By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editor Kevin Lee
The Republic of Korea now has a new leader, President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is trying to steer the country, hopefully to a new height of prosperity and international prestige. A similar development is observed in Turkmenistan, which was immediately apparent at a recent interview with Charge d’Affaires Dovlet Seyitmammedov whom The Korea Post media recently met at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Seoul. Excerpts from the interview follow:
Question: Korea and Turkmenistan both have a new President steering the country trying to upgrade the status of their country to a one-notch higher status. Please introduce the Head of Government of Turkmenistan in detail.
Answer: The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan nominated His Excellency Serdar Berdimuhamedov for the Presidential elections, which were held on 12 March 2022, and with the majority of votes, he was elected as the President of our country.
In his election program, His Excellency Serdar Berdimuhamedov stressed the importance of the development of foreign policy, saying, “Independent, permanent Neutral Turkmenistan with its peace-loving, benevolent foreign policy has gained great authority in the world community.
It is necessary to further develop the main directions of the foreign policy strategy in the current complicated times of international relations. Our country, being located in a favorable geopolitical and geo-economic position and possessing abundant natural resources, plays an important role in international politics.
The need for further development of international relations in accordance with the necessities of the current time is becoming increasingly obvious. Therefore, I consider it an important task to fully concentrate the political and organizational power of our country in this direction."
Q: Who are the major Korean companies actively engaged in bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries? Please introduce them in detail in the order of size and scale of business activities.
A: The construction of the Kiyanly polymer plant became a significant contribution of Korean companies to the development of the chemical and energy industry of Turkmenistan.
This large gas chemical complex was constructed on behalf of State Concern “Turkmengaz” by the consortium of Korea’s LG International Corporation and Hyundai Engineering, with the participation of Japan’s Toyo Engineering Corporation.
Currently, this plant is one of the largest gas chemical complexes in the world. More than 120 companies from Korea, including construction companies, tools and equipment manufacturing companies participated in this project. 13 000 workers were employed during the peak periods of construction.
The second stage of the plant for gas purification from sulfur deposits in the Galkynysh field, the second stage of modernization of Turkmenbashi Complex of Oil Refineries, the production of gasoline from the natural gas, construction of steel plants can be shown as examples of large-scale projects implemented in our country with the participation of world-renowned Korean companies.
The successful work of Korean business community in the petrochemical, gas processing, automotive and other sectors of the economy in recent years can be characterized as fruitful.
It is important to note that world-renowned Korean companies, such as LG and Hyundai, are making a worthy contribution to the development of the oil and gas and transport sectors of the Turkmen economy.
Cooperation between Turkmenistan and Korea in the transport sector has also shown its results. It is worth mentioning that most of the public buses and passenger cars used in our country were produced in Korea.
Q: What is the present volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: Talking about the trade cooperation between our countries, it is necessary to continuously improve the conditions related to the transport sector, which will eventually help to increase the volume of bilateral trade. In this regard, it is important to strengthen the interconnectedness of Korea’s "New Northern Policy" and Turkmenistan's "Great Silk Road Restoration" initiative to ensure peace and prosperity in the Eurasian region.
Furthermore, Turkmenistan has proposed the creation of a joint Turkmen-Korean Business Council. Turkmen and Korean industrial enterprises, trade companies, banks, financial and industrial institutions, and economic information centers can join this Council.
Q: What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest?
A: Turkmenistan is moving towards industrialization and interested in creating new production capacities based on advanced, environmentally friendly technologies.
Leading Korean companies, who have established themselves as reliable partners, are actively involved in the implementation of projects for the construction and modernization of oil refining and gas chemical complexes. As an important part of international cooperation in the field of sustainable transport, large Korean transport and logistics companies, shipbuilding companies, as well as manufacturers of modern automobiles, trains and wagons could participate in the development of Turkmenistan's transport and communications infrastructure.
For example, there is a shipyard within the new Turkmenbashi International Seaport. With the interest of the relevant Korean companies, the Turkmen side can establish a close relationship for in the building new ships for use in the Caspian Sea, which is a new industry for our country.
