Jun 14, 2022, 1:51 PM
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Iran-Turkmenistan ties beyond neighborliness

Tehran, IRNA – Iran and Turkmenistan have great capacities to elevate their ties and become a good example in the region, as the Raisi administration in Iran has prioritized strengthening ties with neighbors.

Turkmenistan’s newly elected President Serdar Berdimuhamedow is going to visit Iran on Tuesday at the official invitation of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. He will head a high-profile political and economic delegation.

This is the first trip of Berdimuhamedow in his capacity as president to Iran, while he paid a visit to Tehran earlier this year as the special envoy of his father, former president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

President Raisi has announced that expansion of ties with neighboring countries would be a strategic policy in his administration. The administration has since demonstrated fierce determination to solve the existing challenges with neighbors, including Turkmenistan.

Iran-Turkmenistan ties beyond neighborliness

Therefore, Raisi traveled to Ashgabat last year to attend Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit, where he met then-President Berdimuhamedow in person.

In that meeting, Raisi said that the fraternal, friendly ties between Iran and Turkmenistan were beyond neighbors and the two nations have good capacities to deepen bilateral ties.

Serdar Berdimuhamedow was elected in March 19 presidential election in Turkmenistan, succeeding his father as the third president of the former Soviet republic.

Iran was among the first countries to recognize Turkmenistan’s independence in 1991. Since then, the two countries have had good relations despite minor ups and downs.

Iran, after Russia, is the second biggest trade partner for Turkmenistan. Mashhad-Sarakhs railway, 139m-dollar Korpeje-Kordkuy pipeline and 167m-dollar Friendship Dam are among examples of Tehran-Ashgabat economic cooperation.

Other examples include Balkhanabad-Aliabad power transfer line, optic fiber connectivity project, warehouse construction in Merv, Turkmenbashi refinery, LNG terminal construction, and construction of highways. Tens of industrial and construction projects have been or are being carried out in Turkmenistan with Iran’s partnership.

Iran signed a trilateral gas swap contract with Azerbaijan Republic and Turkmenistan on the sidelines of the ECO summit last year. Based on the contract, Iran agreed to swap 2 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan on a yearly basis.

Turkmenistan is of high significance to Iran in terms of geoeconomy and geostrategy, with 990 km of ground border and 228 km of sea border.

Iran buys oil and petrochemical products, textile, light industrial, and chemical, agricultural, and food products from Turkmenistan and exports industrial equipment, construction materials, food and home appliance to the country. Figures show that Iran-Turkmenistan trade grew by 84 percent in 2021.

A historical figure that plays an important role in cultural relations of Iran and Turkmenistan is the 18th Turkmen poet Magtymguly Pyragy whose mausoleum is located in northern Iran near the border of Turkmenistan. The poet has a special status among Iran’s Turkmen minority and also among the people of Turkmenistan.

Among other historical personalities with shared significance for both Iranian and Turkmen nations are Al-Zamakhshari, a 12th-century Muslim scholar, and Abu Sa'id Abu'l-Khayr, a 11th-century Sufi, whose burial places are located in today's Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan is Iran’s top trade partner in Central Asia and the South Caucasus with over 5 billion dollars of business exchange. It is Iran’s on-ramp to the Central Asia, allowing access to the four Central Asian countries through four border crossings on Iran-Turkmenistan borders.

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