Celebration of Two Decades of Neutrality Policy of Turkmenistan
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.