Cel­e­bra­tion of Two Decades of Neu­tral­ity Pol­icy of Turk­menistan

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - The Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO) has a spe­cial fo­cus

It is not less than a feat for any state to main­tain “neu­tral­ity” while shar­ing long bor­ders with the trou­bled re­gion of Afghanistan and the de­mon for the West- Iran. It ap­pears al­most an im­pos­si­ble task when you take into ac­count the roots of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism in Cen­tral Asia and the great game be­ing played in oil rich cen­tral Asia with high stakes of USA, EU, Rus­sia and China in­volved. But de­spite all th­ese odds, this year on 12 De­cem­ber 2015, Turk­menistan is suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing its 20th year of “per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity”. Twenty years back on 12th day of De­cem­ber 1995, the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly had adopted a res­o­lu­tion with a thump­ing ma­jor­ity of 185 mem­ber states vot­ing in favour of ac­cept­ing the “per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity of Turk­menistan” by UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion no 50/80. A few weeks af­ter the pas­sage of the UN res­o­lu­tion on ‘per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity’, the Turk­menistan leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly, the Me­jilis, passed a new law in the con­sti­tu­tion that chalks out the pol­icy of per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity and gives it a con­sti­tu­tional cover. When I look at the 12 con­sti­tu­tional ar­ti­cles of that law, they are like Turk­menistan is an­nounc­ing Non­Align­ment vol­un­tar­ily and uni­lat­er­ally as a sin­gle state. The 12 ar­ti­cles clearly show Turk­menistan ad­heres to all the key Non-Aligned Move­ment (NAM) prin­ci­ples, viz. mu­tual re­spect for each other’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and sovereignty, mu­tual non-ag­gres­sion, mu­tual non-in­ter­fer­ence in do­mes­tic af­fairs, sov­er­eign equal­ity and peace­ful co-ex­is­tence. But Turk­menistan does not stop there and adds the prin­ci­ple of nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment to this list as ar­ti­cle 6 clearly de­clares, Turk­menistan will not “pro­duce and dis­trib­ute nu­clear, chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and other weapons of mass de­struc­tion”. The Turk­menistan con­sti­tu­tional law on per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity pro­nounces “per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity” forms the real ba­sis of the for­eign and do­mes­tic pol­icy of the Turk­menistan state. More­over, the con­sti­tu­tion pledges that Turk­menistan shall not “par­tic­i­pate in war blocs and al­liances, in­ter­state as­so­ci­a­tions with tough obli­ga­tions or pro­vid­ing the col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the par­ties”. This means Turk­menistan con­sti­tu­tion­ally de­clares it will re­main non-aligned in a re­gion where all great pow­ers have their high stakes and would surely like to push and lure Turk­menistan to join their band­wagon. NAM de­spite be­ing a pow­er­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion en­joy­ing the mem­ber­ship of more than 100 na­tion-states could not re­frain its mem­ber states from sup­port­ing one of the two al­liances (the Soviet bloc and the Amer­i­can bloc) in a bipo­lar nu­clear world. Es­pe­cially af­ter the Soviet at­tack of Afghanistan in 1979, NAM be­came dor­mant and com­pletely lost its rel­e­vance as most of its mem­bers sup­ported one or the other camp. Con­sid­er­ing this, Turk­menistan com­plet­ing 20 years of per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity is an achieve­ment in it­self; how­ever, keep­ing this neu­tral­ity per­ma­nently will re­main a chal­lenge for the fu­ture Turk­menistan gov­ern­ments.

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