The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan held the briefing dedicated to the outcomes of the Summit of the Heads of the State � Founders of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea chaired by the President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Avaza National tourist zone on August 24. Representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in our country, foreign and national mass media have been invited to the meeting.
It was mentioned at the briefing that the Summit, which was hosted by Turkmenistan as the chairing country of the IFAS, became remarkable event in the life of the region and every state of Central Asia. As is known, the last high-level meeting of five states was held in Kazakhstan in April 2009. It was more than 9 years since then and many issues, which were generated for this period related to the situation in the Aral region and far beyond its borders, required detailed discussion on high government level.
In this regard, it was highlighted that Turkmen side has approached the organisation of the Summit with full responsibility. Back in 2016, when it was decided to entrust the chairing of the Fund to Turkmenistan, the Government of our country has developed the draft of relevant Concept in close cooperation with the Governments of Central Asia states. The presentation of this document, which was officially agreed with all parties, took place in Ashgabat in September of the same year.
Prior the start of fulfilment of this mission, International session with the participation of the UN Development Programme, the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia, the World Bank, German International Cooperation Society, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and other structures has been organized by Turkmen side for discussion of practical measures aimed at the realization of the Concept and other relevant subjects.
The IFAS Executive Committee has started its work in Ashgabat in 2017. It has permanent staff of water management and ecology specialists from Central Asia states.
Sessions of the Fund's Board, its Interstate Water Management Coordination Commission (IWMCC) and Interstate Sustainable Development Commission (ISDC) have been held under the chairing of Turkmenistan in 2017 � 2018. By the way, some of these structures, especially the IFAS Board, did not have the meetings for 7 � 8 years. In addition, International Central Asian Ecological Forum has been organized by Turkmenistan in 2017.
Undoubtedly, such activation of work of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea and that great attention paid by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to the improvement of the role of this organization supported the enhancement of the efficiency of decisions and became important stage in preparation of the Summit, elaboration of its agenda and final document. Relative working meetings, consultations and talks between the representatives and experts of Central Asian countries and the IFAS have been organized for this purposes.
The 74th session of the IWMCC has been held in Avaza National tourist zone on August 22. It reviewed the number of profile subjects and discussed the Draft Intergovernmental Agreement on Information and Analytical Provision of Integrated Management, sue and Protection of Water Resources of the Aral Sea basin and Organization of Interstate Exchange of Information.
Working session of the ISDC has been held on the same day. The participants of the session reviewed the course of development of the Regional Programme of Environment Protection for Sustainable Development of Central Asia. The IFAS Board meeting has been held on August 23.
All these preparation events made frim foundation for comprehensive and constructive exchange of opinions on the issues of Aral Sea during the high-level meeting chaired by the Head of Turkmen state Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
It was mentioned in this context that joint activities of Central Asian countries for improvement of ecological situation and integrated use of water resources of the Aral basin in the condition of climate change, further improvement of the partnership for solution of water, ecological, social and economic issues and cooperation with international organizations were the subjects of detailed and discussion during the Summit.
The fact that the leaders of five countries confirmed the commitment to the decisions taken earlier and integrated management and rational use of water resources and environment protection of the Aral basin taking into account the interest of all sides on the principles of good neighbourliness and respect was the main outcome of high-level meeting. The President highlighted the necessity of further development and improvement of equal and beneficial cooperation in the spirit of centuries � old friendship of the nations united by deep historical roots, similarity of the culture, traditions and customs.
Such approach has demonstrated again high level of understanding and intent to closer consolidation of the efforts of all Central Asian states for mitigation of the consequences of the Aral crisis. In particular, the importance of development of the Programme of the Aral Sea Basin (PASB 4) has been stated. At the same time, the opportunity of joining of the states of the region to the Framework Convention on Environment Protection for Sustainable Development in Central Asia from November 22, 2006 has been discussed.
The Heads of the State had the same opinion that the activity of the IFAS, which observes its 25th anniversary this year, requires further improvement. It comprehensively meet one of key objectives outlined by Turkmenistan in the Concept of the chairing of the Fund.
