PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN RECEIVED NATO SECRETARY GENERAL
President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov received NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on October 21. The head of state cordially welcomed the high guest that visited Turkmenistan last year in his capacity as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands and OSCE chairman-in-office.
The NATO chief expressed thanks for the warm welcome and briefed Turkmen president on some changes in the structure of the alliance and new regional programmes, and also introduced his special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Mr Robert Simmons. During the talks the sides discussed issues related to ensuring stability and security in the Central Asian region and potential for strengthening and expanding cooperation between Turkmenistan and NATO within the framework of the ongoing Partnership for Peace programme.
"Turkmenistan understands NATO's plans to prevent possible conflicts in Central Asia, a region with an uneasy situation," Saparmurat Turkmenbashi noted at the talks. "Moreover, our country, proceeding from its neutral status and based on equality, is ready to expand relations," the president said. The head of state praised the results of constructive cooperation with NATO in such areas as science, training of military specialists, security and the fight against drug trafficking.
During the exchange of opinions on the regional situation, including on the situation in Afghanistan, Scheffer told about the North Atlantic Organization's plans to expand its presence in this country that has recently held presidential elections. The guest emphasized a need for NATO's long-term presence in Afghanistan as a guarantor of peace and stability. In this context, the sides discussed potential for cooperation in organizing transit routes through Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.
Underlining the importance of establishing peace and stability in the region, and first of all in the neighboring state, Saparmurat Turkmenbashi briefed the NATO chief on projects successfully implemented in Afghanistan by Turkmen energy specialists. Supplies of liquefied gas and electricity to the neighboring state at a discount rate grow every year.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer praised the policy pursued by Turkmenistan and wished further successes in its implementation.
"I have had a long and very interesting conversation with your president, the high guest said after the meeting in an interview to the TDH. Strengthening of cooperation between NATO and Turkmenistan, lying within the framework of the Partnership for Peace programme, urges for launching mechanisms envisaged by this programme. I am grateful to the president for his understanding both of this problem and of the necessity to continue the negotiation process in the context of NATO's Afghan shift. The constructive assistance by Turkmenistan to his neighbor is viewed as the important factor of regional stability, and we regard it as a prerequisite for strengthening our cooperation."
STATE NEWS SERVICE OF TURKMENISTAN - TDH