Today, the International Conference at the level of ministers of transport of landlocked developing countries, organized by the Government of Turkmenistan under the auspices of the United Nations, on the theme “Ashgabat Process: Funding for Better Connectivity” has completed its work in the Avaza National Tourist Zone.
The event, which was held in a hybrid format, was attended by delegations from about 40 states and more than 30 international organizations, including UN agencies, authoritative, regional and sub-regional organizations and financial institutions, as well as representatives of analytic centers, the private sector, members of the Government, leaders and representatives of a number of ministries and sectoral departments of our country.
The importance and timeliness of convening the forum was confirmed in speeches delivered the day before by the conference delegates by videoconferencing and personally. The representative composition of the forum is another striking illustration of high respect for our country, recognition of its contribution to the process of global cooperation in the transport sector.
It should be noted that the guests were especially interested in the video message from President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, which emphasized the critical importance in the modern epoch of the issues related to development of transport and communications. At the same time, the head of Turkmen state drew attention of the representative meeting participants to the need for joining efforts, the focusing of all interested parties on achieving rapid and visible results.
President Serdar Berdimuhamedov has also put forward new international initiatives in this strategic sector for landlocked developing countries. These include setting up a special working group under the UN auspices, which would purposefully defend the interests of LLDCs and introduce this activity into the scope of work of the relevant UN agencies, the development of a UN General Assembly resolution on enhancing the role of landlocked developing countries in the strengthening of global transport cooperation.
Presentations delivered by high-level representatives of the United Nations agencies highlighted transport connectivity as a critical tool for achieving the priorities of the Vienna Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as an essential mechanism for the sustainable recovery of landlocked countries after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the morning, the “Berkarar” Hotel hosted a meeting of transport ministers under the title “Central Asia-Middle East-Africa: opportunities for cooperation in the transport sector”.
The topic discussed was the mechanisms for expanding partnerships between the countries located in these regions. Particular emphasis was on the importance of implementing major projects to create a modern transport infrastructure in order to provide transport connectivity in landlocked developing countries and transit states. Underscoring the effective nature of this pattern, the participants spoke in favor of continuing the dialogue on a regular basis.
During the plenary sessions on the topics “Development of transport corridors, regional connectivity, integrated multimodal transport systems and the inextricable link between transport and trade”, “Perfect transit traffic and facilitation of trade procedures, as well as strengthening the digital system for a sustainable recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic”, “Reliable transportation, building up environmentally sustainable transport systems, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of its aftereffects - experience and advanced practices”, and “Transport and information sustainability, as well as strengthening cooperation for road safety”, the delegates expressed their deep appreciation to President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and the Government of Turkmenistan for the high organizational level of this important Conference.
According to the forum participants, the relevance and urgency of the proposals made by the head of Turkmen state is obvious, since the transport sector, being one of the key segments of the global economy, has a direct effect on the stability and balance of world economic relations, and plays a significant role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
The consistent, active and proactive policy of Turkmenistan in this area, broadly supported by the UN, is yielding positive results. In this regard, special attention was paid to the constructive efforts of Turkmenistan in this field, including the ongoing large-scale projects initiated by our country, which are of great importance for the development of transport systems on the continent.
As was highlighted during the exchange of views, today there is a growing awareness around the world of the need to consolidate efforts to address global issues in the transport sector. The world community, demonstrating the high readiness for productive cooperation, supports the work of the United Nations in this area. At the same time, a new concept is gaining recognition in a coordinated global international activity such as the transport diplomacy, which is an effective form of multifaceted ties in this sector.
Among the practical tools proposed by the United Nations, which can be used by countries to more effectively restore transport connectivity in the region and around the world, ratification by all states of the UN transport conventions for better harmonization of transport rules, standards and transit procedures, as well as implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs to achieve transport connectivity in the region, resilient to any future challenges.
The current forum agenda includes a wide range of specific areas related to the role of the transport sector in modern development of the world.
Emphasizing the practical significance of the Conference, its participants highly appreciated the contribution of Turkmenistan to strengthening mutually beneficial international cooperation in the transport and communications sector, the creation of a proper combined infrastructure that meets the present-day requirements, and is a powerful integration resource that can provide real economic prospects for states and regions, and promote the compatibility of their strategic interests.
During the plenary sessions, some other topics were also considered such as the current state of air, road, rail and sea transport, the prospects for development of this segment of the world economy, the possibility of attracting investment in sectoral infrastructure, the introduction of innovations, and the main aspects of environmental preservation and security.
