THE PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN GIVES INTERVIEW TO CHAIRMAN OF «MIR» ITRC RADIK BATYRSHIN
On occasion of the 30th anniversary of independence of neutral Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov gave interview to Chairman of «Mir» Interstate TV and Radio Company.
Dear Mr. President, let me first extend my gratitude for your agreement on this interview. What do you thing the concept of independence means for Turkmen people?
I would like to welcome you in hospitable Turkmenistan. Speaking of the importance of independence, I would propose to review it in the context of historical development of our country minimum for the last centuries.
Following this, I am confident that receiving of independence by Turkmenistan was a logical continuation of its ancient history.
By their nature, Turkmens are constituent people. Starting from early medieval age and throughout several centuries, they have taken and active and direct part in establishment and successful development of number of states in Central and South Asia, Middle and Near East. This is indicated by numerous facts and documents.
Therefore, I strongly believe that 1991 could be considered as a remarkable milestone, from which the return of Turkmen people to the path of sovereign development has started. Our people has regained inner pivot point, has seen the meaning and historical perspective of its existence in conditions of own statehood.
Indeed, we have felt high responsibility for the destiny of our state, for the fate and future of next generations. I think that this condition has revealed the best features of multi-national people of Turkmenistan: patriotism, dignity, hardworking, humanity, respect of the memory of ancestors, tolerance and readiness to help.
All of this has helped us not only to overcome the first and hardest period after gaining independence without any shocks but also to proceed to stable political, economic and social growth.
Being democratic, legal and temporal state, this is how it is stated in our Constitution, Turkmenistan pays special attention to development of its legislative system, in particular to improvement of legal bases.
I can confidently say that we have built clear and effective structure of the government power, which legislative executive and judicial branches operate are balanced and complement each other.
Programs aimed at modernization of the economy and integration of Turkmenistan into the world economic space have been implemented for the years of independence.
At the same time, we develop other strategically important directions of national economy such as energy, transport, communication, agricultural complex, financial and banking sector.
Strong social policy of the state has become a distinguishing feature of our model of development. More than 70 percent of the State budget resources are used for social needs, improvement of life and quality level of people. New living, school and pre-school, health protection facilities are built massively. More than 38 billion US dollars have been invested to construction industry all together.
Amounts of salary wages, pensions, allowances and student scholarship are increased by 10 percent every year.
Strategic branch of our economy – fuel and energy complex, has undergone significant reforms. New gas lines have been built from Turkmenistan to China and Iran. Construction of Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India gas line is under rapid construction. In addition to energy resources, Turkmenistan exports environmentally friendly gasoline and diesel fuel, motor oils, liquefied gas and other fuel and lubricating materials and electricity.
Powerful textile industry, which production competes successfully in the world markets, has been established in the country. Food abundance has been achieved. Conditions for rapid scientific and technological development have been provided.
Wide opportunities for establishment of telecommunication system complying with world standards have come after the launch of the first national satellite to the space. Active process of wide digitization of all spheres of activity is undergoing.
By the growth rates of the GDP, Turkmenistan has taken strong position among the most dynamically developing economies of the world. According to the assessments of the World Bank, Turkmenistan is among the countries with higher income level of middle-income countries of the world.
For the years of independence, the volume of the GDP has increased by 8.4 times, total volume of the main investments to the economy of the country was 209 billion US dollars.
66.6 percent of them, which is around 140 billion US dollars, were invested to production sphere.
At present time, the share of non-government sector in the GDP of the country without fuel and energy complex has reached 70 percent.
Despite complicated negative situation in the world, we have provided the growth of the Gross Domestic Product on 5.9 percent level by the outcomes of 2020.
Ecology and environment protection, development ‘green economy’ occupy proper place among the priorities of the state.
Adaptation measures are actively taken in the country for restoration of forest and improvement of land use for mitigation of climate impacts, millions of trees are planted. More than 90 million trees have been planted in the country in the last 20 years. 30 million will be planted this year.
