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Turkmenistan Foreign Policy and Permanent Neutrality Status on the 30th Anniversary of its Independence

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The year 2021 has an important place in two respects. The first is the 30th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence. A quarter of a century has passed since Turkmenistan achieved the “Permanent Neutrality Status”. Today, where tensions are rising in world politics and the value of peace in the domestic and foreign policies of countries is increasing, Turkmenistan, with the status it has achieved in its foreign policy, is a respectable country that promotes security and peace in the Asian region, especially in Central Asia, and in the international arena in general.

In this context, two main concepts of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy come to the fore: peace and security.

As a matter of fact, in a period of changing global and regional balances and power shifts, there are two basic concepts that the whole world is talking about and taking the point of concern to the highest level. These are “peace” and “security”, which we also emphasized above in Turkmenistan.

The establishment of peace and security is almost simultaneous with the history of the formation of humanity, and especially states. However, these concepts have never been more critical in history than they are today. Because, geopolitical earthquakes on a regional-global basis in the post-Cold War international system, escalating tensions, increased terrorist activities, divisions, the multipolarity process and the possibility of nuclear war that should not be ignored are the basis of this concern.

Forcing states to take sides once again in this chaotic environment deepens the chaos process and threatens regional-global stability, peace and security. Therefore, the impartiality of states is much more difficult now and is of great importance for the future.

Turkmenistan’s Great Vision and 30 Years of Experience in The Establishment of Peace and Stability

Turkmenistan’s Status for Permanent Neutrality is very important as the address of international common sense and peace environment in this chaotic process that threatens the peace and security of the whole world. Because Turkmenistan foresees this issue with the status it acquired in the post-Cold War period, and in this direction, it has been the only state that follows a pre-emptive, cooperative, constructive, active neutrality diplomacy.

Turkmenistan’s President, Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov, does not limit his foreign policy based on peace, trust, stability and cooperation only nationally and regionally. Turkmen leader Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov’s declaration of 2021 as the “Year of International Peace and Trust” was an important indicator of his efforts to establish peace on a universal scale and this has been supported by all the nations of the world. At this point, the proposal of Turkmen leader Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov was unanimously adopted in a vote by the United Nations General Assembly.[1]

The adoption of the proposal demonstrated that Turkmenistan is an important actor and supporter of peace not only in Asia but also in international politics, and once again affirmed Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov’s visionary-mission leadership approach.

At the same time, Turkmenistan’s step has demonstrated once again that Ashgabat is an important and respected actor in mediation. Because proving to be a “country of peace”, Turkmenistan considers a policy that encourages the peaceful resolution of various problems as the basic motto of its foreign policy. In January 2021, the “2021 Year of International Peace and Trust” meeting once again declared to the world the consistency, determination and continuity of this vision, the foreign policy adopted and tried to implement by Turkmen rulers led by Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov. At the opening of the Conference, Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister, Rashid Meredov, made his remarks on strengthening international law, ensuring disarmament, fighting terrorism, implementing preventive diplomacy and food security, which is increasing in threat today, once again demonstrated the constructive stance Turkmenistan’s constructive stance in foreign policy of Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov. [2]

Therefore, Ashgabat continues its efforts to be the capital of peace and security in the world with determination and great dedication. To give another concrete example in this context, we can indicate the press conference dedicated to the peace and security of the modern world held in Ashgabat. Representatives of nearly 80 media organizations from various countries around the world attended the meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[3] With the press conference, Turkmenistan sent a message that peace and security can be deepened through various channels and made more permanent.

As well as Turkmenistan’s deep and strong historical background, this step is the result of a sense of diplomacy based on universal peace and human life, and is a concrete indication that conjunctural developments and geopolitical reality are well read. Therefore, Turkmenistan’s strategic wisdom and experience in the independence process reflects a voluntary preference in terms of “peace” and “security” on a regional-global basis; it has shown the world that states need to demonstrate a strong will towards “peace” and “security”.

