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What will the political agenda of Turkmenistan be after President Serdar Berdimuhamedow ascending to power?

photo: turkmenportal.com
21 March 2022

The extraordinary elections of the President of Turkmenistan took place on 12 March 2022 in Turkmenistan. The majority of voters (72.97%) gave their voters to Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the son of the second President of Turkemistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

A day earlier, at the extraordinary session of the upper chamber of the parliament Halk Maslakaty (the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan), the incumbent President G. Berdimuhamedow announced that it was necessary «to make way for younger leaders to the government of the state». Arkadag (Patron the official and the most popular title of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow) himself, according to his words, had already achieved the age of the Prophet, so he could concentrate on the eternal, and not on the earthly. On the other hand, his son stepped over the age limit allowing him to take the position of the head of state according to the effective Constitution.

Preparation for power transit

Serdar Berdimuhamedow started being an active player in politics about 5-6 years ago. It was then that the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow promoted his son as a public politician and his official successor. In 2016, Serdar was elected a member of parliament. Since then, his career went upwards: in 2021 he was appointed to the position of the Vice Prime Minister of Turkmenistan de-factor becoming the deputy head of state. On 19 March 2022, after the extraordinary elections, Serdar Berdimuhamedow officially stepped into the position of the third President of Turkmenistan for the next seven years.

Let us note here that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow as the Halk Maslakaty (the upper chamber of the parliament) Chairman retains serious leverage with respect to domestic and foreign policy of Turkmenistan. In essence, the redistribution of powers within the existing governance system took place: Berdimuhamedow senior will focus on strategic issues, and Berdimuhamedow junior on routine issues and operative governance.

This was done to assure the most flexible and forecastable political transit, when both external threats and domestic risks are minimized. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow felt the public demand for change and implemented it. The experienced politician decided not to wait another two years until the scheduled presidential elections, which was especially important in the context of growing turbulence in the global military and political situation.

All Central Asian countries are facing the challenge of assuring stable transition of power. This is implemented through informal collective bodies and the checks and balances within the elites. Probably, this work is not very visible, but it is on-going systemic effort to building judicial and other tools for developing sustainable power transit mechanism within the elites.

This was already done in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where the closest associates of former heads of states became the successors; this is now in progress in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in the form of dynasty transit. Somewhere it happens in the form of liberalization, distribution of the power balance, strategic programs development, somewhere in the form of bringing relatives to the elites, but nevertheless, focused efforts are being undertaken in this sphere contributing to the stability of the entire region. Below we will describe in detail the implementation of thenTurkmen power transit scenario.

New leader

Serdar is a rather popular name in Turkmenistan, it translated as the «Chief» or «Marshal». The analysis of the career of the new President of Turkmenistan gives reason to believe that he is not only an accomplished professional and encyclopedist, but also a «new-breed» politician.

It is important to remember that Serdar Berdimuhamedow consequently passed all the key levels of government in many different sectors food and oil-and-gas industries, military service, finance and controlling, work in different structures of legislative and executive power branches of Turkmenistan. This allowed him to develop a remarkable breadth of knowledge, to understand the interdependence of various events and social and political processes, to gain experience in governance practices.

Serdar Berdimuhamedow was born on 22 September 1981 in Ashkhabad, he graduated from high school and then Turkmen Agricultural University in the same city. The future President received his second higher education in Moscow he graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a degree in foreign relations.

The diplomatic track holds a special position in formation of Serdar Berdimuhamedow as a politician. Thus, in 2008-2011, he worked as a minister-counselor in the Embassy of Turkmenistan to Russia. In 2011-2013, he was the counselor of Turkmenistan mission to the United Nations in Geneva. At the same time, he became a participant of the prestigious Security Policy Center in Geneva, where he specialized in European and International Security. After coming back from Switzerland in 2013, he was appointed the Head of European Countries Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he coordinated the foreign policy for Europe until 2014.

