GOVERNOF OF ST PETERSBURG READ RUKHNAMA PRIOR TO SETTING ON A VISIT TO ASHGABAT
A visit to Ashgabat by St Petersburg&'s delegation headed by Governor Valentina Matviyenko, apart from being business-like
and productive, was held in the atmosphere of high trust, openness and mutual respect attributable to the traditions of the
Turkmen-Russian relations. A well-wishing tone of a dialog was set already in the beginning of Saparmurat Niyazov’s
meeting with Valentina Matvienko when they talked before journalists.
Matvienko: You have managed to do quite a lot in such a short time. It is fantastic.
Niyazov: It is only one half of it.
Matvienko: Yes, architecture is very good. Everything is well designed. The city looks absolutely different. It is clean.
You know, I have passed through the city and deep inside me I, as a governor, envied your absolutely clean and well-attended
city. I rejoiced at seeing it.
Niyazov: Leningrad was like this in 60th, 70th – very clean and green. It was very quiet there. One could safely
walk all night long in the see front and through the city.
Matvienko: You seem to have kept affection towards Leningrad, St Petersburg.
Niyazov: I learned a lot there. I used to walk in Nevsky Avenue and watch buildings built in Peter the Great’s
time. They were straight, architecture was perfect, good groups of buildings.
Matvienko: You know, we have special feelings towards you in St Petersburg because you studied there, you know our city,
you graduated from the well known institution of higher education, the Polytechnic University, which, in our view, is the
best in Russia in terms of engineer-technical education. You are remembered there, and they are always ready to meet you in
Soon after that, the President of Turkmenistan and St Petersburg’s Governor met vis-а-vis to define
the ways of mutually beneficial cooperation. It was followed by negotiations of the two sides’ delegations.
“Dear Valentina Ivanovna, Dear residents of Leningrad,
I regard you as my countrymen, Saparmurat Niyazov said. I was raised more as a politician rather than an engineer there.
Nevertheless, I keep the affection for Leningrad throughout my life. People of Leningrad, the economic, scientific potential
of Leningrad are of the world significance. It was not limited to the USSR only. We, as students, were always proud of this
city, of people living there, and of that scientific potential that had a bearing practically on all of us, the students.
I am glad to see you in Ashgabat, and I want business relations between Turkmenistan and St Petersburg to be raised to a new,
higher level. I have just told Valentina Ivanovna that we signed a contract with Vladimir Vladimirovich on the supply of 3
trillion m3 of gas, 60-70 bln annually, to Russia beginning 2007 until 2025. The annual trade turnover between our countries
in the gas field alone will account for $ 6-7 bln. Then, it will be the right time to establish a favorable regime of partnership
with St Petersburg. Yet, Russia will purchase 5 bln of gas already this year, 10 bln – next year. Starting 2007
gas purchases will rapidly increase. With such a growth we will start cooperation with St Petersburg too. (…) I
welcome you once again. Now I give the floor to Valentina Ivanovna, whom I respect very much since I met her at the congress
of people’s deputies.”
“First of all, Valentina Matviyenko said in a return speech, I want to sincerely thank you, Saparmurat Atayevich,
on behalf of our delegation for the invitation to visit you country and excellent business program you prepared for us, for
hospitality that we felt from the very first minutes of our stay on the Turkmen soil. It is in the line with the spirit and
traditions of friendship between the Turkmen and Russian peoples, between our states. You and the Russian President set an
example of this friendship and cooperation. And I think this is exactly the level we should strive to get to. Indeed, St Petersburg
has the special attitude towards Turkmenistan. Firstly, we consider honorable Saparmurat Atayevich both the son of Leningrad
and St Petersburg. He got diploma of higher education in our city, in the Polytechnic University, and, as you may see, he
got very good education judging by his successful leadership. It is true that you know our city very well, you know its potential
and capabilities. Today, after the transformations that our state has undergone, the city’s industry has changed
too. It works on the principles of market relations. It manufactures competitive products. And we are ready to develop the
mutually beneficial economic cooperation with Turkmenistan. And I think the Turkmen people, the Russian and St Petersburg’s
people will benefit from it. We have brought quite a representative delegation in Turkmenistan. There are over 40 heads of
the leading, largest companies not only by St Petersburg but Russia’s standards, the companies of the Russian Federation,
in the delegation. There are top people that are interested in the expansion of cooperation with Turkmenistan. You know, St
Petersburg takes such a great interest in you country that, when we were preparing for this visit, there was no deficit of
those who wished to come here and establish business contacts. We have chosen the best among them. I believe they will be
able to achieve specific results in our cooperation.”