Special emphasis has been laid on the initiative of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on separate direction in the activity of the United Nations under the name of the UN Special Programme of Aral Sea during the briefing. Giving this proposal in his speech at the Sustainable Development Conference (RIO+20) in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, Turkmen leader highlighted that the problem of Aral Sea has gone beyond the region and gained global character. In this regard, Turkmenistan expressed the gratitude to the United Nations, its structures, specialized institutions and agencies for understanding and support of this idea.
Under preparation to the Aral Summit, Turkmen side has developed the Draft Concept of the above-mentioned UN Special Programme, brought it out to the review of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy and sent the document to all Central Asian states. Today, total understanding of all sides involved in drafting of the Special Programme and necessity to continue this work can be stated.
It was informed that the heads of the state requested the IFAS Executive Committee to hold relevant consultation with the countries in the region, the UN members, the UN itself and its structures. The fulfilment of these assignments is to start soon. It will be implemented first based on the documents that make firm international legal foundation of the cooperation between the IFAS and the UN.
It includes the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Observer status of the IFAS in the general assembly from December 2018, the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea Executive Committee signed in Ashgabat in 210, the United Nations Resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea adopted on April 12, 2018 by the initiative of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
At the same time, it was highlighted that Turkmen side sees the UN Special Programme for Aral Sea as the component of the complex of measures aimed at the achievement of the sustainable development goals. It is worth mentioning that this is the subject of sustainable development became the man leitmotif of the speeches of the heads of the states at the forum in Avaza.
As is known, the President of Turkmenistan gave the number of certain examples demonstrating large-scale work carried out by our country for solution of the Aral problem in the context of sustainable development in his speech at the Summit. These are the Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake in Karakum Desert, implementation of National Green Belt Programme, construction of drinking water plants and seawater desalination facilities, health protection of people, solution of social, economic and other issues.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said about another important initiative of our country at the Summit of the Heads of the State � founder of the IFAS, having reminded that Turkmenistan suggested to use the 'water diplomacy' as new form of multilateral diplomatic communication of water issues ate the VII World Water Summit in Tegu, South Korea in April, 2015. At present, this proposal acquires special reason, which is caused by the necessity of strict international rules based on the interests of all countries and needs of people. It will meet comprehensively recognized international principle, which meaning is that the water is common heritage of entire humankind, belongs to all people of the planet and equal and fair access to it is the fundamental right of people.
Following this, Turkmen side stands for the establishment of efficient international cooperation in water range of problems on regular base expressing the confidence that such cooperation has to be based on clear criteria of joint activity of all interested states. In this context, Turkmenistan relies on firm support and active participation of its old and reliable partners � international organizations, especially the UN, OSCE and European Union.
During the briefing, the floor was given to Special Representative of the UN Secretary � General for Central Asia, Head of the UN Regional Centre of Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalia Gherman who highlighted that the UN and the RCPDCA welcome and give high appraisal to the Summit of the Heads of State � Founders of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea in Avaza, which has confirmed key role of the IFAS as a platform for interstate cooperation in recovery after the Aral tragedy.
Success of the Summit has been achieved due to the efforts and coordination of Turkmen side chairing the Fund, painstaking preparation of this event, which was carried out on all levels with the participation of state � members and involvement of various organizations and structures including the UN> in this regard, Natalia Gherman has mentioned historical significance of this high-level meeting, which was held owing to personal involvement of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Joint Communique of the Council of the Heads of state � founders of the IFAS, which reflects common political will of the sides and confirming their willingness to continue constructive partnership and entering new levels, were important results of the Summit.
It was highlighted that the Regional Centre of Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia is long and reliable partner of the IFAS in water and ecological range of problems. The RCPDCA supports certain proposals of Turkmen side on systematic approach to regional cooperation based on legal mechanism that takes into account the interests of all countries of the region in integrated management of water resources as well as is willing to be actively involved in promotion of the 'water diplomacy' initiative.
