Based on its policy of permanent neutrality, Turkmenistan does not offer any armed forces units or infrastructure in the context of NATO-led operations. However, Turkmenistan is prepared to contribute, on a case-by-case basis, to disaster relief, humanitarian and search and rescue operations.
Every year, officials from Turkmenistan’s armed forces participate in a range of courses provided by NATO and NATO member states. Topics covered include arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, the law of armed conflicts, courses aimed at familiarizing officers with combating terrorism techniques and illegal trafficking issues, border security and control, defence planning and budgeting, language training, medical services and other areas.
In the case of trafficking, in particular, Turkmenistan has worked with NATO to address several of these issues. Since 2006, Turkmenistan has sent numerous personnel to attend counter narcotics training sponsored by an initiative of the NATO-Russia Council.
Civil emergency planning
Civil emergency planning and disaster-relief coordination are key areas of cooperation. Turkmenistan is developing its civil response capacity for natural and man-made emergency situations in consultation with the Allies. It is also working to prepare Turkmenistan’s units to contribute to international disaster relief operations. This includes updating planning procedures and organization methods for rescue operations.
To assist Turkmenistan with its intention of establishing a Ministry of Emergency Situations, NATO held a seminar on civilian emergency planning in Ashgabat in 2009. Personnel from the Civil Defence Department of the Turkmen Ministry of Defence and national civil emergency planning experts attended the seminar, which covered basic principles of disaster management and civil emergency planning.
Science and environment
Since its involvement with NATO’s science activities began in 1996, Turkmenistan scientists and experts have participated in over 30 activities. Additionally, under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Turkmenistan has received grant awards for over 8 cooperative projects for scientific, environmental and educational collaboration.
These collaborative projects include studies into radiological risks and the safe handling of radioactive waste in Central Asia, oil spill risk prevention and pollution in the South Caspian Sea and strategic management of sensitive natural resources.
Turkmenistan’s main priorities under the SPS Programme are defence against terrorism and countering security threats. To address these concerns, officials from Turkmenistan have previously participated in NATO funded projects, including an Advanced Training Course designed to teach the latest counter-terrorism methods and strategies in May 2010.
As part of a networking project, teachers from European institutes trained Turkmen from different institutions, via internet-based distance-learning technologies. A grant awarded in 2008 supported the expansion of the academic and educational internet communication system in Turkmenistan, including the connection of additional academic centres in Ashgabat and medical colleges in other regions of the country, as well as training Turkmen researchers in how to use the network.
Turkmenistan also participates in the Virtual Silk Highway project, which aims to improve internet access for academics and research communities in the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia through a satellite-based network.
NATO continues its information and outreach activities with Turkmenistan. In 2011, Turkmen parliamentarian and diplomatic officials visited NATO Headquarters for a series of information and discussion sessions on the current NATO's priorities, including its partnerships with Central Asian Republics.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Turkmenistan is the embassy of the United States.