Turkmenistan is a state with an international legal status of permanent neutrality on the basis of the country’s Constitution and the relevant special Resolution 50/80 of the UN General Assembly of December 12, 1995, which became the document first adopted in the practice of this most numerous and authoritative international organization. The adoption of the special resolution of the UN General Assembly was the recognition by the Community of nations of the peaceful foreign policy course of Turkmenistan, its stabilizing and constructive role in international affairs.
The foreign policy of positive neutrality of Turkmenistan, realized from the very beginning of the country’s independence, has thus acquired an international legal status that is unique both in the history of diplomacy and in the history of neutrality, one of the tested institutions in the system of international relations. On the example of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan, the world community witnessed the emergence of a qualitatively new model in the practice of international relations. Turkmenistan offered the world the concept of peaceful and stable coexistence and development in a complex region of Central Asia.
The UN Secretary General in his congratulatory message on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s accession to the UN in 2015 noted that during these two decades the independent Turkmen state closely cooperated on such key issues as energy, transport, the environment and the fight against terrorism and extremism, also supported stabilization in Afghanistan. Recognized in 1995 by the UN General Assembly, Turkmenistan’s neutrality contributed to peace and security in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region. Expressing gratitude to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for hosting the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia in Ashgabat, UN Secretary General emphasized that Turkmenistan continues to achieve success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The unprecedented nature of Turkmenistan’s neutrality lays both in the practice of realizing the country’s foreign policy proper, and in the international legal status. As is known, in the history of international relations and diplomacy the neutrality of states is based on the so-called “right to war”, which means the circumstances and contradictions of the period of the war. Moreover, the initiative of neutrality of any state, as a rule, did not come primarily from him, but from a group of countries that are among themselves in a military conflict. When the balance of power was violated, the very idea of neutrality was brought to nothing. In particular, the Hague Conventions of October 18, 1907 stipulate the neutrality of states in the period of the war, their rights and obligations vis-à-vis the belligerent countries.
However, as regards the obligations of neutral states in peacetime, they are not covered by international legal regulation. In this case, we are talking about constantly neutral states, which must adhere to their status not only in military, but also in peacetime. That is why the task was to work out a single international legal convention that would define the rights and obligations of permanently neutral states in peacetime, as well as the obligations of other countries towards them.
The Turkmen model of neutrality has become a new phenomenon in international legal practice and radically changed the ideas that existed so far about this institution. First of all, it proceeds from the premise that modern international law is the right of peace. This model can become the basis of a new concept of cooperation and the achievement of regional peace.
This international legal form of consolidating the policy of neutrality of Turkmenistan at the UN level gives it greater stability and strength and guarantees neutrality on the part of the countries of the world community. This, in essence, is about the international guarantees of neutrality of Turkmenistan, which consist in the observance by all members of the UN of their obligations and in the unity of their actions to preserve and strengthen the country’s neutral status. Proceeding from this, the important circumstance that this status cannot be changed or cancelled unilaterally follows, without the consent of all the UN members.
Turkmenistan’s initiative and constructive position today is becoming an increasingly visible factor in international life. The proposals of the President of Turkmenistan in the sphere of disarmament, energy security, environmental protection and ecology, on pre-empting and neutralizing conflict situations in Central Asia, and the initiation of major international economic projects reflect the philosophy of peace and cooperation in the country’s foreign policy, has a positive impact on the character and the content of interstate relations in the region and beyond, creates a real basis for the search for areas of joint application of forces on reasonable principles of multilateralism her benefits, the balance of interests, the compatibility of different points of view.
It should be clearly understood that the initial principle of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy strategy remains unchanged, the essence of which lies in the fundamental provisions of the international legal status of Turkmenistan’s neutrality and the obligations and approaches to international policy issues arising from this status. They include: non-interference in external conflicts, non-participation in multilateral military, political and other structures having supranational character, adherence to peaceful, politico-diplomatic solution of interstate contradictions, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, peacefulness and good-neighbourliness.
2017 marks the 22th anniversary of recognition by the international community of the legal status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution and first time in the history of the international relations the member states of UN will celebrate International Day of Neutrality on 12 December 2017.
The resolution declaring 12 December as the International Day of Neutrality was initiated by Turkmenistan and on 2 February 2017 Resolution titled “International Day of Neutrality” was adopted at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The document states that the national policy of neutrality helps to promote peace and security regionally and globally and plays a significant role in developing peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relations. According to the resolution, the Assembly also proposes that the Secretary General continue to cooperate closely with the neutral states, with a view to implementing the principles of preventive diplomacy and utilizing them in the mediation activities.
The initiative to establish International Neutrality Day was launched by the President of Turkmenistan at the Ashgabat International Conference devoted to the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality in December 2015.
Furthermore, should be noted that on 17 November 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution “Role of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia” under the Agenda item 65 “Peace building and sustaining peace” of 72nd Session. The Draft Resolution was proposed by Turkmenistan and gained support of the UN member states, 57 of which acted as co-sponsors. Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia is a unique structure of the UN peace-making activity.
The Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia was established on 10 December 2007. Since then, the Centre has been providing Governments with a platform to discuss the most challenging regional issues including the management of common resources, transnational threats such as terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime.
Over 20 years of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan, as international political phenomenon, is a significant factor and effective system of international security in the region and the world, as well as quite effective foreign policy as a model for a successful and independent development of the state.
Embassy of Turkmenistan