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Saparmurat Niyazov: "It Is Very Difficult to Build a State..."

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24 October 2003

Dear brothers, compatriots, welcome to the Motherland, Turkmenistan. You live abroad by conjunction of circumstances. That is why you know better than anybody else true value of the Motherland. The Turkmen state marks its 12th birthday. Many of you had been here in 1992-95. But the old Turkmenistan no longer exists. You can see it yourself. Today our people have better understanding of independence, they learned to value it, and now they can taste its fruits. We have just laid the foundation of the Turkmen state, and we have not fortified it yet. We have just started building a solid legal structure of the Turkmen state. We have until 2010 to complete it. By that time the neutral, independent state standing in one line with the developed states will have absolutely new look. The people will enjoy a sufficient and prosperous life. In general, the policy of the Turkmen state will not conflict with international policy, but, on the contrary, it will organically match it. The policy of Turkmenistan will become an example of peace loving and neutrality in the world. We will live in peace and good neighborhood with neighbor states and maintain beneficial bilateral relations with them.

The time has changed. Every state, big and small, pursues its own national interests. There are some states that pursue their national interests in other states. Turkmenistan owns some 34% of the world fuel reserves. We hold third place in the world for our reserves of gas, oil and some other mineral resources. We ourselves have to extract and process them and to take them onto world markets. However, there are countries that give this advantage to others, thus making their lives miserable...

We had lived for 74 years in the USSR. There were times when we had to give away $15-20 bln. worth of oil, gas and cotton per year without any revenues to our people. Those who saw it knew what life we had to live. Now all these reserves belong to us. And despite the fact that we cannot still take them onto world markets in those amounts, we, nevertheless, receive from $2 to 4 bln. in annual revenues from fuel exports. This is of great support for us in renovating cities and constructing big plants and factories.

Except natural resources Turkmenistan's geographical location is also of political significance. There is the Caspian Sea on the one hand, on the other - Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, with which, on the whole, we have the fraternal relations. There used to be a big military port on the Caspian Sea coast in the old times, but it no longer exists. In Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, one can watch the entire East using sophisticated equipment. So, there are military interests too. All these factors make Turkmenistan even more attractive. Some of them want to establish equal bilateral relations with us but others want to restore the previous status quo. The terrorist act of November the 25th, 2002, actually was not against me, nor was it against the Turkmen people. This terrorist act was carried out with the involvement of some big and small states. So, it was plotted in another state, not inside Turkmenistan. Other states supported them. We have all information. We are trying to be tolerant and calm and draw our conclusions from this not to permit such things any more. Nobody will be able to split the Turkmen state by repeating it. Our country cannot be forced into dependence by those means. And it could not happen that time because our people did not support such actions. In general, all this happened not out of hatred of me or the people, but because of our natural reserves. We should be aware of that.

You, our brothers, may think that we don't respect human rights, freedom and equality. There are some talks. I received one well-known American journalist. He will prepare a one-hour program by Independence Day. He said that he thought there were no videotapes, no other religions, no relations with neighbors, no progress and no human rights in Turkmenistan, and that this was a country of no reputation. In many western countries there really was exactly this treatment of Turkmenistan. After he has come and traveled throughout Turkmenistan he said: «Mr. President, I discovered a new state for myself and I will tell it to USA. I will tell about kindness on the faces of people in Turkmenistan, that they can live in peace and safety, not being afraid of tomorrow, that, if they wish, they can work anywhere, in private or state sector». He visited schools and saw children studying; he visited markets and saw plenty of goods and videotapes from all over the world and audiotapes of different music styles in shops. Having seen this, he said that he saw Turkmenistan in the different light. He said that we needed to tell the West, the USA about the true nature of events in Turkmenistan. And I said, in turn, that we were not able to explain it to those who don't want to listen to it and keep slandering us. Therefore, we patiently follow our path of development verifying our policy with the well being of people. We have two major directions in our policy. The first one is to defend independent state and make it invulnerable. We take steps to this effect. And the second one is to make our people live sufficient and prosperous life. The notion of state security means that the economy branches should work in the way that would make a state self-sufficient.

