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National leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov — a reformer who changed the image of Turkmenistan

29.06.2023 | 03:47 |
 National leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov — a reformer who changed the image of Turkmenistan

The first Turkmen communications satellite, the largest resort city on the Caspian Sea, the longest gas pipeline in the world, the most beautiful Central Asian policy, 16 UN resolutions, GDP growth of more than 6% — all this is about the implemented initiatives of one of the most successful politicians in modern history: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the second president of Turkmenistan, the national leader of the Turkmen the people and the head of the supreme body of representative power — Halk Maslahaty.

On June 29, the country celebrates the 66th anniversary of the birth of the former head of Turkmenistan, whose presidency was remembered for the successes of historical scale that changed the face of the country. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has been heading the People's Council as its chairman for the second year.

In this article, ORIENT will try to give a brief description of what personal contribution Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov made as head of state during his 15 years in power.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov officially assumed the post of President of Turkmenistan on February 14, 2007. By that time, the economic situation in the country looked something like this: the total nominal GDP of the country was $12 billion, the same indicator per capita was estimated at $2,520; the average salary was about 600 TMT.

For a remark: the beginning of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's presidency was not easy — the whole world could not even imagine that it was on the verge of another global economic crisis, which hit all regions of the planet hard, including the countries of Central Asia. Already in 2008, a severe energy crisis began in the republics of the region, which, according to experts, slowed down the once impulsive growth of all industries in the relatively young countries of the former USSR.

In the current situation, the leadership of Turkmenistan had to solve a difficult task: to secure not only its economy, but also the economic complexes of neighboring countries in order to ensure regional stability.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov launched large-scale reforms that affected the entire economic sphere. His February 2007 speech, during which the key reference points of the coordinate system in domestic and foreign policy were identified, laid the foundation for the adoption of an inclusive program of socio-economic development, the fruits of which made themselves felt just a few years after the signing of the plan.

Thus, industrial production in 2007-2008 almost doubled, exceeding 30 billion manats. Every year, at the direction of the head of state, the state budget provided for an increase in wages, scholarships, pensions, etc. A transparent social security system was formed in the country: pensions, allowances and other benefits were issued by the state without any delay, thus stimulating consumer growth.

The period from 2007 to 2010 in Turkmenistan was turbulent: the entire established configuration of economic capacities in the country was transformed so quickly that the country achieved significant results in foreign economic relations and trade.

As a result, during the incomplete three presidential terms of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the country's GDP reached $50 billion (more than 4 times more than in 2007), the same indicator per capita increased more than 3 times, wages — almost 3.5 times. During this period, 28 settlements in the country received the status of a city.

But this is not the most important thing. The essence of the entire narrative of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's presidency is that he was able to build a multi-vector system of relations between all economic entities within the country and identified key theses in the foreign policy course.

Thus, the state, which occupies the fourth position in the world ranking in terms of natural gas reserves, has begun the accelerated implementation of the Turkmenistan–China gas pipeline project, linking Turkmen gas deposits with the fast-growing Chinese market and the longest main artery.

The national leader is making a tour to the Arab states to attract investments in large oil and gas projects of Turkmenistan. It was a historic chance for Ashgabat to cut a window on the eastern energy market, which the country's leadership successfully used, ensuring not only economic stability and prosperity within the state, but also the energy security of the region and access of the participating countries to a cleaner energy source.

However, it was not about the gas pipeline itself, but about the processes of updating the country. The policy of "open doors" began to bear fruit: the establishment of a strong trusting dialogue between Ashgabat and the countries of the Near and Middle East is an exceptional merit of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who personally met with the heads of these states and aroused interest in another megaproject – the Avaza tourist zone, created from scratch.

For a decade, a whole city of leisure and hobby industry has grown on the territory of the sandy beaches of the Caspian Sea and on the site of primitive buildings. The personal initiative of the leader of the nation has become so acute that it stimulated the growth of all other sectors of the economy, not just domestic tourism.

The new town attracted domestic tourists from all over the country, which, in turn, became a catalyst for the development of the domestic transport sector: this concerned both the modernization of existing railway arteries and the purchase of new vehicles, as well as building the capacity of the national air fleet. Later, a new generation of politicians appreciated investments in the transport sector, which allowed the country to become one of the key links of the international trade routes "North—South" and "West—East".

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's main goal was not to build a car, but to draw up the principles of its movement and determine the path along which it will go. The presence of a strong export base was insufficient to guarantee the economic security of the country: the share of hydrocarbons in total industrial production continued to remain high, respectively, mechanisms were needed to offset the effects of fluctuations in prices for these goods.

That is why Turkmenistan's strategy was based on openness in choosing partners for the import of key export goods, which was literally the equivalent of everything the country traded.

A way out of this situation was found: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov chose a difficult, but the surest way, thanks to which Turkmenistan was able to get on the rails of a market economy. The policy of import substitution, a risky economic practice, has begun, when success depends on the ability of citizens to accumulate and develop their own production capacities.

As a consequence, the results were amazing: in just a few years, the country was able to increase the potential of national entrepreneurship. Soon, almost all major construction projects in the country were carried out by Turkmen companies, using the domestic products of new plants that were promptly deployed during import substitution.

It is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to whom we should be more grateful for industrialization, which gave thousands of our citizens the opportunity to invest and earn money, create tens of thousands of new jobs. Consequently, the financial and credit sector also grew. It became obvious to everyone that the reforms operated on the principle of a chain reaction, when when focusing attention on a particular industry, the areas accompanying it were also subject to intensive growth.

According to this model, not only the existing and most profitable enterprises and industries developed, but also fundamentally new ones appeared: electrical engineering, space, and so on. For the first time in Turkmenistan, domestic televisions, smartphones, tablets began to be produced. Let the components be imported, but the very fact of assembly at local enterprises indicates that there is potential and highly professional personnel, and there are few left for the production of parts – their own mineral deposits are being actively developed for this.

Of course, the personal contribution of the national leader to the social, cultural and scientific sphere of Turkmenistan is enormous. But it should be borne in mind that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is a skilled politician and scientist, and, of course, ordinary citizens love him for the peaceful sky, for a roof over his head, affordable education and much more.

However, the main merit of this outstanding personality is the building of the architecture of the entire modern Turkmenistan, because it is not so much the fact of the implementation of initiatives that is important, as building a framework of relations both public within the state and with external partners and actors, finding strong bonds for the entire complex structure of a reliable home of the Turkmen people and for their good—neighborly relations in the region and on the planet.



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