Simultaneously, in 2013 Serdar Berdimuhamedow was appointed Deputy Director of the State Agency for Turkmen Natural Resources one of the most important agencies in the country. In August 2014, he received the Ph.D. in Engineering Science, and in 2015 he became the Doctor of Engineering Science. In November 2016, in the course of the off-year election he was elected to the Mejlis of Turkmenistan representing the ruling Democratic Party. Simultaneously with his parliamentary activities, Serdar Berdimuhamedow was the Director of International Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan in 2016-2017. At that time S. Berdimuhamedow became a prominent figure in media and started gaining popularity at the international arena.

In March 2017, Serdar Berdimuhamedow was elected Chairman of the Mejlis Committee for Legislation. On 27 October 2017, he was bestowed the rank of lieutenant colonel and simultaneously awarded the «Myalikguly Berdimuhamedow» medal «for merits to the Fatherland and the people». In March 2018, he was appointed one of the First Deputies of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredow, the national political heavyweight.

Further career of the future President was in government organizations. In 2019, Serdar Berdimuhamedow became first Deputy Hakim of Ahal Province of Turkmenistan, and after half a year the head of this very important region, where the capital city is situated.

Stake on the front-runner

A new career boost was observed in 2021, when Serdar Berdimuhamedow was appointed to the key position of the Vice Prime Minister. Effectively, he became one of the very few persons in Turkmen Areopagus, who reported directly to the President of Turkmenistan. Being at this very important position, he was in charge of digitalization and became the head of the Higher Chamber of Control and the member of the Security Council, which is in charge of the most important decision-making and oversees all the security, defense and law enforcement agencies. We should especially note that in 2021 the future President visited many foreign countries. Serdar Berdimuhamedow held regular top-level meetings with the leaders of the neighboring countries and with key economic partners of Turkmenistan including Russia and China.

For example, immediately after his promotion to the Vice Prime Minister position in February 2021, the Presidents son planned all his important visits to Moscow. Thus, on April 2, he participated in the ministerial meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States, on April 30 in the Forum of Eurasian Economic Union, and on May 23 in the business forum. Serdar Berdimuhamedow also took part in the summit of the leaders of the Central Asian countries in Astana. The formal head of the Turkmen delegation was Akja Nurberdiyeva, but the President of Kazakhstan held bilateral negotiations particularly with Serdar Berdimuhamedow.

In the opinion of political analysts, this allowed Ashkhabad to solicit political support of the dynasty transit from the key partners of Turkmenistan. This forward-looking tactics worked, because all the major partners of the country Russia, China and regional neighbors immediately supported the extraordinary elections.

The fact that Serdar Berdimuhamedow became an obvious front-runner in the elections of the third President of Turkmenistan gives adequate cause for optimism in Russia. Moscow sees him as an understandable and predictable partner with long-lasting connections with the Russian Federation. The Kremlin traditionally perceives Ashkhabad as an important ally in the energy sector and as the key player in assuring the security of the entire Caspian region, especially with account of the new situation in Afghanistan and the beneficial geopolitical location of Turkmenistan.

In general, the results of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan turned out to be quite predictable and configured for the long-term perspective from the standpoint of maintaining stability of the existing political system.

Policy of neutrality

To which extent the foreign policy of Turkmenistan may change with the new President coming to the office? Many well-known experts from Central Asia were asked this rapid-fire question. The majority of the respondents concurred that no radical change will take place. Because the positive neutrality principle is key for the foreign policy of Ashkhabad.

On 12 December 1995, the 50th session of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution No.50/80 «Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan». There is no other state in the modern world with such international status, and this determines the specifics of the country from the standpoint of international law. In this regard, Turkmenistan should be viewed as the first and unique example of the new model of political and legal self-determination. On 3 June 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the second resolution reflecting the 25th anniversary of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan, emphasizing the positive and active role of the country at the international arena.

December 12 is such an important date for Ashkhabad, that it received the official national holiday status the International Neutrality Day.

