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26.07.13 22:12

NICOLAE TIMOFTI: NEW STAGE IN RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR COUNTRIES


The Moldovan President’s interview with "Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Turkmenistan" magazine 


 


Mr President, Turkmenistan and the Republic of Moldova are at the initial stage of development of multifaceted bilateral relations. What kind of immediate cooperation priorities with Turkmenistan can you outline at this stage?

The political dialogue and contacts at the highest level between our countries have recently grown more intense and meaningful. This is evidenced by the official visit to our country by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, as well as his interactions with the Prime Minister of Moldova at the meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government in Ashgabat and the CIS Summit in 2012.

I am sure that the first visit by the President of Turkmenistan to the Republic of Moldova will take our relations to a new level and will enable us to fully use the existing potential for expansion of relations between our countries.

At the talks, we stressed the importance of improving and adjusting the legal framework of bilateral relations. A number of bilateral documents were signed in the course of the visit. In particular, the two presidents signed the Moldovan-Turkmen Joint Communique. At the end of the talks, the sides also signed the Plan of Consultations for 2013-2014 between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan; the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Government of Turkmenistan on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of evasion of taxes of income and property; the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Government of Turkmenistan on cultural cooperation; the Memorandum of Understanding between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan.

One of the main priorities of the Moldovan Government is to ensure energy security of the country. Turkmenistan is exporting gas and oil. This fact gives us an opportunity to implement a number of joint economic projects in the energy sector.

At the same time, the Republic of Moldova aims to create an attractive environment for foreign investors. Taking this into account, we consider it expedient to sign a number of agreements with the Turkmen side on promotion and reciprocal protection of investments, on cooperation in the oil and gas sector, in the field of international automobile transportation of passengers and cargo, as well as aviation services.

What are the prospects of trade and economic relations between the two countries? What can Moldova offer Turkmenistan in terms of economic cooperation? In what areas is Turkmenistan of interest to Moldova as a business partner?

It should be noted that trade turnover between the Republic of Moldova and Turkmenistan remains low, which does not correspond to the existing opportunities. For example, trade turnover amounted to US $ 4.9 million in 2012. Exports totalled US $ 0.8 million, imports – US $ 4.04 million. The trade balance was negative, amounting to US $ 3.2 million.

Undoubtedly, the economic relations between our countries should be developed. The Moldovan Government supports cooperation in the energy sector on the principles of mutually beneficial cooperation, including the possibility of delivering natural gas from Turkmenistan to the Republic of Moldova. On orders from Turkmen oil companies the Republic of Moldova can supply pumps of various types and capacities for the use in aggressive environments. The Academy of Sciences of Moldova has developed modern cathodic protection stations for underground oil and gas pipelines, which, by their efficiency, can compete with best international analogues.

We are also interested in setting up joint ventures in the field of mechanical engineering, light industry, industrial cooperation and exports of agricultural machinery and equipment to Turkmenistan for introduction of industrial technologies in the process of production of agricultural crops.

There is also interest in implementing joint long-term programmes in the field of processing of agricultural, food and wine products, production of champagne sparkling wine, chocolates and chocolate products, furniture and other goods. We have accumulated a wealth of experience in manufacturing these goods with high standard of quality.

The Intergovernmental Moldovan-Turkmen Commission on Economic Cooperation should play an important role in this process. This commission has been set up to refine trade and economic relations between our countries. We are ready to host the first meeting of the Commission and business forum in Chisinau in 2014.

In what areas do the foreign policy positions of the two countries seem to be the closest?

The Republic of Moldova highly rates Turkmenistan's foreign policy strategy based on the principle of permanent neutrality. The Moldovan Constitution also provides for the principle of neutrality of our country. On this basis, we see the commonalities in formulating the foreign policies of both countries, and it gives us an opportunity to exchange experience in this matter.
 
We should emphasize the importance of fruitful and constructive cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and Turkmenistan in the framework of international and regional organizations such as UN, OSCE and CIS. The Republic of Moldova is willing to consider the possibility of supporting the nominations of the two countries to the elected bodies of these organizations on the basis of bilateral agreements.