Major project of construction of unique artificial Altyn Asyr Lake is implemented in the heart of the Karakum Desert for collection of drain waters from irrigated lands of all regions of the country.
Special attention is paid to provision of the population with pure drinking water.
The V Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games have been held in Ashgabat in 2017. This event has been written with gold letters to new bright page of the history of Turkmen sports.
National health protection system has been completely modernized. Now, it includes ramified network of modern clinics, centers of mother and child health protection, diagnostics, immediate medical care and other medical facilities provided with the most advanced medical equipment.
We have achieved a widespread iodization of salt, enrichment of flour with iron, high level of immunization of the population. Such diseases as dracunculiasis, poliomyelitis, rubella, measles and malaria have been eliminated in the country. Thse achievements have been recognized at the UN level, our country recieved relative international awards and certificates.
The fact that we have managed to arrange an effective work of medical facilities under the combating coronavirus pandemics speaks of stability and efficiency of national healthcare system.
All links of the state system of the population protection from dangerous infectious diseases have been prepared to the pandemics.
I would like to highlight scientific and educational spheres as well, which is under real development today, among our unconditional achievements.
It is obvious that active spiritual rehabilitation of the nation, its historical identity, rise of multinational culture of Turkmenistan have become possible after gaining independence. Effective cooperation between Turkmenistan and the UNESCO is also established.
Ancient Merv, Kunyaurgench, Parthian fortresses of Nissa, which have universal cultural and historical significance and value, are included to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Today, all citizens of our country regardless of ethnical origin feel themselves as an integral part of our common Motherland. We are proud by right of the solidarity of people of Turkmenistan, peace and harmony in our society. It allows us looking into the future with confidence, making gradual democratic reforms, improving state and social life, developing foreign relations successfully.
At the same time, I would like to highlight one important moment according to my opinion. Turkmen statehood is not a solid construction. This is live, creative process, which undergoes in the stream of modern trends of the world development and requirements of the society.
The first elections of members of the People’s Council – higher chamber of Turkmen Parliament, have been held recently on March 28. The first joint session of both chambers of National Assembly of Turkmenistan, which consists of the People’s Council and Mejlis, has been held on April 14.
Transit to two-chamber structure of legislative body is an important gradual event in modern history of Turkmenistan. It has demonstrated high commitment of our country to follow basic criteria of the world and national democratic practice, recognized principles and standards of international law.
I have brought up just some facts indicating major changes that happened in Turkmenistan for the period of independence.
In general, evaluating what we have dome, it can be stated that these years have become a time of creation, revealing huge potential of our people, establishment of solid material and spiritual foundation for further integrated development of the country.
I would also like to add that our country will be the place of such important international events with participation of the heads of foreign states as the VI Summit of Head of Caspian States, XV Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization as well as many other celebration events with participation of high-ranking foreign guests in the year of the 30th celebration of Turkmenistan’s independence.
Speaking of this, I cannot help saying about another event that we celebrate these days – the 140th anniversary of Ashgabat.
We are proud of our capital. For short period, it has changed beyond the recognition. Today, Ashgabat is one modern, dynamically developing city of Asia. It is by right a bright symbol of steadfast movement of our state along the way of rapid social and economic development, innovative growth, and introduction of advanced world practice to all spheres of activity.
The city is growing getting better and becoming the comfortable place to work and live in.
The provision of the capital with social infrastructure – schools, kindergartens, medical centers and sport facilities, is an absolute priority of the capital’s development. We also pay special attention to ecology of the city, environment protection and expansion of parking zones and public gardens.
The concept of urban development of the capital provides careful treatment of its historical part, conducting of major restoration works, and protection of unique features of Ashgabat.
The ground-breaking ceremony of new district of the capital, which we call “a smart city” has been held few days ago.
Following this, the people of Turkmenistan will deservingly celebrate the 30th anniversary of its independence.
Turkmenistan is an associated member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Your country participates actively and creatively in the CIS. How do you see the future of cooperation of Turkmenistan under the Commonwealth and how this cooperation can be developed more efficiently in the year of the 30th anniversary of the Commonwealth?
