The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
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Opportunities for improvement of AfghanistanTurkmenistan relations

Afghanistan’s relations with neighboring countries and the region, especially with Turkmenistan, are of special importance, because the major part of the relations between the two countries is economic and commercial relations. Although Afghanistan does not have a long-standing official relationship with Turkmenistan, because the latter gained its independence from the former Soviet Union after 1991 as an independent political entity. However, long-standing historical, religious and cultural ties between the people of the two countries provide the possibilities of expanding and consolidating relations in various dimensions albeit with new content. Turkmenistan is one of the important countries rich in natural resources in Central Asia and has a foreign policy of “positive neutrality”. After independence, the country adopted a policy of neutrality, which was approved by the United Nations in 1995. Afghanistan’s relations with Turkmenistan from 1991 to 2001 were limited to diplomatic and political relations due to the civil war in Afghanistan and the short life of the governments, but the relations between these two coun tries expanded to include various dimensions after 2001. The incident of September 11, 2001, which caused the fall of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, at the same time caused profound political changes unprecedented in the history of Afghanistan. The government of Turkmenistan, led by the then president of that country, Safar Murad Niyazov did not have much desire for the presence of the U.S. in the region, but was prepared to send aid via air and ground after the U.S. attack on Afghanistan although it had adopted a policy of neutrality in its foreign policy since 1995. In the past 20 years, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan also had good relations as both countries worked for the implementation of the TAPI project. “TAPI” project was one of the biggest projects that passes through Afghanistan and was already signed between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With India’s entry, this project became one of the most important economic projects for Afghanistan and the region. But due to insecurity, this project was left unfinished. Since the Islamic Emirate (IEA) takeover in mid-August 2021, relations between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan has been good. Officials of Turkmenistan government have had meetings with Afghanistan government after the victory of the Islamic Emirate (IEA). The highest Turkmen official was Rashid Muradov, the Foreign Minister of the country, who met with the high-ranking officials of the Islamic Emirate, including Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, the acting Prime Minister, and Maulawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Kabul regarding the TAPI project about two months after the victory of the Islamic Emirate, and also discussed security issues. “TAPI” gas transmission project was opened in Herat province in 2016, but the work in this regard has not started until now due to security problems in Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate has assured Turkmenistan that it will ensure the security of this project and solve other problems in this regard. Besides this, the electricity transmission project from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, which also passes through Afghanistan, is one of the issues that bring the Islamic Emirate closer to Turkmenistan. Using this line, Turkmenistan exports about 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Pakistan. With the implementation of this project, Afghanistan will benefit from its electricity in addition to the right of transit. After the victory of the IEA in Afghanistan in August 2021, Turkmenistan has provided humanitarian aid worth 1.2 million US dollars to Afghanistan, which can be seen as a sign of the improvement of relations between this country and the Islamic Emirate. It is understood from the basic lines of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy that this country wants friendship and cooperation with all countries of the world based on the principle of non-interference in other people’s affairs. On the other hand, the foreign policy of this country is based on positive neutrality. These two features open the door to Turkmenistan’s relations with other countries, especially neighboring countries. Afghanistan is considered important for Turkmenistan; the prosperity and security of Afghanistan has a significant impact on the country of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan needs the geography of Afghanistan to ensure economic and trade relations with South Asian countries. The Islamic Emirate believes that the Afghan government regulates its foreign policy on the basis of maintaining independence, national interests, territorial integrity, noninterference, good neighborliness and mutual respect, and does not allow anyone or any group to abuse the territory of Afghanistan and the address of this country. On the other hand, the Islamic Emirate is trying to establish its foreign policy with all the countries of the world, and in the first step with the countries of the region and the Islamic countries. Afghanistan has always supported Turkmenistan’s policy of neutrality and has been interested in political-diplomatic relations. The Islamic Emirate makes extra efforts to develop bilateral relations in all dimensions with this country. After the fall of the republic and the victory of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan has kept its consular activities in the cities of Mazar-iSharif and Herat, and emphasized the continuation of consular activities and customs cooperation in these provinces. The meeting held with the Consul General of Turkmenistan on August 18, 2021, emphasizes the cooperation and good neighborliness of the two sides. Both Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the TAPI project, and on the other hand, these two countries have a good geographical and transit location for the growth of bilateral trade. In the field of bilateral trade relations between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, it should be noted that the ports of Turghundi in Herat and Aqineh in Faryab are the most important commercial goods crossings between the two countries. Through these ports, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan can import and export goods needed by both sides. Among the neighboring countries, Afghanistan’s relations with Turkmenistan, in addition to the historical and cultural commonalities, and especially with the adoption of a policy of positive neutrality by Turkmenistan in 1995, the relations of this country, compared to Afghanistan’s relations with other neighboring countries, are extensive, deep, and stable. And it has had a special strength. By: Center for Strategic and Regional Studies

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.