Within the framework of cooperation with Korea in the field of purchase of automobiles, the establishment of a trade and repair centers of Korean car manufacturers in Turkmenistan has also a bright future.
With our country’s readiness to develop joint projects in the electronics industry, Turkmenistan has rich intellectual capacity, vast financial and material resources to develop it.
In addition, Turkmenistan could benefit from the knowledge and advanced technologies of Korea’s light industry companies to develop its textile industry.
The Turkmen side looks forward to exchange experience in the digital economy with its Korean counterparts and expresses its readiness to establish direct relations between relevant government agencies, institutions and companies of our countries.
Q: Korean people, especially the up-and-coming Korean businessmen need rest and recuperation. What are your tourist attractions?
A: Turkmenistan is home to many historical and cultural locations, resorts and sanatoriums in that will attract foreign tourists and businesspersons. Sanatoriums and resorts like “Archman”, “Yyly suw” hot springs, “Bayramali”, “Mollagara”, “Farap”, “Berzengi”, “Dashoguz” and “Awaza” always welcome those who want to improve their health at any time of the year.
Located on the ecologically clean shores of the Caspian Sea, the world-class resorts are gaining wide popularity in our country as well as great interest from abroad.
The resorts include luxury hotels, children's health and leisure centers, townhouses, sanatoriums, yacht clubs and multi-purpose sports complexes. Every summer thousands of people vacation here. The Awaza resort guarantees favorable conditions for holidaymakers, including family vacationers, and high level of services throughout the year.
The 7 km-long artificial river flows through the border of the tourist zone. The shores of this river have recreational areas with amphitheater, interactive fountains, cafes and restaurants. There are also harbors, parks and gardens.
Q: What are the most important festive days in your country? Please elaborate?
A: According to the national calendar of Turkmenistan, our country celebrates several holidays and special occasion. These include New Year's Eve, National Spring Holiday, known as International Nowruz Day, Independence Day, International Neutrality Day, Carpet and Horse Day, World Health Day and Cycling Day, the Constitution and National Flag Day of Turkmenistan as well as other holidays. Many of these holidays are non-working days and people take rest.
Q: Who among the Koreans are considered to be most prominently contributing to the promotion of relations, cooperation and friendship between the two countries? We would like to introduce them adequately so that others could follow their suit.
A: The President and Chair of the Global Green Growth Institute, the eighth UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Chairperson of the Korea-Central Asia Friendship Association Mrs. Lee Ok-ryon can be named as individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of Turkmen-Korean cooperation.
It is worth mentioning that Former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was awarded the jubilee medal "25th Anniversary of the Neutrality of Turkmenistan,” which was created in dedication to the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan's Permanent Neutrality.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Lee Ok-ryon is actively involved in major events, conferences and forums that are held in Turkmenistan and puts great effort into strengthening the bilateral ties.
The Korean government and people also have a very high opinion of Turkmenistan and her people. Turkmenistan was the center of ancient civilization with the ancient Kingdom of Margush, which is said to be the Fifth Civilization, and the ancient cities of Merv and Nissa, which are located in the heart of intercontinental trade along the Silk Road.
Ahalteke, a world-famous horse, has been with the people of Turkmenistan for over 5,000 years, and Turkmenistani carpets are considered the thinnest and most beautiful carpets in the world.
Turkmenistan, who possesses vast natural resources such as natural gas and oil, exports natural resources and high value-added petrochemical products as her main products. With the goal of Resurrection, Korea is working closely with Turkmenistan for the integration and development of the Eurasian continent.
The Korean people look forward to the positive effects that Korea's 'New Northern Policy' and Turkmenistan's vision of 'Restoration of the Great Silk Road' will create together.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, Korea and Turkmenistan have continuously developed cooperative relations in various fields such as politics, economy, and culture for over three decades of years. The two countries are actively engaged in exchanges in various fields with a view to further diversifying and expanding them.