The year 2022, the 31st year of Turkmenistan’s independence, has been declared as the “The Era of The People with Arkadag” in Turkmenistan. His Excellency the President of Turkmenistan, Honorable Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, states that the rhetoric of the “The Era of The People with Arkadag” will inspire the development of the patriotic spirit, the implementation of projects and programs for the welfare of the country, and the improvement of the living conditions of the people. Because, with the projects it has developed and its constructive stance in inter-state relations, Turkmenistan has achieved its main goals for the first 30 years of its establishment and entered a new phase in many ways as of 2022.
The phase in question is the result of the visionary leadership of His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov, who became President on 14 February 2007, which places people in the center. Mr. President of Turkmenistan has made his country one of the most respected members of the international community, thanks to his policies that prioritize the welfare of the people, which he put forward in line with the slogan “state exists for people”, and his multi-vector foreign policy approach shaped by his permanent neutrality status. It is possible to examine the breakthroughs of His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov in Turkmenistan through socio-economic policies and foreign policy headings.
Berdimuhamedov, the Architect of Great Developments and the Prosperity of the Independent State
Thanks to the economic and stabilization policies implemented by His Excellency the Honorable Berdimuhamedov, there have been great developments in Turkmenistan in the last 15 years. This has made Turkmenistan a country that investors trust. Within the framework of Presidential Programs, the national economy has developed rapidly and its growth rate has increased year by year. In other words, the reforms made in Turkmenistan succeeded and thus the country became an industrially developed state. For this reason, it has been seen that foreign investors using advanced technology tend to Turkmenistan.
Prioritizing the development of international economic cooperation, Mr. Berdimuhamedov implemented the “Open Doors Policy” in line with this goal, and for this reason, Turkmenistan has succeeded in establishing economic relations with more than 100 countries.
Undoubtedly, the private sector has a great role in diversifying Turkmenistan’s national economy. In this regard, the attitude of the Honorable Berdimuhamedov towards supporting private entrepreneurship has been decisive. Of course, paving the way for private entrepreneurship is a reflection of the steps taken in state policies and the demonstrated decisive will. As a matter of fact, expertly thought-out tax, budget, monetary and fiscal policies were implemented in Turkmenistan and thus the volume of investments showed a systematic increase. This has increased the welfare of the people. As a matter of fact, In the extraordinary meeting of the People’s Maslahat, the upper chamber of Turkmenistan’s Parliament, on February 11, 2022, the President of Turkmenistan stated that the average salaries in the country increased by 366.3 percent in 2021 compared to 2007. Moreover, in the period of 2008-2021, the financial funds allocated for pension and state aid payments increased by 1054%. This reveals the public aspect of the economic policies in Turkmenistan.
As it can be understood, the last 15 years, which are described as the “Period of Great Developments” and the “Prosperity Period of the Independent State” in Turkmenistan, have been instrumental in the development of the country’s economy in all sectors, and this has eliminated unemployment as a problem by meeting the necessary employment needs.
Currently, Turkmenistan has completely renewed its textile industry. The country, which produces more than 1 million tons of cotton per year, has succeeded in increasing the rate of reprocessing and converting cotton from 3% in 1991 to 70-75% as a result of the modernization of the sector.
Respected Berdimuhamedov, who knows that one of the most important pillars of the economy is to meet the food needs of the people, has also attached great importance to agriculture and livestock policies and thus has taken significant steps in “food security”. In this context, financial support and incentive mechanisms for public and private companies have been implemented and Turkmenistan has made a breakthrough in modernization in agriculture. As a matter of fact, it is possible to see modern tractors and other vehicles produced by international companies in the cultivated lands of the country today. Thanks to the initiatives in question, Turkmenistan has entered into among countries that export wheat and flour. For example, the country produced 1 million 280 thousand tons of wheat in 2020; In 2021, it produced 1 million 485 thousand tons of wheat.
In order to increase the volume of meat and dairy products in livestock policies, the Ashgabat administration has made moves to increase the number of large and small animals and poultry.
Within the framework of policies that prioritize the welfare of the people; salaries, state aids and student scholarships are increasing regularly in Turkmenistan. As a matter of fact, more than 70% of the state budget is allocated for the social area.
The Ashgabat administration does not ignore the health of its people as much as it cares about the welfare of own people. In this direction, the medical centers and hospitals built all over the country, thanks to the reforms carried out under the leadership of His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov, facilitated the access of the Turkmen people to modern medicine. This has led to significant achievements in preventing diseases and extending human life.
On the other hand, the Ashgabat administration has given importance to sports policies, considering the fact that the most critical tool that serves the health of society is sports. Turkmenistan, which has taken serious initiatives to create and develop a modern sports infrastructure, has also integrated the sports policies into its education policies to increase awareness of its people on the benefits of sports. The strategy, which started with physical education classes in schools and was foreseen raising national athletes, was crowned with the increase in the number of gold, silver and bronze medals won by Turkmen athletes in international competitions. In particular, thanks to the efforts of His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov, the “5th Indoor and Martial Arts Games” enabled the steps taken by Turkmenistan in the field of sports to be carried to a substantial level.
