SRSG's speech at the opening of the new building of the Institute of International Relations

1 Sep 2011

SRSG's speech at the opening of the new building of the Institute of International Relations

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan

Dear ...,

It is a pleasure to be with you today on the occasion of the opening of the new building of the Institute of International Relations of Turkmenistan. This solemn event provides me with a unique opportunity to speak about cooperation between the United Nations and Turkmenistan and the role of preventive diplomacy in strengthening peace and stability in Central Asia.

The constitutionally-enshrined concept of permanent neutrality is the cornerstone of Turkmenistan's foreign policy. This principle was unanimously recognized and supported by the UN General Assembly in 1995. The United Nations highly appreciates Turkmenistan's active involvement in international processes through peaceful initiatives and by assisting in working out effective models of cooperation. Under the leadership of President Berdymuhamedov, the country has achieved remarkable results in building harmonious relations with its neighbors and has shown sincere commitment to promoting international peace and security in the wider world.

Turkmenistan developed close partnership with the United Nations including through its efforts to advance peace in the Central Asian region and beyond. Thus, during the civil war in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan hosted UN-sponsored inter-Tajik peace talks and contributed to their success. In the face of continued strife in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan has provided vital humanitarian aid and economic assistance to the Afghan people.

Almost four years ago, representatives of the Central Asian countries and international guests gathered in Ashgabat to inaugurate the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA). President Berdymuhamedov strongly supported the idea of establishing the Centre and took part in its opening in December 2007. During his tour of Central Asian states in April 2010 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Centre that in his words pronounced during the visit "constitutes an impressive commitment by each country to the search, through dialogue, for common approaches to shared challenges". Its role is to help governments of the region identify causes of tensions and diffuse them through preventive actions before they degenerate into conflicts that could threaten their collective security and hamper development.

At the root of most world challenges are political problems requiring political solutions. Keenly aware of this reality, the UN Secretary-General has been pressing for a reinvigorated use of preventive diplomacy. The countries of Central Asia have been pioneers in this respect. By placing preventive diplomacy at the centre of the Regional Centre's mandate, they recognized the virtues of dialogue, consultation, good offices and mediation as practical and cost effective conflict-prevention tools. Turkmenistan has actively embraced this agenda and applies it through far-reaching initiatives aimed at advancing the potential for peace and development in the region and beyond.

The United Nations greatly values the contribution of Central Asian states to international peace efforts in Afghanistan. Turkmenistan has offered its political space to promote confidence-building for intra-Afghan reconciliation talks. It also provides capacity building to Afghan personnel in various sectors; carries out social and humanitarian assistance programmes; has developed plans for transport, notably railroads, communication links and increased energy supplies to Afghanistan. The signing of the TAPI project agreement in Ashgabat in December 2010 reflected a new quality and level of cooperation across the region. Its implementation will provide additional steadiness to the whole system of political and economic ties in the Asian continent. Turkmenistan can also serve the interests of peace in Afghanistan by using its current chairmanship of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asian (SPECA) to promote closer links and cooperation between Central Asian states and Afghanistan.

With the growing importance of energy issues in Central Asia and globally, the UN General Assembly supported Turkmenistan's initiative to commence an energy dialogue. As a result, a consultative process was initiated through an international Conference organized in Ashgabat, which paved the way for a new and comprehensive approach to energy security issues.

Turkmenistan's international efforts have also been directed at forming an effective system of regional security extending to Central Asia and the Caspian Basin. The United Nations closely follows and supports developments connected with proposals guided by the objective to advance or consolidate peace through various platforms and multilateral initiatives.

The United Nations as a whole and the UNRCCA in particular are committed to pursuing an active engagement with all Central Asian states and to assisting them in addressing regional challenges to their joint security and prosperity. The UNRCCA supports Central Asian countries by seeking to create conditions conducive to the identification of solutions that are acceptable to all and durable. To create such conditions, it encourages dialogue; provides a political platform for discussions and exchanges; builds the capacities of states in peaceful resolution and conflict prevention; promotes cooperation and confidence-building; and mobilizes, where necessary, technical expertise and assistance within the UN system.

The Institute of International Relations of Turkmenistan will no doubt be part of the strengthened diplomatic arsenal of Turkmenistan. The UNRCCA is ready to cooperate with it. It could facilitate linkages to other think tanks in the region and beyond, information exchange, sharing of publications, and contribute to the development of strategic dialogues on issues that affect security and stability.

I have no doubt that the Institute of International Relations of Turkmenistan has the potential to become a centre of innovative ideas, including in the area of preventive diplomacy, as well as a source of constructive policy-making proposals. Turkmenistan has at its disposal a reliable instrument that will help it to promote and protect its strategic interests, project peaceful policies well beyond its borders and to contribute to the identification and implementation of sustainable solutions, based on international law, and conducive to stability, prosperity and progress for all.

I wish the Institute of International Relations in this new impressive building all the success in fulfilling its tasks!

Thank you.