By Ambassador Sapar Palvanov
The key feature defining the role of Turkmenistan in the system of modern international relations is the doctrine of positive neutrality. Since gaining independence, the principle of neutrality in foreign policy has become the foundation of Turkmenistan’s political strategy.
The main characteristics of Turkmen neutrality are respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, non-interference in their internal affairs, refusal to use force in interstate relations, priority of UN decisions in international affairs, strengthening of good neighborliness and cooperation with all countries, etc.
As is known, on December 12, 1995, during the UN General Assembly session all 185 countries unanimously voted for the adoption of a special resolution on Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan.
In February 2017, at the initiative of Turkmenistan, a new date emerged in the world political calendar – the International Day of Neutrality, celebrated on 12 December.
The Turkmen model of neutrality radically changes the ideas of neutrality that have existed up to now. Historically, obtaining a neutral status presupposes the existence of a historical context, expressed in military actions or other kind of international conflicts, the result of which is the neutrality of the State enshrined in the treaty of the parties concerned. In the case of Turkmenistan, we have, in fact, a unique phenomenon in the history of international relations.
Turkmen neutrality is recognized by origin, permanent in form and positive in content, which implies an active position in matters of maintaining peace and stability.
The neutral status of Turkmenistan affects such aspects of the country’s political life as foreign policy, economic, defense sectors, and ensuring state security.
The essence of Turkmen neutrality could be defined as follows: to be friends and maintain good relations with everyone equally, but not to be friends with anyone against anyone. Using the neutrality status, at the global level, Turkmenistan has managed to build equal partnership relations with the great powers and the main world actors – the United States, Russia, the European Union, China, and the countries of the Muslim world.
Turkmenistan’s status of neutrality, combined with a stable political system, determines the minimum level of foreign policy risks of the country’s partners, and, coupled with the richest resource potential, has predetermined a great interest in the country. Having huge reserves of natural gas, Turkmenistan strives to create favorable external conditions for equal and mutually beneficial relations in the economic sphere, and does not allow the politicization of these relations. At the same time, the neutrality strategy contributes to the diversification of natural gas supply routes to the world market.
As for the military-political aspect and characteristics of state security, the principled and unconditional refusal to participate in international military groupings and blocs allowed Turkmenistan not to be drawn into any form of regional rivalry.
Turkmenistan’s neutral status is not a self-exclusion from solving international problems and a way to isolate itself from the dangers and concerns of the outside world.
On the contrary, it is a strong position to actively influence the situation in the region and on the planet as a whole.
As a result, a Group of Friends of Neutrality for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development has been formed in the UN.
Given that preventive diplomacy is an integral part of neutrality, the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia has been successfully functioning in Ashgabat for 15 years on the initiative of Turkmenistan.
It is noteworthy that Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality has clearly expressed regional focus. The country actively contributed to the unanimous adoption of the resolution declaring Central Asia a zone of peace, trust and cooperation at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in July this year.
The 27th anniversary of neutrality status is another very significant reason to look back at the neutral path of development, and draw conclusions based on insight gained from experience, enriching this status with national “flavor” and expanding its humanistic boundaries.
Caption: A monument called “Abadanchylyk” (meaning: peace). This building symbolizes prosperity and peace reigning in the Turkmen land. The total height of the structure, consisting of five segments, is 47 m in height. It is crowned with a symbolic design in the form of a globe with images of five white doves with outstretched wings, and olive branches under them, as a symbol of unity and cohesion of all five velayats (regions) of the country.
Also in the background of the photo one can behold the building on top of which there is a large blue globe – the latter are the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.