The Summit of the Heads of state-founders of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea takes place in Avaza

The Congress Centre of Avaza National tourist zone hosted the Summit of the Heads of State-founder of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea with the participation of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov who is currently on the state visit in Turkmenistan, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to Avaza for participation in high-level meeting hosted by our country as the chairing country of the IFAS.

High-rank guests have been traditionally welcomed with flowers and bread and salt according to old tradition in Turkmenbashy International Airport decorated with the State Flags of the countries – participants of the Summit.

74th session of the Interstate Coordination Water Management Commission (ICWC), working session of the Interstate Sustainable Development Commission (ISDC) of the IFAS and the session of the Board of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea were held in Avaza National tourist zone before the Summit on August 22 – 23. Their agenda included wide spectrum of subjects related to priority directions of multilateral cooperation.

Before the Summit, the President of Turkmenistan has greeted each of his foreign colleagues – the participants of the Forum, in the hall of the Avaza Congress Centre.

After traditional photographing ceremony on the background of the official banner of the Summit, the Heads of State-founders of the IFAS went to Small Session Hall where five-sided high-level meeting in the narrow format took place.

Opening the Summit, the President of Turkmenistan expressed the gratitude to the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for their attention to current meeting of the council of the Heads of state-founders of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea.

Turkmen leader mentioned that coming extended meeting would touch upon wide spectrum of subjects of the Aral range of issues. Narrow format meeting gives the opportunity to exchange the views on the most important and topical subjects of regional agenda.

Being the chairing country of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea, Turkmenistan would put further efforts for coordination of joint work under the IFAS. The Head of the State said that starting from 2017, we had the Fund Board, its Interstate Coordination Water Management Commission and the Interstate Sustainable Development Commission sessions.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov continued that during the preparation to current Summit, large work for development of final document of current meeting has been made. Elaboration of such conceptual documents as the Concept of the Action Programmes for support of the countries of the Aral Sea basin (the forth phase) and the Concept of Special Programme of the United Nations for the countries of the Aral Sea basin has been actively carried out.

At the same time, the President focused on the issues of further improvement of the Fund’s activity, which is one of the main objectives of the Chairing Concept of Turkmenistan. Therefore, the Head of the State noted, we would like to hear the opinion of our colleagues on this subject.

As is known, few years ago, Turkmen side proposed the idea on systematic approach to regional partnership, having presented its conceptual vision of this problem. In this case, the main idea lays within accurately built steadfast work for reviewing the subjects related to the cooperation in the region.

First, as it proposed before, we think it is necessary to hold expert level sessions for reviewing the subjects, which can be brought up at high-level meetings as the first step during the preparation to regional Summits, the Head of the State noted.

Second, it was suggested to hold ministerial meetings for summing up of the outcomes of the expert work and definition of the most priority points of the agenda of regional cooperation as well shall it would be reasonable, for the elaboration of the package of necessary documents for the Summit of the heads of the state.

Third, based on the outcomes of ministerial session, prepared agenda and with the availability of five-sided documents, it is worth to hold the Summit of the Head of the States.

Shall such practice would recommend itself from positive side, it would be possible to think of the formation of such institution as the Consultative Council of the Heads of Central Asia states in the future. The above-mentioned concept has been proposed by Turkmen side and we expect for its review with the gratitude, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.

In the end of the speech, Turkmen leader made special mention that it would be possible to invite the heads of competent international organizations like the UN, OSCE and CIS under such systematic approach.

After, the President of Turkmenistan gave floor to his foreign colleagues – the Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan, which also highlighted the importance of interstate cooperation in the IFAS format in their speeches, having spoken for the support of the initiatives of Turkmen leader on further development of constructive regional cooperation in its key directions.

During the discussion of the subjects of the agenda of the Summit, the proposals of the sides on consolidation of the partnership on the platform of the IFAS in different spheres have been made.

Having expressed sincere gratitude to high-rank guests for constructive and trustful meeting, owing to which good start for the continuation of the session in extended composition has been given, Turkmen leader wished productive work and success to all.

After, the Summit has been continued in Big Session Hall in extended composition with the participation of the delegations of the state founders of the IFAS.

Having again warmly greeted the Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan in Avaza National tourist zone in Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov expressed the gratitude to everyone for the accepted invitation to take part in the work of the Summit of the Heads of the state founders of the IFAS. Turkmen leader highlighted that this is the evidence of respect of our country and the expression of sincere desire to make an input to the improvement of ecological, social, economic and humanitarian situation in the Aral Sea basin.