Berdimuhamedov, Leader of Permanent Neutrality: “Dialogue is the Guarantee of Peace”
As it is known, the world has entered a new period after the Cold War. In this period of more than 30 years, an environment of peace and stability at the global level could not be established and the chaotic situation continued. Especially since the 2000s, global and regional competition has increased due to terrorism in world politics and, after 2010, due to states acting in line with their national ambitions.
While the tension in international relations is increasing gradually; The number of states using hard power has also increased. However, there are also peaceful states that demonstrate through various policies that it is possible to build an equable global system and that the chaotic environment can be overcome with a win-win understanding based on mutual benefit. In this sense, Turkmenistan stands out with its cultural background, historical roots and experiences.
Turkmenistan, which is in the 31st year of its independence, adopted neutrality as a principle shortly after its establishment and obtained Permanent Neutrality Status in the presence of the United Nations (UN) on 12 December 1995. Turkmenistan, which will celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Permanent Neutrality Status in December 2022, has made the most important contribution to the transformation of both its region and Asia into a basin of peace, cooperation and friendship with the peaceful, humanitarian, constructive and conciliatory attitude it has adopted in foreign policy. In addition, the Ashgabat administration, which has ensured that 2021 is accepted as the “International Year of Peace and Trust”, has taken an international role in establishing peace by going beyond the region it is located in. In this context, on the occasion of the International Day of Neutrality in Ashbakat on 11 December 2021, the international conference titled “Peace and Trust Policy – Basis of International Security, Stability and Development” was held.
In his speech at the conference, His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov referred to the difficult political-strategic contradictions experienced in various parts of the world, touched on the importance of political-diplomatic methods in solving problems that concern the whole world, and introduced a new philosophical view in the international relations system. Noting that Turkmenistan aims to further strengthen its mutually beneficial partnerships at the international and regional level, Mr. Berdimuhamedov said, “ We are proud to say that we are implementing our neutrality for the benefit of universal development and progress and the fulfillment of the program objectives of the UN.” he said. As a matter of fact, Mr. President of Turkmenistan emphasized the need to systematically develop impartiality, which he sees as a key factor of interstate partnership, noting that he firmly believes for a long time that there is a need to create a new philosophy of international relations based on globally understandable human values.
Turkmenistan, which currently follows the principles of neutrality, acts with the awareness that peaceful policies are the most important tool at the point of establishment of security. In this context, the Ashgabat administration, which has developed strategic policies for the development of relations between the world’s states and raised the level of friendship, makes it possible to build a strong defense mechanism against global-regional geopolitical ruptures, thanks to the atmosphere of trust created, and creates the necessary environment for sustainable strong development. Therefore, it can be said that Turkmenistan, acting within the framework of reliability, security and openness, has developed a four-dimensional approach in its foreign policy within the framework of bilateral, regional, global and international organizations based on these values.
Turkmenistan has borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iran. It also has geographical proximity with actors such as Azerbaijan over the Caspian Sea. Adopting a clear stance on the establishment of regional and global security, Ashgabat first establishes strong bilateral relations with these states with the understanding of good neighborliness. For example, Turkmenistan, which is increasing its cooperation with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan day by day, also develops important relations with Azerbaijan.
Acting with a win-win strategy, Turkmenistan has established important friendships with various countries from Turkey to the USA, from India to China. In other words, the Ashgabat administration, which acts within the framework of mutual respect in interstate relations, has become the leading actor that takes responsibility in establishing regional and global peace.
Looking at the regional dimension of its foreign policy, Turkmenistan is one of the most important actors in Central Asia. The decisions taken within the political, economic and cultural framework at the “Third Consultation Meeting of Central Asian Leaders” held in the Avaza region of Turkmenistan on 6 August 2021 constitute the most significant dynamics of regional cooperation and integration.
In addition, Turkmenistan, which was included in the Organization of Turkic States as an observer member at the Istanbul Summit on November 12, 2021, strengthened its stance on the integration processes of the organization. Looking at the statements made about the summit, it is possible to say that the concepts of “cooperation”, “peace”, “prosperity”, “common interest” and “security” come to the fore. This shows the impact of the visionary leadership of the President of Turkmenistan, Mr. Berdimuhamedov, who has significant experience in foreign policy. Because, His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov summarizes the situation in question as follows:
“We share the same culture, traditions and customs. We share the same roots and we embrace the same values. Today, peace, security, mutual tolerance and friendship which are values based thereon are gaining in importance.”
When viewed from a global perspective, Turkmenistan, which follows a multifaceted-vector policy as one of the benefits of its neutral foreign policy, is one of the most important states in Asia in terms of its geopolitical position. Turkmenistan is one of the most stable and successful states on the route from China to Europe under the leadership of His Excellency the Honorable Berdimuhamedov. As a matter of fact, “Ak Ashgabat” is one of the geostrategic and geoeconomic centers of initiatives such as the Belt-Road Project.
On the other hand, Turkmenistan has become one of the main locations in the regional and global trade routes by signing important developments in the infrastructure and superstructure of the country. In this sense, the “Open Doors Policy” adopted by Ashgabat in the context of economy, has a meaning not only in an economic stance but also policy relations.