Given the fact that President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has initiated the accession of Turkmenistan to the World Trade Organization, the Republic of Moldova is ready to provide all necessary support in this matter and share its experiences of working with the WTO, to which we are member since 2002.

There is a growing tendency in the world that economic factors significantly impact the development of international relations. In this regard, we believe that it is important to use the potential of economic cooperation of our countries within the CIS.

The most promising areas of cooperation can include establishment of international transport-communication corridors, development of energy and scientific-technological partnerships, increasing export opportunities and encouraging investments.
 
The Republic of Moldova and Turkmenistan along with the rest of the world face the threats of organized crime, terrorism, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. We can address these threats only by joining our efforts.

We can also discuss the possibility of establishing contacts between the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, including through exchange of visits of their leaders, heads of specialized commissions, committees and parliamentary friendship groups.

It would be useful to organize regular meetings and consultations between the foreign ministries of our countries, including through exchange of visits at the level of foreign ministers.

There are great opportunities for partnership between the two countries in transport and communications. The geographic locations of our countries enable them to play a greater role in development of transport corridors between Asia and Europe. How do you see the possibility of cooperation in this area?

Turkmenistan is now a reliable exporter of gas and significant player in the global energy arena. This opens up great prospects for bilateral cooperation. I welcome the position of Ashgabat advocating for establishment of multilateral and safe transport infrastructure and ensuring stable supply of natural gas in any direction. This is exemplified by the recently commissioned powerful transnational gas pipelines such as Turkmenistan-China; Turkmenistan-Iran; the on-going work to implement a project on construction of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline; Turkmenistan's readiness to develop the European vector of the energy policy.

In this context, the Republic of Moldova views cooperation with Turkmenistan as one of the most important and beneficial areas of cooperation.

Mr President, we know that the problem of energy security is highly relevant for modern Moldova. What do you think of the foreign policy initiatives put forward by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to achieve global security of transit of energy resources?
I absolutely support the position of the President of Turkmenistan. The adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the resolution “Reliable and Stable Transit of Energy and its Role in Sustainable Development and International Cooperation” initiated by Turkmenistan is an important element in ensuring the energy security of countries, as well as international peace and stability.

In fact, issues relating to security of energy supplies, guarantees of protection from military, political, environmental, man-made risks, threats from international terrorism have become international. Therefore, they require an appropriate response and attention of the international community.

The UN remains the only universal international structure to provide political guarantees and legitimacy to the future system of security of energy transportation to international markets. The desire to use energy resources and their transit as an instrument of political pressure or economic blackmail should be completely excluded from interstate relations.

We also believe that equality in relations between suppliers, transit countries and consumers, diversification of energy flows, fair price criteria, comprehensive guarantees of protection of energy systems are the key parameters of cooperation in the field of energy supplies.  

Both Moldova and Turkmenistan have rich cultural traditions. What do you think, Mr President, about the possibilities of cultural exchanges, given the centuries-old folk traditions of our countries?

We have discussed with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov the prospects of development of relations in science and technology, culture, education, medicine and pharmacy, youth and sports, tourism, recreation and leisure activities for children and students.

In terms of cultural exchange, our relevant agencies will explore the opportunity of holding Days of Culture of the Republic of Moldova in Turkmenistan and Days of Culture of Turkmenistan in the Republic of Moldova in 2014-2015.

What do you think of the prospects of cooperation with Turkmenistan in the field of sports and tourism?

I expressed Moldova’s interest in increasing the exchange of scientific, technical and art teams, establishing joint tourist routes, opening joint children's health camps in the territories of our countries. 
 
Can you share your experiences of meeting President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in person?
 
It was a great pleasure to meet the President of Turkmenistan. I am very satisfied with the talks that were held in the spirit of friendship and mutual understanding. In the course of conversations, I got convinced that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is a statesman, who is open to dialogue and interested in promoting modern trends for the future of his country.

I hope that the first visit to the Republic of Moldova by the Turkmen President, with whom I had a confidential dialogue, as well as the agreements reached during this visit will mark a new stage in development of relations between our two countries. I would like to note that the talks confirmed readiness of the Republic of Moldova and Turkmenistan to consistently and vigorously strengthen the political dialogue, economic cooperation, business and humanitarian ties.

Chisinau, 25 July 2013

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