Ms Jacinta Barrins: The speech at the Elders’ Council Meeting in Avaza

Sep 14, 2015

Your Excellency the President of Turkmenistan, Respected Elders,  Deputy Chairmen of the Council of Ministers, Ambassadors, Representatives of International Organization, Ladies and Gentlemen, Citizens of Turkmenistan.

It is a great honour for me to speak at this Elders’ Council meeting, particularly this year.   I am pleased as I see this forum as the mechanism whereby you and the government reach out to the people of Turkmenistan, especially the elders, to solicit their contributions to the next year’s plan of development.  This is one of the mechanisms through which civil society is included in the decisions of the state, reflecting your vision that the state is for the people.  It is especially significant that this council is held in September as the UN General Assembly decided that the 15th of September each year be observed as the International Day of Democracy.  This year’s theme is ‘Space for Civil Society’.  So it is indeed fitting that this meeting is held close to the 15th of September. 

Your Excellency, I would like my speech today to focus on three key areas:

1.      The importance of this year, 2015

2.      The  elements of  the special relationship between the UN and Turkmenistan

3.      Some key examples of the achievements arising from the UN-Turkmenistan cooperation

AREA 1:            The Importance of this Year,  2015

The year 2015 is significant for Turkmenistan and for the UN and their relationship.  It is important for six key reasons:

1.   It is the year when the people of Turkmenistan are celebrating their 20 years of permanent neutrality.  This status has been recognized twice by the world community through the UN General Assembly Resolutions, 50/80A: ‘Permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan’ on the 12th of December 1995 which was reaffirmed on the 3rd of June 2015 (69/285).  I know that having permanent neutrality status means a great deal to you and the people of Turkmenistan.  It defines how you plan your national development and how you conduct your regional and international relationships.  I know that your neutrality law, articles 2 and 11, clearly outlines your role in promoting peace  and security built on friendly relations.

2.   This year is also important, because the United Nations is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its establishment.

3.   2015 is also the year that all member states of the UN will adopt, at the Summit to be held on 25th to 27th  of September 2015 in New York, the set of new 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) for the period 2016  to 2030, now that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are coming to an end in 2015.  These 17 goals will serve as a beacon against which all countries can measure their development progress.  Turkmenistan contributed to defining these SDGs by holding two rounds of country consultations involving government, mejlis and civil society, youth and children.  This year I know, Your Excellency that you have been invited by the UN Secretary General  to speak at this special Summit on SDGs in New York  at the end of September and I know you have accepted this offer.  It will be an important opportunity to share Turkmenistan’s experience and alignment with these SDGs

4.   This year 2015 is also special as we had a successful visit of the UN Secretary–General to Turkmenistan in June, revitalizing the strong relationship between your country and the UN

5.   2015 is also the year that the UN agencies, together with the government, have finalized the next 5 year Programme for Development, 2016-2020.  

6.   This is also the year that you, Your Excellency,  granted the UN agencies in Turkmenistan a new building.  On behalf of all the UN agencies, I wish to thank you for these new premises.

These are indeed 6 good reasons why 2015 is a special year.

AREA 2    Defining  the key elements of  UN-Turkmenistan relations

I should like, Your Excellency, to state  that the UN agencies  (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO,  UNODC, UNHCR)  and,  more recently, UN women, are proud to have been here in Turkmenistan since the early days of this country’s independence and to  have walked alongside your development path.  I should like to take this opportunity to share some key elements of this special relationship.  They are as follows:

1.      The signing and ratifying of UN conventions: Turkmenistan country has signed and ratified several  UN conventions relating to  human rights,  social and economic development, and the environment,  amongst others.  These conventions all have obligations attached to them.  The UN agencies have been pleased to work alongside the government in working towards implementing these commitments and in reporting on their progress as a responsible member state.

2.       Turkmenistan’s active role in the UN General Assembly:  Turkmenistan each year attends the UN General Assembly and presents its ideas on  how to make this world a more just place. It puts forward ideas on what can be done to create regional peace and security.  It has consistently proposed international initiatives for peace, security and global sustainable development.  These initiatives have included areas of disarmament, elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the establishment of a Regional Center on Climate Change Technologies,  the reliable and stable transiting of energy, the enhancement of the role of transport and transit corridors for international cooperation, as well as many others.