Appropriateness of the idea of Turkmen leader about separation of the Aral problems to separate direction of work with the United Nations has been highlighted. It will enhance the improvement of long-term cooperation between the state � founders of the Fund and the UN.
Having confirmed the willingness of the Regional Centre to continue regular contacts with the IFAS and to provide further support under existing direction of cooperation, the Head of the RCPDCA expressed the confidence that the outcomes of the Summit and coordinated activity on their implementation would be very important for development of reginal cooperation.
Permanent UN Coordinator, Permanent UNDP Representative in Turkmenistan Elena Panova congratulated President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the Government of Turkmenistan on successful Summit of the Heads of the State � founders of the IFAS indicting the consistency of Turkmen side in realization of the objectives outlined in the Concept of the chairing of the Fund.
It was mentioned that friendly and trustful atmosphere inherent to this meeting became the guarantee of the achievement of constructive agreements between five Central Asian states, which was reflected afterwards in the Joint Communique.
Speaking of the timeliness of the Summit, Elena Panova highlighted the appropriateness of the initiatives of Turkmenistan on the development of the UN Special Programme for the Aral Sea basin, which is to provide integrated approach in solution of the problems of the Aral crises with wide participation of all interested parties and to serve as universal platform for efficient cooperation in this direction.
The UN Permanent Coordinator, the UNDP Permanent Representative has also welcomed the decision of the Summit on adoption of the Programme of the Aral Sea Basin (PASB 4) for consolidation of the efforts and potential of the states in the region and international community for solution of common priority water, ecological, social and economic issues of the Aral basin.
Having noted in her speech that President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlighted the importance of realization of global sustainable development goals in the context of Aral Sea problems and Central Asian in general, Elena Panova confirmed the willingness of the UN agencies, especially the UNDP, to cooperate with the IFAS, states of the regions, international organizations and all interested structures in the achievement of the sustainable development goals and solution of Aral problems.
Having expressed the gratitude for the opportunity to speak at the briefing dedicated to the outcomes of the Summit of the Heads of the State � Founders of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat Natalya Drozd highlighted that election of Turkmenistan as the chairing country of the IFAS is the evidence of high appraisal of the country's activity in provision of ecological security in the region.
It was mentioned in this context that Turkmenistan puts tireless efforts aimed at the creation and promotion of the platform for regional cooperation in environment protection and rational use of water resources in Central Asia.
Natalya Drozd highlighted the importance that the Head of the State makes special emphasis on the necessity of responsible approach of the countries in the region to realization of national programmes in this sphere. In this regards, successful implementation of big water management projects based on advanced practice of implementation of modern water saving technologies and relative programmes has been highlighted.
It was emphasized that being the chairing country of the IFAS, Turkmenistan makes active input to the expansion of the activity of the Fund and pays special attention to the development of systematic approach to solution of the issues of Aral Sea. The Summit of the Heads of the State � founders of the IFAS last week was important step toward the improvement of regional cooperation in this direction.
At the same time, the appropriateness and requirement of the initiatives of Turkmen leader on intensification of cooperation with leading international organizations including the OSCE as an important factor of recovery of the Aral crisis, which can no longer be considered as internal regional problem, has been noted.
Natalya Drozd confirmed that, understanding the importance of the IFAS activity, its coordination and strategic functions, the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat is planning to support to the development and implementation of the Programme of Aral Sea Basin (PASB 4) as well as is willing to activate versatile partnership in solution of the Aral Sea problems for provision of ecological security in Central Asia and beyond its borders.
The speech on behalf of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea made special mention that the Summit of the Heads of the State � founders of the IFAS and Joint Communique adopted by its outcomes has demonstrated firm commitment of the sides to equal and respectful cooperation in solution of the problem of Aral Sea, high responsibility and understanding of the community of goals and interest, understanding of the importance of the objectives.
Therefore, the Summit held under the chairing of the President of Turkmenistan with the participation of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic became remarkable historical event in the process of activation of cooperation in Central Asia in wide spectrum of directions of the partnership aimed at long-term perspective and specific results.
Source: Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper