President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov: Ladies and gentlemen!
To begin on a personal note, today I was very pleased to welcome President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to our hospitable country for the first time. This is not our first meeting, and thus it was very pleasant and agreeable to talk to him today and, most importantly, to talk about further extending our relations of friendship and cooperation in the interests of our two peoples who hold each other in sincere and long-standing mutual respect.
As you all know, recently political and trade exchanges between our countries have intensified considerably. This change involves all sorts of new participants and has expanded the scope of our mutual interests. These interests occasioned the agenda of today's meeting, which resulted in a thorough and open discussion of approaches for realising the enormous potential of the partnership between Turkmenistan and Russia.
First, we confirmed our commitment to our traditional ties of friendship and continuity designed to strengthen strategic cooperation, based on our unshakable dedication to independent development, and the spiritual and historical heritage that we share.
We also reviewed the entire spectrum of issues that today constitute the agenda of our cooperation.
And, finally, taking into account the large-scale reforms and transformations taking place in our countries, we reaffirmed our position concerning the prospects for cooperation in the long-term.
With regard to specific agreements, they are designed to build on our basic bilateral agreements, primarily in the energy sector, including the upgrading and construction of a new gas pipeline and reconstruction of existing transnational pipeline infrastructure.
Of course we exchanged views on a cluster of issues related to trade and economic cooperation, the rapid growth of which necessitates constant adjustment if we are to seize all the opportunities that we have before us today. We also reaffirmed our continued commitment to abiding by the terms of contracts already signed, primarily reflected in the agreement to supply natural gas to Russia until 2025.
In addition, we are convinced that there are great opportunities for Russian business in Turkmenistan. This is shown by the recent increase in the number of large companies and enterprises operating in our country. These include Gazprom, Itera, KamAZ [Kamsky Automobile Factory], MTS [Mobile Telesystems], Siberian Airlines, Power Machines and many other companies. There are a total of 113 enterprises funded by Russian investment, and 116 projects and contracts undertaken with Russian companies.
An example of this is the development of direct ties between Turkmenistan and important regions in Russia. In our view it is good to develop mutually beneficial links with the Republic of Tatarstan, which we visited recently, as well as with the city of St Petersburg and the Sverdlovsk and Astrakhan regions.
Turkmenistan is regularly visited by Russian business delegations. They attend annual meetings in Ashgabat, as well as conferences and exhibitions, particularly in the field of oil and gas, urban development and in many other areas. Incidentally, just recently we had representative Business Forum – more good potential for cooperation between Turkmenistan and Russia – which demonstrated how many large opportunities exist for Russian companies cooperating with Turkmenistan.
Here I should like to emphasise the dynamic growth of trade between Turkmenistan and Russia. Over the past two years its volume has increased by nearly 7.5 times, reaching $4,853,000,000 in 2007. Growth in trade over the last five months of this year is also far ahead of last year’s figures. Our exports of natural gas account for a lot of this increase, but Turkmenistan also exports agricultural products, products from textiles and light industry, chemicals and construction materials to Russia
In turn, Turkmenistan imports from Russia technological equipment, vehicles, industrial goods, medicines and other goods and products.
Today we have agreed to further expand our mutually beneficial trade and economic ties and create the necessary conditions for the cooperation of business, enterprises and entrepreneurship between our countries.
A special theme of the negotiations was cooperation in the cultural spheres, which today serves as a catalyst of our rapprochement. On the one hand, we have a strong tradition of spiritual kinship and, on the other, we are facing the challenges of a new era. And this, of course, unites us in the desire to find new forms of cooperation in the area of world culture.
Our talks today have led to the signing of a number of documents, including an agreement on trade and economic cooperation, another between the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation in what is for us a priority field, the field of education, as well as a number of other agreements aimed at further expanding our cooperation in various fields.
We also signed agreements on extending and intensifying our ties through research centers and educational institutions for cultural exchange. In so doing we will increase the number of young people going to study in institutions of higher learning in the Russian Federation.
