Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have reconfirmed their dedication to strengthening their strategic partnership. During a meeting in Ashgabat on October 30, 2023, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Murat Nurtleu, and Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Rashid Meredov, emphasized their shared commitment to enhancing their strategic partnership based on the principles of friendship, brotherhood, mutual respect, and good neighborly relations.
The discussions revolved around enhancing bilateral cooperation in various critical areas, including politics, trade, economics, culture, and humanitarian affairs. Both countries have mutually agreed to implement coordinated measures to boost trade turnover and diversify the range of goods traded between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
The ministers also identified opportunities for collaboration in the fields of fuel and energy, textiles, agriculture, transportation, logistics, and telecommunications. They addressed advancements in cultural and humanitarian relations, including educational initiatives, scientific cooperation, media exchanges, and cultural exchange programs.
Additionally, both parties expressed their support for intensifying direct interuniversity connections and organizing cross-cultural events. They also discussed plans for joint celebrations to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy.
Further, they engaged in discussions regarding the regional and international agenda, with a particular emphasis on regional cooperation in the Caspian Sea and their involvement in the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS). The Caspian Sea, a landlocked body of water surrounded by five countries, including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, has been the subject of ongoing disputes over the division of its resources. These disputes have caused tensions between the nations.
The discussions aimed to potentially resolve these tensions through cooperative dialogue that both countries have agreed to pursue. By working together, they aim to achieve common objectives and find mutually beneficial solutions in the Caspian Sea region.
The progress in their bilateral relations holds the potential to impact the involvement of external actors in the region. China, in particular, has strengthened its ties with both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, which has significant implications for its influence in Central Asia.
Regional Dynamics in Asia
Kazakhstan’s involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is crucial, as it serves as a key transit route for the initiative, facilitating China’s efforts to expand its presence in Central Asia. Furthermore, Turkmenistan’s participation in the TAPI project, which connects the country to South Asia, positions it as a major player in the region. This also makes Turkmenistan strategically important for China as it can serve as a vital link connecting China to European nations.
In this context, the combination of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan’s roles potentially allows China to access a larger market encompassing both Central Asia and Europe simultaneously, further strengthening China’s economic and strategic interests in the region.
Russia has traditionally maintained strong relations with Kazakhstan, and both countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), reinforcing their security cooperation. However, China’s growing influence in the region has raised concerns for Russia, especially in light of the potential for increased Chinese involvement with the recent cooperation agreements between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
India, on the other hand, is actively seeking to diversify its import sources and sees an opportunity to strengthen its ties with Kazakhstan. This includes enhancing existing trade partnerships and exploring new avenues to expand trade relations with Kazakhstan, with the aim of counterbalancing Chinese influence in the region.
The deepening partnership between these nations is mutually beneficial and contributes to regional stability. The discussions also placed special emphasis on further developing regional cooperation and addressing issues related to the Caspian Sea. As a tangible outcome of these negotiations, a program of cooperation for 2024-2026 was signed between the foreign ministries of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.