An independent state should not depend on other state. And we today build that kind of a state. We are self-sufficient in Turkmenistan. We owe nobody. We don't want to take any credits from anyone. Our state revenues, income of every family, every citizen are enough for a good life and there are even some money to save. You can see it when you talk to our people. We believe if our people live in poverty then we as the state leadership are not up to a job. And even if there is somebody to encroach on our state security we demonstrate tolerance and make him understand his mistake. The worst thing is to get drown into cross bawdry and to blame each other. We have been slandered a lot in press of many states over 12 years. But we did not bite back and kept working. We believed they would understand it themselves. And they did. Now that 12 years have passed every state knows about the state of affairs in Turkmenistan. We can see now what is democracy in the meaning of those who cried louder than others about it. Those who cry loud about democracy, human rights they first of all pursue their own political goals. Democracy is a man's freedom. You came in Turkmenistan and saw it. Do the Turkmen people enjoy freedom? Yes, they do. Does the state persecute them or violate their rights? No. Do we ban anything? No. Those who break the laws of state are brought to account on the legal basis. And we have plenty of them. Thanks God, you know it. We issue amnesty decrees every year. This time, we are planning to release over 7000 convicts from prison on the holy night. We love our people, the people of Turkmenistan. They are honest people. Of course, any flock has its black sheep. So there is always someone in conflict with the law. We will take the necessary measures against them on the legal basis. However, we follow our own path, the Turkmen path. Along with this we revive the traditions of our forefathers who cherished their honor and dignity and defended them. Our ancestors have added to the treasury of world values over thousand years. The Turkmen horses, carpets, wolf-dogs, jewelry and other heritage were included in the treasury of the world human values. Then Turkmen became self-complacent and I wrote about it in my poem «Three afflictions». Some of us started building bridges over dried up rivers. There was a period in the past when only Turkmen could defeat Turkmen, and when Turkmen lived vacuous life. And when they woke up they saw others inventing powder, bullets and guns. Turkmen thought that everything was in their power if they had a horse, a sword, a bow and an arrow. That is why they fell behind the progress. It was in 14-15 centuries A.C. Afterwards Turkmen realized it. In general, Turkmen respected other peoples, religions. There was a period when Turkmen did not have their own land. They were nomads. But still they managed to keep their language, faith and family. The time had passed and they entered the 21st century. This is a century of machines and forefront human potential. Nowadays every deed of a state is qualified as good or bad. Everything is transparent. The world community has been formed together with the UN and other international organizations. They have everything under control in the world and in international policy. In this situation Turkmenistan has found its place, gained a status of positive neutrality. You might have read or heard that we had 14th session of the People’s Council in Turkmenbashi city. We have adopted a new law. Only the People's Council has an authority to amend laws. The Parliament has no right to do so. It can only adopt laws. And we have entrusted the People's Council with the right to amend the Constitution and call presidential elections. Nobody can change anything without a decision of the People's Council. It makes it impossible for any plotters to change a state system by attempting a coup. Nobody will be able to stage a coup. The People's Council consists of 2507 people. Only they have the right to put to vote changing political and economic course of our state and to change a president. Among these 2507 members of the People's Council there are representatives of all groups. That is why we gave more authority to the People's Council. And it helped to strengthen the state. We have adopted the development program until 2020 at the People's Council session. Yesterday the World Bank's political committee made a decision that Turkmenistan is no longer a poor state. Many of the CIS states are considered poor and need help. International practice declares as poor nations those countries with a per capita income less than $100. As of yesterday Turkmenistan was officially excluded from the list of poor countries and recognized as a wealthy one. They have adopted an official document stating that Turkmenistan's per capita income is $870. Actually this index is even higher than $870 in Turkmenistan, because we have set up state funds for development of oil and gas sector, transport and other sectors of the economy. These funds are excluded from the state budget. And this index was miscalculated due to the fact that those funds were not taken into account in the process of calculation of per capita income. If in 1990 we produced goods worth $18-20 per capita, now this index amounts to $4,900. In 2010 this index will rise to $11-12,000. And these are the goods that are in demand in world markets. They are the products of the oil, gas, cotton and chemical industries processing. In 2015 per capita income will reach $14,000, in 2020 - $18-19,000.

By what means will we achieve it? At present we annually produce some 60 bln.cub.m (bcm) of gas, 13-14 mln tons of oil. We refine 8 mln tons of oil in Turkmenistan. We produce polypropylene, liquefied gas, lubricants. We use state-of-the-art technologies from Japan, Italy, and Germany. These products are of good quality and everybody buys them.

