[b]Belarus and Turkmenistan strengthen friendship and co-operation[/b]Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko paid an official visit to Ashgabat recently, meeting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to discuss inter-state relations. With focus on mutual trust and making the most of future prospects, it was clear that no obstacles exist to our two countries enjoying excellent partnerships.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko paid an official visit to Ashgabat recently, meeting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to discuss inter-state relations. With focus on mutual trust and making the most of future prospects, it was clear that no obstacles exist to our two countries enjoying excellent partnerships.
The Belarusian and Turkmen presidents previously agreed to meet annually to revise joint projects. Naturally, such meetings are yielding economic results; over the past five years, our mutual turnover has risen 5-fold, now exceeding $300m. Mr. Lukashenko stressed that it’s important to preserve friendly Belarusian-Turkmen relations, saying, “Our ideology aims to tie our nations together, so that nobody would ever dare to destroy our friendship. I think we enjoy exemplary relations, which are an example to all.”
The largest joint project so far involves the construction of a factory in Garlyk, by Belarusian specialists, to produce potash fertilisers. It is a perfect example of bilateral economic collaboration, as Mr. Lukashenko emphasised, noting, “Very soon, a group of specialists — led by our Prime Minister — will arrive in Turkmenistan to finally settle all issues relating to the Garlyk factory construction.” The final launch date is yet to be chosen but the two heads of state should cut a red ribbon by early 2015.
Service meeting regulations
We are already seeing dynamic growth of Belarusian exports to Turkmenistan, with MAZ, MTZ and Amkodor machinery working efficiently under challenging climatic conditions. As a result, additional contracts for delivery of agricultural vehicles, cars and city transport are being discussed, with Turkmenistan keen to open a service centre for Belarus-made tractors and vehicles. Mr. Lukashenko notes that this could offer maintenance for all supplied machinery and that extra branches could later open countrywide. “We understand, as we’ve made a decision to work in this country, that we need to establish maintenance centres here. This issue is to be settled in the near future,” the Belarusian President stressed.
Our mutually beneficial sci-tech co-operation is an important factor in our two states’ economic growth, with liaisons embracing over 20 joint projects. Pilotless aircraft production is among the most significant, as Mr. Lukashenko explained, “We are now negotiating the supply to Turkmenistan of multi-functional pilotless aviation devices, designed by Belarus’ National Academy of Sciences. Launch of their joint production in Turkmenistan is also being discussed.”
The two presidents highlighted our active humanitarian co-operation, noting that over 8,000 Turkmens are currently studying in Belarus. With this in mind, Mr. Lukashenko has proposed establishing a ‘Turkmen Isle’ in Belarus, offering hostels and hotels to young people. Joint training of Belarusian and Turkmen sportsmen was also on the agenda, with the Belarusian President underlining, “I’ve invited Turkmen sportsmen to come to Belarus more often: to participate in competitions and to jointly train at Belarusian sports camps. Turkmenistan’s President has welcomed this proposal.”
Mr. Berdymukhamedov likes the Belarusian President’s idea of building a Turkmen student quarter in Belarus, promising to thoroughly study the proposal. He also notes that Belarusian machinery is proving itself in Turkmenistan, inspiring plans for further import. However, he admits that better maintenance is required, so Mr. Lukashenko’s promise of opening service centres is very welcome.
Further interaction in the sci-tech sphere is another priority for our two states, with a special inter-governmental commission now set up to oversee this branch. It will gather in Minsk for the first time soon, as Mr. Lukashenko notes, ‘helping our Turkmen friends to gain personal knowledge of our developments’ and enabling them to ‘select areas of major interest’. Our two states’ academies of sciences are ready to sign a co-operative programme in the field of science and technologies (covering 21 joint projects) and Belarusian scientists are negotiating the supply of our pilotless aircraft to Turkmenistan, alongside possible joint production.
Belarus and Turkmenistan clearly have much to discuss. At the end of Mr. Lukashenko’s visit, the two presidents made a joint report on further strengthening of friendship and co-operation, unanimously agreeing that Belarusian-Turkmen collaboration has already achieved significant results. Moreover, our political inter-state dialogue is progressing and agreements and signed documents are being well realised. The two heads of state are delighted by the current state of our bilateral relations, voicing their readiness to continue strengthening them.
Mr. Berdymukhamedov was inte-rested to hear Mr. Lukashenko’s opinion on the recent friendly junior hockey match between a Turkmen team and Belarus’ winning team of the Golden Puck nationwide hockey tournament, hosted by Ashgabat, on the eve of the Belarusian President’s visit. “Of course, our guys are younger than yours. However, being a hockey ‘expert’, I can say that your junior team is truly fine. I love that your guys are in top physical form and would like to welcome them to Belarus — to play their peers,” Mr. Lukashenko noted.
The Belarusian President praised Turkmenistan’s hockey development, saying, “I would have never thought it possible to build ice palaces so quickly and for people to have learnt to play hockey so rapidly — especially in your summer temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius.”
Areas of partnership
A package of documents was signed during Mr. Lukashenko’s visit, covering various spheres of co-operation. One regards the settlement of mutual obligations and financial demands — signed between the governments and national banks of Belarus and of Turkmenistan. Others cover health protection, education and medical assistance to Belarusian and Turkmen citizens, as well detailing a co-operative programme for physical culture, sport and tourism. The advantages are evident, with training of Turkmen students bringing the export of services, and inflow of foreign currency, as well as employment for Belarusian lecturers. Naturally, scientific collaboration also brings export of our intellectual products. Meanwhile, the opening of service centres will help sales for our machinery to the Turkmen market; the Garlyk mining facility is worth billion of Dollars alone.
In their joint report, Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Berdymukhamedov stressed their mutual focus on further growth of bilateral trade, development of long-term economic liaisons and strengthening of investment interaction. They also expressed readiness to continue the joint fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and illegal migration. The heads of state have agreed to exchange Days of Culture of Belarus and Turkmenistan in 2014-2015. “Our co-operation is a truly strategic partnership, based on long-term goals and boasting significant potential,” Mr. Lukashenko stressed, inviting the Turkmen President to officially visit Belarus.
By Viktor Khmelevsky