Being committed to the policy of peacefulness, good neighborliness and broad international cooperation, Turkmenistan steadily follows the progressive strategy of President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, developing a productive dialogue both at the interstate level and in the format of authoritative international organizations. Once again, this was demonstrated by the past week, marked by a global event - held on August 15-16 in a hybrid format in the Avaza National Tourist Zone - International Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries, convened on the initiative of Turkmenistan under the auspices of the United Nations .
The global interest in the Caspian region is due to a number of important factors, among which strengthening of cooperation in the transport sector occupies a special place. In view of the fact that the Caspian is rapidly becoming one of the key centers of geopolitical and geo-economic processes, its significance goes far beyond its geographical boundaries. A large world-class transport and transit hub is being formed here, which includes sea, land and air routes.
On the eve of the Forum, exhibitions were organized at the Turkmen seaside, demonstrating progress in the transport complex and logistics, a wide range of modern services offered, and the potential for intensifying mutually beneficial cooperation.
Profile reviews were held at the International Airport of Turkmenbashi and the International Seaport of Turkmenbashi. The expositions were devoted to the achievements of the Motherland and foreign partners in the field of transport. In addition, foreign guests were given the opportunity to get acquainted with the exhibition, which tells about the rich cultural heritage and creative traditions of the Turkmen people, carefully preserved for centuries, and a concert of art masters was also held.
The fact that the Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries was held in Turkmenistan is evidence of the high authority of our Motherland on the world stage and the universal recognition of its constructive initiatives aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
A clear confirmation of this is the solid membership of the Forum, which brought together delegations from about 40 states and over 30 international organizations. The event was also attended by heads of UN agencies, authoritative international, regional and subregional organizations and financial structures, representatives of the private sector, non-governmental associations, scientific circles, from the Turkmen side - members of the Government, heads and representatives of a number of ministries and departments.
As is known, the idea of holding the Conference in our country was put forward by Turkmenistan and enshrined in the Resolution of the UN General Assembly adopted in 2021. The relevance of this proposal has been confirmed by time itself, since the transport sector is one of the key segments of the world economy and an integral factor in global sustainable development, directly affecting the stability and balance of world economic relations.
All meetings of the Forum were broadcast live on the United Nations web television channel in its four official languages - English, French, Spanish and Russian.
The agenda of the Conference included a wide range of topical issues - an analysis of the progress made by landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in the field of sustainable transport and related SDGs, determining in this context the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges. Key themes include the key role of transport in post-COVID-19 recovery and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The objectives of the Forum were to share knowledge, experience and innovative approaches/solutions to finance infrastructure in the post-pandemic period, ensure its sustainability and stability, identify recommendations and opportunities to improve the maintenance of transport infrastructure in LLDCs, expand international support in the field of transport and strengthen cooperation in this area for the benefit of LLDCs.
The beginning of the Forum was preceded by an electronic exhibition presented in the foyer of the Congress Center about the capabilities of the states of countries that do not have access to the sea, as well as about the achievements of the domestic transport and communication complex. Video exhibitors spoke about 32 LLDCs with a population of 533 million. The geographic location of these countries affects their economic ties with the rest of the world, which means that they cannot take full advantage of the benefits of global trade, such as investment financing, technology and services needed for the structural transformation of the economy. At the same time, the monitors provided data on promising projects that open wide avenues for international cooperation in the transport sector.
At the Conference, the importance of new initiatives voiced by President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who addressed its participants with a video message, was especially noted, in which Turkmenistan's readiness to intensify and expand its participation in the global transport dialogue was confirmed. Among them are proposals regarding the consideration of the issue of creating a special working group in the UN, which would purposefully defend the interests of LLDCs and carry out systematic activities with the relevant structures of the Community of Nations, as well as the development of a resolution of the UN General Assembly "On enhancing the role of landlocked developing countries in the development and strengthening of global transport cooperation”.
“Turkmenistan is convinced that the transport architecture of the 21st century is the architecture of an integration breakthrough, the connection of spaces, regions, industrial, resource, human potentials,” the head of state emphasized in his speech. “The future belongs to a combined transport communication system, with access to the largest international and regional sea, river, road, rail and air hubs, their optimal combination and the use of the advantages of each of them.”
Expressing confidence that the decisions and proposals made at the current Forum will form the basis for the preparation of the Third UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, scheduled for 2024, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov noted that together with partners and like-minded people, Turkmenistan will resolutely move towards achieving set goals.
A welcoming message to the participants of the Conference was sent by the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres. As noted, connectivity is critical to the future of all countries, especially LLDCs, in terms of lowering the cost of trade and improving access to global markets. At the same time, the emphasis was placed on the critical importance of transport in promoting the integration of economies and people, strengthening rural-urban connections and building resilience, as well as achieving the SDGs, further intensifying joint efforts and scaling up solutions, strengthening partnerships to cover infrastructure financing gaps, including investments in stable, sustainable transport systems.
