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Turkmenistan: From the Accumulation of the Past to the Dynamism of Youth

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According to the information reported by the Turkmenistan State News Agency on March 14, 2022, the early elections held on March 12, 2022, resulted in the victory of Mr. Serdar Gurbangulyyevich Berdimuhamedov, who received 72.97% of the votes, and thus the Turkmenistan Democratic Party.[1] This victory means the rejuvenation of Turkmen politics and Turkmenistan taking its place in the international arena as a dynamic state. In this sense, Turkmenistan will continue on its way within the framework of a visionary approach that synthesizes the dynamism of the youth with thousands of years of historical culture and more than thirty years of independence experience.

In his speech during the 9th Extraordinary Congress of the Turkmenistan Democratic Party, where he announced his candidacy, he said, “If I am elected President; I assure you that I will run for our country based on the legacy and principles of our ancestors and will work for our people making no concessions of my talents.”[2] saying that, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov actually revealed the road map of the new era.

This roadmap is based on the envisagement of creating a dynamic future by utilizing the experiences of the past, especially in the period of Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The aforementioned future vision means that Turkmenistan will continue its cooperative, multifaceted and constructive relations within the framework of the “Permanent Neutrality Status” and includes the goal of creating a prosperous society.

As a matter of fact, after the announcement of the election results, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov received congratulatory calls from the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Şevket Mirziyoyev, the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kasım Cömert Tokayev, and the President of Tajikistan, Mr. Imamali Rahman, and told his colleagues that Turkmenistan will develop cooperation with the states of the region and stated that his country will continue to exhibit an approach based on mutual interests through projects in line with a perspective based on multidimensional relations.[3]

At this point, it should be stated that it is very valuable that Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov paved the way for the rejuvenation of politics at a time when he was healthy by showing great democratic maturity. The Turkmen people and their will thus gave the message that they wanted to take part in the process of building a new world order dominated by uncertainties. This message emerges as a historical decision in Turkmenistan after the permanent neutrality decision.

The transformation in question will be led by Serdar Berdimuhamedov, whom the Turkmen people consider worthy of the title “Son of the Nation”. The Turkmen people’s definition of Serdar Berdimuhamedov as the “Son of the Nation” and the fact that they elected him to the Presidency with the votes on March 12, 2022, reflects the confidence created by his state administration experiences and education in the context of domestic and foreign policy.

Who is Serdar Berdimuhamedov?

Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov is a person who has worked at almost all levels of the state, gained significant experience on the way to the Presidency, and achieved important success in his duties. Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov has gained different perspectives and gained various experiences by taking a multidisciplinary education life. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who graduated from the Turkmen Faculty of Agriculture as an engineer in 2001, received his education at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia in 2011, thus being awarded the title of International Relations Specialist.

In this context, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who served as a consultant at the Russian Embassy of Turkmenistan between 2008 and 2011, served as a consultant at the Permanent Representation of Turkmenistan to the United Nations (UN) between 2011 and 2013. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who also worked as the Head of the European Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan between August and December 2013, also received training at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy during this period.[4]

Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who gained a master’s degree in 2014 and a doctorate degree in 2015 in the field of Technical Sciences, worked as the Deputy Director of the Turkmenistan State Agency on Management and Use of Hydrocarbon Resources in 2016.

Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who served as the Head of the International Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2016 and 2017, was elected as a deputy in November 2016 and chaired the Legislation and Norms Committee in the parliament.

Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov was re-elected to the Turkmenistan Assembly in March 2018, receiving more than 90% of the votes in his region. Afterward, he first became the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and then was appointed as the Governor of Turkmenistan’s Ahal Province in 2019. He was also awarded the “Patriotism Award” in 2019.

It is known that Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov became the Minister of Industry and Urbanization in February 2020. He also served as the person responsible for reforming the country’s digitalization and technology breakthroughs. Thus, he became the Head of the Turkmen-Japanese, Turkmen-Russian and Turkmen-Chinese International Government Cooperation Desk.

