FROM NORTH TO SOUTH
When a new leader comes to the country’s top post, many wait for his first steps in the international arena to try to guess new foreign policy priorities. As events have shown, one should not expect fundamental changes. Serdar Berdimuhamedov has adopted a well-thought-out policy for greater cooperation with strategic partners of Turkmenistan. This is clearly evidenced by his visits to the Russian Federation and Iran.
In Moscow, the head of the Turkmen state held talks with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. The meeting of the leaders of the two countries took place at the Grand Kremlin Palace. During the one-on-one meeting and the following talks with participation of the two delegations, Vladimir Putin and Serdar Berdimuhamedov discussed the development of cooperation in political, trade, economic, scientific, cultural and other areas of mutual interest.
It was noted that despite all external complexities bilateral trade increased significantly in the first quarter of this year, which is a very serious step forward. The sides noted that to date the two countries signed 288 documents, among which the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and the Treaty on Strategic Partnership between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation remain the core documents.
Stressing that Ashgabat pays great attention to cooperation with the Russian Federation, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov invited President Vladimir Putin to pay an official visit to Turkmenistan at any time convenient for him. The Russian leader, in turn, said that he would definitely use this opportunity to visit Turkmenistan.
Following the talks in the Malachite Foyer of the Grand Kremlin Palace, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov was awarded the state decoration of the Russian Federation – the Order of Friendship. In accordance with the decree of President Vladimir Putin, the President of Turkmenistan was awarded this high state decoration for his great contribution to strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Then, the sides signed 15 bilateral documents. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov signed the Declaration on deepening the strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. At the level of the governments of Russia and Turkmenistan, two agreements were signed – on prevention, detection and suppression of dubious financial transactions by participants of foreign economic activities, and on cooperation in the field of plant quarantine.
Following the talks, the sides signed memoranda of cooperation in the field of transport and transit, in the field of communications and information technology, in the construction sector, in the field of banking supervision, in the field of railways and international and transit freight traffic.
At the regional level, agreements were signed on the implementation of international and foreign economic relations in the trade, economic, scientific, technical, socio-cultural and humanitarian spheres between Astrakhan region of Russia and Balkan province of Turkmenistan, as well as on the establishment of sister city relations between the cities of Astrakhan and Turkmenbashi .
In addition, the sides signed a cooperation agreement between the All-Russian Research Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Land Reclamation named after A.N. Kostyakov and the Turkmen National Institute of Deserts, Flora and Animals, as well as an agreement on cooperation between the Astrakhan State University and Magtymguly Turkmen State University and other documents.
Following the document signing ceremony, the heads of the two states made statements for the press. It was noted that the bilateral trade amounted to $865 million last year, and mutual trade increased by another 45 percent in the first quarter of this year.
The United Shipbuilding Corporation is currently building a multi-purpose dry cargo ship for Turkmenistan. Two high-speed passenger motor ships have already been handed to the Turkmen side. There are plans to build several passenger-and-freight ferries. The Russian Transmashholding has built two diesel locomotives for the railways of Turkmenistan. In March, a contract was signed for another five such machines. KAMAZ increased deliveries of its products to the Turkmen market. Last year, about two thousand trucks were supplied, and a new training center of the company was opened in the city of Turkmenbashi.
It was also emphasized that Russia and Turkmenistan cooperate closely in the fight against the spread of coronavirus infection. Last year, the Turkmen side received 330,000 Sputnik V vaccine kits. In January of this year, Turkmenistan received 800,000 doses of Sputnik Light, of which 300,000 were free of charge.
During a conversation with reporters, Vladimir Putin noted that Russia is grateful to the leadership of Turkmenistan for its careful attitude to the Russian language and Russian culture. The Joint Russian-Turkmen General Education School named after A.S. Pushkin has been successfully operating in Ashgabat for 20 years now. This is one of the leading educational establishments in the country with Russian as a language of instruction, where teaching is carried out according to Russian state educational standards and textbooks. He also noted the popularity of Russian education among the Turkmen youth. Over 30,000 students from Turkmenistan currently study in Russia. Of them, more than 4,300 students are funded by the Russian side. In this regard, Vladimir Putin supported Serdar Berdimuhamedov’s idea to create a joint Russian-Turkmen University.
After the press conference, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov proceeded to the memorial complex located in the Alexander Garden, near the Kremlin wall. Paying tribute to the heroes who fell in the battle against fascism on the fields of the Great Patriotic War, the head of Turkmenistan laid flowers at the Eternal Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In the afternoon, the Turkmen leader visited the State Tretyakov Gallery, where he got acquainted with an exhibition of works of fine art created in various periods of the twentieth century. Thanking the management of the State Tretyakov Gallery for the tour, the President of Turkmenistan left the museum. Having completed his official visit to the Russian Federation, the head of state proceeded to the Moscow Vnukovo-2 international airport, from where he departed for his homeland.
The official visit by the Turkmen leader to Iran was also very fruitful. President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov held talks with President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran.
During the talks in the narrow format followed by the talks with participation of members of the two delegations, the leaders of Turkmenistan and Iran discussed issues relating to bilateral cooperation in the political-diplomatic, trade-economic, cultural-humanitarian fields. Particular attention was paid to the fuel and energy, transport and communications and agricultural sectors.
The sides also exchanged views on the international and regional issues of mutual interest. The heads of the two neighboring states discussed in detail issues relating to bilateral cooperation within the framework of international and regional organizations, primarily the UN.
At the meeting, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov noted that Turkmenistan is an active supporter of international efforts to assist Afghanistan. In this regard, the head of state offered to explore the opportunity of holding a meeting of special representatives of Turkmenistan and Iran on Afghanistan in the near future.
Following the talks, the sides signed bilateral documents. To the applause of the ceremony participants, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi signed a joint statement.
On the outcomes of the meeting, the sides also signed memoranda on development of transport and transit cooperation, on cooperation in the field of environmental protection, on cooperation between the State News Agency of Turkmenistan and the Information Agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on establishment of a joint committee on investments, trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation between the border regions of the two countries.
At the end of the document signing ceremony, the heads of state made statements for the press.
Then, the President of Turkmenistan met with the Supreme Spiritual Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The meeting was also attended by Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi. During the talks, the sides discussed prospects of increasing the Turkmen-Iranian partnership, ensuring regional stability and security.
Then, the President of Turkmenistan visited the exhibition of national values, arts and crafts of the Iranian people at the Hafezie Palace. The exhibition displays products made in Iran, carpets, rugs and works of visual arts.
Later, the President of Turkmenistan met with the Chairman of the Islamic Consultative Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammed Bager Ghalibaf. The sides discussed issues relating to enhancing inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.
After that, the motorcade of the President of Turkmenistan headed to the Mehrabad International Airport, from where the head of state left for his homeland.