Insurance for Regional and Global Peace and Security: Status of Permanent Neutrality

Since Turkmenistan’s independence, Ashgabat’s policy, which is far from alliance formations based on wise choice and neutrality, has made Turkmenistan a “wall of security” and a “peace island” against many crises in its region, especially in its immediate vicinity. In other words, Turkmenistan’s Status of Permanent Neutrality has been the insurance of regional and global “peace” and “security”.

It should not be overlooked that the choice in question is based on and contributes to regional security and peace as well as Turkmenistan’s own security. Therefore, the contribution of neutrality status to security and peace is proven very concretely in the case of Turkmenistan and gains meaning and importance.

The fact that some of the major countries in the world have neutrality status is of much greater importance in terms of regional-global peace, stability and security than others. At this point, the geopolitical and strategic importance of the country subject to neutrality status has a decisive role.

The “principle of neutrality”, which was actively and successfully implemented by Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhamedov in Turkmenistan, is the most important roadmap adopted in the establishment of peace against deep historical roots, national cultures of Turkmens various conflicts in the world. Turkmenistan aligned its national interests with the interests of the global community and shaped its foreign policy within this framework. The most important principle that allows this is the Status of Permanent Neutrality.

Backbone of Turkmenistan’s Foreign Policy and a Guide to the Roadmap

While obtaining the Permanent Neutrality Status in 1995, Turkmenistan continuously updated its foreign policy and adopted attitude according to the realities of the period and aimed to make the healthiest contribution to peace. First, on March 20, 2008, Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhamedov signed a decree endorsing the basic aspects of Turkmenistan’s 2008-2012 foreign policy strategy, which pursued a policy of affirmative neutrality. The decree aims to defend Turkmenistan’s national interests, further strengthen Turkmenistan’s position in international politics and increase the country’s influence. In particular, it is important to develop relations with neighboring countries with common economic, historical and cultural ties. Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhamedov emphasized that they attach great importance to further expanding cooperation with Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and other neighboring countries.[4]

Turkmen political decision-makers, who successfully built nations and states thanks to their domestic and foreign policy, updated the foreign policy according to the conditions of the period in 2013. With the foreign policy concept set for the period 2013-2017, it was decided to follow an active policy internationally. The conference titled “Great Silk Road Diplomacy: From History to the Future”, organized by the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan on 14-15 March 2013, revealed the most important details about Turkmenistan’s new roadmap. Representatives from 23 countries, including Turkey, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, India and Iran, attended the conference; Ashgabat has shown that competing actors can once again come together in peace. The conference mainly discussed economic and cultural cooperation between countries in the historic Silk Road region. Turkmenistan, which provides stability and security in domestic politics and is also one of the sources of peace and tranquility in the region, aims to be a geoeconomic and geostrategic bridge to trade and infrastructure projects and prosperity and transportation.[5]

Finally, on February 18, 2017, Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhamedov made a statement regarding the “Foreign Policy Concept of Turkmenistan for the Period 2017-2023”. The concept is multi-format cooperation with the UN, supporting the solution of environmental problems, environmental and water diplomacy, safe and sustainable transfer of energy resources, the formation of transport corridors and making Central Asia a hub of transportation on a continental basis, the development of economic and humanitarian ties with international organizations for peace and security purposes, the impartial implementation of close and multilateral cooperation with neighbours, active cooperation in the Caspian Sea, Central Asia, Caucasus, Africa, European Union, Latin America, Russia, China, USA, Ukraine, Caucasus and strengthening relations with such regions and actors. It is stated that the concept is aimed at creating favorable conditions for Turkmenistan in foreign policy. In this process, Turkmenistan plans to achieve its objectives within the framework of international cooperation, equality and peace.[6]

Addressing the 75th UN General Assembly, Turkmenistan’s President, Mr. Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov, summarized their vision against the rising tensions in the world, the experiences they gained after 30 years and the roadmap to follow in the face of problems:[7]

 “Recent violations of international law are concerning. In this case, it is necessary to reinforce initiatives aimed at strengthening the role of international law, multilateral legal tools of the current global security system, and efforts aimed at strict compliance of all countries with generally accepted norms. This is the way to maintain stability and predictability in world politics and reduce the risks of conflict. One of the ways to achieve this aim is to restore trust in international politics and to create a respectful dialogue culture.”