We have some problems with cotton production for almost two years. It is a bit hard to reform agriculture. People think the old way that they used to think during 74 years of the USSR. They still don’t believe that it is their land. They think that someone will come and take it away from them. Nowhere in the world farmers enjoy the support we extend in Turkmenistan. A farmer rents a land, and a state pays half of his expenses. We give water for irrigation for free. It attracts many people today. There is a slight growth. Agriculture is growing by 16-18% every year. But we want more, a million percent increase. Thanks God, we have harvested 2,600,000 tons of wheat. The wheat production is normal and will be growing further. In case of cotton there are some reasons. Cotton growing is good when it is planted in an area of 200-300 hectares. All processes are machine done: sowing, growing and harvesting. If a family has one hectare of land it does not need a combine and production falls down. And many families in tandem with other families take 200 hectares. Such big economic reforms take longer than 1-2 years. But they will be continued. In 2010 Turkmenistan will produce 5 mln tons of cotton and 5 mln tons of wheat. We get ready for that. Then the Turkmen people, its rural population will live a better life.

We don't take credits from other states and banks. We renovate cities, build plants and factories using our own funds. We know that they credit at a minimum rate of 7-8%. And creditors like it very much when they don't receive the money in time, because amount of debt increases. Of course, those without money need credits. Presently, we sell 35 bcm of gas to Ukraine at $44 for 1 bcm. Half is paid in hard currency and another half - in goods. We sell gas to Russia, to «Itera» company (10 bcm). And there we have the same scenario. Iranian brothers receive 7 bcm, but they want more now. In 1997 I concluded a 25-year agreement on gas sales with my brother Rafsanjani (former Iranian president) on the basis of $41-42 for 1 bcm formula. All payments are to be made in hard currency. The European price for this gas is $140-150 for 1 bcm. We sell it at $41,5. At present we have a 25-year agreement with Russia. Starting from 2007 we will annually sell 60-70 bcm of gas to Russia that will amount to 3 trillion cub.m. of gas in 25 years. Due to unavailable facilities the gas sales will start in 2007. Russia will buy 5 bcm of gas in 2004 and 10 bcm of gas in 2005. We have a 5-year agreement with Ukraine on gas sales. It will expire in 2007. Today Ukraine purchases 36 bcm of gas per year and they want to increase the amount of purchases from 2007. They are negotiating with Russia the issue of reconstruction and repair of a pipeline. Ukraine intends to buy 50 bcm of gas per year. Our goal is to sell 120 bcm of gas per year before the start of 2010. We have plans to produce 220 bcm of gas and 40 mln tons of oil in 2020 and 30 mln tons of oil in 2010. If we live in peace and accord we will achieve these goals.

We have political organizations, the National revival movement «Galkynish». We should mobilize the entire society to implement the development program until 2020. Every group of society has to act in unity.

As to our relations with other states, we don't have any conflicts or disputes with other states. But the truth is that they want our goods at a cheaper price to benefit from it. Things do happen. We define our political course on the neutrality principles and through the UN. As you may have noticed, we don't comment on disputable situations. We define our position through the UN. The neutrality principle determines our foreign policy. We feel the sufferings of some Turkmen living in Iraq. We know it. We prefer to solve problems through the UN. Let our brothers understand it as the Turkmen state is in the process of establishment. As I mentioned at the outset we have just laid the foundation of the Turkmen state. A solid state system is to be built. And you, I think, understand that it is very difficult to build a state. It is very easy to destroy a state. The worst thing is when one person defines the fate of a state. It should not depend on one man, but it has to be ruled by laws. Then it cannot be destroyed. Breaking laws can only destroy such a state. In several years, by 2010, we will finish building a legal state as a whole. Then nobody from outside or inside will be able to destroy our state. And those who dear to do so will be held accountable. Our history shows that when our Motherland faced a threat all Turkmen from youngsters to elders rose in its defence. If you don't have a Motherland you don't belong to anywhere, you don't belong to a state. We have to cherish our independent Motherland like an apple of an eye. We may make mistakes and stumble but we will never change the chosen path. Our path is a path of peace. We will establish relations with big and small states, but we will never dominate a small state and grovel before a big one. I wrote it in «Rukhnama». We will keep grandeur of Turkmen's spirit. There was a period when Turkmen were called nomads with felt hats. This is not true. Turkmen used to build palaces, found states, make big discoveries in economy, politics and culture. We are proud of it. We also respect other peoples. They have contributed to the development of world civilization to no less extent than we did. But we talk here about us. We do not compete with anyone. We respect all peoples. We have established fraternal relations with the Iranian people. We have had no single accident of misunderstanding with them over 12 years. We don't interfere with their internal affairs, they don't interfere with our policy too. You probably saw the railway we built together. Turkmenistan annually receives $20 mln. in transit fees. We are building a water reservoir. We have built a pipeline to Iran and developed trade and other relations. Most importantly, we have established relations based on trust, not on distrust.