Right before the elections, the Democratic Party candidate (the ruling party in Turkmenistan) Serdar Berdimuhamedow announced, that in case he won the race the country would keep its neutrality. It means that Turkmenistan firmly intends to stay away from military blocks and treaty organizations and to maintain its non-aligned status. One of the key elements of such policy is the ban for deployment of foreign military bases in its territory and non-participation in various international security organizations. In the current situation, when there is an on-going bitter fight for the non-aligned status of some post-Soviet countries, the permanent neutrality policy is extremely important.

At the same time, it should be noted, that as the years passed, the interpretation of this foreign policy concept changed in Turkmenistan. For example, during the times of Saparmurat Niyazov the permanent neutrality status was used to justify the strict isolationist policy of the country. For example, Turkmenistan stepped down from the CIS member to the associate member and did not express any interest to participation in SCO or CSTO. This negatively affected the relations of Turkmenistan with Russia, China and other countries.

When Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow became the second President, the neutrality policy interpretation changed. Turkmenistan became more open to international cooperation, especially within SCO, the number of Presidents visits to foreign countries grew, as well as the number of delegations coming to Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan started to participate in various international commissions on cooperation.

In the course of the election campaign, Serdar Berdimuhamedow emphasized, that expansion of friendly, good-neighborly relations was one of the founding principles of the countrys foreign policy. Today, the relations between Russia and Turkmenistan are bilateral, they are based on over 170 inter-state, inter-governmental and inter-agency agreements regulating the collaboration in political, economic, military, humanitarian and other spheres. The important role in this process belongs to Russian-Turkmen inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation, which used to be co-chaired by Alexey Overchuk (the Deputy Chairman of the RF Council of Ministers) and Serdar Berdimuhamedow (the Vice Prime Minister of Turkmenistan).

New opportunities

Our relations with Turkmenistan received a new impetus quite recently on 21-22 February 2022, during the working visit to Moscow by Rashid Meredow, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, who has been one of the most influential politicians for years. The objective was the exchange of opinions on a set of issues associated with further development of Turkmen-Russian relationship, defining their long-term outlook. Based on the outcomes of the visit, the Road Map on interaction between the two countries on regional security was signed along with the plan for implementing the key areas of Turkmen-Russian cooperation in international information safety for 2022-2025.

In the process of preparation of this visit, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow emphasized that «one of the priorities of Turkmenistan foreign policy was comprehensive development of the strategic partnership with Russia». There is every expectation that Serdar Berdimuhamedow will continue this positive course.

At present, Russia is very much interested in renewed Turkmenistan, so we need to carefully study this high-potential country and build a reliable system of cooperation and interaction. Special attention should be paid to bilateral political contacts, organization of joint political forums, expert and public diplomacy, as well as enhancement of mutual contacts at the state, parliament and governmental levels.

Prominent platforms should be used to achieve the above listed objectives: the 4th Caspian Summit in Turkmenistan this year and «Central Asia Russia» Parliamentary Forum at the level of the heads of parliaments, which will take place in Ashkhabad for the first time in May 2022. In our opinion, today is just the right time to launch the project of systemic studies of Turkmenistan. There are two important reasons for that. Firstly, a new generation of politicians without any preceding experience of the Soviet times is entering the political and economic scene. Secondly, new knowledge is required for the adjustment (which has become imminent some time ago) of the RF foreign policy with respect to Central Asian countries to bring more pragmatic approach, rationality and understanding the real needs of both our own country and our neighbors and partners.

Cooperation outlook

The renewal of leadership in Turkmenistan opens new horizons in the bilateral cooperation. First of all, in such important spheres as energy, food supplies, transit and regional security.

Turkmenistan proved to be a reliable partner in energy sphere; our countries both have major gas reserves and could be successfully cooperating in the gas markets in the format of oligopoly. In the situation of the unprecedented sanctions war and potential gas embargo on behalf of Europe, new cooperative policy at the energy front is vitally necessary. It could be Turkmen gas supplies via Russian gas pipelines in substitution for Russian gas, including the use of the set-off schemes, assignment agreements or even possible re-export of Russian gas under the Turkmenistan flag. Such arrangements will allow for saving the face of all the gas conflict participants and to avoid energy collapse and gas market crash in Europe.