Today being a neutral state, Turkmenistan supports interstate relations based on the principles of equal rights, having undertaken the obligations for non-interference to internal affairs, respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-participation in multilateral military and political treaties and unions.
Following these fundamental principles, Turkmenistan participates in the CIS as an associated members, builds its relations with the CIS countries based on deep historical relations, beneficial partnership, similarity of approaches to number of issues of international politics and supports active cooperation in the spirit of sincere friendship and trust.
We highly appreciate the fact that fundamental principles of the Commonwealth remain unchanged. These are good will, respect and equal rights.
At the same time, I think that changing world realities require timely and adequate response, merging into new coordinates of cooperation from the CIS. First of all, this is related to economic sphere. I am confident that this is economic, trade and investment cooperation that has to become a driving force of efficiency and success of the CIS, to provide our countries with opportunity to reveal their potential and to integrate fully into the world economy.
In this regard, during its chairing of the CIS in 2019, Turkmenistan has made number of specific proposals. In particular, we have suggested to develop the Declaration on strategic economic cooperation between the state members of the CIS, which has been adopted at the session of the Heads of the states in Ashgabat in October 2019. The principles of this document were put in the foundation of the Strategy of the CIS Economic Development until 2030.
We think that active participation of the Commonwealth’s countries in establishment of sustainable system of economic collaboration between the CIS countries and with neighboring regions is a decisive factor of successful economic cooperation. In this scheme of things, this is about the establishment of new economic corridors, which include energy infrastructure, industrial zones, transport and transit routes, connecting out countries in the North – South and East – West directions.
We think that expansion of cooperation between the CIS and Eurasian Economic Union and Shanghai Cooperation Organization is highly required and seems to be perspective.
We see good future of cooperation of the CIS countries in the context of international agenda. These are such current objectives as provision of global and regional security, combating international terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and organized crime including cybercrime, the achievement of the Sustainable development goals.
Cultural and humanitarian sphere remains solid and reliable link for the states and people of the CIS. We note with delight that many things have been done and being done, cooperation is developed steadily and includes new spheres. The most important thing is that it is fully supported by the peoples of our countries.
Indeed, combating coronavirus pandemics is one of the priorities of the CIS in present conditions.
We think that the Commonwealth’s countries have to establish more efficient mechanisms of cooperation in scientific diplomacy, medical institutes for development of common approaches and methods. Systematic cooperation between the CIS and the World Health Organization is very important in this case.
As you see, Turkmenistan demonstrates active and creative approach in various aspects of cooperation under the CIS.
I would also like to note the following. Yes, the CIS is first of all an interstate association.
But I am also confident that development of bilateral relations between the members of the Commonwealth enriches multilateral cooperation and gives additional specifics and dynamics to such cooperation.
In this context, I would like to note our relations with the Russian Federation, which are developed on the principles of strategic partnership, good neighborliness and mutual respect.
Established relations between our country and big regions of Russia are inherent components of Turkmen – Russian multidimensional cooperation. In this case, I would like to emphasize the cooperation with the Republic of Tatarstan. President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov has paid a visit to Turkmenistan recently. We had very productive and substantial talks, discussed long-term plans of partnership in trade and economic sphere, in particular in industry, heavy engineering, aircraft industry, transport and logistic sphere, energy complex and number of other directions, the agreement on further development of cultural, humanitarian, scientific and educational cooperation has been reached.
All of this is among our interstate relations with Russia and I would like to repeat that it gives positive impulses to cooperation under the CIS in general.
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed this year as International Year of Peace and Trust. It was your personal initiative. You have made at the session of the UN General Assembly and it was supported unanimously. What prompted you, as a politician, to make this proposal? And what do you mean saying Year of Peace and Trust?
The initiative of proclamation of 2021 as International Year of Peace and Trust has become an outcome of impartial and fair analysis of international situation.
It has to be accepted that international relations are in difficult situation today. In our opinion, it is provided by the loss of trust of the states to each other, reduction of quality of communication and culture of interstate dialog.
Being a politician and head of the state, I am worried that such situation not only creates the obstacles for constructive relations between certain states but also creates serious difficulties for solution of universal issues, for which we are all responsible. This includes protection of strategic balance and stability, combating against such common threats as international terrorism, global warming, solution of refugee’s problems, provision of food abundance and many other.
Look at the situation with coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, it revealed system failure in international relations, especially insufficient level of trust, political will and willingness to consolidate the efforts for combating against this threat.
In such conditions, we thought that the world community, first of all the UN, has to undertake a leading role to improve international situation using existing political and diplomatic mechanisms and formats. Proclamation of International Year of Peace and Trust is one of them. Proposing this initiative, Turkmenistan emphasized that it put specific meaning into this.
We see the Year of Peace and Trust as a rank of representative international events, during which practical decisions will be made and specific ways and methods of improvement of international situation, restoration and strengthening of the role of international law will be developed. International High-level conference in Ashgabat is one of the main events in this rank.
We hope that our UN partners will provide practical assistance and support to this initiative and planned activities and together, we will be able to achieve positive results.
- It has been 25 years since your country has a status of permanent positive neutrality. It allows Turkmenistan pursuing its own, predictable, and I would say original foreign policy. How do you evaluate the factor of Turkmen neutrality and its influence of the progress and direction of the process in Central Asia and neighboring regions?
Undoubtedly, Turkmen neutrality plays an important stabilizing role in the region.
The United Nations Organization and the UN state members have the same opinion.
In my opinion, opening of the UN Regional Center of Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia with its headquarter in Ashgabat in 2007 is one of realistic confirmation of such opinion from the world community. This step was a sign of trust to Turkmenistan, evidence of recognition of its constructive role in support and strengthening of stability and security in Central Asia.
At the same time, it has become a confirmation of potential of preventive diplomacy as a tool of conflicts prevention and directing them to peaceful, political and diplomatic direction.
In this case, Turkmenistan’s neutrality is natural and objective factor of positive progression of regional processes, an ally of the UN and all healthy forces in achievement of solid peace and stability in this part of the globe, in fulfillment of the development goals.
Therefore, it is clear and logically that the UN provides invariable and regular support to Turkmenistan’s initiatives aimed at use of peacemaking potential of neutrality.
The fact of establishment of the Neutrality Friend Group, which has been joined by more than 20 states of the world, under the UN at the proposal of Turkmenistan was an important indicator.
It is also worth to mention the appearance of new date - International Neutrality Day, which is observed annually on December 12, in the world political calendar at the initiative of our state.
Given examples indicate that Turkmenistan’s neutrality has become a factor of not only regional but also international politics, a long-term agenda of the UN for protection and strengthening of peace, stability and security.
Economic component is an important aspect of positive influence of Turkmenistan’s neutrality. We never politicize international relations in this sphere. Economic and commercial justification, mutual benefit, equal rights and accounting of interests of all participants are the main criteria for us.
These principles allows us initiating and implementing significant international projects in energy sphere, transport and communication fields in the regions and beyond its borders. Objectively, they serve to stabilization of the situation, better understanding, trust and predictability between the state members. Therefore, the neutrality acts as actual mechanism of economic rapproachment, establishment of systematic, long-term trade, investment and production relations. As a result, it leads to reduction of conflict potential.
Last year, Turkmenistan has marked the 25th anniversary of its neutrality together with the world community. Heads of big international organizations, heads of states and governments, big politicians, diplomats, public activists, scientists took part in International Conference dedicated to this anniversary in online format. In their speeches, they have given high appraisal to neutral policy of Turkmenistan and said about its support and significance for the entire world.
It gives us an inspiring impulse to continue pursuing chosen foreign course for the interest of Turkmen people, support and strengthening of peace, good neighborliness, cooperation and development firmly and with full responsibility.
Taking the opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude for full highlight of this conference by «Mir» Interstate TV and Radio Company.
Let’s continue speaking about global threats. It has been two years since the humanity faced new global threat, which you have mentioned before, this is about COVID-19 pandemics. Dear Mr. President, how did you manage to protect your people – people of Turkmenistan from this disaster? As there is not any single registered COVID-19 case in your country.
From the first days of the COVID-19 threat, we have formed and prepared unified national strategy for combating coronavirus, which provided complex of measures of organizational, legal, financial, economic, sanitary and epidemiological, medical, quarantine character.
The Government Commission for combating dangerous infectious diseases has been formed for management of all these works. It includes members of the Government, heads of ministries, departments, local executive power administrations.
Operational headquarter has been made as a mechanism of interdepartmental coordination, which involve representatives of the government structures responsible for healthcare, transport, trade, financial systems as well as law enforcement agencies to its work.
I would like to emphasize that mentioned coordination structures received relative authorities according to the legislation and all their activities are carried out based on the protocols and plans adopted at the sessions of the Government commission.
We have introduced staged enforcement of border, migration and customs modes among the first measures taken by us from the moment of COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, restrictions on air communication of Turkmenistan with foreign countries have been implemented, which were objectively dictated by the situation.
With regard to all people coming to Turkmenistan from abroad, relative divisions of the Ministry of Health Protection and Medical Industry carry out tests and quarantine activities.
Special importance has been given to preventive measures in activity of health protection facilities. Temperature checking of citizens have been introduced in all facilities, establishments, educational institutes, children preschool facilities, strict personal hygiene regulations have been implemented. In addition, disinfection of shopping centers, markets, educational facilities, public transport is carried out on regular basis.
We have also taken measures for enforcement of the system of phyto-sanitary control and veterinary monitoring, which allow providing proper level of protection from entry of various diseases to the country by movement of plants and animals as well as food production of vegetation and animal origin.
Teams of specialists of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection and other relevant government authorities work at all checkpoints of the State border.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation caused by coronavirus pandemics, Turkmenistan realize the necessity of provision of stability of trade and economic relations between the states and transport communication in these conditions.
Together with its partners, first of all with neighboring countries, Turkmenistan works to keep these relations and protect reliable schemes of mutual supplies and transit in Eurasian continent.
Owing to coordinated measures of Turkmenistan and neighboring states, normal functioning of transport corridors in the East – West and North – South directions has been provided. Disinfection and fumigation installations, which meet world standards, have been placed at frontier checkpoints.
Similar terminals are made on the territories of neighboring states as per the agreements of the sides.
Educational work is an important element in combating coronavirus. Its main goal is to provide clear understanding of danger of new infectious disease by the population.
It is necessary to note that at present time, vaccination from 14 infections is mandatory in our state. At the same time, results of long studies of Turkmen scientists in prevention of dangerous infectious diseases and advanced methods of treatment made by them, traditional medicine, medical herbs and plants are used in the country, which supports the improvement of protective functions of human body from dangerous diseases.
Turkmenistan is among the first ten countries, which has registered Russian Vaccines Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona, which are successfully used for needs of people, who are in the risk group.
The work for prevention of infectious diseases is continued. Construction of new quarantine centers is continued. Construction of new quarantine centers, conversion of certain medical centers for possible admission of people with symptoms similar to the symptoms of acute infections is carried out, necessary medicine and relative medical equipment is procured.
At the same time, total medical checkup of the population is carried out in the country, actual measures are taken for improvement of the immunity of the population.
Owing to conducted and continuing work, the cases of this disease have not been revealed yet.
Dear Mr. President! Turkmenistan actively works with «Mir» TV and Radio Company. I would like to extend my special gratitude to you for such close and partnership cooperation. What would you like to wish to the spectators, radio audience of «Mir» TV and Radio Company?
I would like to express traditional wishes to your audience, and you have dozen millions of them in many countries of the world, of peace, prosperity, health to them and their families, confidence in future. Let this future bring more good and positive news.
Dear Mr. President! Let me extend gratitude to you for this interview.
Thank you for the interview and your work.