In conclusion, once again I would like to thank the President of the Russian Federation, the distinguished Dmitry Medvedev, for accepting our invitation to come to Turkmenistan on an official visit and express my sincere desire to strengthen relations of friendship and partnership between our nations. And let me express my confidence that this visit and these meetings greatly benefit our countries and peoples.
Thank you for your attention.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I want to thank our colleagues for the warm welcome and hospitality. I can say at once that from touching down in Turkmenistan we felt the warmth of our hosts here.
Our meeting with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich just ended. And I must note the constructive and trusting nature of our talks. It was a friendly trusting conversation, and this really has become a good tradition in our dialogue with the leadership of Turkmenistan.
As the President of Turkmenistan just said, we focused on the most important issues of bilateral cooperation. First of all, this concerns our trade and economic ties. Nevertheless, we also paid attention to the international agenda because coordination on these issues is important for sustaining full-fledged relations between our nations.
Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich just mentioned our levels of trade. It is increasing rapidly. It is particularly gratifying that this is already happening in the new year, and these are the figures that represent a positive dynamic in our relations.
We paid particular attention to cooperation in the fuel and energy complex. We reviewed progress in implementing the joint declarations we signed last year on the construction of the Caspian gas pipeline and talked about the development of existing gas transportation facilities in Central Asia.
In the near future all countries should finish domestic procedures relating to an agreement on the Caspian gas pipeline, and we will continue to work on an agreement concerning the reconstruction of existing gas pipelines.
On the agenda is the development of industrial cooperation, as my colleague also said. A number of major Russian companies are already firmly established in the market of Turkmenistan. They are represented here and include Gazprom, Itera, KamAZ, Stroytransgaz, Pipe Metallurgical Company and many, many others. And this means that we have very interesting prospects for new and very successful joint projects.
I am confident that the Russian national exhibition planned in Ashgabat in August of this year will be a good opportunity to present them. The exhibition will reflect the scale of our achievements in science, technology, education, industry and the construction industry. This is a good area of cooperation.
A key focus remains our contacts in the cultural and educational spheres. Recently — and I would like to say a special thanks to Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich on this account — they have gained very good momentum. We are seeing tangible progress. Recently we signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between the ministries of culture of Russia and Turkmenistan for 2008 to 2010 in broadcasting. We signed an agreement on education and a protocol on the establishment of a branch of the I. M. Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas in Ashgabat. The preparatory phase is completed and, hopefully on 1 September, the branch will open its doors to students from Turkmenistan. This is a very good, positive development.
The construction of a new building for the Alexander Pushkin Russian-Turkmenistan secondary school is proceeding. We just talked about it. The school will be of the highest caliber.
We hope that bilateral cultural and educational contacts will be supplemented by multilateral ones within the CIS.
As I just said, during these talks we exchanged views on key regional and international issues.
I would particularly emphasise that Turkmenistan remains a very important strategic partner for Russia within the Commonwealth of Independent States. And today we reaffirmed our mutual desire to develop such cooperation on key fronts.
We would also like to strengthen our cooperation within the United Nations. We talked about this during our private interview. We believe that the opening of the United Nations Regional Centre for preventive diplomacy in December 2007 in Ashgabat will play a useful role in ensuring security and stability in Central Asia. We believe that the United Nations has a very good potential and is probably the only universal international platform that exists today.
We discussed the situation in regions where there are known difficulties, and Afghanistan in particular, and noted that without stabilising its situation it is impossible to fully integrate Afghanistan into the international community. We reviewed a number of other key international issues.
Today's meeting represents an important step for the future development of friendly relations between Russia and Turkmenistan. And the Joint Declaration we have just signed fully reflects this.
Once again, I would like to thank my colleague, President Gurbanguly Myalikgulyevich Berdymukhamedov for his business-like and constructive approach to all the issues we discussed. I am confident that by working together we will achieve very good results and the goals that we set today.
Thank you for your attention.