PRAGMATISM OF COLLECTIVE INTEREST
The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand was designed to strengthen the domestic political agenda, ensure closer external relations and set priorities in the time of new global realities. Turkmenistan traditionally participates in the SCO meetings at the highest level as an honored guest. Ashgabat has always emphasized that it regards this status as an important message, evidence of understanding of the great mutual opportunities and prospects for development of partnership, the desire to give it a long-term and purposeful character.
Turkmenistan fully shares such approach. In their assessment of the SCO activities, Turkmenistan proceeds from the premise that this association, making up half of the world’s population and about one third of the world’s gross domestic product, is guided by mutual respect and equality, has a powerful political potential and won high moral authority. It is turning into the pole of attraction for many countries aspiring to create a space of peace and stability in Eurasia, a mutually beneficial and sustainable partnership.
Turkmenistan is no exception. Speaking at the plenary session, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov confirmed his readiness to cooperate with the SCO, build multifaceted, flexible forms and patterns of interaction.
According to the Turkmen leader, the complex and painful phenomena that are observed in the world require special responsibility, consolidation of states that profess the principles of peace and equality, building a common strategy for maintaining the global and regional security architecture, preventing chaos in international processes, their sliding into a permanent series of confrontation and rivalry.
In this context, Turkmenistan, regarding the SCO as one of the most important pillars of continental stability, expresses its desire and readiness to establish closer and more substantive political and diplomatic cooperation in areas such as the fight against terrorism, extremism, organized crime, drug trafficking and other types of illegal activities.
Among the priority goals that Turkmenistan would like to address together with the Shanghai Organization is the protection and provision of the rule of law and universal international legal norms at the global level, adherence to the principles and spirit of the UN Charter, confirmation of their inviolability and irreplaceability. In this regard, Serdar Berdimuhamedov informed the leaders of the SCO countries about the international initiatives that Turkmenistan put forward at the current session of the UN General Assembly.
Promoting the philosophy of trust-based dialogue in international relations, Turkmenistan initiated drafting a resolution of the UN General Assembly titled “Dialogue is a guarantee of peace.” Ashgabat expects that through the adoption of such a document the fundamental and unequivocal commitment of all UN member states to a peaceful, negotiated method of resolving conflict situations will be confirmed.
Restoring trust, a culture of respectful dialogue is currently gaining universal importance as one of the key conditions for a responsible, non-confrontational approach, the search for opportunities for mutual understanding and maintaining a balance of interests when addressing certain problematic issues. Based on this, Turkmenistan puts forward a proposal at the UN General Assembly to declare 2025 the Year of Peace and Trust.
Taking advantage of the cumulative capacity of Turkmenistan and the SCO in neutralizing and preventing conflict situations at the regional level, primarily in Central Asia, is an important area of cooperation. The fact that many SCO member states and observers joined the Group of Friends of Neutrality for the sake of peace, security and sustainable development that was created at the UN on Turkmenistan’s initiative is indicative in this regard. It offers good prerequisites for advancing the peacekeeping agenda.
Taking into account that December 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, founded among others by four SCO member states, Turkmenistan intends to put forward a draft resolution at the UN General Assembly on the role of the center, reflecting significant events of recent years, including the proclamation of a zone of peace, trust and cooperation in Central Asia.
Speaking about the areas of cooperation with the SCO, Serdar Berdimuhamedov confirmed Turkmenistan’s readiness for a serious expansion and deepening of trade and economic partnership. There are not only real opportunities for this but also an objective need. The availability of a powerful aggregate resource and production base, geographic proximity, acquired competencies and experience of interaction in bilateral and multilateral formats provide the most favorable conditions for establishment of long-term and stable relations in transport, logistics, communications, energy, economic integration corridors along East – West and South – North routes.
Turkmenistan is ready to discuss in practical terms the prospects of using its territory and infrastructure in the interests of the SCO for building intercontinental and regional transit routes for supply of goods and services. The Caspian route will not be the least, taking into account the availability of a large modern multi-purpose marine terminal in the city of Turkmenbashi on the Turkmen coast. It is also obvious that the SCO should play active role in establishing a system of transport and transit corridors and logistics along the Central Asia – the Caspian Sea – the Black Sea route.
In the energy sector, Turkmenistan also stands ready to establish systematic and long-term cooperation with the SCO. In this context, Ashgabat suggest that SCO should be proactive in planning joint projects to diversify energy supplies to meet the needs of the SCO countries with the prospect of accessing foreign markets. Turkmenistan has relevant capacities to significantly increase the volume of such supplies.
Participation of Afghanistan in these and other multilateral projects is of particular importance, being one of the conditions for the restoration of its economy and social sphere and, ultimately, the achievement of peace and harmony on its territory.
Culture, science, education, humanitarian contacts – these areas are also on the partnership agenda. The historical ties between Turkmenistan and the SCO countries have deep, centuries-old roots, and Turkmenistan fully supports their continuation and development.
As a whole, Serdar Berdimuhamedov’s participation in the Samarkand summit, the bilateral talks he held at the summit confirmed the fact that building up close, friendly and mutually beneficial relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will remain one of the important vectors of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy. Ashgabat is aware of the great prospects of this partnership, highly appreciates the level of mutual understanding reached and is firmly committed to the long-term strategic cooperation with the SCO.