Berdimuhamedov, who is trying to develop the ties he has established with regional and global actors in the field of transportation, proposed the preparation of the UN Special Program on the development of cooperation in the transportation sector at the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). Making efforts to establish strong ties between north-south and east-west in the Eurasian geography, Turkmenistan has implemented the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran Railway, which will connect Central Asia to the Middle East. At the same time, Ashgabat; It also continues its actions for the Central Asia-Near East Transportation Corridor, which will include Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Oman. In addition, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan Railway Line, which will connect Central Asia to South Asia, is also being built. Within this framework, Turkmenistan carries out its domestic investments with an approach that prioritizes international cooperation. As a matter of fact, it is possible to give example about this cooperation such as the North-South Railway, the International Ashgabat Airport, the International Turkmenbashi Sea Terminal, the “Avaza” National Tourism Zone Facilities and the Ashgabat Olympic Village.
Under the leadership of His Excellency Mr. Berdimuhamedov, Turkmenistan is one of the key actors in the global peace environment. For example, Ashgabat draws attention with its constructive attitude in the Afghanistan Problem and is known as the actor that takes the most critical steps in the pursuit of stability. There is no doubt that; The instability in Afghanistan is not only for its geography; It also creates significant security problems on a global scale. However, Turkmenistan carries out effective public diplomacy in order to overcome Afghanistan these difficult days more easily by sending various humanitarian aids to the country in question.
On the other hand, Turkmenistan, the fourth richest country in the world in terms of natural gas reserves, tries to include Afghanistan in regional cooperation with projects such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline (TAPI) and Turkmen-Afghanistan-Pakistan Electricity Transmission Line (TAP). Moreover, Turkmenistan connects Afghanistan to the world via Lapis Lazuli route. For all these reasons, it can be said that the Ashgabat administration has taken an important initiative in establishing regional peace and security. In this sense, it can be argued that Turkmenistan’s approach that prioritizes energy supply security serves regional and global peace. Ashgabat’s approach to Afghanistan confirms this.
Turkmenistan, which has become the guarantor of peace in world politics with the policies it follows, supports mechanisms that will establish peace and security in various international organizations, especially the UN. Also, Turkmenistan plays an active role in many organizations such as the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and influences the peace processes. As a matter of fact, Mr. Berdimuhamedov’s emphasis on strengthening international law, fighting terrorism, preventive diplomacy against possible problems, disarmament and humanitarian diplomacy, who called the whole world with the motto “Dialogue is the guarantee of peace”, increases Turkmenistan’s prestige in the eyes of international organizations and the world public opinion.
Turkmenistan’s multi-vector policies provide important gains to other actors in terms of economy, politics and culture. Therefore, the road map drawn by Mr. Berdimuhamedov for the years 2017-2023 is very significant. Turkmenistan brings new dimensions to its cooperation with the UN, comes to the fore in the fight against environmental problems, focuses on the security of energy supply, builds new transportation routes that will make Central Asia a center, and strengthens economic and human ties in order to establish an environment of peace and security in the context of international organizations. In this context, the Ashgabat administration focused on the transformation of the Caspian Sea into a cooperation basin by acting in line with the principle of good neighborliness. It is obvious that these cooperations will have a positive economic impact on the Turkmen people.
In summary, the domestic and foreign policy implemented under the leadership of Mr. Berdimuhamedov is a compass pointing the right way for the world going through a chaotic period. In other words, Turkmenistan has reached the position of a pole star whose experience and common sense should be used. Therefore, Mr. Berdimuhamedov’s statement “Dialogue is the guarantee of peace” gives new hope for the whole world. This discourse is a call to the peaceful spirit of the Turkmen for thousands of years; It is an invitation to the “ The Era of Arkadag” for the whole world. In this context, the year 2022 is not only for the Turkmen people; It can also be described as a “The Era of Arkadag” for all the people of the world.
 Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, “Bölgesel-Küresel Barış ve Güvenlik Türkmenistan’ın Daimi Tarafsızlık Statüsü”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/bolgesel-kuresel-baris-ve-guvenlik-turkmenistanin-daimi-tarafsizlik-statusu/, (Date of Accession: 16.02.2022).
 “The Embassy of Turkmenistan held an information meeting on the “The Era of The People with Arkadag”.”, The Asia Today, https://theasiatoday.org/news/central-asia/the-embassy-of-turkmenistan-held-an-information-meeting-on-the-the-era-of-the-people-with-arkadag2/, (Date of Accession: 16.02.2022).
 “Internatıonal Forum of Peace and Trust Held in Ashgabat”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Turkmenistan, https://www.mfa.gov.tm/en/news/2933, (Date of Accession: 17.02.2022).
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 “Türkmenistan Cumhurbaşkanı Berdimuhammedov, TÜRKSOY Genel Sekreteri Kaseinov’u Kabul Etti”, Türksoy, https://www.turksoy.org/tr/news/2021/12/12/turkmenistan-cumhurbaskani-berdimuhammedov-turksoy-genel-sekreteri-kaseinov-u-kabul-etti, (Date of Accession: 17.02.2022).