By Lee Kyung-sik,Publisher, The Korea Post
The Korean-Turkmen relations and cooperation are obviously in good hands. President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea takes very strong interest in the promotion of relations, cooperation and friendship between Korea and Turkmenistan and there are ample similar signs noticed everywhere in the case of Turkmenistan, too, as exemplified by the activities of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of the Republic of Turkmenistan in regard to Korea. At this juncture, The Korea Post (31 years old this year) recently interviewed Ambassador Myrat Mammetlyyev of Turkmenistan in Seoul. Details of the interview follow:
Question: When did Korea and Turkmenistan establish diplomatic relations and how have the bilateral ties and cooperation been growing?
Answer: The diplomatic ties between Turkmenistan and Republic of Korea were established in February 1992. For the past 24 years Turkmenistan and Republic of Korea have been developing their fruitful cooperation. Since then agreements and arrangements have been successfully realized in many spheres.
On the international arena, Turkmenistan and Republic of Korea render mutual support and confidence to each other, particularly within the framework of interaction in the United Nations Organization. So, in December 2008, the Republic of Korea rendered to our country an active support as co-sponsor of international initiative of the President of Turkmenistan on the adoption of Resolution of the UN General Assembly on reliable and safe transit of energy bearers to the world markets.
The Eurasian Initiative and the Silk Road Express Project announced by President Park Geun-hye of Korea to build reliable energy and transport corridors on the continent in many ways coincide with Turkmenistan’s international initiatives for achieving energy and transport security.
Q: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan has visited Korea. What has been transifired from the summit meeting?
A: On April 11-13, 2015 President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov paid a state visit to the Republic of Korea. During the state visit on April 12, the President of Turkmenistan participated in VII World Water Forum held in Daegu.
Putting forward specific initiatives of the country, the Turkmen leader emphasized that today water problems could not be considered in isolation from global development plans, environmental and food security and creation of an integrated system of sustainable energy.
Turkmenistan also considers it useful to hold a high-level interactive dialogue dedicated to the International Decade for Action ?Water for Life?, that took place recently at the United Nations Headquarters, the results of which can serve as a foundation for development of the long-term UN Specialized Program on Water Issues. “We see opportunities for establishing a systematic multi-level dialogue to address all problems related to formation and restoration of water resources and their efficient use in the creation of a new political and diplomatic form of multilateral communication, which could be ‘water diplomacy’”, said President of Turkmenistan. In this regard, the President of Turkmenistan expressed belief in that such a joint activity could be the foundation for a comprehensive document of the United Nations on water. The Turkmen leader expressed support to the UN initiative on the recognition of water accessibility as a fundamental human right and noted that the water right and liability for efficient water resources management laid the foundation for this approach. Recognizing that solution of water issues in a global scale is complicated due to climate change, Turkmenistan put forward an initiative on creation of a UN specialized structure - the Regional Centre for technologies related to climate change under the auspices and with the active participation of the United Nations Organization.
On April 13, 2015 Turkmen-Korean high-level negotiations were held in Seoul. Main attention of the negotiations in the Palace “Cheong Wa Dae” was paid to the trade-economical relations of two countries. Over the years, the largest Korean corporations, such as the “LG”, “Hyundai”, “Samsung”, “Posco-Daewoo”, “Kia Motors” and others are working successfully in various sectors of the economy of Turkmenistan. “In addition to the traditional areas of economic cooperation - energy, oil-gas and transport - we have opportunities to develop partnerships in new directions,” stressed Turkmen leader. “It is textile and chemical industry, construction of urban and road transport infrastructure”.
Heads of the two states in friendly and constructive environment gave evaluation to the development of bilateral cooperation, widely exchanged the views on issues of mutual interest, including themes of bilateral relations as well as issues of regional and international character.
Q: What is the basis of cooperation between Korea and Turkmenistan?
A: Turkmenistan and the Republic of Korea share the same or similar positions on issues of international policy, there are no any disagreements between our countries.
The strengthening the confidence building measures in Asia and creating an enabling political environment to promote relations between states in accordance with the recognized norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nations were the key aspects of the dialogue between Turkmenistan and the Republic of Korea during the one-to-one talks of two Presidents and the talks with participation of the government delegations at Cheong Wa Dae Palace on April, 2015. It was noted that the proposals put forward by two countries to further promote international cooperation were mutually reinforcing. Korean high-level delegation participated in International Conference of high level “Policy of neutrality: international cooperation for peace, security and development” which was held in December, 2015.
Q: Your President was conferred on an Honorary Doctor’s degree for the promotion of bilateral relations.
A: Yes. An academic degree of Honorary Doctor of the Sungkyunkwan University was conferred on to the President of the Turkmen state for his profound contribution to strengthening friendly brotherly relations between the peoples of Turkmenistan and Korea and his outstanding work in promoting bilateral contacts in the spheres of science and education.
Q: What are the plans of your dignitaries visiting Korea this year?
A: In the framework of high-level agreements between our Presidents last year, the Turkmen side is planning to take steps in strengthening inter-parliamentary relations. In this regard, the Head of Mejlis (Speaker of the National Parliament) of Turkmenistan with the invitation of her Korean counterpart is planning to visit Seoul to discuss with the Speaker of National Assembly of the ROK the directions of further collaboration. Besides that, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan is also expected to visit the Republic of Korea in autumn this year in order to take part in 10th Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum. The meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is planned in the framework of this event to discuss the programs inter-ministerial cooperation. I am sure that these two high level visits will further strengthen the Turkmen-Korean relations.
