What does Ashgabat get from the U.S. and Afghanistan presidential election results?
Presidential elections in the U.S. and Afghanistan, yet separated by time and distance, closed up with almost simultaneous, just a few hours spread, announcement of the poll results - the victories of George Bush and Hamid Karzai. Clearly, such coincidence could not be other than a sheer accident, but it certainly was a symbolic sign. The helm of state remained in the hands of men that rose to power almost at one time, whose Central Asian policies' priorities developed in parallel that on the whole, however incomparable they are in terms of exerting influence on it, shared common goals and vision of this region's prospects.
Now we can state with a greater degree of likelihood that for Turkmenistan the reelection of Bush and Karsai means the succession of partnership relations policy with these two countries aimed at strengthening the achievements made over the recent years in such fields as prevention and neutralization of terror threats, the fight against drug trafficking, securing general political stability and good neighborly relations, implementation of large-scale economic projects, above all, in the fields of energy, transport and communication.
As is known, Turkmenistan has become a key country in the region as regards rendering assistance in the reconstruction of the war-shattered economy of Afghanistan. Ashgabat helps rebuild the Afghan economy and social infrastructure. By a special order of President Saparmurat Niyazov the Afghan northern provinces are receiving Turkmen electricity for the third consecutive year at a most favorable rate, bringing light and warmth to hundreds of thousand citizens of Afghanistan. According to the intergovernmental agreements singed in 2002 Ashgabat provides quota to Afghan students to study for free in Turkmenistan's higher education establishments in specialties that are in demand in their country.
Turkmenistan plays a major role in the efforts by the international community to bring humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Today, about 40% of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan provided by the UN and other international organizations is shipped through the territory of Turkmenistan. A holder of neutral status that forbids transportation of foreign troops and cargos of military nature through its territory, Turkmenistan, nevertheless, gave permission to use its air space for urgent shipments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by military aircrafts of the anti-terror coalition.
It is very important to have the peace loving, predictable Afghanistan with strong and sustainable central government in place to ensure stability and confidence in the region. Providing both political and economic support to this government was and remains one of the crucial elements of the U.S. republican administration's entire Central Asian strategy in the foreseeable future. It quite correlates to the "Afghan" policy of Ashgabat that is very interested in the establishment of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. So, it is expected that Turkmen-American cooperation in Afghanistan will continue. And this is exactly where it doesn't conflict with interests of the third states involved in the Central Asian affairs, for it is based not on certain "geopolitical" and ideological favors but on pragmatism, common sense and natural aspiration for state and global security.