The government delegation of Turkmenistan led by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov visited Tatarstan last weekend. During the trip and on the eve of the President of Russia Dmitriy Medvedev’s visit to Ashgabat planned for this week, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov gave interview to the Tatar-Inform News Agency and spoke about the prospects of the cooperation of Turkmenistan with Russia as a whole and Tatarstan in particular.
Question: The visit to Tatarstan opens a new milestone in the history of relations of Turkmenistan and Russia. What do you think this visit will bring into the traditional Turkmen-Russian cooperation?
Answer: I think we have the right to say that a new page has been opened in this history. Russia is a great country, in many respects unique with its multiple ethnic diversity and colossal range of industrial, scientific and cultural potential. In this respect, the Republic of Tatarstan is the brightest example in which we have been clearly convinced today. I must say, the establishment of direct relations with the regions of the Russian Federation is one of the priorities of the bilateral intestate relations.
Over the recent time, several imposing delegations from Saint Petersburg, Astrakhan and Sverdlov oblasts, and of course, from Tatarstan visited Turkmenistan. This time, we have made a return visit to Tatarstan, especially because we view it as an exclusively promising and reliable partner, with which we have a long experience of interaction.
Let’s take, for instance, the cooperation with KAMAZ. This famous brand is represented almost in all major construction sites of the national and regional scale.
We have big plans of cooperation with TATNEFT and in the sphere of humanitarian cooperation as well. All of this will add a new content to the Turkmen-Russian relations, making them diverse and broad in range in the frames of actively developing interstate dialog.
Q: The Turkmen and Tatar peoples share historical and cultural commonality with roots originating from the ancient times. How are all these links perceived through the prism of the contemporary development of Turkmenistan and Tatarstan?
A: Because our peoples respect spiritual roots, share the common history and language, and the richest culture carefully preserved throughout the centuries, we are close to each other. Today, we had an opportunity to become convinced in it.
It is widely known, the contacts in the humanitarian sphere, cultural bonds of peoples make them closer to each other, which is a powerful factor in the development of the broad fruitful interstate dialog.
We have good examples in this area. For example, the Turkmen actors’ participation in the 7th International Theater Festival of Turkic-speaking nations “Nauruz” was dated to the celebration of the millennium anniversary of the establishment of Kazan. The Tatar scientists take active part in international scientific forums held in our country. The first volume of the holy Ruhnama, a guide to the world of Turkmen history and culture for many nations, was translated into the Tatar language. This area of cooperation has truly no boundaries.
Let’s take sports, for instance. We have constructed the wonderful Ice Palace, in which young skaters and hockey players train enthusiastically. Being aware of the achievements of the Tatar hockey we will be very glad to see your coaches and sportsmen in Turkmenistan.
We are all witnessing the second birth of the Turkmen opera art. Learning about the experience of the world known Tatar opera school will be very helpful for our actors.
In other words, we are open for the widest and mutually beneficial cooperation in this most important sphere.
Q: Turkmenistan is known to the word as a country implementing reforms in all spheres. What are the priorities of the policy you are pursuing?
A: The main priority of the Turkmen political course is the well-being of our people, their happy and deserving life in all respects. The proclaimed policy of “a state for the people” is the fundamental principle of all implemented reforms and large-scale transformation programs. One of the specific examples is the National program of improving social and living conditions of the rural population till 2020. At the initial stage, the state has invested $ 4 billion in the realization of the program. The social aspect occupies the first place in Turkmenistan’s new economic strategy that envisions creation of new industrial facilities and hundreds of new jobs in the rural areas.
Understanding very well that in the age of speed, rapid development, industrial growth and scientific hi-tech, any country’s successful development is directly connected with the wise approach to nurturing qualified professionals, Turkmenistan has defined the improvement of education and science and raising it to the world level as the key direction of its policy.
Development of the national healthcare system and housing policy, in which we succeeded in achieving significant results over the recent years, has been and remains no less important direction.