The Head of Turkmenistan noted that current Summit is logical continuation of many years of cooperation between the countries of Central Asia on the Aral range of issues. Certain initial outcomes of performed work have to be summed up during the Summit. Objective assessment of such work has to be given, new specific directions of five-sided cooperation and forms of partnership of the IFAS, especially with the United Nations have to be outlined and the number of topical subjects related to the improvement of the Fund activity has to be discussed.

Having expressed the confidence that current meeting would be another evidence of common determination to achieve visual results in solution of the Aral problems, Turkmen leader congratulated the participants of the Summit on the beginning of its work.

The importance of the Forum is that it is the demonstration of high level of solidarity of Central Asia states, consolidation of joint efforts in solution of the most urgent issues of the region. It has special significance in this period when our countries realize the complex of political and diplomatic measures aimed at the improvement of interstate cooperation. In this context, current Summit would be another important stage in the process of activation of the partnership between our states in broad spectrum of directions, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlighted.

During previous periods, the chairing of the IFAS was carried out by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Many things were done for this period for activation of the work of the fund and the measures for the improvement of the partnership with international organizations were taken. Speaking of this, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov expressed the chairing countries for their work.

However, the time goes by and the Aral problem today causes the necessity of new approaches meeting modern requirements, Turkmen leader continued. Turkmenistan was following this concept, having undertaken the chairing of the Fund in 2017 – 2019. We developed the Concept of the chairing, which details the main directions of work inclduign for rational use and management of water resources, natural protection, climate change and improvement of ecological situation in Central Asia.

In this regards, Ashgabat hosted the sessions of the IFAS Board, its Interstate Coordination Water Management Commission and the Interstate Sustainable Development Commission in 2017 – 2018. The IFAS Executive Committee carries out its activity on permanent basis. Central Asian International Forum was held in Turkmenistan in February this year.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that the Concept of the Programme of Assistance to the countries of the Aral Sea basin (the forth phase) has been developed with the involvement of national experts of the state – founders and international partners. Work on improvement of the Regional Action Plan for Environment Protection of Central Asia is carried out these days under the Fund. Being responsible for the coordination of work of the IFAS, Turkmenistan put all efforts for acceleration of the process of joining of the countries of the region to the Framework Convention on environment protection for sustainable development in Central Asia.

Turkmen leader highlighted that is obvious that the protection of Aral Sea cannot longer be considered as internal regional problem. It requires the support of the world community, new focused and integrated international approach, active and regular participation of the United Nations in this work for its successful solution. In this regard, Turkmenistan proposed the elaboration of separate activity of the UN at the Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), having called it as the UN Special Programme for Aral Sea, which would include specific plans for stabilization and improvement of the situation in Aral Sea basin.

Activation of the cooperation between the IFAS and the United Nations for the achievement of sustainable development goals in Aral region is the main objective of the above-mentioned Programme. This is the UN Special Programme for Aral Sea that would be able to be the platform for the development of multilateral UN documents on the problems of inland water bodies. As for today, the Concept of such Programme has been already elaborated, the Head of the State note, and taking this opportunity having urged the United Nations and Central Asia countries to support the proposal of Turkmen side and to start its practical realization.

Continuing the subject, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov focused on another Turkmenistan initiative. Turkmen side said about the necessity of the promotion of water diplomacy as new form of multilateral diplomatic communication on water issues at the VII World Forum in Tegu (the Republic of Korea). This is what our country sees as the opportunity of systematic dialog aimed at the reviewing of all problems related to the protection of water resources and their rational and wise use.

This proposal of Turkmenistan gains special urgency nowadays. The President stated that systematic mechanisms of international cooperation aimed at the risk minimization are required today.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that Turkmenistan supports the initiative of the United Nations on the recognition of the access to water as the fundamental right of human. Such approach is based on common right for use of water resources and responsibility for their efficient management.

At the same time, the Head of the State made special mention that creation of legal mechanism considering the interests of all countries in the region in integrated management of water resources, especially taking into account the problems of the climate change and reduction of water resources, is one of the most important subjects in Central Asia.

Having expressed the confidence in the necessity to review the subject about new legal mechanism containing the main principles of cooperation of the countries of the Aral region in the management of water resources, the President confirmed the willingness of Turkmenistan to close and constructive cooperation with all countries of the region.

Addressing the participants of the Summit and having reminded that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea was drafted and adopted by the initiative of our country, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov expressed the gratitude to the heads of the states for support of this document.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov continued that Turkmenistan has always stand for the review and solution of water and ecological issues in Central Asia based on universal standards of international law, taking into account the interests of all countries in the region and with the participation of international organizations, accepting that regional consensus is the only acceptable form for efficient interstate cooperation in this matter.