Ultimately, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who was appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers in February 2021, has become one of the most reliable figures in the country’s politics thanks to his performance in his duties. As a result of this whole process, he became the President of Turkmenistan as of the results announced on March 14, 2022.

The Era of Serdar Berdimuhamedov in Turkmenistan: How future will be shaped?

It is possible to understand the answer to the question of what kind of future vision Turkmenistan has adopted from the statements of Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov. Because Mr. President of Turkmenistan has promised to continue to adhere to the policies of neutrality and to further develop the policies of his predecessors in order to transform the country into a prosperous nation.[5]

In this context, it can be said that the Turkmen leader will continue to work towards two goals. The first of these is to ensure the continuity of the multi-vector foreign policy approach shaped by the ” Permanent Neutrality Status”. The second is the implementation of reforms that will add the dynamism of youth politics to the policies implemented to increase the welfare of the Turkmen people.

What Kind of Foreign Policy?

Located in Eurasia, which is the central playing field of the global power struggle and in this context, the “New Great Game”, Turkmenistan has succeeded in securing its independence and stability through its “Permanent Neutrality Status”. Moreover, Turkmenistan is in the position of a country that can lead to regional stability.

Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, just like his father, will display an active neutrality approach in the resolution of crises at the regional-global level within the framework of an approach that sees dialogue as the guarantee of peace, and with his peaceful policies that have earned the respect of the whole world, people centered, and aims to transform Ashgabat into a mediation center like Helsinki. It can be said that it will continue to take strong steps. The most concrete example of this is observed in the Afghan Question. In this direction, it can be stated that Ashgabat will continue its efforts to transform areas of competition and conflict into cooperation basins through projects such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Power Interconnection Project (TAP). Moreover, considering the diplomatic experience of the Turkmen leader, it will not be surprising that some new projects for cooperation are on the agenda.

As can be expected, the diplomatic experiences of the President of Turkmenistan will facilitate the implementation of the country’s multi-vector foreign policy approach. Because Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov has the knowledge to correctly coordinate his country’s four orientations based on Russia, China, the West and the Turkish World.

The fact that Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov received education in Russia and served as a consultant at the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan reveals that he knows this country closely and shows that he will deepen the relations between the two countries on the axis of cooperation based on trust. Considering that Serdar Berdimuhamedov served as the Head of the Turkmen-China International Government Cooperation Desk in the past, it can be said that the relations on the Ashgabat-Beijing line will be conducted on a healthy basis. Turkmenistan on November 12, 2021; when it is considered that Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov was included in the Organization of Turkish States with the status of “Observer Member” when he was the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, it can be argued that Ashgabat will advance its relations with Turkey and the Turkish World within the framework of economic interests based on mutual respect. Finally, when it is remembered that Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov was a consultant to Turkmenistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN, it becomes easy to guess that he had important contacts in the West as well. Therefore, it can be said that Turkmenistan will accelerate its orientation to the West. In this context, Ashgabat can develop cooperation in the export of Turkmen gas to Europe. At the same time, these collaborations include the Central Asia-Caspian Sea-Caucasus-Turkey-Europe route; in other words, it can create a process that is suitable for the interests of all regional states by bringing the Middle Corridor to the fore.

In short, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, as one of the architects of Turkmenistan’s multi-vector foreign policy, will serve the efforts to build peace at the regional-global level. Respect for the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of states will continue to be the cornerstone of this foreign policy.

What Kind of Domestic Policy?

The ultimate goal of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy is to attract investments in the country as a reflection of constructive relations with other states. In this sense, the aim of domestic politics is to create a society where the people live in prosperity. Referencing from the emphasis of the great Turkmen poet Mahtumkulu Firaki on the unity of the Turkmen, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov will strive to make the Turkmen a nation living together in wealth. In line with this purpose, it can be said that the state staff, who will add the dynamism of the youth to the accumulation of the past, will realize some reform breakthroughs in the liberalization of the economy.