As for the foreign policy, the main priority here is to strengthen friendly relations with immediate neighbors and all other countries of the world, developing mutually beneficial international cooperation, which serves the best interest of the Turkmen people and the peoples of all partner states.
Q: A number of large-scale projects of regional importance are being implemented in Turkmenistan favorably situated on the crossroads of Asian and European routes. In which of them could the capacity of industrial giants and scientific and technological centers of Tatarstan be utilized?
A: As you have already noticed the ancient Silk Roads crossed Turkmenistan, which was a transit link between the East and West. Many centuries later, we are reviving this unique route that serves as an original symbol of mutual penetration of cultures and common efforts in the name of friendship among states and peoples. A new Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline trunk, which construction is in full swing, can be called a modern reincarnation of the Silk Roads.
Within the last year, Turkmenistan has initiated a number of other, no less significant, projects of regional importance. They are the transnational North-South transport corridor, Caspian pipeline and Avaza Tourist Zone that is going to become a comfortable resort of global importance in the nearest years.
Certainly, we link the implementation of these and other projects with wide attraction of the biggest international financial, scientific and business structures including our old partners from Tatarstan. I think this traditional time-tested cooperation has big prospects considering the potential of your biggest companies as Tatneft and KAMAZ as well as permanently growing requirements of the rapidly developing Turkmen market.
Q: As is known, after you came in office your first step as the President of Turkmenistan was to implement reforms in education. What role does the international cooperation, in particular the cooperation with the leading schools of Tatarstan, play in this reform?
A: I’ve been always saying that education is the cornerstone of the development of the human society, a factor that determines the states’ fate and future. It is absolutely natural that along with the social-economic transformations the reforms in education and science have also been started in Turkmenistan that is nowadays going through the new phase in its history.
We are doing a lot in terms of intensive development of the education sphere. All over the country modern educational establishments are being built, the latest technologies are being introduced to the education process, and advanced means of communication are being installed in our schools. The main goal of our education policy is to establish a perfect system of training the cadre of national specialists whose level will meet the highest international requirements.
In this respect, we pay special attention to the development of the broad international cooperation. Currently, the Turkmen youth has an opportunity to study and get professional education at the level of world standards, including at the best educational establishments of the Russian Federation. We encourage in every possible way the development of direct relations among the educational and scientific centers of different countries, doing joint research and exchange of information. Certainly, we wil welcome such cooperation with universities of Tatarstan.
Q: Everybody knows how big Turkmenistan’s energy potential is. However today, the first-class textile production is an important export commodity for the country’s economy. What are the prospects of cooperation between Turkmenistan and Tatarstan in this area?
A: You are absolutely right saying Turkmenistan possess huge reserves of hydrocarbon resources and is rightfully recognized as a global energy power. The fuel and energy sector is fundamental for the national economy. We are working on the diversification of the sector’s development and the Turkmen energy export routes along with it. In addition to the modernization of oil and gas extraction infrastructure, the country is developing the modern processing industry, the turnout of which has been in great demand in the world market.
As for the production of the textile industry, the “geography” of its buyers is also impressive. Over the years of independence, a network of up-to-date textile facilities has been created in Turkmenistan. All of them are fitted out with the latest equipment and state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly technologies working on local raw materials only. At the present time, we have the powerful industry with the appropriate complete cycle infrastructure.
In this sphere, Turkmenistan successfully cooperates with foreign partners. The Turkmen production starting from lint cotton and yarn to readymade articles is exported to the United States, Russia, Europe and Asia. So there are wide opportunities for the cooperation with Tatarstan. For instance, as far as I know, during the visits to Turkmenistan representatives of the delegation of Tatarstan displayed great interest in purchasing working clothes for workers of various industries, the turnout of which is well organized in our country.
Tatar-Inform News Agency of the Republic of Tatarstan, June 30, 2008