Recent years have shown a significant strengthening of the EU–Turkmenistan relations. The European Commission, via the overall policy dialogue and the Development Cooperation Instrument, has reinforced its bilateral cooperation with Turkmenistan and is supporting the economic, social and institutional sector reforms announced by the new Turkmen leadership.
The first Central Asia Multi-annual Indicative Programme (2007-10) under the Development and Cooperation Instrument allocated € 22 million for bilateral assistance programmes in Turkmenistan. The second Multi-annual Indicative Programme covering the period 2011-13 allocated € 31 million.
The priority areas for cooperation are:
- Agriculture/Rural development
- Economy/Trade/Private sector
The European Union supports the modernisation and reform of the education sector as one of the major long-term areas of cooperation with Turkmenistan. A first series of programmes targeted at the education system has been launched. The programme Support to the Modernisation of the Education System in Turkmenistan (€ 1.5 million) supports the reform of the education system to bring it closer to international standards. The programme contributes to strengthening the quality of education by upgrading educational staff and by introducing innovative methodologies for curricula development and quality assurance. The Further Improvement of Quality and Relevance of Professional Education programme (€ 3 million) contributes to re-establishing and strengthening the vocational and training education system by providing skills and qualifications in accordance with the labour market needs, thus contributing to the economic and social development of Turkmenistan.
Governance and economic reforms
The EU also supports the modernisation of the public administration with institutional strengthening and policy support. The Institutional Strengthening and Policy Support Facility (€ 2.5 million) aims at identifying, defining, coordinating and managing programmes to help modernise the state administration. The programme also introduces international legal practices and requirements. The Legal Capacity Building project (€ 1.4 million), which is part of this facility, aims at supporting the building up of an appropriate training resource facility to enable the creation of in-country expertise in the area of comparative law and international practices. The EU also co-finances a programme for Strengthening the National Capacity of Turkmenistan to Promote and Protect Human Rights (€ 2.2 million). The project aims at improving the capacity of the Government of Turkmenistan to comply with international human rights standards and developing a wide-scale public awareness strategy on human rights. The programme is jointly implemented with the UNDP and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and is the first wide-scale donor intervention in this field in Turkmenistan. In line with the priority reforms in the economic sector, the EU supports Turkmenistan in its implementation of public finance management reforms. The project Support to Further Economic Reforms (€ 2 million) seeks to enhance public finance management skills and assist the Turkmen administration in building capacity in key public finance areas. In 2011-12, new programmes are foreseen to provide support to economic policies and the development of the Parliament.
Agricultural production in Turkmenistan is the second largest sector in the economy and is very important due to the fact that more than half of the population resides in rural areas and makes its livelihood from farming activities. Therefore, sector reforms in agriculture and rural development are of prime importance in developing a sustainable policy and practice for effective use of resources and development of the social sectors. The current programme Support to Further Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (€ 1 million) supports the Ministry of Agriculture in the achievement of the national sector objectives with regard to sustainable agriculture and rural development. It supports the institutional and technical capacities of the Ministry.
Turkmenistan has significant potential for improving energy efficiency and increasing its use of renewable energy sources, both of which will contribute to economic sustainability, reduction of industrial pollution and reduction of the impact on climate change from fossil fuels. The Government of the Republic of Turkmenistan has recognised the need for more comprehensive policies towards energy efficiency as well as for the promotion of renewable energy sources. A new programme that will support the introduction of sustainable development policies and rational use of natural resources in the energy-environment sectors is in preparation. The programme will aim at improving natural resources management and contributing to the sustainable development of Turkmenistan, in line with its long-term economic growth objectives, and the EU’s best practices and policies.