This month, Tajikistan has become the center of international meetings of the heads of Central Asian states. Dushanbe, the capital of the republic, turned into a political, cultural, economic, diplomatic, environmental, feminist and even culinary center of the region on September 14-15. The city hosted the 5th Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia, the next meeting of the Council of the Heads of Founding States of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and many other forums, meetings, conferences, exhibitions — a total of 16 parallel events. The presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan took part in the summits.
Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the leader of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev arrived in Dushanbe as guests of honor. The Turkmen politician was awarded the Badge of Honor of the Heads of State of Central Asia.
In the article for CentralAsia.news, the columnist Vadim Shagiakhmedov summed up the speeches of Turkmen leader Serdar Berdimuhamedov.
Consultative meeting of Central Asian leaders
During the 5th Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia, Serdar Berdimuhamedov noted that at the upcoming 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Turkmenistan will propose to create the Security and Cooperation Dialogue in Central Asia and hold its first meeting in the republic in 2024. Ashgabat will also advocate for determining the optimal format and structure of the UN Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin (UN SPAS). In addition, the country will voice an initiative to establish a Regional Center for Technologies Related to Climate Change in Central Asia with headquarters in Ashgabat.
Serdar Berdimuhamedov invited his colleagues to create the Central Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Central Asian countries on new technologies, an Energy Dialogue between Central Asian countries, and also launch the Central Asian transport and logistics platform. In addition, the president noted the importance of developing cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
As a result of the summit, 5 documents were adopted. These are a joint statement, agreements on strengthening the interconnectedness of land transport and general directions of youth policy, regulations on the Council of National Coordinators for the Consultative Meetings of the Heads of State of Central Asia, a Roadmap to Support Health and Well–being in the region for 2022 –2025.
Meeting of the Council of the Heads of Founding States of the IFAS
The thirty-year-old International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea is a universal platform for interaction between Central Asian countries in the implementation of environmental, scientific and technical projects and programs aimed at the environmental improvement of areas affected by the Aral disaster.
President Serdar Berdimuhamedov clearly identified water diplomacy and ecology as one of the priority areas of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy. The President presented his views on ecology at a meeting of the Council of Heads of Founding States of IFAS.
The leader of the republic proposed to intensify work to improve the legal framework of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and determine the goals and objectives of the future work. According to him, the states of IFAS need to involve specialized UN structures in their initiatives. He advocated the creation of more dynamic interaction between the fund and international financial institutions and donors. The head of the country emphasized that joint work should be planned for decades to come.
Serdar Berdimuhamedov also proposed to establish a Regional Center for Technologies related to Climate Change in Central Asia. In addition, he advocated intensifying diplomatic efforts to develop and adopt international documents aimed at rationalizing the use of water resources in the region.
The president put forward an initiative to modernize the Central Asian Water Strategy, developed by Ashgabat during its chairmanship in the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. The head of state emphasized the need to outline the basic principles of political and diplomatic interaction in the relevant direction. According to him, the document might become the basis for the development of the UN Global Water Strategy. Serdar Berdimuhamedov also spoke in favor of modernizing the Regional Environmental Action Plan of Central Asia, which should be included in the new Action Program to Assist the Countries of the Aral Sea basin.
The summit participants signed decisions on activities to improve the organizational structure and legal framework of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and the election of the IFAS president. In 2024, the chairmanship in the organization will be transferred from Tajikistan to Kazakhstan for a three-year period.
On the sidelines of the summits, prominent representatives of culture and art, scientists, women, youth, entrepreneurs, diplomats, teachers, journalists and writers from the countries of the region took part in a number of significant events which will undoubtedly give a new impetus to further cooperation.
These are a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Central Asian countries, the Dialogue of Women of Central Asia, the first meeting of the ministers of transport of the countries, the Economic Forum of the countries, the forums of university rectors, heads of government agencies on youth policy from the countries of Central Asia, scientists, forum of youth organizations and other events.
Each of the events is relevant in today’s world.
At major forums, including sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, summits of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, heads of the Caspian states and the CIS, the VII World Water Forum in Daegu (Korea), the International Environmental Forum in Sindai (Japan), «Rio+20», Turkmenistan put forward a number of relevant initiatives. These include proposals to open the Regional Environmental Action Plan of Central Asia in Ashgabat, as well as to develop the UN Special Programme for the Aral Sea basin and the UN Water Strategy, which was voiced at the 5th Central Asian Expert Forum in Ashgabat in December 2022.
By putting forward these initiatives, our country considers that the use of transboundary water resources in Central Asia should be carried out on the basis of generally recognized norms of international law, mutual respect and the interests of all states in the region.
National environmental projects
Turkmenistan promotes important international initiatives and implements large projects on environmental and water issues at the national level. The country is carrying out large-scale work to create big forests, combat desertification, preserve biodiversity, and improve the reclamation condition of irrigated lands.
There is no doubt that the Dushanbe meetings will contribute to strengthening the cooperation, security and stability in the region.