At this point, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov’s role as the person responsible for the reform of digitalization and technology breakthroughs in the past can turn into a great advantage. Under the leadership of Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, Turkmenistan can turn into one of the world’s most substantial technology societies. At this point, it can be easily stated that the experiences of the young Turkmen leader during his time as the Minister of Industry and Urbanization will play a vital role.

As a result, on the occasion of the early elections held on March 12, 2022, Turkmen politics and state staff have become younger and a vision that wants to build the future without rejecting the accumulation of the past has been put forward. This is the sign of Turkmenistan’s multi-vector foreign policy built on the “Permanent Neutrality Status” in foreign policy, and the idea of creating a prosperous society in domestic politics.

[1] “The Results of the Presidential Elections”, The Asia Today, https://theasiatoday.org/news/central-asia/the-results-of-the-presidential-elections/, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2022).

[2] “Türkmenistan Devlet Başkanı Berdimuhamedov’un Oğlu Devlet Başkanlığına Aday Oldu”, TRT Haber, https://www.trthaber.com/haber/dunya/turkmenistan-devlet-baskani-berdimuhamedovun-oglu-devlet-baskanligina-aday-oldu-654894.html, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2022).

[3] “Türkmenistan cumhurbaşkanı seçilen Serdar Berdimuhamedov’un Aldığı Oy Oranı Açıklandı”, Independent Türkçe, https://www.indyturk.com/node/484896/d%C3%BCnya/t%C3%BCrkmenistan-cumhurba%C5%9Fkan%C4%B1-se%C3%A7ilen-serdar-berdimuhamedovun-ald%C4%B1%C4%9F%C4%B1-oy-oran%C4%B1, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2022).

[4] “Газета НТ опубликовала биографию кандидата в депутаты Меджлиса Сердара Бердымухамедова (NT diurna published in vita videlicet quod vicarius est candidatum Mejlis Serdar Berdimuhamedov)”, Hronikatm, https://www.hronikatm.com/2018/03/gazeta-nt-opublikovala-biografiyu-kandidata-v-deputatyi-medzhlisa-serdara-berdyimuhamedova/, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2021).

[5] “Serdar Berdimuhamedov Succeeds Father as Turkmenistan’s New President”, Anadolu Agency, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/serdar-berdimuhamedov-succeeds-father-as-turkmenistans-new-president/2535622, (Date of Accession: 16.03.2022).

