1. During his visit to Turkmenistan on March 13 and 14, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu, together with Second Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Berdyniyaz Myatiev, held the 3rd Republic of Korea-Turkmenistan policy consultation and a dinner on March 13. The two senior diplomats took the opportunity to exchange a wide range of views on matters of mutual concern, including the way forward for the bilateral relations, ways to step up bilateral substantive cooperation, and ways that the ROK and Central Asia could work together.
2. The two sides noted with appreciation that since establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, the ROK and Turkmenistan had steadily advanced their mutually beneficial cooperative ties, as could be seen from the four bilateral summits; and that Korean enterprises were taking an active part in Turkmenistan’s industrial modernization and diversification efforts. On that note, they agreed to continue close cooperation in 2019 in political affairs, economy, culture and various other sectors.
° Deputy Minister Yoon, attaching significance to the 3rd bilateral policy consultation, which took place about four years after the second of its kind in 2015, in terms of the efforts to institutionalize consultative mechanisms between the two countries, voiced hope that the two countries would use the 12th Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum in 2019 and various other opportunities to continue high-level exchanges.
° Deputy Minister Myatiev noted that as could be seen from the Kiyanly gas-chemical plant construction project, which had been completed in October 2018, Korean companies were contributing to Turkmenistan’s efforts to implement its policy for the modernization of high value-added industries. He went on to suggest that going forward, the two countries broaden the scope of cooperation, which had used to be focused on energy plants, to include transportation, water resources, education and various other areas.
3. Deputy Minister Yoon explained that the ROK government’s “New Northern Policy” calls for achieving co-prosperity in Eurasia through enhanced connectivity in the region, adding that its goal was similar to the directions of the Turkmen government’s “strategy to become a transport hub in the region” and “industrial modernization and diversification” policy. On that note, he expressed hope that the ROK and Turkmenistan would continue working together to bring positive changes for peace and prosperity in Eurasia.
° The Deputy Minister voiced hope that as a way to promote connectivity in Eurasia, the ROK and Turkmenistan would work together in information and communications technology (ICT) and other areas related to the fourth industrial revolution as well as transportation, customs clearance affairs, and land management; and that in order to lay a more solid foundation for co-prosperity and cooperation, the two countries would explore the possibility of starting cooperation in building industrial capability by assisting the development of skilled workforce, healthcare and forestry, while continuing working together in energy, plants and other high value-added industries. He also proposed that in a bid to promote mutual understanding between their people, the two countries expand legal and institutional foundations and step up educational cooperation, including by setting up a King Sejong Institute and offering Korean language classes at middle and high schools in Turkmenistan.
° Deputy Minister Myatiev, welcoming the ROK government’s efforts to bolster cooperation with the Eurasian countries through its New Northern Policy, called the ROK policy similar in many aspects to Turkmenistan’s work to beef up regional and global connectivity. Relaying Turkmenistan’s hope that the ROK would share with the country its experiences and advanced technology, he suggested that the two countries seek out and conduct concrete cooperation projects in areas of great potential for bilateral cooperation.
4. Deputy Minister Yoon also met with Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of foreign affairs Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of oil and gas sphere Muratgeldi Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of transport and communications Mammethan Chakyyev, and Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of science, education, health, youth affairs and sports Purli Agamuradov, during which the two sides exchanged a wide range of views on how the two countries could work together in a mutually beneficial way.
° Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of foreign affairs Meredov, commending outstanding Korean companies for their contribution to the national development of Turkmenistan, suggested that, in order for the Korean companies to continue taking part in projects being planned by the Turkmen government, the two countries bolster legal and institutional foundations to resolve challenges posed to the operations of those Korean companies.
° Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of oil and gas sphere Meredov, calling the 7th meeting of the joint economic committee and the bilateral business forum held in Seoul on February 22 opportunities to review the progress in economic cooperation projects and to expand exchanges between entrepreneurs of the two countries, expressed hope for a faithful implementation of the cooperation projects discussed by the joint economic committee.
° Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of transport and communications Chakyyev, bringing attention to the successful operation of a number of Korean-made buses in Ashgabat, proposed further bolstering cooperation in constructing bus terminals and railways, and other transportation-related areas. He also suggested that the ROK and Turkmenistan seek out and conduct cooperation projects in such fields as textile, electronics and shipbuilding in order for the latter to learn from the former’s advanced technology and experiences in those areas.
° Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of science, education, health, youth affairs and sports Agamuradov, calling historical and cultural similarities between the two countries a basis for advances in their bilateral ties, brought attention to the growing interest in Turkmenistan in the Korean language, Taekwondo (traditional Korean martial arts), and other aspects of Korean culture. He went on to voice hope that groundwork would be laid for cooperation with the ROK, which has outstanding capabilities in such sectors as health and medical care, and for the achievement of co-prosperity.
5. The 3rd ROK-Turkmenistan policy consultation is seen to have served as an opportunity to review the progress in substantive cooperation in each area with Turkmenistan, the ROK’s major partner for its New Northern Policy; and to exchange an extensive range of views on how to advance the bilateral ties in a future-oriented way.
* unofficial translation