Turkmenistan: The Side of Peace and Security

Neutrality status is not limited to the responsibilities imposed by the neutral country or the role it may play. Therefore, Turkmenistan’s continuation, guarantee, and ability to achieve its goal of “peace” and “security” of the Permanent Neutrality Status also imposes responsibilities on nation-states. Because “guarantee” is one of the most fundamental elements of permanent neutrality. Here, “collective will” comes into play. In this context, strengthened regional-global institutional cooperation based on peace and security, the legal basis for maintaining, maintaining and strengthening it, and the construction of diplomacy are of greater importance.

Turkmenistan’s Policy on Permanent Neutrality, which targets global security and peace, is in line with the UN’s causes and objectives of existence; it has a complementary, supportive nature. Therefore, Turkmenistan is a party to ensuring regional and global “peace” and “security”, and its “active” and “positive” neutrality policy demonstrates this.

The steps that “affirm”, “consolidate” and “guarantee” Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality in the process are indicative of the acceptance and support of Ashgabat’s policy all over the world. In this context, the UN decision to open the “UN Central Asia Preventive Diplomacy Regional Center” in Ashgabat in 2007, the signing of a second decree in 2015 under the name “Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan” and the celebration of December 12 as “International Day of Neutrality” in 2017 indicate that Ashgabat will be a global peace center and capital.

As a result, Turkmenistan does not have any issues with its neighbors in its geography; continues to serve social development and regional stability. In this context, the column on the quadrilateral of “security”, “stability”, “prosperity” and “peace” in Turkmenistan’s foreign policy;It remains strongly on the agenda on the principles of “good neighborliness”, “respect”, “justice” and “equality”. The developments in the region on the 30th anniversary of its independence once again demonstrate the success of President Kurbankulu Berdimuhammedov’s rational policy in accordance with regional-world realities and Turkmenistan’s importance in achieving regional-international security and peace. Turkmenistan, these four main pillars in its foreign policy are aimed at the independence of Turkmenistan, and Ashgabat will not hesitate to take the step in accordance with the regional-world realities in order to protect this sacred place, as it did yesterday and today.


[1] “Opening Event to Launch the International Year of Peace and Trust Was Held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan”, CPNN, https://cpnn-world.org/new/?p=22836, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

[2] “Türkmenistan’da ‘2021 Uluslararası Barış ve Güven Yılı’ Toplantısı”, TRT AVAZ, https://www.trtavaz.com.tr/haber/tur/avrasyadan/turkmenistanda-2021-uluslararasi-baris-ve-guven-yili-toplantisi/60143cda01a30ad90c3ef735, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

[3] “Turkmenistan Hosts Conference on Global Peace, Trust”, AA, aa.com.tr/en/world/turkmenistan-hosts-conference-on-global-peace-trust/2186969, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

[4] “Turkmenistan Approves Basic Directions of Foreign Policy Strategy until 2012”, http://www.turkmenistan.ru/en/node/6829, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

[5] Selçuk Çolakoğlu, “The New Concept of Turkmenistan’s Foreign Policy”, Asia Pacific Studies, http://www.asianpacificcenter.org/turkmenistan-foreign-policy.html, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

[6] “President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov: Foreign Policy of Turkmenistan is Aimed at Creating Favorable Conditions for Internal Development and Promotion of National Interests in The Global Arena”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, https://www.mfa.gov.tm/en/articles/118, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

[7] “Türkmenistan Cumhurbaşkanı Berdimuhammedov BM Genel Kurulu’na Video Mesajla Hitap Etti”, TRT AVAZ, https://www.trtavaz.com.tr/haber/tur/avrasyadan/turkmenistan-cumhurbaskani-berdimuhammedov-bm-genel-kuruluna-video-mesajla-hita/5f6ba8f201a30a14a06fad22, (Date of Accession: 17.07.2021).

Prof. Mehmet Seyfettin EROL
President of ANKASAM