President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov: This is already my fifth meeting with the President of Russia. As always, this meeting was constructive, honest, and trust-based – befitting of us as friends. We consider the relations between Turkmenistan and Russia to be a strategic partnership. I think that this characterisation fully reflects the nature and substance of our relations.
In discussing aspects of our relations that pertain to foreign policy, Mr President and I talked about the current situation in the international arena, with a detailed discussion of regional processes, including those in Central Asia and the Caspian Basin. Overall, our positions on these issues are congruent. In other words, both Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation consider stability and security to be at the forefront of our foreign policy, along with support of the efforts of the international community. Here, I am referring first and foremost to the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other respected international and regional institutions whose work is aimed at preventing conflicts.
Russia’s approaches to the problem of ensuring security are clear and similar to our own; in particular, the key principle of our policies is the idea that no nation’s security can be assured at the expense of another’s. In essence, we are discussing complicated subjects and sharing common ideas; the differences lie only in the details, while our overall goals are the same: peace without wars and conflicts, fair and equal relations between states, and inviolability of the key principles of the Charter of the United Nations as a basis for the entire modern system of international relations. Today, this kind of mutual understanding allows us to cooperate efficiently within the global arena, support each other within the framework of international organisations, and coordinate our efforts in confronting drug trafficking and terrorist threats. We will continue this cooperation.
I’d like to say a few words about our trade and economic relations. They are developing progressively, at a stable pace, and every year, we are seeing new forms of them. It is encouraging to note that different Russian regions are becoming actively involved in this process. These include the Republic of Tatarstan, the Astrakhan and Sverdlovsk Regions, St Petersburg, and other entities of the Russian Federation.
We welcome and support this form of cooperation, and we find it very promising.
The positive growth is also demonstrated by the trade turnover. It is illustrative that even with no account for natural gas supplies our trade has grown so much recently that Russia is currently Turkmenistan’s number one foreign trade partner.
We are cooperating productively in key areas such as fuel and energy, transportation, communications, telecommunications, electricity, agriculture, aircraft construction, and shipbuilding.
President Medvedev’s current visit has coincided with another significant and symbolic event: the opening of the new building of the Alexander Pushkin Turkmen-Russian Secondary School in Ashgabat, furnished with all the latest equipment. In the future, we will continue to encourage cultural, humanitarian, educational, and scientific ties between our nations and create all the necessary conditions for wide-spanning exchanges in this field, and facilitate contact between artists and intellectuals.
A great deal is already being done to encourage this from both sides. Delegations of representatives from the cultural, scientific, and educational spheres of Russia are actively participating in major international conferences and arts festivals that we are holding here in Turkmenistan. As far as cultural interaction is concerned, I will also say that Turkmenistan regularly holds Russian book expos, Russian Cinema Days, and other events. The Russian Federation, in turn, organises various artistic encounters and Arts Days devoted to festive and memorial days in Turkmenistan.
Mr President, my Russian friends, I would like to say in conclusion that today’s meeting and the atmosphere of our talks once again confirm the friendly and sincere nature of the relations between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation. Certainly, we greatly appreciate and value these relations.
It is now my great pleasure to pass the microphone on to the President of the Russian Federation.
President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, Turkmenistani partners, friends, colleagues,
The President of Turkmenistan has done quite a thorough job of describing our relations. I would like to say that I fully share his evaluation of our relations as a strategic partnership in all key areas of intergovernmental relations, in terms of foreign policy as well as our bilateral economic and humanitarian relations.
Mr President and I were just discussing the international agenda. It is true that we have very close or identical assessments in regard to key modern problems and ways of ensuring security in the world and in Eurasia. We believe that security is truly indivisible. We cannot ensure our own security at the cost of our partners’ security; instead, we must help one another. These are precisely the principles to which we adhere in international relations, including relations with our closest friends and partners such as Turkmenistan. That is why we are ready to continue joint efforts on the international agenda, both within the framework of the United Nations and our regional organisations where we communicate and pursue coordinated policies. I think that this is very important, given the fact that the world is not fully stable. There are some states with which we have to engage in some rather difficult dialogue, but our joint communication helps us to do this.
As for the trade and economic sphere, it is true that a lot has been done in recent years. I would like to particularly thank you for giving so much attention to our economic cooperation. I believe that it is advantageous for our governments and our peoples. Most importantly, our economic relations have become more diverse over the recent years. Energy cooperation still represents a major and fundamental part of these relations, however, we now have other areas of economic cooperation as well.
You were talking just now about the growth in trade this year in spite of the crisis and the overall drop in the global economy. This serves as evidence that our economic cooperation is becoming more varied. A number of very different agencies are working effectively and our Turkmenistani partners are acquiring a range of our industrial products. You named engineering, shipbuilding, and manufacture of pipes. Overall, all of these serve as a foundation for cooperation between our nations for years to come.
In addition, as we discussed today, we are certainly continuing our cooperation in the energy sector. I am confident that this cooperation has very good prospects.
With regard to other aspects of our cooperation, I agree entirely with what you said. It is very important that our interregional ties develop. In recent years, you have met with our governors multiple times; these included the Governor of St Petersburg and the Governor of the Astrakhan Region. Indeed, two of our governors are present here today: the governors of the Astrakhan Region and the Altai Territory. This means that the palette of interregional cooperation is getting broader. I am certain that this is beneficial because contacts such as these give birth to concrete economic treaties.
I feel it is very important to mention in the general context of our cooperation our interaction in transportation, communication, telecommunication, and agriculture. As we noted at our restricted format meeting earlier today, the CIS Agricultural Forum in Ashgabat [on November 25–27, 2009] was very important. We are pleased that Russia participated in this event and we support your suggestion to hold a comparable bilateral event next year with an emphasis on interregional interaction and cooperation between regions.
Humanitarian relations have expanded greatly in recent years. We appreciate this – I openly told you this earlier and I would like to repeat it again in the presence of our colleagues. Today, we are witnessing an event that is both symbolic and very substantial: the opening of the new building of the Alexander Pushkin school. In my view, this is another symbol of our proximity, our partnership, and our friendship. We are ready to continue to implement further educational projects. Every year, Russia increases the number of state scholarships for citizens of Turkmenistan, and we feel that the joint educational projects which we have already implemented are very useful. In particular, I am referring to the branch campus of the [Gubkin] Russian State University of Oil and Gas that is now functioning in Turkmenistan.
Cultural cooperation is not limited to education. The Russian Culture Days that were held in Turkmenistan serve as proof of this. We would be happy to hold Turkmenistani Culture Days next year in our own nation. We would simply need to make a final decision regarding a specific time when it would be best to hold them.
Thus, we have a packed agenda in bilateral relations. You said at the beginning of your remarks that we had five meetings this year, and if we also count our contacts during various regional summits and multilateral meetings at the highest level, that number is even greater. In total, we have met eight or nine times in less than two years. This means that we talk regularly, which yields practical results.
I would like to thank you for your cooperation. I am certain that this working visit by the President of Russia to Turkmenistan will end with good results.
Thank you, Mr President.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov: I would like to use this opportunity to thank our intergovernmental commission and the chair of the commission; they have done a great deal of work, and I think they will continue to work hard in the future.
If you don’t mind, I would like to make a working visit next year to the Astrakhan Region, the Sverdlovsk Region, and the Republic of Tatarstan. We are also planning a visit to the Altai Territory, where we intend to engage in agricultural cooperation, as well as to our sister city of St Petersburg.
Dmitry Medvedev: It will be my pleasure to see you.