The summer political season for Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov passed without intervals and rest
It would have been primitive to assume that the first active steps made by the Turkmen president in the international arena in late spring - early summer would demand a sort of chess pause necessary to think over further steps or simply to have rest necessary for every man who had assumed the heaviest burden of being the head of state.
However, notwithstanding the assumptions, the schedule of meetings and trips this summer, which is usually considered a vacation in the international political life, was made up at progressing scale. It is enough to look at the dates of the most important events in Turkmenistan and outside of the country that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took part in, to understand that there has been no break in-between. One would get an impression that the president has had no time even to mark his fiftieth birthday....With all diversity and kaleidoscopic variety of activities that the Turkmen leader managed to take personal part in, the general sequence of events doesn't create the feeling of chaotic activity. On the contrary, there is a firm internal logic in it, evident consistency of actions and clear orientation for the future.
PRIORITIES OF GOOD NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS
In the shortest time, the head of state was able to personally meet the leaders of all neighboring states: during the official visits with some of them and at the international forums with the others. In every specific case it was more than a mere protocol acquaintance. It was a real dialog and exchange of opinions on important issues, when the sides not only see and hear each other but feel each other on the emotional level. Interstate agreements on a wide range of issues have become the results of almost each of them. Literary in few weeks, Turkmenistan's interrelations with Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were filled with new content and received new confirmation of Ashgabat's readiness to build more intensive and productive cooperation with the nearest neighbors.
In this situation one can try to meticulously figure out the economic effectiveness of this or other step or reached agreement with that or other neighbor. Let's assume that obtaining the momentary practical benefit was not the main goal in the renewed contacts with the neighbors. First of all, for Turkmenistan it was more critical to demonstrate the political openness and readiness to liven up the dialog both at the level of heads of states and business structures to the extent possible.
The important characteristic feature of statements by the Turkmen president at all meetings with the leaders of neighboring states was paying equal respect for all neighbors without exception despite the international political situation or former differences on some particular issues. PRIORITIES OF BUSINESS
Active promotion of the first national project - creation of economic zone with active tourist infrastructure on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea near Turkmenbashi city - in the international community was a special concern of the head of state. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov announced the idea of establishing a tourist resort for the first time in May this year during the trilateral summit of the leaders of Turkmenistan, Russia and Kazakhstan in Turkmenbashi. It took less than two months to realize the idea in the form of project designs, schemes and economic calculations.
The head of state acted not only as an author of the ambitions idea, but in fact, assumed obligations of the project's top manager. He actively lobbied the development of the idea during the meetings with the representatives of business elite in Ashgabat and in the course of international visits drawing the attention of a number of heads of states to the favorable economic prospects for investments in the Turkmen national project. It is not by chance that the focus on the development of a resort zone on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea was made during the visits to Kazakhstan, China and the United Arab Emirates - the countries with intensively developing economies and stable financial reserves.
The interest that the representatives of business circles expressed in Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's proposals is both evidence of the growing interest in the prospects of the Turkmen economy as a whole and confirmation of the confidence to the head o state personally.
Another novelty that is actively introduced in the country cannot be left unmentioned, too. The heads of ministries and departments received an opportunity to travel much more often to other countries to adopt the advanced experience of managing economic processes. It is understandable. Any most beneficial and promising project may become a failure due to unprofessional management. It seems that the ability to learn new things faster, apply the modern trends of management become the main condition of career making for managers at all levels in Turkmenistan. STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
For present-day Turkmenistan, the eagerness to take on new areas of economic development in no way means weakening of attention to the sector that has been and remains the main core of the national economy - extraction and exports of energy resources. In many respects, the country's reputation in the international community is based on the status of a recognized energy power. It is clear the opportunities of exporting energy stir up many countries' interest in cooperating with Turkmenistan.
This summer, the prospects of sharp increase in Turkmen natural gas exports have become evident. Two new gas pipelines - along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea via Kazakhstan to Russia and from the gas bearing beds of the Amudarya River's right bank via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China - will enable Turkmenistan to exert evident influence on the global economy. The intensiveness of Turkmenistan's foreign political contacts with Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the states that are parties to implementation of the large-scale projects, defined the prospects of natural gas transit and supplies this summer. At the same time, adhering to the earlier declared principle of multiple export pipelines, Turkmenistan does not give up the idea of laying the Transcaspian gas pipeline to export energy to Europe.
Many observers linked Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's invitation to the Bishkek summit of the Shanghai Organization of Cooperation with Turkmenistan's ever increasing role of a prospective economic partner in the region. Though, the Turkmen president doesn't see his country's participation in the regional cooperation as a valuable raw materials exporter only. Speaking at the Bishkek summit, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov reminded his colleagues that the headquarters of the Regional Preventive Diplomacy Center was set up in Ashgabat and stressed that he considers the economic cooperation as an efficient factor of maintaining stability and security in the region.
The summer political season is most likely to enter the chronicles as a unique period of the dynamic development of Turkmenistan's foreign political potential and growth of the Turkmen president's international reputation. Starting the summer with working on purely economic issues the Turkmen leader closed it as a statesman gaining in strength, whose word will become counted in the region in the nearest future. Mikhail PEREPLESNIN
"Turkmenistan" magazine, N8