Bilateral meetings to give impetus to endeavours
Belarus and Turkmenistan agree to expand bilateral ties, determining new, mutually beneficial areas of co-operation, following negotiations between the presidents of Belarus and Turkmenistan, Alexander Lukashenko and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov
By Vladimir Khromov
During the Minsk meeting, Mr. Lukashenko noted that he was very pleased to meet with Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, for various reasons. “First of all, you are our friend. Secondly, such meetings greatly contribute to the development of our trade-economic and political co-operation,” said the President of Belarus, noting that Belarus and Turkmenistan have managed to create a unique formula of communication, based on annual exchange of visits by the leaders of the two states.
Alexander Lukashenko and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during their meeting
Such an approach has already brought results: over a short period of time, trade between our two countries has reached almost $0.5bn, placing Turkmenistan fourth among Belarus’ CIS trade partners, after Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov believes that Belarus and Turkmenistan have good co-operation prospects — particularly, in machine building, metallurgy, the chemical industry, food manufacturing, and agriculture. He thanked Belarus for support in the international arena and for co-operation in education, while emphasising the importance of collaboration in science, culture, and sport. He also underlined that Turkmenistan views Belarus as a responsible and reliable partner.
Mr. Lukashenko suggested new, mutually beneficial avenues of interaction, including an offer to supply Belarusian harvesters, passenger buses and railway freight cars to Turkmenistan. “I’m confident that Belarusian vehicles, now being tested in the complex climatic conditions of Turkmenistan, will prove themselves, and that we’ll sign mutually beneficial contracts,” noted the Head of the Belarusian state.
Major housing construction in Turkmenistan could benefit from importing Belarusian construction materials and lifts and joint ventures are possible. A partnership enterprise to make uniforms for Turkmen power-wielding agencies may be piloted, with Belarus eager to sign an intergovernmental agreement on co-operation in this sphere.
Mr. Lukashenko underlined, “We shouldn’t forget our traditional ties: shipments of Belarusian trucks and tractors. Meanwhile, new avenues of interaction aim to support Turkmenistan’s accelerated production modernisation; this creates a real base for future expansion of mutual trade.”
The President of Belarus suggests that co-chairs of the Belarusian-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Co-operation should develop a roadmap to tackle a wide range of bilateral co-operation avenues.
Mr. Lukashenko remarked that mutual interest extends beyond trade and that a project to build the Garlyk mining and processing factory remains key. The President stressed that Belarus prioritises the fulfilment of its obligations. Meanwhile, Belarusian enterprises are ready to take a more active role in implementing projects in the area of transport communications construction and logistics development in Turkmenistan.
The Belarusian President mentioned the expansion of contacts in the sphere of science, and expressed confidence that contemporary research by Belarusian scientists will be of interest to government agencies in Turkmenistan. “As you know, the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus is negotiating the possibility of shipping multifunctional unmanned aerial vehicle systems to Turkmenistan,” said Mr. Lukashenko. “Taking into account our friendly relations, we’re also ready to start joint production of unmanned aerial vehicles in Turkmenistan in the future, alongside shipping them.”
Mr. Lukashenko stressed that Belarus is ready to train more students from Turkmenistan and provide accommodation for them, probably, in the Student Village, as well as constructing hostels for Turkmen students, and sporting facilities nearby. The presidents agreed that a relevant project will be developed, with implementation after the new premises of the Turkmen Embassy in Minsk have been completed.
The Belarusian Head of State also suggested that a small hotel may be built at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, to accommodate Turkmen scientists attending conferences and exchange programmes. He went on to point out that humanitarian collaboration, particularly in the spheres of education and culture, is an important aspect of bilateral interaction. According to the President, the fact that there are nearly 9,000 students from Turkmenistan attending Belarusian universities is confirmation of success in the area of education. “It shows trust in the Belarusian education system’s ability to train highly qualified personnel for your dynamically developing country,” he noted.
In all, 14 documents were signed, aiming to expand industrial, humanitarian and regional liaisons. In particular, the heads of state signed a joint statement on the importance of developing and advancing political dialogue, enhancing inter-parliamentary ties and trade-economic relations, and expanding legislation governing bilateral collaboration. They also signed an agreement on trade-economic co-operation in the delivery of Belarusian agricultural, automobile, road construction, municipal and passenger equipment.
Other documents signed include: a memorandum of understanding on co-operation in the area of transport; an intergovernmental agreement on co-operation in preventing emergencies and the alleviation of their consequences; and a programme of co-operation in culture and art, for 2015-2016.
Summing up the results of negotiations, Mr. Lukashenko noted their productive and concrete character. “For Belarus, Turkmenistan is a strategic partner in Central Asia,” stressed the President. “I’m convinced that the arrangements made today and the documents that have been signed will help bolster a favourable atmosphere of co-operation and the expansion of legislation governing interstate relations.”
Minsk and Ashgabat have a clear vision of the way forward, as symbolised by Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Berdimuhamedov laying a ‘time-capsule’ in the foundations of the new Embassy of Turkmenistan to Minsk. The gesture confirmation the seriousness of intentions and, clearly, the decision to construct a beautiful building in the country with which one plans to co-operate, long and constructively, says much. Belarus has allocated a beautiful and prestigious site, close to the Palace of Independence, where the ‘territory of friends’ is being formed. Nearby, Kazakhstan has begun construction of its new diplomatic mission building, and the Russian Embassy is situated on the other side, as is a residential complex for working diplomats. Such geography speaks much of Belarusian foreign political priorities.