As noted by the speakers, LLDCs need a reliable transport infrastructure and the development of efficient transit mechanisms for active participation in regional and global trade.
Among the five main ways to address these issues were the need to close gaps in the physical transport infrastructure to improve regional and international transport connectivity of LLDCs, improve the legal framework and institutional mechanisms for expanding transit, step up digitalization, promote environmentally friendly and efficient transport through policy development to support the transition, as well as recognizing that attracting funding from all possible sources is fundamental to achieving the first four goals.
The program of the second day of the Forum included side events: a meeting of the Coordinating Council on the creation of an international transport and transit corridor (based on the Ashgabat agreement) and a meeting of transport ministers in the format “Central Asia - the Middle East - Africa: opportunities for cooperation in the transport industry”.
During the Conference, a number of multilateral and bilateral documents were signed.
The results of the Forum's work were consolidated in the Final Statement, which highlights the importance of strengthening transport connectivity for the sustainable recovery of landlocked countries from the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the implementation of the Vienna Program of Action and achieving the SDGs. In this aspect, the significant role of transit traffic in connecting landlocked countries with international and regional markets is stated.
As noted in the document, the Conference calls on the world community to support activities to expand regional cooperation and coordination in the field of transport development to create an efficient transport system, which is a prerequisite for dynamic and sustainable economic growth and social development in landlocked countries.
Along with this, the priority vectors for combining efforts include the acceleration of digitalization to improve transit and trade facilitation, as well as for a sustainable and reliable recovery after COVID-19, stimulating investment activities.
It is emphasized that it is critical to build the capacity of LLDCs to mobilize the resources and services needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the transport sector, and to be prepared for them in the event of climate emergencies.
In the document, special emphasis is placed on the importance of continuing the Ashgabat process on sustainable transport, laid down as a result of the First Global Transport Conference, holding regular high-level international meetings, multilateral consultations, capacity building and organizing educational events within the framework of the above process.
It was noted that relevant work is currently underway to formalize the Final Statement adopted in Avaza as an official document of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, which will open on September 13 this year.
During the sessions “The accumulated experience and issues in achieving specific objectives of the transport interconnection of the Vienna Program of Action (VAP) and the Sustainable Development Goals”, as well as “Financing the transport sector to ensure sustainable development in the post-pandemic period - the main issues and solutions”, the relevance of the constructive initiatives put forward by Turkmenistan, aimed at enhancing fruitful partnerships in the transport sector in the regional and global dimensions, and developing its optimal forms, was emphasized. In this regard, a high assessment was given to the contribution of our country to strengthening a positive international dialogue in this area, the formation of a modern branched and safe transport and transit infrastructure, which is the most important factor in geopolitics, a powerful integration resource that can provide great economic prospects for states and regions, promote the compatibility of their strategic interests.
As noted, the establishment of efficient transit transport systems is vital to bringing the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries into the world economy.
As part of the exchange of views, the delegates unanimously expressed the opinion that the current Forum will contribute to the harmonious development of transport systems, including road, rail, sea and air routes in the structure of transport and transit corridors, the formation of intermodal logistics centers to increase broad international cooperation in this area.
At the same time, it was stressed that the Conference is a good opportunity for landlocked developing countries, transit developing countries, as well as their development partners, including the private sector, to establish strong business contacts and draw much-needed attention to existing challenges.
On the sidelines of the Forum, bilateral meetings were also held, including between members of the Government of Turkmenistan and representatives of foreign states and international organizations, during which the possibilities of expanding cooperation were discussed, taking into account promising projects to create new transport corridors, designed to give a powerful impetus to the development of economic relations at the regional and global levels.
On August 17, the ceremony of launching the Pilot Project of the Global Transit Document was organized at the Berkarar Hotel of the Avaza National Tourist Zone.
The Global Transit Document (GTrD), which is a universal digital solution for the development of multimodal transportation, is the result of fruitful cooperation between the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission of the International Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) with the International Center for Transport Diplomacy, the Intergovernmental Council of Road Workers of the CIS, the largest with global developers of IT technologies, as well as with countries that have shown interest in the pilot application of GTrD.
In order to develop a single multimodal document aimed at facilitating international transit traffic as much as possible, a working group was previously created, which included representatives of state bodies, customs departments of the TRACECA member countries, as well as observers, including the beneficiary of the TRACECA program - Turkmenistan and TRACECA partner is an international organization UNESCAP. Since 2020, active refinement and preparation of the final version of the GTrD Concept has been carried out, and since 2022, joint work has begun on the preparation of pilot transportation.
Speaking via live video link to the participants of the event, the Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission of the Intergovernmental Commission for the International Transport Corridor "Europe-Caucasus-Asia" (TRACECA) A. Asavbaev noted that the implementation of the Global Transit Document will be a significant contribution to the digitalization of world supply chains within the framework of the Ashgabat process.
