EU in process of planning co-op with Turkmenistan for 2021-2027 (INTERVIEW)

Business Materials 2 June 2021 09:48 (UTC +04:00)
EU in process of planning co-op with Turkmenistan for 2021-2027 (INTERVIEW)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 2

By Jeila Aliyeva - Trend:

The EU is in the process of planning cooperation with Turkmenistan for 2021-2027, EU Ambassador to Turkmenistan Diego Ruiz Alonso told Trend.

“At the moment, we are conducting consultations with the partners and various interested groups” said the ambassador.

"The EU plans are yet to be finalized, but, generally speaking, the EU plans to focus on promotion of green aspects of economy as a precondition for meeting the objectives of the National Development Plan, achieving relevant SDGs objectives, and creating job opportunities and fostering inclusive growth," he said.

“A second aspect of the new cooperation would be development of the private sector and rural development. Private sector and rural development are key drivers of trade facilitation,” noted the ambassador.

He added, that strengthening civil society, protection and development of vulnerable groups (youth, women, minorities…) and promotion of human rights and freedoms are also parts of EU’s bilateral agenda.

He added that EU contributed to the development of the robust private sector in Turkmenistan.

He said, that earlier, the EU-funded "Support to Further Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Turkmenistan – SARD" project, which has greatly contributed to the development of the robust private sector.

"Private sector is of key importance for fostering growth and providing jobs and opportunities to people. This is especially true in the case of remote, rural regions," he noted, adding that it is now time to put more efforts into the improvement of the regulatory environment, strengthen transparency and fair competition, address economic downsides and ease access to the global and regional markets.

"In this regard, the EU has several ongoing regional projects aiming to improve the business environment, ensure rule of law and boost export potential of the local business. Namely, I talk about the EU-funded "Ready4Trade Central Asia" project implemented by the ITC and the Promoting transparency and action against economic crime" (CA TAEC)," added the ambassador.

Ready4Trade Central Asia contributes to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region.

The project also facilitated the establishment of an online trade facilitation portal (TFP) and strengthened the capacities of national experts to effectively operate the TFP, pointed out the ambassador.

In 2020, a review of the new Foreign Trade Strategy of Turkmenistan for 2021-2030 was conducted in line with Turkmenistan's request for technical assistance for WTO accession.

"That would be a long process and will require a big transformation and reform of the Turkmen market and regulatory landscape in order to harmonize it with WTO rules and practices," concluded the ambassador.

Despite coronavirus COVID-19, the EU, made sure that the ongoing projects with Turkmenistan meet the set tasks.

The ambassador also brought an example: EU-funded project has recently launched a master level course at the Academy of the Civil Service of Turkmenistan.

“Before the global pandemic, we planned to have trainers coming to Turkmenistan for personal interaction, piloting the master level course and giving lectures to the students of the Academy. However, with the COVID-19 spreading around the globe, we had to be careful. So our project staff and a team of the Academy switched to the distance learning mode, moving all the curricular and the classes online,” he said.

He noted, that the EU Strategy for Central Asia looks at the region as a whole.

"Economies in the region are complementary. The EU wants to support development and prosperity in Central Asia through regional projects," he said.

“There are bilateral projects for Turkmenistan and the rest of Central Asia countries and there is also the possibility to jointly participate in initiatives that we consider that are better dealt with in a regional format. Climate change, trade facilitation or security and only some examples to understand that on some occasions it is more efficient to confront challenges at supranational levels,” he added.

The ambassador noted that the EU would like to see in Central Asia an integrated space.

Talking about EU’s partnership with Turkmenistan from 2016 through 2020, the ambassador noted that the EU and its national partners have implemented several bilateral projects, including the support to education system, strengthening the capacity of the Civil Service Academy, agricultural project (SARD III) and several regional projects, including BOMCA (on borders), or CADP (on drugs).

“The EU has invested dozens of millions of euro in promotion of educational opportunities and civil service reform, sustainable agriculture that meets the European standards, prevents the climate change and ensures high quality of the products. The EU supports development of small and medium enterprises (through EBRD) and there is an ERASMUS+ office in Ashgabat, promoting educational opportunities for all,” added the ambassador.

“The EU strategy for Central Asia considers regional integration a fundamental objective and in that sense we have designed different regional projects that are also interesting for Turkmenistan,” he noted.

The ambassador pointed out that Turkmenistan is already participating in some ongoing projects and the sides are now discussing ways of cooperation in new initiatives like "Ready for Trade" or "Law Enforcement in Central Asia".

“Also we are working together with the national partners on promotion of economic opportunities for business, strengthening export potential, improving investment climate and combating economic crimes. There is a very important regional project on countering violent extremism (STRIVE ASIA). Moreover, the EU has included Turkmenistan in his response to fight the spread of COVID19 (CCRCA program). However, I would say that the most important single event of that period is the opening of a full fledge Delegation of the EU in Turkmenistan. That put our bilateral relation in a different and higher level,” concluded the ambassador.


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