3.      Turkmenistan as a member of UN bodies  contributing to solving global issues

To date, Turkmenistan is a member of 10 UN bodies:

1.       The Executive Committee of UNHCR, the UN High Commission for Refugees

2.      The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

3.      UN Commission on Population and Development

4.      UN ECOSOC

5.      Executive Council of UNESCO

6.      UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development

7.      UN Commission for Social Development

8.      Board of Governors of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)

9.      Executive Board of UN Women

10.   The UN Economic Commission for Europe, as a vice-chair

4.                  Turkmenistan support for regional stability

Turkmenistan supported the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) in Ashgabat in 2007. This initiative is another example of the strong UN–Turkmenistan relationship and of your desire to build friendly neighbourly relations.

5.                   Turkmenistan’s celebration of UN days

 I should like express my appreciation for Turkmenistan’s acknowledgement of many UN designated days,  such as International Health Day (7th April), International Women’s Day (8th March), International Nowruz Day (21st March), World No-Tobacco Day (31st May), Road Traffic Safety Week ( in April),   World Environment Day (5th June), International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking  (26th June), World Statistics Day (20th October, every 5 years), to name but a few. 

6.    Participation in and support of UN high level conferences:

Your Excellency, your participation in UN high level conferences, such as the Global Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, 2015 and the  World Water forum in South  Korea, 2015 is very much appreciated. Your attendance at these meetings demonstrates the importance you attach to these issues globally and nationally. 

 In addition Turkmenistan has been host to many international conferences at home on topics such as the reliable and stable transit of energy and its role in ensuring sustainable development (2009), on disarmament (2010), on Refugees in the Muslim World (2012), on transport and transit development in Central Asia and the Caspian region (2012), on non-communicable diseases (2012), on human trafficking (2013),  and on migration and statelessness (2014).

7.    Providing humanitarian aid

Turkmenistan has also collaborated with the UN in providing humanitarian assistance to other countries in need, including Haiti, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal amongst others.

These 7 elements amply demonstrate the nature of the continuing special relationship between the UN and Turkmenistan.

AREA3:   Some key examples of achievement arising from UN-Turkmenistan cooperation

Your excellency,  I would like to take this opportunity to share with you and acknowledge some  key achievements arising from UN-Government cooperation .

1.      The UN supported the review of the Social Security Code which expanded the social protection system so as to include more of the population.  It increased the size of the benefits and social allowances for people with disabilities, survivors and the elderly.

2.      The UN supported the process of Turkmenistan granting citizenship to over 20,000 stateless persons and refugees over the past 10 years.  These citizens now enjoy health care, political participation and freedom of movement. Turkmenistan acceded to both UN Statelessness Conventions, becoming the sole country in the region to be a Party to these Conventions.   

3.      The UN supported the Ministry of Health in developing its new national health policy.  It has been prepared through an extensive process of consultation.  The policy focuses on dealing with all of the threats to health across all sectors, and on developing holistic responses at both government and whole society levels.  I would also like to mention Turkmenistan’s success in tobacco control.  It has become a great example in the Region and in Europe.

4.       The UN supported the development of strategies on maternal, newborn children’s and adolescent health, the National Action Plan on gender equality and the Youth Policy.

5.      The UN supported the design of the Notionally Defined Contribution Pension System and the State Pension Fund.

6.       The UN collaborated in the development of the climate change strategy and the many environmental programs for the rational use of water and the conservations of energy in a move to a low carbon green economy .

7.      The UN is continuing its support to the important area of strengthening systems of data collection, analysis and in steps for greater dissemination of those data.

Your Excellency, it is indeed an honour to be able to recount and share  these key aspects of the UN – Turkmen relationship at this important Elders’ Council and to express my sincere appreciation for the value of this good relationship.

I would like to conclude by thanking you for promoting and supporting this strong relationship  between the UN and Turkmenistan. I should like to wish the people of Turkmenistan long life and good health.


Foot Note:

SDGs - Sustainable Development Goals: The 17 SDGs can be clustered into 6 key themes, dignity - to end poverty and inequality, people - to ensure healthy lives, knowledge and the  inclusion of women and children , planet - to protect our ecosystems for our children, prosperity - to grow a  strong inclusive transformative economy, justice - to promote safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions, and partnerships - to catalyze global solidarity for sustainable development.

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