At the same time, the establishment of international cooperation in water and ecological range of issues has to rest on relevant working criteria on national level.

In this regard, realizing national plans in different spheres, our country relate them to ecological component of the sustainable development goals, in particular with the optimization of use of water resources. Rational water use is the most important aspect of the policy of Turkmenistan, which in its turn, is closely related to the protection of ecological prosperity and natural protection and is an integral factor of global sustainable development. The country has huge experience in introduction of modern water saving technologies in irrigated farming, construction and operation of water facilities. Successful implementation of large-scale hydro-technical projects supports efficient development of agricultural sector, growth of grain, cotton and other agricultural crops production volumes, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted.

After, the opening of the first phase of Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake, the collectors diverting drainage and used waters from oases were unified into single hydro system. This is very interesting system, which is available for inspection. Today, after few years, the water was purified until acceptable standards in the result of natural biological processes. Plantation and great number of birds and fish has appeared there. The Head of the State highlighted that construction of such artificial water reserve, which is very complicated hydro-technical system, gives the opportunity to solve topical ecological, economic and social issues.

In the context of solution of the Aral Problems, the activity aimed at the combating of desertification, improvement of soil conditions is very important. For these purposes, our country has developed and implements the complex of measures including large-scale activity for tree planting, the Head of the State said. For example, 90 million trees has been planted in Turkmenistan for the last twenty years under National Green Belt Programme.

In general, construction of number of hydro-technical facilities has been completed in the country for 25 years of work of the Fund. Number of natural protection, ecological and other events aimed at the solution of the Aral problems has been held.

Finishing his speech, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov assured all state – founders of the IFAS in invariable commitment of Turkmenistan to noble goals of saving of Aral Sea and willingness to further joint work on the improvement of ecological, social, economic and humanitarian situation in the Aral basin, close regional and international cooperation in this direction.

After, Turkmen leader gave floor to President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Having highlighted the symbolism of the Summit in the year of the 25th anniversary of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea, the Head of friendly state noted that work aimed at the solution of complicated social and economic, water management and ecological problems of the Aral basin and Aral region has been carried out from the first day of the functioning of this important regional organization. having noted that transboundary water resources of Central Asia are common heritage and benefit of the nations in the region, Kazakh leader stated that all countries are actively searching for the solutions and generating rational ideas and specific projects.

The Head of the Republic of Kazakhstan highlighted that current meeting wold give new impulse to the process of regional cooperation in the subjects of use of water resources and ecology. It was mentioned that new priorities and objectives, which solution is very important for the provision of sustainable development and prosperity of Central Asia, have been outlined at the Summit. In this regard, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that Kazakhstan has always been and remains to be steadfast and reliable partner in regional cooperation.

In his speech, Head of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov noted positive dynamics of regional cooperation that is getting stable character and highlighted that all countries would benefit from such cooperation and Central Asia would be one of the most stable and prosperous regions of the world.

Tajik leader noted the importance of the decision taken 25 years ago on the establishment of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea. It was highlighted that owing to coordinated efforts under the IFAS, the attention of the world community to the problems of the Aral basin has been attracted, cooperation with regional and international organizations, donating countries has been established and to send the finances for realization of the projects and programmes for solution of these problems.

Emomal Rahmon expressed the confidence in further successful development of interstate partnership for the achievement of set objectives.

In his speech, Uzbek leader highlighted that current session of the Heads of state – founders of the Fund, which is held almost after 10 years break, would open new page in the activity of the organization and would give strong impulse to regional partnership in Central Asia.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that we confirm again our firm willingness to cooperation today.

The Head of Uzbekistan highlighted that the IFAS is the only regional organization in this direction and is able to be efficient mechanism of cooperation between our countries.

Having expressed the confidence that the exchange of the visions that was held at the Summit would serve as good basis for definition of the targets of future joint activity under the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea and constructive proposal would be reflected in certain practical measures aimed at the consolidation of the cooperation between our countries, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov announced on the completion of the work of the Summit.

Joint Communique of the Council of the Heads of State – founders of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea has been adopted by the outcomes of the Summit.

After, the Presidents of Turkmenistan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan made the statements to the representatives of mass media.

Giving assessment to the outcomes of current session, it is necessary to mention that it was held in the atmosphere of understanding and transparency and had specific character, Turkmen leader said. Various aspects of the IFAS activity, directions and perspectives of further joint work on its improvement taking into account modern realities have been discussed in details.

