Dy­nam­ics of Neu­tral­ity Pol­icy of Turk­menistan

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - Prof. Dr. Zahid An­war

Af­ter in­de­pen­dence Turk­menistan suc­cess­fully ad­justed its for­eign re­la­tions on one hand and on the other main­tained in­ter­nal har­mony. The dis­union of the Soviet Union was a par­a­digm shift in in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics. The end of Cold War ush­ered new Union Republics i.e., Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Ta­jik­istan, Turk­menistan and Uzbek­istan be­came in­de­pen­dent and sov­er­eign states. This sud­den po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ment put much pres­sure on Cen­tral Asian lead­er­ship to coop with the new sit­u­a­tion. For­eign pol­icy is gov­ern­ment`s strat­egy in deal­ing with other na­tions. The for­eign pol­icy of a coun­try refers to strate­gies which a state adopts to safe­guard its na­tional in­ter­ests and achieve par­tic­u­lar goals. Cen­tral Asian Re­gion faced many chal­lenges. Some of the chal­lenges were drug and ter­ror­ism and es­tab­lish­ment of bal­anced re­la­tions with other na­tions. There was civil war in Afghanistan and the Cen­tral Asian States strug­gled for eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial sta­bil­ity. Turk­menistan be­came a Soviet Repub­lic in 1924 and got in­de­pen­dence on 27 Oc­to­ber 1991 when the USSR dis­in­te­grated. The length of its border with Afghanistan is 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kaza­khstan 379 km and Uzbek­istan 1,621 km. The Kara-Kum desert oc­cu­pies over 80% of the coun­try. The pop­u­la­tion of Turk­menistan is about 5.2 mil­lion (July 2014). Eth­ni­cally 85% of the pop­u­la­tion is com­prised Turk­men. 89% of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion is Mus­lims. is spo­ken by 72% of the pop­u­la­tion. Turk­menistan is rich in hy­dro­car­bon par­tic­u­larly nat­u­ral gas. Its ex­ten­sive hy­dro­car­bon re­serves have trans­formed the coun­try. Af­ter in­de­pen­dence the na­tion-state of Turk­menistan searched for its na­tional iden­tity and niche in the comity of na­tions. For­mer Pres­i­dent of Turk­menistan Sa­parmu­rat Niya­zov (1940 – 2006) dom­i­nated the po­lit­i­cal scene from 1985 till his death in 2006. Com­mu­nist Party from 1985 un­til 1991 and con­tin­ued to lead Turk­menistan for 15 years af­ter in­de­pen­dence from the Soviet Union in 1991. To pro­tect and pro­mote na­tional in­ter­ests pres­i­dent Sa­parmu­rat Niya­zov pro­moted a pol­icy of strict neu­tral­ity in for­eign af­fairs, ab­stain­ing from get­ting mem­ber­ship of NATO or GUUAM and the CSTO. The pol­icy of neu­tral­ity was adopted in ac­cor­dance with its ca­pa­bil­i­ties, world trends and mod­ern threats. Its mil­i­tary doc­trine high­lights the prin­ci­pal func­tion of Turk­menistan’s army to pro­tect the coun­try from ex­ter­nal ag­gres­sion and and lo­cal wars in the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries are the main source of threat to Turk­menistan. In July 1992, at the meet­ing of the heads of the states and gov­ern­ments of the Con­fer­ence on Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe (now OSCE), the pres­i­dent of Turk­menistan, Sa­parmu­rat time pro­claimed pos­i­tive neu­tral­ity in pol­i­tics and open­ness in eco­nomics. The full in­de­pen­dence of Turk­menistan was rec­og­nized by a UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion, `The per­ma­nent neu­tral­ity of Turk­menistan` of De­cem­ber 12, 1995. It also re­frained from par­tic­i­pat­ing in any of the mil­i­tary struc­tures of the CIS. Due to this pol­icy Turk­menistan slowly and grad­u­ally down­graded its links with the Com­mon­wealth of In­de­pen­dent States. Turk­menistan has not par­tic­i­pated in any United Na­tions peace­keep­ing mis­sions. Dur­ing the civil war in Afghanistan Turk­menistan ac­tively as­sisted the UN in its ef­forts to es­tab­lish peace in Afghanistan host­ing a num­ber of meet­ings be­tween the Afghan sides. The third meet­ing of the heads of the Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ECO) took place in Is­lam­abad (Pak­istan) on 15th March 1995. In the meet­ing Pres­i­dent Niya­zov has stated that Turk­menistan ac­cepted all the obli­ga­tions of a per­ma­nent neu­tral state and was ready to act as a peace making cre­ation of a Cen­tre in Asia where it was pos­si­ble to solve acute in­ter­na­tional prob­lems with­out any con­ven­tions. In the Is­lam­abad dec­la­ra­tion the ECO mem­ber states agreed with the pres­i­dent of Turk­menistan by ex­press­ing their readi­ness to sup­port by all means Turk­menistan in its in­tent. Turk­menistan pos­sesses huge re­serves of oil and gas. Tra­di­tion­ally it has

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