Mr Putin and Mr Berdimuhamedov discussed key bilateral cooperation issues and exchanged opinions on topical regional issues.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Berdimuhamedov,
Thank you for accepting our invitation to visit Russia. At the beginning of our meeting – which we have agreed to hold in a very narrow format behind closed doors – I would like to say that our trade has been growing in ruble terms despite the current economic challenges. It has decreased in US dollars but has increased in rubles.
This means that we are maintaining mutual deliveries at a high level. Imports from Turkmenistan doubled in 2015. It is a positive achievement, though there is much more to be done in this area. There are some unresolved issues, which we will discuss today.
I would like to congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence. Next year, we will mark 25 years of our diplomatic relations.
Once again, thank you for making this visit.
Welcome to Russia.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov: Mr Putin, thank you for inviting us to your wonderful country. And today, we are meeting in Sochi.
We are bound, I would say, by centuries-long relations of friendship. They have recently been complemented with new bilateral ties and our cooperation within respected international organisations.
As you know, Turkmenistan is a neutral country. We are grateful to you for supporting us twice and for co-sponsoring the UN resolution on the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is the only neutral country in the world whose peaceful foreign policy is based on the UN Charter. We have done a great deal together with you in this respect, and we will carry on this policy.
You have mentioned the economy. Considering the overall global economic situation, some of our indices have decreased. However, we are maintaining a positive trade balance, to a large degree thanks to the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation, which is doing a great deal in the areas of trade and investment. Both Russia and Turkmenistan have a considerable reserve potential.
I would like to remind you about our latest meeting at the summit of Caspian countries in Astrakhan, where the idea of an economic forum or logistics centre was put forward. I see that you are paying much attention to the development of transport routes and transit corridors. You supported the idea of developing a logistics centre in our countries, an idea that looks good. We have been working to promote this idea.
This issue is important for the development of our economies, and I would like to use this occasion to invite you to the UN-sponsored Global Sustainable Transport Conference, which we will host on November 26–27.
We have a ramified transport infrastructure, which is acquiring a global scale in the Caspian region. Russia’s attendance in the upcoming conference will further boost the development of transport transit corridors, not only in Central Asia, but also in the southeastern region as a whole. I believe that it is a highly promising economic area and a very serious project. It is my pleasure to invite you to this conference.
The cultural and humanitarian sphere is of major importance to us, because it includes education, research, culture and sport. We remember how you attended the ground-breaking ceremony for a Russian-Turkmen school named after the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin. Since then, this school has graduated students who are driven not just by a desire to study the Russian language, but by a love for it.
The Russian language is an important subject at many schools and universities in Turkmenistan. We have Russian language periodicals, exhibitions and photo exhibits. Our publishing activities in the Russian language are indeed commendable.
As for education, you know about the recent tendency among our young people, who want to receive a higher education. Some 17,000 young people from Turkmenistan are studying at Russian universities.
Much is being done by our academic community in education and research. I will cite one example from the agriculture industry: Russian and Turkmen scientists have completed an important grain breeding project. For the past five years, we have taken in large grain harvests that were not only sufficient for the country but also left some for export. There are many more examples like this.
I have reason to believe that we may hold a research and technology forum on all aspects of the national economy in Ashgabat next year.
Culture and folklore are additional links between us, and we have been doing much in this area. In particular, we have held Days of Russian Culture in Turkmenistan and Days of Turkmenistan Culture in Russia. We maintain close ties with Russia’s regions including St Petersburg, the Sverdlovsk and Orel regions, Tatarstan and Astrakhan. We recently hosted Tatarstan Culture Days. There are many more examples, and I believe that we should carry on in this spirit. But the most important task is to bring up the next generation in the same spirit.
Of course, I would like to thank you for your personal contribution to the efforts to strengthen friendship between Turkmenistan and Russia, to wish health and success in your work to you and all the best to the Russian people. And last but not least, I would like to say that great Russia has always been and always will be a strategic partner of Turkmenistan. We highly value this.
Once again, thank you for inviting us to Russia.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Berdimuhamedov, thank you for your kind words and for the initiatives you have put forward. We will analyse them all. I believe that the implementation of these ideas will benefit our relations as coordinated in the treaty we signed in 2009. We are honouring the provisions of this treaty in full.
The areas you have mentioned are important not just to Turkmenistan but also to Russia. Indeed, we maintain contact, and we have developed very good ties between our parliaments. I know that [Federation Council Speaker] Valentina Matviyenko often visits Turkmenistan, which she loves, and she keeps telling me about her visits.
There are sister cities in Russia and Turkmenistan, and, taken together, this constitutes a positive collection to which we will continue to add. We value this very much. I know that you personally oversee this.
Thank you very much.