United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in the evening of 1 April 2010, on the first leg of a week-long tour of Central Asia.
The next morning, Friday, 2 April, the Secretary-General met with the Turkmen President, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. In a joint press conference with the President after their meeting, the Secretary-General said they held very constructive discussions on a range of regional and global issues. He noted that they had talked about Turkmenistan’s active support for the stable and reliable supply of energy and the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone, as well as the forthcoming conference in Ashgabat on Disarmament in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea Basin.
“On human rights, I am encouraged by the open discussion concerning the recommendations put forward by the Member States of the United Nations during the Universal Periodic Review in December 2008,” said the Secretary-General. He urged the Government to fully implement these recommendations and encouraged the President to promote the role of civil society in the country’s development and overall modernization.
The Secretary-General then visited the Mausoleum and the Spiritual Mosque of Turkmenbashy, guided by the Chief Mufti of Turkmenistan, Gurbanmyrat Hayitliyev, and the Governor of the region of Ahal Velayat, Dangmyrat Myratberdiyev.
The Secretary-General then visited the office of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), established in 2007. At a press conference, he noted that the Centre represented an important partnership between the United Nations and the region. “It constitutes an impressive commitment by each country to the search, through dialogue, for common approaches to shared challenges,” added the Secretary-General. He said the Centre had developed activities to promote mutually beneficial management of water resources, to fight transboundary crime, terrorism and drug trafficking, and to ensure the conditions for peaceful development and growth.
After a lunch hosted by the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Turkmenistan, Kim Chong Yul, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations country team and held a town hall meeting with staff in Turkmenistan.
Later that afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights, where the Director, Yazdursun Gurbannazarova, and the Turkmen Foreign Minister, Rashid Meredov, briefed on the Institute’s work. Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said he had encouraged the Turkmen Government to issue a standing invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on education and had received a “positive response” that this would be considered. Noting the reform efforts made by the President over the last three years, he added that he had encouraged him to do more and was given that assurance.
The Secretary-General then visited the Equestrian Complex of the President of Turkmenistan. He concluded his day by attending a dinner hosted by the President.
The Secretary-General left Ashgabat for Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the next morning, Saturday, 3 April.