Turkmenistan celebrates the International Day of Neutrality and its 28th Anniversary of Permanent Neutrality in Ashgabat 

SOCIETY Magazine was invited to Ashgabat by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan to celebrate the International Day of Neutrality and the 28th Anniversary of the adoption of the Resolution on the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan by the UN General Assembly.


von Dr. Rudolf Thaler


The Day of Neutrality“ (‚Bitaraplyk bayramy’ in Turkmen) on December 12th is – after the Independence Day – the second most important holiday in Turkmenistan. All over the country, festivities take place. The flower-laying ceremony at sunrise with the participation of Turkmenistan’s President H.E. Serdar Berdimuhamedow at the Monument of Neutrality was the main event of the day. Among the many participants were representatives of the Assembly (in Turkmen: Mejlis) and People’s Council of Turkmenistan (in Turkmen: Halk Maslahaty), members of the Government, the Turkmen ambassadors accredited abroad, including Turkmenistan’s ambassador to Austria, H.E. Hemra Amannazarov, members of the diplomatic corps and foreign guests.

Turkmenistan became an independent state upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The United Nations General Assembly officially recognized Turkmenistan as neutral state on December 12th, 1995. At the initiative of Turkmenistan, the United Nations (UN) annually celebrate the International Day of Neutrality on December 12th since 2017. This date coincides with the date of Turkmenistan‘s adoption of the permanent neutrality status.

Turkmenistan’s foreign policy is based on the status of permanent neutrality and building equal relationships with all countries. “Turkmenistan will continue the policy of neutrality based on good neighborliness, mutual respect, equality and mutually beneficial cooperation with all the countries of the world. The basic principles arising from the legal status of neutrality of our state, namely, the strengthening of global peace and security, the broadening of friendly and fraternal relations based on goodwill, and sustainable development on the planet, will continue to be the priority directions of the foreign policy of independent Turkmenistan”, says Turkmen President H.E. Serdar Berdimuhamedow. The Turkmen model of neutrality is “exemplary for the whole world and the only state recognized by the UN as neutral state”, outlined the President in a statement at the United Nations.

Dialogue as guarantee of peace 

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2023 as the International Year of Dialogue as a guarantee of peace. The international conference “Dialogue – Guarantee of peace” with high-level speakers from all over the world was headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, H.E. Rashid Meredov, in the conference hall of the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. The conference was dedicated to the International Day of Neutrality and the 28th anniversary of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan.

Minister Meredov noted “the success achieved in the implementation of the “Dialogue – Guarantee of Peace” at various international platforms, first of all, at the UN. It was emphasized that the initiative was the result of a careful and objective analysis of the current international situation, character and trend in interstate relations. Along with this, it acts as a call to all states to realize their responsibility for the fate of the world, to stop the growing pressure of escalation and intolerance, to soberly analyze the current situation in the world, to rethink it from historical and perspective points of view.”

After the plenary session, four sessions were held: “Using dialogue as the main instrument of preventive action”, “On the role of women in establishing peace through dialogue”, “International cooperation: Diplomatic dialogue on global cooperation in the field of environment”, and finally “Voice of Youth: Expanding the opportunities of future generations through dialogue.” The Youth Forum was hosted by Ms Gulshat Yusupova, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of the Institute of International Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. 45% of Turkmenistan’s population are young people. They are a catalyst of innovation, new ideas and technologies. Adults should learn from their interest and curiosity. Empowering youth through dialogue is an important objective in Turkmenistan’s Youth Development Strategy 2023 – 2030 for instance by development of relations with young people from other nations and a program for young parliamentarians.

The United Nations Development Programme Director, Ms Ivana Živković, mentioned in her statement that UNDP is Turkmenistan’s largest international development partner and underlined the good relations with Turkmenistan. After her stay in Ashgabat, Ms. Živković headed to Vienna.

Meeting of the Group of Friends of Neutrality 

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan initiated the creation of the Group of Friends of Neutrality to promote regular dialogue at the international level, in particular within the framework of the United Nations, on the practical use of the peacemaking potential of countries that build their policies on the principle of neutrality.