Q: How are Korean companies doing in Turkmenistan?
A: Major Korean companies have been operating successfully in various sectors of Turkmen economy over many years. The ambitious projects implemented jointly with the companies include the construction of industrial facilities on Turkmen oil and gas, transport and construction fields. Most of the public transport fleet of Turkmenistan is composed of Korean buses and motorcars.
In addition, Hyundai Motor Company is one of the official car suppliers to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which will be hold in Turkmenistan in 2017.
During the recent state visit it was noted that Turkmenistan and Korea had opportunities to promote partnership in new spheres such as textile and chemical industries, urban and road infrastructure development. They signed several contracts mostly in the field of oil and gas, textile, metallurgy industries, sports, science, technological spheres and various other areas.
During the state visit to Turkmenistan by President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye on June, 2014 there were also signed several contracts in key industries worth over 4 billion dollars with Korean companies such as LG International Corp. and Hyundai Engineering.
Such regularly organized meetings and negotiations between the leaders of two friendly countries: Turkmenistan and Republic of Korea can serve as a basis for the further development of mutually beneficial relations owing to creation of new model of cooperation, allowing fully uniting all advantages of two countries and getting from them practical output.
Q: How are the cultural exchanges between the two counties?
A: On April, 23, 2016 Award Ceremony and exhibition of world children’s drawings devoted to the 25thAnniversary of the Independence of Turkmenistan was held at the Multicultural museum. This event was organized by the initiative of the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Republic of Korea by support of Korean Multicultural museum. 12 drawings have been awarded the prize and Award Certificate.
This year in November, a large cultural delegation from our country will present its own "Days of Culture" in the framework of the Festival of Turkic culture with the support Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. On this occasion we want to invite the readers of Korea Post to upcoming performances and exhibition of Turkmenistan in Korea.
Q: We understand that 2016 is the Year of Respect for Heritage, Reformation of Motherland of Turkmeanistan. Can you explain more about the topic?
A: Our positive world policy is interfaced to active offers for the decision of the most actual issues rising in the agenda of the modern world. Its innumerable natural resources, as well as possibilities concealed in a favorable geographical location, our state uses with a view to promoting peaceful co-existence of the countries, regions and peoples, development of trade and economy and a cultural connection.”
--President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov
Q: Pleasure introduce Turkmenistan a bit more in detail:
A: Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia and is primarily covered by desert. Turkmenistan has the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves. The Turkmen economy is continuing strong growth performance. Not yet over-run by tourists, Turkmenistan is renowned for its hospitality and rich oriental country. Visit sleepy desert cities along the Great Silk Road, experience vibrant bazaars filled with delicious local food and intricate handicrafts or relax on the wonderful beaches along the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan has it all. The territory of Turkmenistan is 491.2 thousand square kilometers. Turkmenistan has borders with Iran,Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan and has a coast line of Caspian Sea.
The capital of Turkmenistan is Ashgabat. Ashgabat,that means “the city of love”, rises between the Garagum desert and the foothills of the Kopetdag mountains. The combination of oriental cultural traditions and modern urban design makes the city one of the most exciting in Central Asia. In 2013 Ashgabat entered the Guinness World Records for having the highest concentration of white marble buildings than any other city in the world. Earlier, the Guinness Book of World Records registered a huge star of Oguz Khan on the TV and Radio broadcasting center "Turkmenistan", Ferris wheel of the Ashgabat cultural and entertainment center “Alem” and fountain ensemble “Oguz Khan”. Ashgabat first appeared on the pages of the Book of Records in 2008 with its world highest flagpole.
The population of Turkmenistan is about 6.2 million people. Turkmenistan is a multinational state. There are more than 100 nations and ethnic groups living in the country.
Q: Pleasure introduce your Head of State in more in detail.
A: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was born on 29 June, 1957 in Turkmenistan. He is Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Economics, Professor and Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. He is also Honorary Doctor and Academician of a number of universities and academies of foreign countries. His hobbies are sports and horse riding. He is married with a son and two daughters.
In his busy schedule the President of Turkmenistan always finds the time for sports, music, writing and research activity. The fruits of this hard work are the well-known books, such as “Ahalteke Horses ? Our Pride and Glory”, “The Living Legend” about Turkmen art of carpet making, the multi-volume encyclopedia “Medicinal Plants of Turkmenistan” and other publications translated into many languages, include translation into Korean language. This year the new book of President “Source of Wisdom” which included Turkmen proverbs and sayings became the wonderful gift to Turkmenistan in the Year of Respect for Heritage, Reformation of Motherland. Also the new book “Tea: Medicine and Inspiration” in which the tea’s impact on their philosophy and world view is represented, were presented to Turkmen people recently. Several books dedicated to Akhal-Teke horses came from the Turkmen leader’s pen. These books have been translated into many languages and are very popular among professionals in the field of horse breeding. Experts and specialists of Akhal-Teke horses in many countries, and ordinary readers will be familiarized with peculiarities of unique breed stated in published books of the Turkmen leader. “The Rapid pace of horse” is one of the last new book of President of Turkmenistan which was introduced to the Turkmen people in April this year. As it was mentioned above the carpets are the rich cultural heritage and national values of Turkmen people. So, in a new book "Ar?y? nepisligi" (“Heavenly splendor”) the Turkmen leader introduces the readers to the Turkmen carpet-weaving craft and the elegance of its opening to the level of craft.