Another area of cooperative gas policy is intensification of the new gas transporting routes to enter high-potential Asian markets. This is TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India), which is strategically important for both our countries in order to access Indian market. No doubt, TAPI construction is associated with certain risks in the spheres of security and funding. However, recently Taliban presented interesting proposals on assuring the security of this pipeline, as it is very important for the development of Afghanistan. The Turkmen diplomatic efforts played a special role in stabilizing the situation in the region, especially with respect to building constructive relations with the new Afghani government in Kabul.

In addition to development of energy collaboration with Turkmenistan, Russia should pay attention to the ambitious reform of the agricultural sector. This sphere has always been of interest for Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the reform is focused on improving the countrys competitiveness in agriculture. Moscow can supply farm machinery, harvesters and other equipment, it can also share its practices of agribusiness intensification. In response, Turkmenistan is capable of increasing its supplies of agricultural products that Russia needs fruit and vegetables, wine-making materials and other consumer goods, and of establishing close cooperation with Russian agricultural sector in general. This is especially important in the context of permanent surge of food prices in global markets and certain dependency of Ashkhabad on a number of food import positions. In this situation food security comes to the fore.

To assure security of energy and trade supplies, Russia needs to make serious investment into fortification of external borders of Turkmenistan. We are talking here about regional security enhancement based on two fundamental principles non-aligned status of Turkmenistan and prevention of any third-party forces arriving to the Caspian region to destabilize it. Moscow intends to further assist with modernization of the national army and security forces of Turkmenistan, which have strengthened noticeably in the recent years. That was achieved, among other things, by supplying modern weapons and military vehicles from Russia.

Moscow and Ashkhabad share common understanding that true security cannot be assured by formalistic international promises or by external players; it may be achieved only through real efforts targeted at strengthening national defense. There are all the grounds to believe: the cooperation in strengthening regional security will gain a new impetus after young and energetic Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the third President of Turkmenistan, came to office.

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Reports

What will the political agenda of Turkmenistan be after President Serdar Berdimuhamedow ascending to power?

photo: turkmenportal.com
21 2022

The extraordinary elections of the President of Turkmenistan took place on 12 March 2022 in Turkmenistan. The majority of voters (72.97%) gave their voters to Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the son of the second President of Turkemistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

A day earlier, at the extraordinary session of the upper chamber of the parliament Halk Maslakaty (the Peoples Council of Turkmenistan), the incumbent President G. Berdimuhamedow announced that it was necessary «to make way for younger leaders to the government of the state». Arkadag (Patron the official and the most popular title of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow) himself, according to his words, had already achieved the age of the Prophet, so he could concentrate on the eternal, and not on the earthly. On the other hand, his son stepped over the age limit allowing him to take the position of the head of state according to the effective Constitution.

Preparation for power transit

Serdar Berdimuhamedow started being an active player in politics about 5-6 years ago. It was then that the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow promoted his son as a public politician and his official successor. In 2016, Serdar was elected a member of parliament. Since then, his career went upwards: in 2021 he was appointed to the position of the Vice Prime Minister of Turkmenistan de-factor becoming the deputy head of state. On 19 March 2022, after the extraordinary elections, Serdar Berdimuhamedow officially stepped into the position of the third President of Turkmenistan for the next seven years.

Let us note here that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow as the Halk Maslakaty (the upper chamber of the parliament) Chairman retains serious leverage with respect to domestic and foreign policy of Turkmenistan. In essence, the redistribution of powers within the existing governance system took place: Berdimuhamedow senior will focus on strategic issues, and Berdimuhamedow junior on routine issues and operative governance.

This was done to assure the most flexible and forecastable political transit, when both external threats and domestic risks are minimized. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow felt the public demand for change and implemented it. The experienced politician decided not to wait another two years until the scheduled presidential elections, which was especially important in the context of growing turbulence in the global military and political situation.

