NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NATO’s relations with Turkmenistan

Left to right: The Minister of Defence of Turkmenistan, Major General Yaylym Berdiyev, shaking hands with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Major General Yaylym Berdiyev, Minister of Defence of Turkmenistan, meets the Secretary General at NATO Headquarters

NATO’s relations with Turkmenistan should be viewed through the Partnership for Peace framework, which Turkmenistan joined in 1994. Turkmenistan adheres to a policy of permanent neutrality and does not offer any armed forces units or infrastructure for use in the context of NATO-led operations.

NATO and Turkmenistan actively cooperate in security-related, science and environmental issues and other areas. An Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP) lays out the programme of cooperation between NATO and Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan is expected to attend the meeting on the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, which is taking place in expanded format at the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012.

  • Framework for cooperation

    Regular political dialogue takes place within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). In addition, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, conducts high-level political dialogue with Turkmen authorities. The NATO Liaison Officer in Central Asia also visits Ashgabat regularly and reviews cooperation with the government.

    NATO and Turkmenistan are developing practical cooperation in a number of areas through the country’s Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP). Turkmenistan’s cooperation with NATO aims at introducing and familiarizing Turkmen personnel with NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) issues, as well as enhancing deepening cooperation in areas such as border control and security, civil emergency planning, and defence planning. Turkmenistan is also participating actively in the NATO-Russia Council pilot project on counter-narcotics training for Afghan and Central Asian personnel.

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    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.

    Public information

    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.

  • Evolution of relations

    NATO-Turkmenistan relations began in 1992, when the country joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, EAPC, in 1997). Relations further developed in 1994, when Turkmenistan joined the Partnership for Peace programme. Through this framework, cooperative initiatives have expanded to include a range of activities in which the aims of NATO and Turkmenistan coincide.

    Milestones
    1992 Turkmenistan joins the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.
    1994 Turkmenistan joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
    1995 Turkmenistan and NATO agree on the country's first Individual Partnership Programme (IPP).
    2002 Turkmenistan hosts regional PfP civil emergency planning courses.
    2003 Turkmenistan is connected to the Virtual Silk Highway.
    2007 The NATO Secretary General meets with the new Turkmen President at NATO Headquarters.
      Turkmenistan hosts a mobile training team of the NATO-Russia Council pilot project on counter-narcotics training for Afghan and Central Asian personnel.
    2008 Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov participates in the NATO Summit meeting in Bucharest.
    2009 Turkmenistan hosts a NATO seminar on civilian emergency planning in Ashgabat. 
    2010 Major General Yaylym Berdiyev, Minister of Defence of Turkmenistan, meets the Secretary General at NATO Headquarters.