Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

13 June 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to press with President of Turkmenistan

Salam Aleikum.

I would like to first of all thank His Excellency President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the people of Turkmenistan for their warm welcome and hospitality.

I want to congratulate the President, the Government and the people of Turkmenistan for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly resolution recognizing and supporting the decision of Turkmenistan to adopt the status of “Permanent Neutrality.”

It is indeed an honour to visit Turkmenistan in this “Year of Neutrality and Peace.”

The President and I just concluded constructive discussions on a range of major national and regional issues. Most of the members of the Cabinet and Ministers also participated.

I welcome the continuing, productive cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Turkmenistan – including its hosting of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.

I am very pleased to be here during this vital year for sustainable development.  By the end of the year, we expect to have in place a new post-2015 development agenda with a set of Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs - and a meaningful, universal climate change agreement.

I congratulate the President on approving the National Climate Change Strategy, and welcome the intention of the Government to approve an action plan for a green economy.

Turkmenistan is also playing an important role in supporting the formulation of the global post-2015 development agenda.

I am encouraged by the Government’s initiative to establish an Office of the Ombudsman to protect and promote human rights in the country.

It is important that this institution, the Ombudsman, meets the Paris Principles that are internationally agreed standards on the status of national human rights institutions. The United Nations is ready to provide any possible assistance.

I welcome Turkmenistan’s commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.   Independent observers should be given access to places of detention and concerns regarding the detention of prisoners should also be addressed.

I also encourage the Government to extend standing invitations to all thematic special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council to further advance the dialogue on human rights concerns.

I welcome the adoption of the Law on Mass Media and legal regulation of the Internet and Internet services.  I urge the Government to implement these laws and move towards media pluralism, freedom of expression and access to information, including through social media.

In every corner of the world, a robust civil society is crucial for national development. I urge the Government to strengthen its partnership with the nascent civil society in Turkmenistan.

I also thank President Berdimuhamedov for his country’s humanitarian assistance, including to the people of Afghanistan and Nepal, and I was told by the President this morning [that the country will take in] more Afghan refugees who are fleeing from the conflict [in their country].

I want to recognize the President’s such compassionate leadership in addressing the challenge of stateless persons.

Turkmenistan is the first country in Central Asia to accede to the international convention dealing with this important issue.

We also discussed the situation in the broader region and exchanged views on various challenges facing Central Asia.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the government and people of Turkmenistan to advance the United Nations pillars of peace, development and human rights.

And I also congratulate the continuing economic development under the leadership of the President, and I wish all the best continuing progress and prosperity for the people of Turkmenistan in the future.

I hope that we work together under the strong partnership the United Nations and Turkmenistan, that we work together to make this world better for all where people can live with human dignity.

Sag bolung. Thank you very much.