All Central Asian countries are facing the challenge of assuring stable transition of power. This is implemented through informal collective bodies and the checks and balances within the elites. Probably, this work is not very visible, but it is on-going systemic effort to building judicial and other tools for developing sustainable power transit mechanism within the elites.

This was already done in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where the closest associates of former heads of states became the successors; this is now in progress in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in the form of dynasty transit. Somewhere it happens in the form of liberalization, distribution of the power balance, strategic programs development, somewhere in the form of bringing relatives to the elites, but nevertheless, focused efforts are being undertaken in this sphere contributing to the stability of the entire region. Below we will describe in detail the implementation of thenTurkmen power transit scenario.

New leader

Serdar is a rather popular name in Turkmenistan, it translated as the «Chief» or «Marshal». The analysis of the career of the new President of Turkmenistan gives reason to believe that he is not only an accomplished professional and encyclopedist, but also a «new-breed» politician.

It is important to remember that Serdar Berdimuhamedow consequently passed all the key levels of government in many different sectors food and oil-and-gas industries, military service, finance and controlling, work in different structures of legislative and executive power branches of Turkmenistan. This allowed him to develop a remarkable breadth of knowledge, to understand the interdependence of various events and social and political processes, to gain experience in governance practices.

Serdar Berdimuhamedow was born on 22 September 1981 in Ashkhabad, he graduated from high school and then Turkmen Agricultural University in the same city. The future President received his second higher education in Moscow he graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a degree in foreign relations.

The diplomatic track holds a special position in formation of Serdar Berdimuhamedow as a politician. Thus, in 2008-2011, he worked as a minister-counselor in the Embassy of Turkmenistan to Russia. In 2011-2013, he was the counselor of Turkmenistan mission to the United Nations in Geneva. At the same time, he became a participant of the prestigious Security Policy Center in Geneva, where he specialized in European and International Security. After coming back from Switzerland in 2013, he was appointed the Head of European Countries Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he coordinated the foreign policy for Europe until 2014.

Simultaneously, in 2013 Serdar Berdimuhamedow was appointed Deputy Director of the State Agency for Turkmen Natural Resources one of the most important agencies in the country. In August 2014, he received the Ph.D. in Engineering Science, and in 2015 he became the Doctor of Engineering Science. In November 2016, in the course of the off-year election he was elected to the Mejlis of Turkmenistan representing the ruling Democratic Party. Simultaneously with his parliamentary activities, Serdar Berdimuhamedow was the Director of International Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan in 2016-2017. At that time S. Berdimuhamedow became a prominent figure in media and started gaining popularity at the international arena.

In March 2017, Serdar Berdimuhamedow was elected Chairman of the Mejlis Committee for Legislation. On 27 October 2017, he was bestowed the rank of lieutenant colonel and simultaneously awarded the «Myalikguly Berdimuhamedow» medal «for merits to the Fatherland and the people». In March 2018, he was appointed one of the First Deputies of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredow, the national political heavyweight.

Further career of the future President was in government organizations. In 2019, Serdar Berdimuhamedow became first Deputy Hakim of Ahal Province of Turkmenistan, and after half a year the head of this very important region, where the capital city is situated.

Stake on the front-runner

A new career boost was observed in 2021, when Serdar Berdimuhamedow was appointed to the key position of the Vice Prime Minister. Effectively, he became one of the very few persons in Turkmen Areopagus, who reported directly to the President of Turkmenistan. Being at this very important position, he was in charge of digitalization and became the head of the Higher Chamber of Control and the member of the Security Council, which is in charge of the most important decision-making and oversees all the security, defense and law enforcement agencies. We should especially note that in 2021 the future President visited many foreign countries. Serdar Berdimuhamedow held regular top-level meetings with the leaders of the neighboring countries and with key economic partners of Turkmenistan including Russia and China.

For example, immediately after his promotion to the Vice Prime Minister position in February 2021, the Presidents son planned all his important visits to Moscow. Thus, on April 2, he participated in the ministerial meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States, on April 30 in the Forum of Eurasian Economic Union, and on May 23 in the business forum. Serdar Berdimuhamedow also took part in the summit of the leaders of the Central Asian countries in Astana. The formal head of the Turkmen delegation was Akja Nurberdiyeva, but the President of Kazakhstan held bilateral negotiations particularly with Serdar Berdimuhamedow.

