Interview by President Mintimer Shaimiev of the Republic of Tatarstan to the Turkmen State News Agency and Turkmen mass media
Question: Mr. President, what do you think is the political significance of the visit of the President of Turkmenistan to the Republic of Tatarstan?
Answer: First of all, it is a demonstration of profound respect for our county and its people. The historical bonds that our peoples have been sharing in the course of many centuries have found their confirmation in the contemporary times. In addition to solving many issues of the humanitarian cooperation, including the sphere of historical studies, we considered various aspects of economic interaction. It is an important part of our interrelations, which, I have no doubt, will be productively developing in the frames of the Russian Federation's cooperation with Turkmenistan. The regional cooperation is an aspect of Russia's foreign policy that has enormous positive potential for mutually beneficial partnership and we intend to use it to full extent.
Q: Could you, Mr. President, comment on the signed Agreement between the governments of Tatarstan and Turkmenistan on cooperation in the economic, scientific, technical and cultural spheres?
A: The signing of the intergovernmental agreement between the President of Turkmenistan and President of the Republic of Tatarstan is an important fact. It doesn't contradict international norms, provided that its basic provisions were considered and approved by the government of the Russian Federation. It adds special significance to the signed document. The agreement is a fundamental document, a basis for further cooperation. Miras, our common cultural and historical heritage, is a special object of the Agreement. We have agreed to develop scientific cooperation making it a priority direction. Besides, a framework of activities connected with opening of the representation of Turkmenistan in Tatarstan on the cultural and economic cooperation was set. The Cultural and Autonomous Society of Turkmens is fruitfully working in our republic. Till nowadays, we have no such cultural center or association of Tatars - a lot of them live there - in Turkmenistan. I think, in the nearest future there will be created such conditions that will enable us, in the frames of the cultural autonomy, support our culture and language, and in the format of a social organization cooperate with other NGOs of Turkmenistan. I can say this proposal was positively accepted.
Nurturing of the professional specialists is the most important issue of the humanitarian cooperation. There are a certain number of quotas allocated by the federal government. We could increase figures and work on the long-term basis. I think this issue will be considered in the nearest future as it is extremely important for our countries. The Tatar and Turkmen economies are based on such vital sectors as oil and gas industry. Add the common humanitarian values that I have told about earlier to it and we can make a conclusion that we need to develop cooperation in education. The Turkmen president deemed it possible and even necessary. We will work in this direction. A certain number of students have already been studying in our universities. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov met with them and felt their mood and general spirit. The students have adapted well due to the closeness of our languages, traditions and mode of life. Considering these factors, I believe the cooperation in education should be developed - we will support it in every possible way, facilitate and help it.
As for the economy, Tatarstan has been for almost 60 years specializing in oil production. We have accumulated big experience. We can only welcome the fact that the first encouraging steps toward the cooperation have been made. There are indicators of increasing oil recovery on the existing wells. We don't exclude the possibility of carrying out the joint geological prospecting; oil production on the production sharing agreement basis is also possible. In the sphere of machine building Turkmenistan has big possibilities of exporting certain products we need, and Tatarstan has got a production necessary for your country. For example, as far as I know, Turkmenistan purchases gas pumping stations from a number of leading companies, whereas Tatarstan supplies them to Gazprom. Your specialists are thoroughly exploring the possibilities of developing cooperation in motor building. Nowadays we are installing a new draft force with the high coefficient of performance. The Turkmen side displays keen interest, so I think we can have mutually beneficial projects in this area as well. The important factor of the economic cooperation is that KAMAZ was one of the first Tatar companies to enter the Turkmen market. We expect that in the frames of the forthcoming visit of the President of Russia Dmitriy Medvedev to Turkmenistan, the presidents will commission the KAMAZ Center. Not only will the maintenance of trucks and training of specialists be handled there. We hope KAMAZ trucks will be assembled here too. As I know, almost 7000 KAMAZ lorries are operated all over Turkmenistan. The purchase volumes in recent years have been very high - up to 2.5 machines a year. Such number of trucks requires maintenance and training of personnel, for the trucks are being permanently improved. I want to stress that every third car turned out by the KAMAZ plant is exported to the CIS and other countries.
The cooperation in the agro-industrial sphere presents a promising opportunity for Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is a home to white wheat, "ak bugday". For us it is a close notion. Grain production, supply of melons and other agricultural production to Tatarstan are the issues of future cooperation. At the same time, there are opportunities for import of good quality and natural cattle-breeding production. We have agreed to create permanent working groups to better study capabilities of Turkmenistan and industrial, scientific and technical capacity of Tatarstan, so we will find new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. We have agreed on the joint research work of scientists of the Academies of Sciences of Turkmenistan and Tatarstan, including the federal institutes located on the territory of our republic. There is an interest, desire and mutual understanding, which are a good foundation for our future relations.
Q: Tatarstan is not only about high achievements in the economy, culture and social life. Your country has made great advances in sports. We hope our compatriot Kurban Berdiev, who trains FC Rubin, also works for the image of Tatarstan?
A: I can tell you more. Knowing many representatives of the Turkmen people I have been convinced they have one common trait: these people are very steadfast having firm nature. They are people who know what honor is. I drew these conclusions from the first meeting with the president of Turkmenistan. I also knew Saparmurat Niyazov well. They are reliable people and know what they are doing. In the end, the time proves they were right. The present day policy is aimed at making Turkmenistan a more open country, and the president of Turkmenistan gives his state and people access to the achievements of civilization. It is a direct way to the prosperity, which is beneficial for the people of Turkmenistan, first of all. As for Kurban Berdiev, the fact that FC Rubin is on the top in the standing of teams in the premier league says a lot about this man. There are falls and rises in the sport. But within those opportunities that we have created, it depends on the financial possibilities as well, he performs very well. It is a man we trust in everything; he has got his own view. It is very important for the business. I think he has got traits peculiar to Turkmens, a brotherly people for Tatars that we share centuries-old traditions, culture and history with. From times immemorial, the rulers, they were called differently in the period of the Bulgar State, had kinship ties with Turkmens. Many centuries ago, it was the territory of modern Turkmenistan that the messengers of the new religion - Islam went through to bring it to our lands. And our nation adopted it.
Q: And the last question: what is your impression of the meeting with the president of Turkmenistan?
A: He is a reliable person and I have felt it at once. His way of thinking and approach to business was well accepted by many. The main thing is that he has got a big desire to work and assert interests of his own country. As for merely personal human relations, one can tell the following: many things become evident when you look at human eyes. I think the Turkmen people are lucky: your president will fulfill his mission successfully and will achieve great victories for your state. I wish him every success in this undertaking.
Turkmenistan has been able to preserve the stability in its development in the topsy-turvy time we have seen from what happened and is going on in the post-Soviet area. Today, by opening the country to the civilized world even wider this president dooms it to the success. On behalf of all the Tatarstan people we wish prosperity to the brotherly people!
Interviewed by Mikhail Pereplesnin