Turk­menistan’s role in build­ing new Silk Road

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

For­ma­tion of mod­ern road and trans­port in­fras­truc­ture is one of the pri­or­ity di­rec­tions of the pol­icy of Turk­menistan, and is aimed at pro­gres­sive so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and the es­tab­lish­ment of broad re­gional and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion.

Turk­menistan is at the cross­road of Europe and Asia, with con­ve­nient ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, on the new Silk Road. Rich nat­u­ral oil and gas re­serves and a sta­ble po­lit­i­cal cli­mate al­low our coun­try to im­ple­ment na­tional trans­port re­sources for en­sur­ing the Euro-Asian links.

Turk­menistan was the first among the coun­tries of the re­gion to demon­strate at the end of the last cen­tury qual­i­ta­tive newap­proaches for the re­vival of the an­cient Silk Road. The strik­ing ex­am­ple is com­mis­sion­ing of an in­ter­na­tional rail­way (Ted­jen-Ser­ah­sMeshed) in­May 1996, which opened for the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia the short­est way to the trans­port net­works of Iran, Tur­key, theMid­dle East and the Far East.

At present, be­ing a full-bod­ied mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem of cargo traf­fic, Turk­menistan pro­vides re­li­able trans­port and tran­sit con­nec­tion through­out its ter­ri­tory. Great at­ten­tion is paid to the de­vel­op­ment of all types of trans­port, in­clud­ing au­to­mo­bile, rail­road, air and mar­itime. Dur­ing the 25 years of in­de­pen­dence, new air­ports, na­tional and transna­tional rail­ways and au­to­bahns have been built. Grandiose in scale and im­por­tance Turk­men­bashy Sea Port and bridges con­nect­ing Turk­menistan with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries are un­der con­struc­tion; mar­itime, air fleets and rail­road parks are be­ing reg­u­larly sup­ple­mented with new means.

China’s Silk Road con­cept is fully com­pat­i­ble with the trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ini­tia­tives of Turk­menistan.

At the same time, Turk­menistan is de­vel­op­ing in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in the trans­port sphere and ini­ti­at­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of in­ter­state trans­port cor­ri­dors, be­com­ing an im­por­tant link of transcon­ti­nen­tal routes.

Today, Pres­i­dent of Turk­menistan Gur­ban­guly Berdimuhame­dov has de­vel­oped his own con­cept of co­op­er­a­tion with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in the field of trans­port and thereby made a wor­thy con­tri­bu­tion to the re­vival of the Silk Road. The main pur­pose of the con­cept of the Turk­men leader is to pro­mote on the world stage, ev­i­dence-based and ef­fec­tive from a prac­ti­cal point of view, mod­els of multi-stake­holder part­ner­ships in this area, cre­at­ing a set of ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tions nec­es­sary for the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and in­crease of ef­fi­ciency of the in­ter­na­tional trans­port-tran­sit mes­sages.

In this con­text, the Silk Road ini­tia­tive of China en­vis­ages a com­mon path for our coun­tries in or­der to forge closer re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and trans­port con­nec­tiv­ity. China’s Silk Road con­cept is fully com­pat­i­ble with the trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ini­tia­tives of Turk­menistan. In turn, as a re­li­able re­gional tran­sit node, Turk­menistan is ready to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion with China on var­i­ous lev­els and to play an ac­tive role in the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road).

Asig­nif­i­cant role in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of these tasks came into play in De­cem­ber 2014 with the open­ing of the fi­nal link in the transna­tional rail­way cor­ri­dor (Kaza­khstan-Turk­menistan-Iran), which aims to pro­vide con­ve­nient and cost-ef­fec­tive de­liv­ery of car­goes from Europe to Cen­tralAsia, SouthAsia and the Mid­dle East. Com­mis­sion­ing of this rail­way is also rel­e­vant given its con­nec­tion to the East-West trans­port net­work, that is, the transcon­ti­nen­tal route (Chi­naCen­tralAsia-Cau­ca­sus-Europe), which runs through our coun­try and the Caspian Sea.

Today, Turk­menistan is in the global mar­ket with its own prod­ucts and ser­vices for the trans­porta­tion of goods of neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing China. In Fe­bru­ary 2016, the first freight train, car­ry­ing 32 con­tain­ers of com­mer­cial prod­ucts from East China’s Zhe­jiang province, took 14 days to make the 10,000kilo­me­ter jour­ney through Kaza­khstan and Turk­menistan, com­pared with around 45 days by sea. This cost-ef­fec­tive rail­way route to stim­u­late the strength­en­ing of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in the field of trade con­trib­utes to the re­al­iza­tion of the tran­sit po­ten­tial of Turk­menistan.

An im­por­tant role in con­nect­ing the two coun­tries can be played by an un­der-con­struc­tion Turk­menistan-Afghanistan-Ta­jik­istan rail­way, which will have ac­cess to an ex­ten­sive rail net­work of China and, through it, to the rapidly de­vel­op­ing coun­tries of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

The con­struc­tion of a newrail­way from the Turk­men town of Atamyrat to the Afghan set­tle­ment of Aqina is al­ready com­plete. The open­ing cer­e­mony of the rail­way will be held on Nov 28 this year with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the heads of the three coun­tries in the frame­work of the up­com­ing global con­fer­ence on trans­port in Ash­ga­bat.

The ba­sis for the UN de­ci­sion to hold the first ever global con­fer­ence on sus­tain­able trans­port in Ash­ga­bat is the con­struc­tive ini­tia­tive of the pres­i­dent of Turk­menistan, which has been rec­og­nized and ap­proved by the world com­mu­nity.

The rel­e­vance of the First Global Con­fer­ence for Sus­tain­able Trans­port Sys­tem is con­firmed by the tim­ing it­self and will be a vivid ev­i­dence of the de­mand for cre­ative ini­tia­tives of the Turk­men pres­i­dent in the de­vel­op­ment of in­ter­na­tional trans­port co­op­er­a­tion. The au­thor is am­bas­sador of Turk­menistan to China.

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