In the opinion of political analysts, this allowed Ashkhabad to solicit political support of the dynasty transit from the key partners of Turkmenistan. This forward-looking tactics worked, because all the major partners of the country Russia, China and regional neighbors immediately supported the extraordinary elections.

The fact that Serdar Berdimuhamedow became an obvious front-runner in the elections of the third President of Turkmenistan gives adequate cause for optimism in Russia. Moscow sees him as an understandable and predictable partner with long-lasting connections with the Russian Federation. The Kremlin traditionally perceives Ashkhabad as an important ally in the energy sector and as the key player in assuring the security of the entire Caspian region, especially with account of the new situation in Afghanistan and the beneficial geopolitical location of Turkmenistan.

In general, the results of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan turned out to be quite predictable and configured for the long-term perspective from the standpoint of maintaining stability of the existing political system.

Policy of neutrality

To which extent the foreign policy of Turkmenistan may change with the new President coming to the office? Many well-known experts from Central Asia were asked this rapid-fire question. The majority of the respondents concurred that no radical change will take place. Because the positive neutrality principle is key for the foreign policy of Ashkhabad.

On 12 December 1995, the 50th session of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution No.50/80 «Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan». There is no other state in the modern world with such international status, and this determines the specifics of the country from the standpoint of international law. In this regard, Turkmenistan should be viewed as the first and unique example of the new model of political and legal self-determination. On 3 June 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the second resolution reflecting the 25th anniversary of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan, emphasizing the positive and active role of the country at the international arena.

December 12 is such an important date for Ashkhabad, that it received the official national holiday status the International Neutrality Day.

Right before the elections, the Democratic Party candidate (the ruling party in Turkmenistan) Serdar Berdimuhamedow announced, that in case he won the race the country would keep its neutrality. It means that Turkmenistan firmly intends to stay away from military blocks and treaty organizations and to maintain its non-aligned status. One of the key elements of such policy is the ban for deployment of foreign military bases in its territory and non-participation in various international security organizations. In the current situation, when there is an on-going bitter fight for the non-aligned status of some post-Soviet countries, the permanent neutrality policy is extremely important.

At the same time, it should be noted, that as the years passed, the interpretation of this foreign policy concept changed in Turkmenistan. For example, during the times of Saparmurat Niyazov the permanent neutrality status was used to justify the strict isolationist policy of the country. For example, Turkmenistan stepped down from the CIS member to the associate member and did not express any interest to participation in SCO or CSTO. This negatively affected the relations of Turkmenistan with Russia, China and other countries.

When Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow became the second President, the neutrality policy interpretation changed. Turkmenistan became more open to international cooperation, especially within SCO, the number of Presidents visits to foreign countries grew, as well as the number of delegations coming to Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan started to participate in various international commissions on cooperation.

In the course of the election campaign, Serdar Berdimuhamedow emphasized, that expansion of friendly, good-neighborly relations was one of the founding principles of the countrys foreign policy. Today, the relations between Russia and Turkmenistan are bilateral, they are based on over 170 inter-state, inter-governmental and inter-agency agreements regulating the collaboration in political, economic, military, humanitarian and other spheres. The important role in this process belongs to Russian-Turkmen inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation, which used to be co-chaired by Alexey Overchuk (the Deputy Chairman of the RF Council of Ministers) and Serdar Berdimuhamedow (the Vice Prime Minister of Turkmenistan).

New opportunities

Our relations with Turkmenistan received a new impetus quite recently on 21-22 February 2022, during the working visit to Moscow by Rashid Meredow, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, who has been one of the most influential politicians for years. The objective was the exchange of opinions on a set of issues associated with further development of Turkmen-Russian relationship, defining their long-term outlook. Based on the outcomes of the visit, the Road Map on interaction between the two countries on regional security was signed along with the plan for implementing the key areas of Turkmen-Russian cooperation in international information safety for 2022-2025.