The implementation of the digital concept of the international transport corridor will create a regional digital system that combines various modes of transport. This is of particular importance given that most of the TRACECA member countries, primarily the states of Central Asia, have no access to the sea.
The launch ceremony of the Pilot Project of the Global Transit Document was also attended by the Executive Secretary of the International Center for Transport Diplomacy I. Runov, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Council of Road Workers of the Commonwealth of Independent States B. Karimov, as well as representatives of the countries of the region - Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The speakers emphasized that at the turn of the third decade of the 21st century, economic realities and trends in the development of the world economy created an obvious need for the development and implementation of a unified Global Transit Document in order to optimize the management of the transport process along multimodal corridors connecting states of different regions and continents.
The implementation of the Global Transit Document will lead to improved conditions for multimodal transportation, international trade and business, and will also contribute to a wide range of socio-economic and commercial benefits for all stakeholders, including increased tax revenues to national budgets.
Stressing that the digitalization of transport is a powerful integration resource that can provide great economic and political benefits to the states of the region, uniting their strategic interests, the project participants expressed their unanimous willingness to develop within a month a Plan of practical steps for the implementation of the Pilot Project of the Global Transit Document in 2022-2024, designed to promote further economic and social development of Central Asia and the Eurasian region as a whole.
At the end of the official launch ceremony of the Global Transit Document Pilot Project, its participants adopted a Joint Statement, in which they confirmed the readiness of the parties for further cooperation in promoting the proposal to create a global digital transit network at various levels, as well as within the United Nations.
The results of the Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries and the events dedicated to it were announced on August 17 at a briefing at the Berkarar Hotel of the Avaza National Tourist Zone, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was attended by members of the Government, the Chairman of the Mejlis Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan, heads of ministries and departments, as well as representatives of the Mejlis and the Halk Maslakhaty Milli Gengesh, public organizations, and the media.
As noted, consistently implementing the foreign policy course based on the principles of peacefulness, positive neutrality and constructive international cooperation, Turkmenistan takes an active position in consolidating efforts to develop solutions to urgent tasks related to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, where a significant role is assigned to the transport sector. In this direction, our country initiates and, together with foreign partners, implements large projects to form an extensive multimodal transit, transport and logistics infrastructure on a regional and transcontinental scale.
In this context, the practical importance of the Conference as an open dialogue platform for discussing and exchanging views on priority issues of this topic, developing balanced approaches and recommendations in relation to them, based on modern realities and challenges, including post-pandemic recovery, mitigation of consequences and adaptation to changes, was emphasized. climate, determining the key vectors of interaction with a view to the future.
The undeniable importance and relevance of this Forum is clearly evidenced by both the solid composition of its participants and the high interest from foreign media, which promptly and in detail covered in the press, posted on Internet portals and aired materials dedicated to this event.
The Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries held in the Avaza National Tourist Zone with the support of the President of Turkmenistan, has become an effective contribution to strengthening and building up constructive regional and global cooperation in the field of sustainable transport in the name of world peace, prosperity and progress.
The significance of this important event was dedicated to a briefing organized on August 19 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Heads and representatives of diplomatic missions and missions of international organizations accredited in our country, as well as national and foreign media were invited to the meeting.
During the briefing, gratitude was expressed to all states and international organizations whose delegations took an active part in the work of the Conference. As noted, constructive proposals, promising ideas and recommendations made from its rostrum will create the basis for further joint activities to implement the global sustainable transport agenda and consolidate efforts to develop a reliable interregional transport infrastructure.
The main partner in organizing the Forum was the Office of the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. In this regard, sincere gratitude was addressed to colleagues from the United Nations, including the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, for the well-coordinated and fruitful work in preparing and holding this important event.
During the briefing, special emphasis was placed on the initiatives put forward by President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who delivered a video message to the Conference participants.
As the speakers noted, the importance and relevance of the Forum, held at NTZ Avaza, can hardly be overestimated, since dynamic socio-economic development in the national, regional and global dimensions requires the improvement and diversification of transport and logistics infrastructure.
On August 20, Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty Milli Gengesh Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Chairwoman of the Mejlis Milli Gengesh G. Mammedova took part in the opening ceremony of a new complex of buildings of the Economic Department of the military and law enforcement agencies of Turkmenistan under the State Border Service of Turkmenistan.
This event was another evidence of the steps taken at the state level to strengthen the material and technical base of the Armed Forces, including the Border Troops of Turkmenistan, equip them with the latest generation of special equipment, create proper conditions for the service and life of military personnel.
Thus, the events of the past week have become another confirmation of the systematic and successful implementation of the large-scale goals of the foreign and domestic policy of President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, designed to ensure progress in all spheres of the country's life, its confident integration into the world coordinate system.