GURBANGULY BERDIMUHAMEDOV, President of Turkmenistan, said the world was witnessing a proliferation of conflict prone areas and a decrease in trust and mutual understanding of global development. Under such circumstances, it is vital to ensure long-term security and every State has a responsibility for mankind’s destiny. The United Nations plays a main, decisive role in preserving the international order. “The validity of the mission of the United Nations cannot be cast in doubt,” he said, stressing that it is the only universal international organization designed to ensure multilateral cooperation aimed at strengthening international security and sustainable development. Proposing that 2019 be declared “A Year of Peace and Trust”, he said the initiative envisions specific steps on reducing tensions, peacefully resolving political disputes and adopting appropriate decisions.
The fight against terrorism is the most important issue on the Central Asian agenda, he stressed, noting that cooperation on disarmament, the fight against drug trafficking and economic support for Afghanistan were equally vital for ensuring security and sustainable development. Afghanistan should be a full-fledged partner in the implementation of energy, transport and communication projects, he said, as a strategy for guiding that country’s role in regional and global processes and guaranteeing the prosperity and well-being of the Afghan people. Turkmenistan is constructing a power supply line and a fibre-optic communications network as part of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas line project. A new railway towards Afghanistan has also been completed. Turkmenistan continues to provide humanitarian support to Afghanistan, including by building social facilities, sending aid convoys, and training qualified specialists in various economic and social sectors.
He recalled that Turkmenistan was among the first nations to adapt the Sustainable Development Goals into its national plans and social and economic development programmes, establishing a standing cooperation mechanism with the United Nations towards that end. Such plans and programmes focus on ensuring food security, improving nutrition, promoting healthy lifestyles, ensuring full gender equality and creating the conditions for comprehensive, equitable and high-quality education. Great attention is also given to ensuring the availability and rational use of water resources and sanitation for all.
Water is the common heritage of all the nations of the planet, he said, stressing: “equal and equitable access to clean drinking water is the fundamental right of human beings.” Socioeconomic development and quality of life directly depends on access to and effective use of water resources. Turkmenistan has always maintained that the resolution of water and energy issues in the region should be based on international law, the interests of each country and the active participation of international organizations, primarily the United Nations.
On saving the Aral Sea, he said it could no longer be considered solely an internal regional problem, but one that requires international assistance and a comprehensive approach. He called on Member States to support Turkmenistan’s initiative to set up a special United Nations programme for the Aral Sea basin and establish the Aral problem as a separate item for consideration. The General Assembly resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, adopted by consensus on 18 April, could serve as a good basis. The signing of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea on 12 August 2018 will transform the region into a strategic transit, transport and energy hub. Turkmenistan stands ready to meaningfully discuss project implementation with all interested parties, he said, stressing that investments in these projects is an investment in the future.