12th December is celebrated as the Day of Neutrality in Turkmenistan, being the second most important state holiday in the state. This year, Turkmenistan celebrates 25 years of its recognition as a permanent neutral state by the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). On 12th December 1995, the UNGA passed resolution 50/80, which recognized and supported Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality policy.
The resolution welcomed Turkmenistan in its desire to have peaceful relations with neighboring countries and other states of the world. The UN also hoped for peace in the region in the effect of the implementation of the policy. A total of 185 member states passed this resolution; the resolution further called for support of Turkmenistan’s independence, integrity, and sovereignty.
On 3rd June 2015, the UN recalled its resolution of 12th December 1995 and passed resolution 69/285, which reiterated the UN’s support of the permanent neutrality policy of Turkmenistan. This resolution welcomed Turkmenistan’s effort towards further cooperation with other states of the region. It also highlighted Turkmenistan’s contribution to the inter-Tajik talks in Ashgabat in 1995 and 1996 as well as the inter-Afghan talks held in 1997.
The resolution recognized the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), a special political mission of the UN, in December 2007. This recognition will support Central Asian countries and international communities in bringing peace and addressing the regional challenges they face, along with expediting solutions.
On 2nd February 2017, the UN further strengthened Turkmenistan’s neutrality policy by passing resolution 71/275, which declared 12th December as International Day of Neutrality. The aforesaid resolution recognized the contribution made by Turkmenistan’s neutrality policies to peacebuilding, development activities, negotiations, resolving and preventing conflicts, mediation, fact-finding missions, and preventive diplomacy.
It also acknowledged that preventive diplomacy through a neutrality policy was a core function of the UN. On the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s recognition as a neutral state, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, stated that “Without exaggeration, it is a historical event which became a reference point for our entire follow-up on the international scene, defined the principles of relations with other nations and states”.
The principle of neutrality is even enshrined in its constitution; the preamble is imbued with Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality policy. Article 2 pronounces the neutrality policy to be the basis of Turkmenistan’s domestic and foreign policy, and article 3 states that Turkmenistan will not be affected by the law of the UN on neutrality. Article 28 stresses that Turkmenistan respects a person’s fundamental rights and ensures all fundamental rights, including religious liberty.
Significance of the Neutrality Policy
The adoption of the neutrality policy by Turkmenistan has brought numerous opportunities in both economic and political aspects. Since the adoption, the country has established its relations with 134 states and is itself an active and full-time member of 44 international organizations, including UN organizations.
Turkmenistan has an active position in bringing peace by resolving conflicts among nations and establishing international relations procedures. Its army is minimal, just sufficient for sovereignty and territorial protection. Turkmenistan has enormous potential in energy and hence is considering taking steps to expand cooperation in the energy sector.
In 2007, Turkmenistan proposed an energy security initiative, which involved stable and reliable energy transit to the world market. Later, in May 2013, the UNGA accepted this proposal. The first meeting regarding stable and reliable energy transit to other countries was held in Ashgabat in December 2014.
Turkmenistan has also advanced its transport system through international cooperation, and this is one of the main priorities of President Gurbanguly. Through its neutrality policy, Turkmenistan has also attracted foreign investments by complying with international standards and adopting world economics systems. Countries look up to Turkmenistan as an example for their foreign policy tools.
Neutral Turkmenistan is a hope that the world will be free from all the conflicts one day. Turkmenistan’s popularity is growing exponentially; in 2019, another resolution was passed in the UNGA, which accepted Turkmenistan’s proposal to declare the year 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Confidence. The strict application of this policy is a reflection of honesty towards the UN’s policies and the principles of peace.
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