Necessity of consolidation of cooperation between the IFAS and the United Nations, attachment of regular and long-term character to such cooperation have been highlighted during the Summit. after the adoption of the Resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea by the UN General Assembly on April 12 this year initiated by Turkmenistan, such cooperation is to receive specific content. Turkmenistan stands for all provisions of this documents would be accurately and timely realized, the Head of the State noted.

Importance of allocating of the Aral problems to separate direction of the UN work was mentioned in the context of cooperation of the IFAS with international structures. Turkmenistan made this proposal at the Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro (RIO+20) in June 2010. We have named it as the UN Special Programme for Aral Sea, which would incorporate specific plans for stabilization and improvement of the situation in the Aral basin, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.

We also stands for promotion of water diplomacy as new form of multilateral political and diplomatic communication in water subjects, the Head of Turkmenistan said.

In general, the Summit has demonstrated that our states aims firmly at joint equality and respectful cooperation in solution of the Aral problem and in all spectrum of ecological range of issues in the region, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.

Having expressed the Presidents of the state – founders of the IFAS for active participation in the meeting, the Head of Turkmenistan also expressed the gratitude to the experts, specialists and diplomats of all countries who contributed to successful worj of current Summit.

Highlighting the outcomes of high-level meeting, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed deep gratitude to his Turkmen colleague for the invitation, hospitality and excellent organization of the Summit.

Having highlighted that the meeting was the turning point in the Aral issues, President Nursultan Nazarbayev focused on wide scales of the Aral crisis, which is the biggest ecological catastrophe in the history of humankind.

During the meeting, the sides have agreed on the improvement of the work of the Fund. Constructive proposals aimed at the recovery of the consequences of the crisis, improvement of ecology in the Aral basin based on scientific and integrated approach, efficient implementation of water saving technologies, rational use of water and energy resources, which was also reflected in Joint Communique, have been made.

The State – founders of the IFAS are close neighbours, which have single understanding and single mentality. It stipulates the necessity to bring the level of economic cooperation on higher level for the sake of our nations, for which the sides take appropriate measures, the Leader of Kazakhstan said.

Sooronbay Jeenbekov noted that the Kyrgyz Republic stands for the consolidation of political dialog and beneficial cooperation in Central Asia and fulfil relevant agreements on water and energy relations.

The position of Kyrgyzstan in the improvement of the IFAS work has been given in details, high-rank guest continued, having expressed the confidence that the agreements achieved during narrow format meeting would be successfully realized.

“ I think that improvement of the efficiency of the Fund and its structures activity taking into account the interests and requirements of Central Asia states is our common objective for saving of Aral Sea”, – President Sooronbay Jeenbekov said.

Addressing the representatives of mass media, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan noted that current session of the International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea was dedicated to the discussion of the complex of subjects related to the solution of the problems of Central Asia countries.

Our states clearly understand their responsibility to the future generations for the protection of the ecosystem of the region, Tajik Leader highlighted, having focused on big objectives of the Fund, which solution requires constructive cooperation, close coordination of the efforts of all sides and international partners.

Tajikistan is always open for the dialog and beneficial regional cooperation in all directions of the Fund’s activity, President Emomali Rahmon said.

Constructive positions of the sides in regional water management and ecological issues ae encouraging, Tajik leader said, having highlighted that rational use of water and energy and other natural resources are the key factor for the achievement of sustainable development in Central Asia.

President Emomali Rahmon outlined the necessity to intensify joint cooperation in such directions as adaptation to climate changes and reduction of the risks related to natural disasters among priority objectives. Special emphasis has been laid on the tendency of the population growth in the region, which would lead to the growth of requirements in water resources. This is the fundamental factor for developing of any plans and programmes on water provision of our countries.

In his turn, speaking of the outcomes of five-sided high-level meeting, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan addressed the President of Turkmenistan with sincere gratitude for historical Summit, which is also visual example of new approach of Central Asian countries to the objectives of the region.

Uzbek leader said that detailed and trustful conversation was held at narrow and extended format sessions and the agreement on starting of practical implementation has been reached.

The Aral range of problems requires well-thought decisions. Speaking of this and having highlighted that the presence of the same opinion and intent to meet more often of the sides, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted consolidating and coordinating role of Turkmenistan, chairing the IFAS, and personal role of Turkmen leader in further development of interstate cooperation and practical implementation of the proposals made at the Summit.

After the completion of the programme of the Summit, the Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan left Turkmenbashy.

After, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov left for Ashgabat where he was met by the officials at the International Airport of the capital.