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin EROLhttps://www.ankasam.org/author/mse/?lang=en
1969 Dörtyol-Hatay doğumlu olan Prof. Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi (BÜ) Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden 1993 yılında mezun oldu. BÜ’de 1995 yılında Yüksek Lisans çalışmasını tamamlayan Erol, aynı yıl BÜ’de doktora programına kabul edildi. Ankara Üniversitesi’nde doktorasını 2005’de tamamlayan Erol, 2009 yılında “Uluslararası İlişkiler” alanında doçent ve 2014 yılında da Profesörlük unvanlarını aldı. 2000-2006 tarihleri arasında Avrasya Stratejik Araştırmaları Merkezi (ASAM)’nde görev yapan Erol, 2009 yılında Stratejik Düşünce Enstitüsü’nün (SDE) Kurucu Başkanlığı ve Yönetim Kurulu Üyeliği görevlerinde bulundu. Uluslararası Strateji ve Güvenlik Araştırmaları Merkezi (USGAM)’nin de kurucu başkanı olan Prof. Erol, Yeni Türkiye Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi (YTSAM) Uluslararası İlişkiler Enstitüsü Başkanlığını da yürütmektedir. Prof. Erol, Gazi Üniversitesi Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi (GAZİSAM) Müdürlüğü görevinde de bulunmuştur. 2007 yılında Türk Dünyası Yazarlar ve Sanatçılar Vakfı “Türk Dünyası Hizmet Ödülü”nü alan Prof. Erol, akademik anlamdaki çalışmaları ve medyadaki faaliyetlerinden dolayı çok sayıda ödüle layık görülmüştür. Bunlardan bazıları şu şekilde sıralanabilir: 2013 yılında Çağdaş Demokratlar Birliği Derneği tarafından “Yılın Yazılı Medya Ödülü”, 2015 yılında “APM 10. Yıl Hizmet Ödülü”, Türkiye Yazarlar Birliği tarafından “2015 Yılın Basın-Fikir Ödülü”, Anadolu Köy Korucuları ve Şehit Aileleri “2016 Gönül Elçileri Medya Onur Ödülü”, Yörük Türkmen Federasyonları tarafından verilen “2016 Türkiye Onur Ödülü”. Prof. Erol’un 15 kitap çalışması bulunmaktadır. Bunlardan bazılarının isimleri şu şekildedir: “Hayalden Gerçeğe Türk Birleşik Devletleri”, “Türkiye-AB İlişkileri: Dış Politika ve İç Yapı Sorunsalları”, “Avrasya’da Yeni Büyük Oyun”, “Türk Dış Politikasında Strateji Arayışları”, “Türk Dış Politikasında Güvenlik Arayışları”, “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti-Rusya Federasyonu İlişkileri”, “Sıcak Barışın Soğuk Örgütü Yeni NATO”, “Dış Politika Analizinde Teorik Yaklaşımlar: Türk Dış Politikası Örneği”, “Krizler ve Kriz Yönetimi: Aktörler ve Örnek Olaylar”, “Kazakistan” ve “Uluslararası İlişkilerde Güncel Sorunlar”. 2002’den bu yana TRT Türkiye’nin sesi ve TRT Radyo 1 (Ankara Radyosu) “Avrasya Gündemi”, “Stratejik Bakış”, “Küresel Bakış”, “Analiz”, “Dosya”, “Haber Masası”, “Gündemin Öteki Yüzü” gibi radyo programlarını gerçekleştirmiş olan Prof. Erol, TRT INT televizyonunda 2004-2007 yılları arasında Arayış, 2007-2010 yılları arasında Kanal A televizyonunda “Sınır Ötesi” ve 2020-2021’de de BBN TÜRK televizyonunda “Dış Politika Gündemi” programlarını yaptı. 2012-2018 yılları arasında Millî Gazete’de “Arayış” adlı köşesinde dış politika yazıları yayımlanan Prof. Erol’un ulusal-uluslararası medyada çok sayıda televizyon, radyo, gazete, haber siteleri ve dergide uzmanlığı dahilinde görüşlerine de başvurulmaktadır. 2006-2018 yılları arasında Gazi Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde ve Ankara Üniversitesi Latin Amerika Araştırmaları Merkezi’nde (LAMER) de dersler veren Prof. Erol, 2018’den bu yana Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde öğretim üyesi olarak akademik kariyerini devam ettirmektedir. Çok sayıda dergi ve gazetede yazıları-değerlendirmeleri yayımlanan; Avrasya Dosyası, Stratejik Analiz, Stratejik Düşünce, Gazi Bölgesel Çalışmalar, The Journal of SSPS, Karadeniz Araştırmaları, gibi akademik dergilerde editörlük faaliyetlerinde bulunan Prof. Erol, Bölgesel Araştırmalar, Uluslararası Kriz ve Siyaset Araştırmaları, Gazi Akademik Bakış, Ege Üniversitesi Türk Dünyası İncelemeleri, Demokrasi Platformu dergilerinin editörlüklerini hali hazırda yürütmektedir. 2016’dan bu yana Ankara Kriz ve Siyaset Araştırmaları Merkezi (ANKASAM) Kurucu Başkanı olarak çalışmalarını devam ettiren Prof. Erol, evli ve üç çocuk babasıdır.