“We have had very long conversation with the president of Turkmenistan, Valentina Matvienko continued. And we
discussed all possible directions of cooperation of St Petersburg and Turkmenistan. Here they are. They are in the form of
submitted proposals in writing. They reflect virtually all ways of possible cooperation. First of all, it concerns the cooperation
in the power-engineering field. The honorable President has supported the idea of St Petersburg’s business structures
participation in modernization of the existing power stations. It is a very promising direction of our cooperation. He spoke
favorably, as it is highlighted in the document, of our oldest plant “Kirov plant” that supplies Kirovets
tractors here, which have a good reputation. We have the heads of the foodstuff industry in the delegation. There is Baltica
brewery, the largest and most recognizable company in Russia and the world now. The French Government recently awarded this
company’s distinguished leader Legion of Honor, the highest order in France. And through this he acquired international
recognition. He is ready to invest in Turkmenistan, to build a new brewery. I think, should the President make a decision,
it will be the best beer in the republic. This is for sure. We have representatives of the largest construction companies
in the delegation. As you know, the construction complex of St Petersburg is considered the best in Russia today. We have
accumulated very interesting experience in developing a construction industry. If you invite our construction workers they
will take part in changing the Ashgabat’s look. Honestly, dear Mr. President, we are struck by what we have seen.
The feeling is that we came to a magic, dreamlike city that has appeared out of the blue. I am sure the main architect of
Ashgabat is the president himself because I know how he loves St Petersburg and its architecture. And we have seen in Asgabat’s
architecture certain features of St Petersburg’s style. I can see his hand in it. So, we are ready to cooperate
in this direction too. I requested the President to allow us to open St Petersburg’s trade house in Ashgabat, or
rent some kind of special exposition spaces where we would be able to arrange presentations of our city’s capabilities
on the permanent basis. I am very grateful to the President for his support of the idea. Moreover, he said that he was ready
to give us on lease part of spaces in the new Exposition complex under construction so that it could become a permanent representation
of St Petersburg in Turkmenistan. We will surely get it done. We have also agreed on the cooperation in humanitarian and education
fields. I thing that the rector of our Polytechnic University that the honorable President once graduated from and the rector
of the Ashgabat’s University will make an agreement. It will be a good form of developing both science and student
exchanges, and mutual enhancement of the quality of higher education.”
Valentina Matvienko stressed that St Petersburg’s potential and Turkmenistan’s capacities made it
possible, provided the political will was there, to build exemplary Russian-Turkmen relations with a further projection on
St Petersburg. “You know, dear Mr. President, the governor said, I read your book Rukhnama before leaving for Ashgabat.
I regard it as a serious philosophical book that requires thoughtful and serious reading. I will definitely read it again
on my return. I remember one of the phrases from this book, if I can quote it correctly, that nobody has ever suffered from
friendship. I am confident it can be fully referred to the relations between St Petersburg and Turkmenistan. I think we will
profit from our friendship, our cooperation. We will cooperate to the benefit of our peoples, our states, our beautiful city
St Petersburg that you love so much. And we stand ready and open to this cooperation, and look forward to it. Once again,
many thanks to you, dear Mr. President, and to all our Turkmen colleagues. In conclusion, I want to say that we have agreed
to set up sort of a mobile working group. As Mr. President said, a vice-premiere in charge of oil and gas would head it from
the Turkmen side. It has inspired us. As regards St Petersburg, a vice-governor on financial-economic issues and industrial
policy issues will head the group from our side. And then we will translate all these agreements into practical steps of our
cooperation and partnership. I thank you one more time, and thank you for agreeing to sign an agreement with St Petersburg.
I am sure this agreement will become a legal basis that will give a signal to business. Business always finds the channels
of mutually beneficial cooperation. But it has to get a signal, that it is supported at the political level, at the state
level, by the Turkmen President, leadership of Russia and St Petersburg. And we will render all necessary organizational and
political assistance to Turkmen and St Petersburg’s businesses in establishing business relations and mutually beneficial
A ceremony of signing the Agreement between the Governments of Turkmenistan and St Petersburg on economic, scientific
and cultural cooperation took place after Saparmurat Niyazov was presented with a diploma on awarding him the title of the
honorary doctor of St Petersburg’s Polytechnic University.
In the end of the meeting the Turkmen leader stated that all the doors in Turkmenistan were open for the guests from St
Petersburg and expressed confidence that the achieved agreements would translate into practical steps.
Igor Solovyov, Turkmenistan.Ru