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Neutral Factor of Turkmenistan

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SAPARMURAT TURKMENBASHY THE GREAT (1940-2006)

A UNIQUE FOR ASIA STATUS ALLOWS ASHGABAT TO PURSUE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY

A unique for Asia status of neutrality allows Turkmenistan to pursue independent foreign policy in accordance with its capabilities, world trends and modern threats.

Leaders of many former Soviet states were openly bewildered by this move of the Turkmen leadership when Turkmenistan declared a policy of neutrality right after a few years of independence.

The time, however, proved the Turkmen leader was right in his choice. On December 12, 1995, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan. The world and regional situation changed many times, but whatever conflicts and clashes there were Turkmenistan managed to remain a place of stability in Central Asia. Speaking in Ashgabat on October 23, 2002, General Secretary of the UN Kofi Annan paid a tribute to the neutral policy of Turkmenistan: "Your country contributed to the process of finding a solution to the civil war in Tajikistan, having held three rounds of inter-Tajik talks here, in Ashgabat, which was a turning point in the peaceful process, simultaneously giving a shelter to thousands of Tajik refugees. In the same manner Turkmenistan actively assisted the UN in its efforts on the establishment of peace in Afghanistan hosting a number of meetings between the Afghan sides. Today, one of the most important corridors to provide the Afghan people with so much needed humanitarian assistance runs across Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan's strong commitment to international order, trust put in it by the UN, also led us to implementation of joint preventive actions with a view of bringing down the regional tension."

It should be admitted that today Ashgabat's policy in the region is objectively a continuation and supplementation of the general strategy of the world community on the global scale based on the same old and trustworthy causes - peace, stability and security. Without them it is impossible to talk about serious achievements in these of those directions of social, economic or cultural development of the peoples.

The foreign policy of Turkmenistan has a clearly marked regional orientation. Ashgabat does not play but act, taking into account objective geopolitical realities, its economic potential, peculiarities of historical and ethnic cultural development, being confident that it is capable of making a constructive contribution to the cause of peace, good neighborly relations, stability and prosperity exactly at the regional level.

Now that the main threat and challenge to the modern world is international terrorism the role of Turkmenistan, at the first sight, is virtually unnoticeable. However, in truth, Turkmenistan's contribution to the war against terror is apparent. Turkmenistan let a western coalition refuel their planes in its territory and actively participates in solving humanitarian problems of Afghanistan.

But the fact that Turkmenistan with its stability and neutrality is a front post in the way of international terrorism in Central Asia, which is trying to expand its influence and destabilize a situation in the rich in oil and gas Caspian region, is a more important factor. It is not a secret that this region, and Turkmenistan with its huge gas reserves in particular, is an important source of energy for "the rest of the world", which is really anxious about its energy security owing to certain events. That is why a constructive policy of Turkmenistan in this field, practical implementation of a number of large investment projects on development of promising fields, establishment of new transport routes meet the interests of international security. "We have no ideological preferences in this regard. Criteria are very simple - trust and mutual benefit", Saparmurat Niyazov says.

Turkmenistan actively cooperates both with such traditional partners as, in fact, Russia and western countries as the U.S., Japan, Germany and France. One of the vivid examples of the Russian-Turkmen cooperation in the oil and gas field in recent years is the setting up of JV Zarit. This company was established specifically to develop some blocks on the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea.

The signing of a PSA between the government of Turkmenistan and the Russian consortium founded by Itera, Rosneft and Zarubejnet is expected in the near future.

Sergei REBROV

(AMERICA magazine, published by the Moscow Oil Club and the Russian-American Business Council, Issue No 2, 2004)

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