At the first ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends of Neutrality for Peace, Security, and Sustainable Development, which took place last December in Ashgabat, institutional steps were taken to define the format and working methods of this multilateral dialogue as a tool for strengthening global peace and security. The final declaration, adopted at this meeting of the Group, was published in six official UN languages as an official document of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. Today, 25 countries have joined this group.

Ambassador Aksoltan Ataeva, Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the UN, emphasized that the “traditional meetings of the Group of Friends are a vivid demonstration of the demand for this format and its practical significance at the current, very critical stage of the development of international relations”.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Ms. Myahri Byashimova noted that, “Turkmenistan conducts a friendly policy of cooperation with all states. Today, our country has established itself as reliable partner, especially in maintaining peace and stability in the region and on a global scale. The recognition of this policy is evidenced by numerous decisions adopted within the framework of the UN”.

Festive Concert with virtual travel around the world

All over Turkmenistan were festivities dedicated to the International Day of Neutrality and the 28th anniversary of the Neutrality Day of Turkmenistan. In Ashgabat, a festive concert with stars has been held at the impressive Mukams Palace of the State Cultural Center. The audience welcomed the song ‘My land is neutral and peaceful’ at the beginning of the concert with enthusiasm and performed the last song ‘May neutral Turkmenistan prosper’ with the artists. The passionate performances of singers and dancers in coordination with perfectly choreographed video frames featuring landscapes and cities around the world gave the impression of a virtual travel around the world. The unforgettable show demonstrated the great pool of Turkmen artists and talents. The group of young violonists “Mukham” fascinated the audience with a potpourri of musical classics from different countries, also from Austria.

Turkmenistan – A place to discover 

Touchdown at the International Airport of Ashgabat with it’s impressive bird design. The capital is also called ‘White City’ because of its world record number of marble buildings and majestic monuments.

Turkmenistan is located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe and a place to discover, for tourists and businessmen. Turkmenistan has the fourth-largest natural gas reserves in the world, representing about 10 percent of global reserves. GDP growth has continued in 2023 (around 2%), driven by the hydrocarbon sector and exports of natural gas to China. China is the main trading partner (69%), followed by Türkiye and Uzbekistan (7% each). Turkmenistan is launching new projects to diversify its economy.

Among the various tourist attractions in Turkmenistan are the Darvaza Gas Crater, the so called „gate to hell“, a 24/7 burning crater in the desert, the old city of Merv, the seashore, and Turkmenistan’s first smart city Arkadag. The city Arkadag (in Turkmen ‘Protector’) was built within five years and inaugurated in summer this year by President Serdar Berdimuhamedow. The city is located 30 kilometers south of the capital Ashgabat. Arkadag is the honorary title of the former President, H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. It was built for 70.000 people and is the first smart city in Turkmenistan. “At the heart of the Arkadag Small City Project is a strong commitment of the Government of Turkmenistan to promoting sustainable urbanization, resource efficiency, and enhanced quality of life for all residents”, writes the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs. Cutting edge technologies are used like Artificial Intelligence, smart home technology, data analytics, etc.. In the first stage the state invested 3.3 billion USD. According to preliminary data the second stage of construction (2023 – 2026) will cost about 1.5 billion USD. The project offers innovative Austrian companies opportunities to be involved.

Turkmenistan has a huge potential for cooperation

To bring Central Asia and Turkmenistan more on the radar of Austrian tourists and the business community, SOCIETY Magazine reports regularly about Turkmenistan. SOCIETY covered the reception of Turkmenistan’s Ambassador to Austria Hemra Amannazarov on the occasion of the Independence Day and the 300th Birthday jubilee of famous Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy. This article about Turkmenistan’s Neutrality Day celebrations reflects the special role of Turkmenistan as a permanent neutral state in keeping peace and stability in the region. There are regular political and economic relations between Austria and Turkmenistan. In December, an economic mission powered by AUSSENWIRTSCHAFT AUSTRIA of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber visited Ashgabat and Mary.

Photos: Dr. Rudolf Thaler