On March 25, the most important event in the political life of the Republic of Tatarstan took place. Rustam Minihanov, the former head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Tatarstan, was inaugurated as a new President of Tatarstan. The inauguration ceremony was held on the main stage of Kazan's Big Concert Hall named after Salih Saidashev. Rustam Minihanov replaced the first President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, who headed this Russian region since 12 June 1991.
It is not by chance that Turkmenistan takes keen interest in the life of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan and Ashgabat maintain the stable and strong level of economic and humanitarian cooperation. Tatarstan was the first Russian region President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov paid an official visit to.
On the day of his inauguration, new President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minihanov kindly agreed to answer questions of the Turkmenistan magazine.
Question: Rustam Nurgalievich, first of all, let me congratulate you on your accession to office as the head of the Republic of Tatarstan!
Answer: For me the words of support coming from Turkmenistan, dear to my heart, are very important. The greetings that I received from President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the Turkmen delegation's participation in the inaugural events point to the special status of relations established between the Republic of Tatarstan and independent Turkmenistan.
The foundation of the strategic partnership between Tatarstan and Turkmenistan was laid in recent years by Presidents Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Mintimer Shaimiev. As head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Tatarstan, I had a chance to directly participate in this fruitful process, visit Turkmenistan on many occasions, admire a number of times the scale of economic reforms and pace of social development in the country. I can say with confidence that given the level of business partnership, trust and mutual understanding, we have every opportunity to build up comprehensive and effective cooperation in the wide range of areas of mutual interest.
Q: In your opinion, what are the specific features of partnership between Ashgabat and Kazan?
A: First of all, it is a large degree of mutual interest and the vision of the two national leaders capable of seeing the positive benefits of large-scale cooperation.
The economic development rates Turkmenistan is demonstrating today remain among the world's best. The country pursuing the "open door" policy is recognized by the world community as a reliable partner who is strongly committed to international legal norms. Tatarstan, in turn, is one of the Russian Federation's most developed regions having the best technological and scientific-technical base. We have many reasons to expand and strengthen comprehensive economic, cultural and humanitarian ties. In addition, we share common sources of spiritual heritage of ancestors that help us understand better our partner and trust each other.
In fact, at this stage we have already established and successfully operate an unprecedented model of interaction between a neighboring independent state and a separate region of the Russian Federation. I know that Turkmenistan applies various forms of such model in the dialogue with other regions of the Russian Federation such as St Petersburg, Astrakhan, Sverdlovsk and Altai regions and some others. However, I dare to believe it is Tatarstan that plays a role of the locomotive promoting ideas and possibilities of such form of cooperation.
Tatarstan has become the first Russian region that opened its representative office in Turkmenistan last fall. Already this year, a delegation of our republic visited Ashgabat and discussed the possibility of establishing a permanent bilateral working group on the trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation with the Turkmen partners. From the organizational point of view, in fact, these are the steps, unprecedented in the global integration practice, aimed at maximizing the benefits of partnership.
Q: What material characteristics are applicable to this "know-how" of relations between Tatarstan and Turkmenistan?
A: Let's look at the dynamics of trade turnover between Ashgabat and Kazan. In the last five years it has grown about forty times and totaled nearly US $200 million in 2009. The Turkmen President's visit to Tatarstan in the summer of 2008, his talks with President Mintimer Shaimiev, acquaintance with work of enterprises in Tatarstan, and, finally, signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation provided the main impetus for this growth.
The major enterprises of Tatarstan signed large-scale agreements on the supply of production turned out in our republic to the Turkmen consumers. Kazanorgsintez sends chemical products to Turkmenistan; Sergo Plant - refrigerators; Tatneft successfully participates in tenders for the supply of technological equipment to the Turkmen oilmen; Tathimpreparaty enterprise ships medical products to the Turkmen partners; automobile tires are supplied from Neftekamsk and the famous production of KAMAZ plant is sent from Naberezhnye Chelny. I can say with confidence that none of other Russian regions can boast a greater number of examples of such successful economic integration.
As for the cooperation in the spheres of science, education and culture, it is difficult now to assess in any material equivalent the effect of this cooperation. I think that for both sides the exchange of experiences and knowledge, mutual enrichment of national cultures is a priceless gift with good prospects for many generations to come.
Q: The last sentence indicates that you are ready to use not only economic but also emotional and ethical categories in the development of international contacts...
A: One can be fully confident in the correctness of the step made only after a complete combination of pragmatic calculation and favorable emotional background has been achieved, when, as Pushkin said, "algebra can be checked by harmony". By the way, the main national slogan "A state for the people" proclaimed by the Turkmen president looks appealing to me. In other words, the main goal of economic transformations is not only to have material gains but, more importantly, to implement the ethical principle - comprehensive care of people.
Speaking about my personal perception of the combination of feeling and calculation, my personal impressions of visits to Ashgabat and meetings with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov gave me more confidence in the correctness of the chosen course for the expansion of cooperation. In addition to being an extremely open-minded person, subtle and witty interlocutor, he possesses the rare ability of building large-scale long-term plans, in which the bold flight of inspired ideas is combined with the ultimate pragmatism of decisions made.
I was impressed by the scope of his idea of creating a zone of international tourism and recreation, the biggest in the Caspian Sea. Last summer, I had an opportunity to take part in the opening of the first stage of spa facilities built in Avaza National Tourist Zone. When you see white marble palaces that emerged on the deserted beach, get acquainted with the grandiose projects of creating a "tourist paradise", your head is going round.
I am very pleased to know that one of the enterprises of Tatarstan will make its contribution to the implementation of such an interesting and ambitious project. KER-Holding company has already received a certificate for a plot of land to construct a sanatorium and recreation complex with a skating rink and in-house ski center with the year-round cycle of work. I know that in the nearest future, another series of commissioning of new buildings will take place in Avaza and I will wait for the opportunity to visit again the Turkmen Caspian coast to enjoy the bold realization of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's grandiose idea.
Personally for me, as a man indifferent to motorsports, his idea of holding "Silk Road - 2009" international rally raid from Kazan to Ashgabat was no less impressive. The rally that took place in the territories of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and welcomed by the Presidents of three host countries at the finish has become one of the brightest events in the world of international sport. This contest of the world's top rally drivers enabled not only the participants of Silk Road-2009, but also millions of fans who watched the progress of the race on television to rediscover Turkmenistan. Due to extremely busy schedule I could not take part in the rally, but nevertheless managed to cover the race's opening route in Kazan, driving a racing truck.
I am very pleased by the fact that our famous Kamaz-Master team not only won this rally, but also took active part in organizing it, supported the Turkmen team of young pilots making their first steps in the competition of such high level.
The above mentioned are just two of many possible examples characterizing the magnitude and productivity of the diverse activities of the President of Turkmenistan. I am confident that his talent of a statesman will be demonstrated many times. For Tatarstan it is important that in the person of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov our republic has found a reliable friend. And this fact allows us to build the most promising and long-term plans of joint work today.
Q: What other new forms of partnership between Turkmenistan and Tatarstan can emerge in the future?
A: When in the summer of 2008 the President of Turkmenistan visited the Republic of Tatarstan, we tried to show him all the best we have. After that, our enterprises took part in various trade fairs held in Ashgabat. In other words, we are ready to share with our Turkmen friends all our best know-how in all spheres of society - from training highly qualified specialists and organization of sport events to application of the world's best technologies. For our part, we do not hide our interest in goods and services of the Turkmen producers. I am confident that the two-way traffic will only increase on this broad street, because there are no limits to our partnership.