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President of Turkmenistan took part in fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit

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Today, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, at the invitation of Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, took part digitally in the Fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit (APWS).

The agenda of the forum included aspects of the implementation of the recommendations of the Yangon Declaration, adopted at the third APWS, aimed at achieving the SDGs, as well as various issues related to water resources.

Water diplomacy, designated today as a priority in the foreign policy of many states, including Turkmenistan, and considered as a political and diplomatic form of multilateral cooperation, opens up opportunities for a systemic dialogue on issues related to the formation and restoration of water sources, their reasonable and rational consumption. It is this approach that serves as a reliable basis for the coordinated activities of the world community, including countries of the Asia-Pacific region, to develop an effective mechanism in order to achieve international goals and objectives in this strategically important area, listed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The fact that President Serdar Berdimuhamedov was invited to take part in this Summit is a clear confirmation of the high authority of the Turkmen state, which makes a significant contribution to the common efforts to establish an interested partnership in solving the problems of conservation and rational use of water resources and directly related issues of ensuring environmental security and climate change.

By ratifying the fundamental UN environmental agreements, including Conventions on Biological Diversity, on Protection of the Ozone Layer, on Combat against Desertification, on Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, on Protection of the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, The Paris Agreement on climate change, Turkmenistan strictly complies with its obligations. Together with the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Global Environment Facility, the European Union and other authoritative structures, dozens of programs and projects are being implemented at the national and regional levels.

At the same time, in recent years, Turkmenistan has come up with a number of specific initiatives at the sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, at the Rio+20 World Summit and other important forums, including the III UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Sendai (Japan) and VII World Water Forum, held in Daegu (Republic of Korea). At the same time, the Turkmen side focuses on the importance of combining and complementarity of global, regional and national instruments for achieving sustainable development goals, where water and environmental factors are one of the primary criteria. Confirmation of the relevance and timeliness of all these proposals is their broad support from the world community.

...At the beginning of the ceremony, the organizers of the Summit and representatives of the host country addressed the audience.

Then high-ranking guests addressed the forum participants with welcoming speeches.

Addressing the Prime Minister of Japan and the heads of state of the region, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov first of all thanked Mr. Fumio Kishida, the Government of Japan and the Asia-Pacific Water Forum for the invitation to take part in this Summit and the conditions created for its successful holding.

As the head of Turkmenistan emphasized, the Asia-Pacific region today acts as one of the most powerful poles of global development and progress. Accordingly, great responsibility falls on the states of this region in their approaches to the problem of conservation and use of the planet's water resources as an integral element of ensuring overall international stability and security based on multilateral consideration of interests, a reasonable balance and minimization of damage in the implementation of national and regional socio-economic projects and programs.

Expressing his conviction that an unconditional commitment to the principle of equal and fair access to water resources, recognizing it as a fundamental human right should remain to be the main condition for joint activities in this direction, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov said that, in our understanding, it is precisely ensuring the right to access to water and responsibility for this must become the responsibility of all States. This is especially important in the current conditions, when the coronavirus pandemic has caused serious damage to the global economy, global food security, and has had a negative impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our country, the head of state continued, closely and consistently cooperates on water issues with the world community, primarily with the United Nations, on the basis of program documents that were adopted at the UN Conference "Rio + 20" in 2012, the VII World Water Forum in the city of Daegu, Republic of Korea, in 2015, the Dushanbe International High-Level Conference 2018 and other important forums.

The initiatives of Turkmenistan presented at them are extremely specific, “tied” to the real needs of people, the goals of regional development and interaction, including proposals to develop a UN Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin and to single out the Aral Sea issue as a separate area of the Organization’s activities; on the development and adoption of the Central Asian Water Strategy; a new Program of Action to assist the countries of the Aral Sea Basin; implementation of the Regional Action Plan for Environmental Protection as a unified environmental program of the countries of Central Asia, a number of other measures.

An important tool for the implementation of international plans in the water sector for Central Asia, the President of Turkmenistan noted, is the Resolution of the UN General Assembly on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea”, developed by our state and adopted in co-authorship with 19 countries.

Our position is principled and consistent, the head of state said. Turkmenistan has stated and continues to state that water and energy problems should be solved: firstly, on the basis of universally recognized norms of international law; secondly, taking into account the interests of each country; thirdly, with the active participation of international organizations, primarily the United Nations, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov emphasized, expressing confidence that these principles can be universal and applicable, in general, in the approaches of the international community to water issues.

In continuation of his speech, the head of state spoke about the efforts made by Turkmenistan at the national level. In particular, we are talking about the Code of Turkmenistan “On Water” adopted in 2014, which is the basis of a comprehensive program for the development and application of science-based, most effective rules for the rational use of water resources, their conservation and restoration, protection from pollution, clogging and exhaustion. 

One of the largest national projects is the creation of a unique artificial lake “Altyn Asyr” in the Karakum Desert. The construction of this man-made reservoir, and in fact, the most complex hydraulic system, will provide an opportunity to successfully solve pressing environmental, economic and social issues, work effectively to ensure long-term environmental well-being both in Turkmenistan itself and in the entire region of Central Asia.

Implementing such large-scale undertakings, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov said, we proceed from the fact that effective international cooperation on water issues should be firmly based on the relevant criteria for work at the national level. These are complementary, inseparable processes. And here we look forward to closer and more effective cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, a broad exchange and use of accumulated experience.

Turkmenistan fully supports the goals and objectives put on the agenda of the current Summit, the head of state stressed, expressing confidence that the Declaration adopted as a result of it will become one of the platforms for subsequent purposeful and substantive international cooperation, determining its long-term guidelines, taking into account modern realities, developing innovative models and management strategies for coordinating national water use programs with regional and global development plans in this area.

At the end of his speech, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov wished fruitful work to all forum participants.

The speech of the head of Turkmenistan was heard with deep attention.

Thus, neutral Turkmenistan reaffirmed its commitment to the ongoing creative foreign policy aimed at building up fruitful cooperation in a bilateral and multilateral format, at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the regional and global dimensions, which is in the interests of general well-being and progress.