As to our Afghan brothers, we regret it very much that you face hardships, but we cannot interfere. Afghanistan's Turkmen retained their language, faith, unity and traditions. They support central authorities. I know Khamid Karzai very well, he is a good man with good hart and he is willing to change the situation there. But we have to admit that there is a lot of problems there. This state was at war for many years. It is impossible to change everything overnight. There are attempts to regain power by some Afghan groupings. The history repeats itself. Turkmen adopted a balanced approach there. Synchronize it with our policy. Their children will study here. We have already chosen 50 children. We will maintain cultural ties because we have one blood. But we will not interfere with the state affairs. And I tell you: solidify unity and maintain the relations with us. We don't have bad intentions towards the Afghan people. We will win if there is peace in Afghanistan. Big powers' interests and some neighboring countries' interests have collided in Afghanistan. This has lead to disagreements. Our policy is to assist them to solve internal conflicts. That is why we give them electricity. We build a terminal in Serkhetabat to provide you with liquefied gas. We give them oil products. These are the right and honest relations...

... I send my best regards to Iranian, Turkish, German and CIS Turkmen and Turkmen from other countries. Maintain the relations with the Motherland, come over here whenever you want. There will be no limits and hardships for you. If need be, we will help you. Now we are capable to do that. Let them talk about you as courageous Turkmen. We value you very much here in Turkmenistan. Turkmen, while creating empires, had dissolved in other nations. Being in small numbers, Turkmen had been assimilated by the concurred large nations. Empires collapsed, sultanates collapsed and Turkmen dissolved in peoples of other states and learned other languages. But the Motherland of Turkmen is the land where Oguzkhan lived, it is here. The Turkmen family will never die. And now we have to strengthen our state. Do not ever take offense at the Turkmen state, because people differ. You may start trading with someone who will later turn out a rascal. Try to settle the problem by legal means. The Motherland can’t be sold out and traded in exchange for something. We know what nostalgia one can feel having bartered a Motherland for a foreign state. We build a legal state and observe laws. If laws are not observed a state collapses.

In our foreign policy we reserve respect for Russia. The Russian people are a great nation. But they have different politicians. Of course, we lived with them for 74 years and we have learnt a lot from them. They gave us knowledge and ideas. We were a bit behind progress then. However, they also caused some damage to us. One should evaluate all this fairly. We should not turn our backs on each other. Their people are not rich either and they are still good people. At the same time, there are some contradictions in their policies, which is perhaps quite natural. We will keep more close relations with Russia.

The same is true of America. This is a great nation with cutting-edge technologies. Almost everything we purchase - including tractors, power generating stations and other things - comes from America. After the holiday we will put into service two power stations in Abadan and Balkanabat. They stand ready. They have been made by «General Electric» company. We use tractors made by «Case», «John Deer» and «Caterpillar». American machines have higher capacity and, what is more important, their technologies have no match. In the textile industry we use equipment from Italy, Belgium, Germany and Japan. Though it's expensive it has great capacity. Despite that Turkmen follow its own path of development, they will never breakaway from the process of the world development. The Turkmen way is only one of many ways of the world development. It is part of the world development. And we will cooperate with any countries and peoples. Some people complain that Turkmenistan keeps itself away from the CIS states. But what kind of deal can we make with them? I personally don't know what we can buy from them? Their tractors are 10 times less efficient that American ones. Or take other machinery - it all has low efficiency and is of low quality. It has been common practice since Soviet times - quantity instead of quality. The same was true of us. But since then we have built a lot of plants and factories over the past 12 years and the products they produce are in demand all over the world.

Esteemed guests, we will pay more attention to the development of national culture. You may have seen a new big building of Miras. I receive books written by our great ancestors from Afghanistan, Iraq and other states. Our institute of manuscripts translates these books, and to date they have translated over 100 such books about the Turkmen traditions, life, khanates and sultanates. There is lot information about Togrulbek, Chagrybek, and Alp-Arslan, sultan Sanjar. We will print these books and distribute among people. For that we need paper. And we are building a large paper plant with the capacity of 45 thousand tons of paper. Haulm and cotton waste will be used at the plant. The plant will start functioning in February 2004. Turkmenistan needs 15 thousand tons of paper per year. The remaining 30 thousand tons will be sold for hard currency. It is very popular product and for a good price. We have bought a print house in Germany. Everything is ready. It is necessary for the expansion of people's outlook, strengthening their spirit and mind. We in Turkmenistan attach great importance to this. If you watched our TV you may have noticed that there are many songs and dances on TV. It helps strengthen the spirit. Why do we have to show blood on TV? It will make people feel bad. Let us leave the blood for the law enforcement agencies. Democracy and transparency mean freedom, peace and good spirit of people. We will not spoil it. And you get it right...

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

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