensuring the positive development of processes in Central Asia is the most visible area of cooperation between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Ashgabat and Nur-Sultan work consistently and purposefully to strengthen and maintain lasting, long-term peace, stability and security in this region, promote mutually beneficial trade, economic and investment partnerships, address environmental problems, including joining efforts on the Aral Sea problem and supporting the activities of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. In this context, the leaders of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan praised the results of the 3rd Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia held in Turkmenistan last August.
The situation in Afghanistan was discussed in detail during the talks. Gunbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev spoke in favor of achieving accord and reconciliation in this country exclusively by peaceful, political and diplomatic means, emphasizing the need to restore the socio-economic infrastructure of Afghanistan, implementation of significant projects aimed at Afghanistan’s integration in the system of regional and international economic relations. Turkmenistan implements a number of major international projects involving Afghanistan, including pipeline, transport, electric power projects, and it stands ready to look into the possibility of engaging the Kazakh partners in their implementation.
Kazakhstan is a neighbor of Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea. Cooperation in bilateral and multilateral formats is the most important factor in turning the Caspian Sea into the area of peace, good neighborliness, harmony and mutually beneficial partnership. A lot has been done in this regard, especially in recent years. The strategic goal has been achieved, namely the signing of the Convention on the Status of the Caspian Sea.
There is a consistent positive trend in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Even against the background of objective complications associated with the situation in the global economy, mutual trade increased markedly over the eight months of 2021 in comparison with the same period of the last year. According to this indicator, Kazakhstan is among the top ten foreign trade partners of Turkmenistan.
The sides noted that trade and economic contacts increased in recent times thanks to the joint efforts, yet they are clearly insufficient, given the powerful mutual potential. It is obvious that the quality and volume of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries can and must be substantially increased and adjusted to the objective possibilities and available resources. That is why Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov expressed confidence that the sides need to implement specific projects, use the geographical and infrastructural advantages of the two countries and look for new areas of cooperation, first of all, in strategic areas such as industry, transport and communications, energy, agro-industrial complex.
Cooperation in the field of transport, communications and logistics objectively comes to the fore. Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan occupy strategically important geographical positions, leading to close partnership in the transport and transit sector, taking into account the implementation of projects of international transport corridors.
The sides noted the importance of further development of cooperation in rail transport along the Uzen (Kazakhstan) – Gyzylgaya – Bereket – Etrek (Turkmenistan) – Gorgan (Iran) route, which is now a priority for the implementation of joint projects that ensure transit of goods through the territories of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
The sides currently work with the Chinese side on activation of the railway multimodal transport communication China – Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan and further to the Persian Gulf and increasing cargo transportation. A legal framework is being prepared to build up cooperation in this area.
The port facilities of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea, as well as the Turkmenbashi – Garabogaz – Kazakhstan border have the significant potential. In this regard, the Turkmen side initiated construction of a new bridge.
There are good prospects for cooperation in the fuel and energy sector, realization of mutual potential as the largest suppliers of energy resources to international markets. This is vividly exemplified by the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, part of which runs through the territory of Kazakhstan. Ashgabat is ready to substantively discuss technical, organizational and other issues related to supplies of Turkmen natural gas.
Industrial cooperation is seen as a promising area. Both states have accumulated substantial experience in establishing and developing various industries, building and efficiently operating industrial enterprises.
Cultural and humanitarian ties have always played a special role in relations between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Both countries are bound not only by geographical proximity but also by truly fraternal relations and common history. At present, these concepts are enriched with new content, becoming a serious factor in interstate cooperation, mutual understanding, friendship and sympathy between peoples.
Cultural interaction and various events with participation of the creative intelligentsia of the two countries, musical, folklore groups, cinematographers and literature figures play an important role in this process. In this regard, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov suggested discussing the possibility of exchanging Days of Culture in 2022, subject to favorable conditions.
Highly appreciating the talks, the President of Turkmenistan noted that they helped to further strengthen bilateral relations, specify their development in various fields and provide clear guidelines for joint work in the future.
The Joint Statement adopted by the Presidents of the two countries emphasized that the talks and documents signed during the visit would serve the interests of the fraternal peoples of Turkmenistan and the Republic of Kazakhstan and contribute in every possible way to the growth of their well-being.
A significant event took place during the visit, emphasizing the special nature of relations between the two countries. By the Decree of the President of Turkmenistan, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan was awarded a high state award – the Order of Turkmenistan “Bitaraplyk” (Neutrality) “for special contribution to the recognition of the permanent neutrality of independent Turkmenistan, strengthening friendly relations between Turkmenistan and the Republic of Kazakhstan and taking into account the great personal contribution to the development of long-term cooperation between the two countries in the political, economic, scientific, educational and cultural spheres”.