PLACE OF POWER ATTRACTION
The first Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation was held in Ashgabat at the initiative of Turkmenistan in mid-May.
The meeting was attended by Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Maulen Ashimbaev; Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh of Kyrgyzstan Talant Mamytov; Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko; Speaker of the Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan Rustam Emomali; and Speaker of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbayeva. The forum was chaired by the head of the upper house of the Turkmen parliament, Khalk Maslakhaty, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
Before the meeting, the forum participants laid flowers at the monument to the Constitution of Turkmenistan. Then, an official meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation was held at the Congress Center of Ashgabat. Speaking at the forum, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that the format of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the states of Central Asia and Russia offers a platform to address many different tasks. He also noted that support to strengthening regional peace, stability and security is the unconditional priority of joint work.
“There is no doubt that the spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation within Central Asia, as well as relations with Russia should not only be preserved but also strengthened, developed and remain an absolute priority in the long term,” the ex-president of Turkmenistan said.
According to him, the parliaments of the countries of Central Asia and Russia should support and strengthen the relations of mutual respect, trust and openness established by the leaders of these countries. According to the Speaker of the Khalk Maslakhaty, the first Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian countries and Russia should prioritize issues relating to joining efforts in the affirmation of the international law, the principles of the UN Charter, the fight against legal nihilism, the erosion of functions and mandates of supporting international institutions.
According to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, parliamentarians should also focus on issues relating to ensuring food security, environmental protection, as well as affordable medicine and education. The Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty spoke in detail about development of economic cooperation.
“Economic ties play a special role in the multifaceted cooperation between the states of Central Asia and Russia. This is natural, since they constitute a natural and complementary space with significant human potential, the largest stock of natural resources, production and technological capacities, united by geographical proximity,” Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.
He noted that in such strategic areas as transport, energy, industrial cooperation it is important to establish and use mechanisms of international legal support, work towards convergence and harmonization of national legislations and elimination of legal and other barriers that hinder partnerships and business contacts.
Then, the heads of the parliamentary delegations of the countries of Central Asia and Russia took the floor. They noted the relevance of developing interaction between the countries of Central Asia and Russia in this parliamentary format.
In particular, in her speech, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko said that Central Asia is naturally a very special region. “The destinies of Russia and Central Asia are historically closely connected. We have a lot in common, we understand each other perfectly, share the same ideals and values, which undoubtedly gives us support for the truly productive and open relations,” the speaker of the Federation Council emphasized.
The official meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation finished with the closing speech by the Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty. He noted that the meeting in the format of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and Russia demonstrated usefulness and great potential. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov supported the proposal by Valentina Matviyenko on developing the organizational basis for the work of a new format of inter-parliamentary cooperation.
“In this regard, as Chair of the forum, I consider it possible to call this format the Ashgabat format. The Turkmen side is also ready to work on the issue of its permanent “registration,” the Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty said. The proposal of the Chair of the forum was unanimously supported by the forum participants and put in the final document – the Ashgabat Declaration.
A number of bilateral documents were signed. Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko signed an Agreement on cooperation between the upper houses of the parliaments of the two countries. Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Chairman of the Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan Rustam Emomali signed an Agreement on cooperation between the Khalk Maslakhaty of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan and the Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan.
The Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation continued with an award ceremony.
Speaker of the Khalk Maslakhaty Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was awarded the Golden Order “Honorary Elder” established by the Council of Elders of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the national award “In the Name of World Pace” and the Golden Order “Ulu Turk” established by the international magazine “Azerbaijan Dunyasi”. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was also awarded the jubilee medal “IPA CIS. 30 Years” established on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
By the decree of the President of Turkmenistan, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matviyenko was awarded the Order ““For Contribution to Development of Cooperation”.
In the afternoon, the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation continued its work in the format of plenary sessions on the topics titled “Legislative body of state power: modern experience and cooperation”, “Medical diplomacy: exchange of experience – reliable way to move forward”, “Regional cooperation in the name of environmental well-being and sustainable development”.
The outcomes of the forum were summed up at its final meeting and reflected in the final document – the Ashgabat Declaration.
On the same May days, Ashgabat hosted the Dialogue of Women of the Central Asian States and the Russian Federation “The Role of Women in Socio-Political and Socio-Economic Development”. The meeting was attended by representatives of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia, as well as heads of the regional UN bodies.
During the dialogue, the participants discussed issues relating to promotion of gender equality and expansion of the role of women in addressing important global and regional issues. The forum participants got acquainted with the experience of various regional platforms and associations of the Central Asian group and Russia for ensuring a more prominent political and social role of women in decision-making on topical issues related to ensuring peace, stability and development in the region and the world.
As was noted at the forum, the creative mission of women is in demand as never before. In particular, the UNDP Resident Representative in Turkmenistan, Narine Sahakyan, emphasized that “the world needs women’s talents, views and leadership qualities to solve the most serious problems – from climate change to economic recovery.”
“We will continue building on knowledge and experience of women of the region, including those in this room, to keep changing the world for the better,” the UNDP representative said.
A declaration was adopted on the outcomes of the forum with recommendations for adoption at the national and regional levels to ensure the gender balance and greater women’s participation in the political and socio-economic life of states. The document also notes willingness to contribute to the implementation of the policies of the Central Asia states and Russia for the further development of regional cooperation.
There were signed the provisions and work plan of the Dialogue of Women of the Central Asian States for 2022 that features various events to be held in Turkmenistan and other countries participating in the dialogue.
The participants of the Dialogue of Women of the Central Asian States of and Russia visited the Expo Center of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan to view an exhibition of achievements of the national economies of the countries participating in the forum. The exhibition was organized within the framework of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum “Central Asia – Russia”.
Together with colleagues from other countries, the exhibition was visited by the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko. Famous national souvenirs were exhibited at the stand of the Russian Federation – ceramic dishes of Gzhel painting, Khokhloma painting items, paintings by Russian artists, as well as books on the history of Russia. Russia House in Ashgabat jointly with the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan provided support to the organization of the exhibition.