The forum delegates expressed confidence that a professional discussion of the state of affairs in the transport sector in developing landlocked countries, determining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges in this context will contribute to a better understanding of common objective interests, rapprochement of positions, development of innovative schemes and models of partnership and joint action.
A meeting of the Coordinating Council for the creation of an international transport and transit corridor has also been held today. Representatives of the states-parties to the Ashgabat Agreement, in particular, Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, discussed the implementation progress of previously reached agreements related to the routes of this transport and transit corridor.
A number of technical issues were also considered. Emphasizing the importance of enhancing the efficiency and role of the logistics centers of the states that signed the Ashgabat Agreement, the members of delegations exchanged views on the opportunities for increasing cooperation between the logistics centers of all countries.
Based on the meeting outcomes, the Memorandum of Understanding of the 2nd meeting of the Coordinating Council on the creation of an international transport and transit corridor was adopted.
A number of documents were also signed within the framework of the Conference. These were the Agreement between the Government of Turkmenistan and the Government of the Republic of Moldova on international transport communications; the Memorandum of Understanding between the Transport and Communications Agency under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation; and the Memorandum of Understanding between the “Türkmendeňizderýaýollary” Agency of the Transport and Communications Agency under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan and the Maritime Transport Agency of Georgia.
At the forum site, meetings were also held between representatives of our country and members of foreign delegations, during which they discussed the possibilities for further development of productive cooperation, the opportunities for participation of interested parties in the implementation of projects to create new transport and logistics routes.
At the end of the forum, the Final Statement of the International Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries was adopted.
During the final session, the results of work carried out by the forum delegates over two days were summed up.
The emphasis in the document was also on the importance of continuing the Ashgabat process on sustainable transport, launched following the First Global Transport Conference, holding relevant multilateral consultations, capacity building and educational activities as part of the Ashgabat process.
Collen Vixen Kelapile, the Chairman of the Global Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Botswana to the United Nations, who spoke then, pointed out with satisfaction that during the forum a thorough exchange of views took place on topical issues related to development of the transport sector, as well as on recommendations for improving transport connectivity to increase the trade potential of landlocked countries in the post-pandemic period.
As was emphasized, the Conference confirmed that well-functioning sustainable transport systems can revolutionize the economic and sustainable development of LLDCs. Speaking about the importance of the practical implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action, Mr. Collen Vixen Kelapile drew attention to the importance of support from the international community to the landlocked countries in the implementation of their priorities.
In turn, Ms. Rabab Fatima, the UN Under-Secretary-General and the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, noted that in view of various global crises we are facing, the landlocked countries need support to ensure the sustainability of the transport system, including investments in an appropriate infrastructure, promoting digitalization, managing border procedures and measures, as well as stepping up the implementation of the program on the facilitation of procedures in the WTO and the promotion of transit.
At the same time, emphasis was placed on the importance of expanding resources aimed at developing sufficiently sustainable, inclusive and accessible transport for national needs and properly responding to climate change, providing technical support for the implementation of infrastructure and transport development projects.
Thus, the International Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries that was successfully held in the Avaza National Tourist Zone on the initiative of the Government of Turkmenistan and under the auspices of the United Nations, became an event of historical significance.
The representative composition of the forum, a wide range of issues discussed, the proposed initiatives and practical steps, as well as recommendations, clearly demonstrated the commonality of approaches and goals aimed at strengthening international cooperation in the field of sustainable transport for peace, development and progress.
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During the second day of the forum, an exhibition was organized that displayed the rich cultural heritage and creative traditions of the Turkmen people, carefully preserved over the centuries. Foreign guests were shown a unique collection that reflected the development of decorative and applied arts. Products made by the hands of our skilled craftswomen, namely, their original nature, expressive national specificity and excellent quality, attracted the attention of the conference delegates.
Visitors were fascinated by the unsurpassed beauty of the magnificent carpets, characterized by their originality, splendid colors, subtlety and silky shine. Exquisite jewelry created by the talent and inspiration of jewelers, such as necklaces, brooches, bracelets, rings and earrings, aroused great interest among the conference participants.
A concert of culture and art figures was also organized for the forum participants, the program of which included musical and folklore-ethnographic compositions, dances, lyrical folk songs and modern compositions glorifying the current epoch.