In the process of preparation of this visit, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow emphasized that «one of the priorities of Turkmenistan foreign policy was comprehensive development of the strategic partnership with Russia». There is every expectation that Serdar Berdimuhamedow will continue this positive course.

At present, Russia is very much interested in renewed Turkmenistan, so we need to carefully study this high-potential country and build a reliable system of cooperation and interaction. Special attention should be paid to bilateral political contacts, organization of joint political forums, expert and public diplomacy, as well as enhancement of mutual contacts at the state, parliament and governmental levels.

Prominent platforms should be used to achieve the above listed objectives: the 4th Caspian Summit in Turkmenistan this year and «Central Asia Russia» Parliamentary Forum at the level of the heads of parliaments, which will take place in Ashkhabad for the first time in May 2022. In our opinion, today is just the right time to launch the project of systemic studies of Turkmenistan. There are two important reasons for that. Firstly, a new generation of politicians without any preceding experience of the Soviet times is entering the political and economic scene. Secondly, new knowledge is required for the adjustment (which has become imminent some time ago) of the RF foreign policy with respect to Central Asian countries to bring more pragmatic approach, rationality and understanding the real needs of both our own country and our neighbors and partners.

Cooperation outlook

The renewal of leadership in Turkmenistan opens new horizons in the bilateral cooperation. First of all, in such important spheres as energy, food supplies, transit and regional security.

Turkmenistan proved to be a reliable partner in energy sphere; our countries both have major gas reserves and could be successfully cooperating in the gas markets in the format of oligopoly. In the situation of the unprecedented sanctions war and potential gas embargo on behalf of Europe, new cooperative policy at the energy front is vitally necessary. It could be Turkmen gas supplies via Russian gas pipelines in substitution for Russian gas, including the use of the set-off schemes, assignment agreements or even possible re-export of Russian gas under the Turkmenistan flag. Such arrangements will allow for saving the face of all the gas conflict participants and to avoid energy collapse and gas market crash in Europe.

Another area of cooperative gas policy is intensification of the new gas transporting routes to enter high-potential Asian markets. This is TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India), which is strategically important for both our countries in order to access Indian market. No doubt, TAPI construction is associated with certain risks in the spheres of security and funding. However, recently Taliban presented interesting proposals on assuring the security of this pipeline, as it is very important for the development of Afghanistan. The Turkmen diplomatic efforts played a special role in stabilizing the situation in the region, especially with respect to building constructive relations with the new Afghani government in Kabul.

In addition to development of energy collaboration with Turkmenistan, Russia should pay attention to the ambitious reform of the agricultural sector. This sphere has always been of interest for Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the reform is focused on improving the countrys competitiveness in agriculture. Moscow can supply farm machinery, harvesters and other equipment, it can also share its practices of agribusiness intensification. In response, Turkmenistan is capable of increasing its supplies of agricultural products that Russia needs fruit and vegetables, wine-making materials and other consumer goods, and of establishing close cooperation with Russian agricultural sector in general. This is especially important in the context of permanent surge of food prices in global markets and certain dependency of Ashkhabad on a number of food import positions. In this situation food security comes to the fore.

To assure security of energy and trade supplies, Russia needs to make serious investment into fortification of external borders of Turkmenistan. We are talking here about regional security enhancement based on two fundamental principles non-aligned status of Turkmenistan and prevention of any third-party forces arriving to the Caspian region to destabilize it. Moscow intends to further assist with modernization of the national army and security forces of Turkmenistan, which have strengthened noticeably in the recent years. That was achieved, among other things, by supplying modern weapons and military vehicles from Russia.

Moscow and Ashkhabad share common understanding that true security cannot be assured by formalistic international promises or by external players; it may be achieved only through real efforts targeted at strengthening national defense. There are all the grounds to believe: the cooperation in strengthening regional security will gain a new impetus after young and energetic Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the third President of Turkmenistan, came to office.