H.E. Mrs. Aksoltan ATAEVA,
Head of Delegation of Turkmenistan,

at the United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly
for an Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda

New York, 7 June 2001


Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me congratulate Mr. Holkeri for the election to the post of the President of the Special Session and express my belief that your experience and skills would greatly contribute to the holding this important event at the highest degree.

 Mr. President,

 Preparation and holding of this session underlines once again that interests of the people, creation of the necessary living conditions are always at the center of attention of the world community.

  Only 10 years ago a newly independent states have emerged on the ruins of the USSR. Each one of them have chosen its own way of development and strives to build its life in accordance with its national values and ideals which have also found understanding in the world that have declare the year 2001 as the "Year of the dialogue among civilization".

 Social problems that have accumulated for decades demanded immediate decisions because the fate of not only one State but also the directions of future global processes were dependent on them. Current level of globalization clearly demonstrates that unresolved social problems are fraught with undermining of the existing system of international security. This requires agreed cooperation of the international community where national experience of each state should be taken into account.

 We've come to independence with high mortality and disease rate, low healthcare level. Problems of living conditions were very acute. Having huge natural recourses our country at the same time did not have industrial infrastructure and was in complete food dependency. This is why the priority of social development was supported by all population after declaring independence.

Creation of the most favorable conditions for the sustainable development of society is not possible without firm legal basis, protection of rights and liberties of citizens. "Right to development is a measure of fulfillment of all other human rights. We should strive to achieve the situation when each person has ability to fully increase ones potential and make contribution to the development of society in general"- noted Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan. Basic social rights of people are secured in the Constitution of our country and commitments of Turkmenistan before international community, reflected in the special "Declaration on international commitments of neutral Turkmenistan in the sphere of human rights".

 Turkmenistan confidently transferred its development on the tracks of market economy that allowed in 10 years ensuring dynamic, onward development of economy, to achieve transformations in all spheres of life.

 During the years of independence new branches of industry such as textile, oil and gas, food were created, energy capacity of the country was strengthened.

 Deep transformation in the agricultural sector have allowed to gain high harvests of wheat, cotton, rice, to start production of new crops ensuring full food security of the population.

 During the first stages of implementation of reform the social assistance for the population was rendered in terms of grants, subsidies and in kind. As the economy stabilized and real income of the population had grown the system of the social assistance has become more specifically oriented i.e. aimed at supporting the neediest people.

 In accordance with the "Strategy of the socio-economic transformation in Turkmenistan for the period until 2010" almost half of the State budget goes for the social needs. Education, medical assistance is rendered free of charge. Thanks to the measures initiated by the Head of State the people of Turkmenistan take advantage of the exclusive privileges - receive free of charge gas, water, electricity, salt, also flour for the fixed low price, pay symbolic price for public utility services. This huge social support of the population has allowed safeguarding against social explosions during the transition period and ensuring stable development of the economy.

 Protection of the interests of the population envisages creation of the appropriate living conditions, provision with safe water, protection of the environment, giving wide possibilities for education, work and healthcare. It is these issues that are at the center of attention of the President of Turkmenistan who has approved special programs for these purposes. Consequences of urbanization are different for each particular country and Turkmenistan coming from its urgent problems has identified the policy of improvement of the cities as a priority. Program for the improvement of human settlements includes such important aspects as construction of living houses and socially and culturally oriented establishments, reconstruction of existing and construction of the new water, gas, electricity, road and highway networks, planting trees and gardens on the territories where people live in extreme conditions of dry hot climate in the close vicinity of the big Garagum desert. Full gasification of the country was completed which allowed the population to use ecologically clean fuel in their everyday activities.

 Thousands of new improved flats with higher level of comfortness, living complexes with all necessary domestic services, new medical centers equipped with the modern technological tools, parks, gardens, fountains, new hotels, perfect communication facilities were built - all of this have significantly improved the lives of people. Only in the year 2001 667 thousand square meters of living facilities are planned to be built. In accordance with the  "Green belt" program 5 million trees have been planted which have positively influenced the climate of the human settlements. Many industrial buildings that could be of ecological threat have been moved far from the settlements lines including those like cement producing plant.

 Study of the level of life of the population conducted by the Government of Turkmenistan jointly with an American research institute (PTI) has clearly demonstrated high level of provision of the population with accomodation. 97% of people living in the rural settlements have separate flats or houses, in the cities 96% (18.4 square meters per person in the villages, 16 square meters per person in the cities).

 Enormous positive role have played the cooperation with the UNDP with whose assistance a joint program on "Development of public utilities in Turkmenistan" is being successfully implemented. This program includes scientific approach and analysis of the situation, creation of geoinformation systems, water supply, collection and utilization of the waste, planting trees in the cities, hot water supply, preservation of living facilities and work with the people in these directions.

 Health and tourist industry has acquired a new life with the construction of  several complexes on the Turkmen shore of the Caspian Sea, which is deservedly considered to be one of the ecologically cleanest and beautiful places.

 According the statistical data the population of the country as of May 1, 2001 amount to 5 million 410 thousand people. Out of them 44.9% live in the cities and 55.1% in the rural area. 98% of the population has education and the studies have noted that the level of education is directly proportional to the level of income and the economic status of the households. Per capita income increases annually. Growth of GNP in 2000 has reached high level  - 17.6%/

 Despite the fact that Turkmenistan is a country with the complex demographic situation where problem of job placement were one of the most acute one, today thanks to the sustainable development of the country, creation of new working places, development of private businesses, especially in the rural area the level of unemployment is one of the lowest.

 Labor resources at the end of the year 2010 will increase by 1.7 times and will constitute 4.5 million people.  Projected rate of economic development as well as envisaged for that period measures suggest creation in the country of more that 1.5 million new working places which would ensure practically full employment of the population and the share of the unemployed population in the year 2010 would not exceed 2 percent of labor resources.

 More than a half of Turkmenistan's population is comprised of women and in this connection their participation the socio-economic processes that have direct impact on the life of the population is extremely important. 98% of women have education, among those 41.4% the highest. The fact that 26% of the Parliament of Turkmenistan consists of women is a proof of active involvement of women, they are also widely represented in all socio-economic spheres of activity of the State. State system of healthcare practically fully financed from the country's budget provides for realization of the most of the programs including all aspects of women's health. They are - the State "Health" program, the program of protection of maternity and childhood, joint programs with UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA directed first of all at the propaganda of healthy way of life, prevention of diseases.

 Average life expectancy in Turkmenistan in 2000 has increased up to 68.3 years against 64.7% in 1995. Child and woman mortality has decreased in comparison with 1994 to 21.3% and 35.2% correspondingly. Share of male population equals to 49.7%, women - 50.3%. In the composition of the population the share of young work capable age people comprises 40.3%, working - 53.6%, over the working age - 6/1%. Improvement of demographic situation in the country was made possible thanks to the economic growth, social and inter-ethnic stability.

 On behalf of the Government of Turkmenistan let me express gratitude to the United Nations, its Secretariat and specialized agencies - UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and others - that play an important role in the scientific, technical and practical assistance in implementation of many national programs in the framework of the "Strategy of socio-economic transformations of Turkmenistan for the period until 2010".

 Our goal is to make Turkmenistan a flourishing country, to turn it into a reliable home for each person. At the core of all State programs of independent Turkmenistan is the aim of achieving sustained growth of the peoples well-being, providing for  their rights. To achieve these goals we are open for the close international cooperation.

 Thank you.