2019 was an important year for EU-Turkmenistan relations – our important and valuable partner in Central Asia, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union mission to Ashgabat Lubomir Frebort said at a forum in Ashgabat dedicated to the importance of Turkmen neutrality in international cooperation.
According to the diplomat, the decision of the European Union to open a full-fledged delegation in Turkmenistan, which took place in July last year, marked the culmination of bilateral relations, becoming the fulfillment of the obligation of the outgoing EU High Representative Mogherini.
Mr. Frebort reported that the first head of the EU official mission to Turkmenistan is expected to arrive in the near future.
The renewal of EU relations with Turkmenistan in 2019 was not just symbolic, he said, naming the strategic areas of cooperation as peace and security, energy, climate change and the environment, economic diversification and private sector development, the rule of law and human rights.
According to the attorney, the EU has already developed the necessary program documents and tools to implement the plans regarding Turkmenistan, and has started working on a roadmap for their implementation.
At the same time, Mr. Lubomir Frebort emphasized that the European Union values and respects the status of Turkmenistan and the policy of permanent positive neutrality, which is consistent with its active interaction with the EU.
He gave several examples of how some of the initiatives and priorities of neutral Turkmenistan correspond to the initiatives and priorities of the European Union. They touch upon peace and security, including water security, and contribution to the stabilization and development of Afghanistan.
In particular, Mr. Frebort declared determination to support a number of future projects in the framework of the second Program of the Aral Sea basin with the participation of the EU program on water, energy and food security NEXUS.
“In reference to transport and connectivity, the EU welcomes Turkmenistan’s ambitions to become a center of regional transport corridors and be ready to support them through its recently adopted strategy for connecting Europe and Asia, with an emphasis on rail corridors,” said Mr. Frebort.
“As for the diversification of energy exports, the European Union fully supports Turkmenistan’s policy of diversifying its gas export markets. The construction of the TRANS-Caspian gas pipeline and the import of Turkmen gas remain an important part of the EU’s strategy in the field of energy security and diversification of gas import sources, and the new European Commission recently entered it into the list of priority energy projects,” emphasized the Charge d’Affaires a.i.
He added that the upcoming meeting of the Advisory Council on the Southern Gas Corridor in Baku on February 28 provides an opportunity for a bilateral EU-Turkmenistan summit with the new EU Energy Commissioner to move this dialogue further.
Mr. Lubomir Frebort said that the EU special representative for Central Asia proposed to hold a Symposium in the first quarter of 2020 in Ashgabat to discuss particular acts for the implementation of the new EU Strategy for Central Asia adopted last year in Turkmenistan. In his opinion, Turkmenistan will benefit from active interaction with the EU through this regional strategy.
“Besides the current bilateral cooperation projects, the new instrument of the European Commission for neighborhood, development and international cooperation, which has been allocated 93.1 billion Euros, will allow the EU to offer new partnership opportunities to Turkmenistan from 2021, despite the fact that it has reached an above-average income level,” added the EU representative.