Everything following agreed and well-coordinated plan
By Vladimir Yakovlev
Mr. Berdymukhamedov spoke sincerely of Turkmenistan’s interest in collaboration with Belarus, saying, “You have many high-tech enterprises here, so we’d like to borrow from your experience.” He has invited Belarusian companies to aid in the modernisation of the Turkmen economy.
The potential for joint activities is endless, with Turkmenistan boasting huge deposits of oil and gas. Of course, the country’s leadership realises that it must shift from the direct sale of hydrocarbons to highly developed industrial manufacture. Belarus would be a reliable ally in this respect, being an acknowledged world leader in the processing of potash salts.
Minsk’s Belgorkhimprom has agreed with Turkmenkhimiya Concern to set up Garlyk mining facilities, able to yield up to 1.5m tonnes of fertilisers annually. The price of $1bn sounds quite significant but Belarusian expertise seems worth it.
Alexander Lukashenko told his Turkmen colleague, “Belarus is ready to share everything Turkmenistan finds interesting.” In proof, he noted the number of students from Turkmenistan in Belarus: almost 6,000 in secondary special and higher education (including 30 paid for by Belarus). Hundreds of Turkmen students are studying the science of extraction and processing of potash salts — knowledge which may be more precious than any technology. Such educational liaisons are the result of previous top level agreements, following Mr. Lukashenko’s visit to Ashgabat around a year ago. At that time, the presidents agreed to meet every 12-18 months to assess how agreements were being fulfilled.
The recent meeting looked at how best to encourage trade-economic, sci-tech and cultural relations, attracting business co-operation at all levels — inlcuding small and middle-sized businesses. On the eve of Mr. Berdymukhamedov’s visit to Minsk, a large group of top ranking Turkmen managers arrived in Belarus, touring the National Academy of Sciences, as well as enterprises, ministries and departments. Final amendments were made to almost 15 documents on co-operation: later signed by our two presidents. These cover the supply of Belarusian agricultural, road, construction and communal machinery, and fleets of urban transport. In addition, there are agreements regarding co-operation in geodesy, map making, satellite data collection and education. Construction of industrial and housing facilities, as well as social infrastructure, is planned, as is sci-tech co-operation by our national academies of sciences. Similar documents have been signed by representatives of agrarian ministries, chambers of commerce and industry, and a range of universities. Clearly, science and education are a major focus, indicating that Belarus has no secrets from its Central Asian partners. Of course, the documents signed in Minsk will promote further turnover growth — thought to be far from reaching its limit.
Meanwhile, on returning home from being educated in Belarus, thousands of young Turkmen graduates should become ‘ambassadors’ for our state, promoting all-round friendly relations for years to come.
Our two presidents have agreed on supplies of Belarusian agricultural, road, construction and communal machinery to Turkmenistan, signing a corresponding agreement. Additionally, Belarus has proposed setting up an educational institution in Turkmenistan to train middle-management specialists (a project being actively developed by the education ministries of our two countries).
The visit has also resulted in a joint Belarusian-Turkmen communique regarding mutual interaction and assistance within international organisations — including tackling human rights issues. Belarus and Turkmenistan advocate further strengthening of collaboration in co-ordinating the battle against human trafficking and other global problems — including ecological. Turkmenistan is even offering assistance to Belarus in establishing interaction with the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (promoting Belarus’ application for observer status).
The Turkmen President’s visit was intensive, including a tour of the Belarusian State University. BSU Rector Sergei Ablameiko has awarded the title of BSU Honorary Professor to the high guest, for his great contribution to the development of science, bilateral Belarusian-Turkmen relations and strengthening of cultural and educational ties. Mr. Berdymukhamedov also invited Mr. Lukashenko to visit Turkmenistan.