We will talk about the nuts and bolts later and also about the big geopolitics. But first, let's discuss the details of an important visit to Belarus of the leader of Turkmenistan. Now he can feel at home in Belarus because the Turkmen embassy opened in Minsk.
For Belarus, Turkmenistan has long been much more than an enigmatic tale of the East. This is Belarus' strategic partner with whom the country is implementing the largest export project. Belarusian technologies (in this case, turnkey construction) plus the bowels of that Asian country equals the Garlyk mining and processing complex. It is going to be launched by 2017. Together, Belarus and Turkmenistan will say a new word in the market of potash.
However, the bilateral relations are determined not only by economic interest. The leaders of the two countries exchange visits every year. This is a demonstration of friendship and trust.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
Bilateral trade is the foundation of Belarusian-Turkmen relations. In this regard, we are certainly concerned about the fall in the bilateral trade, which has been observed over the last two years. Of course, there are objective reasons for that but we have to take all necessary steps to remedy this situation, including the search for new forms and methods of work. And we focused on this during our negotiations.
During the first months of 2016, we have seen positive dynamism in trade. The turnover has increased by almost 75%, however, and this should not reassure us. Therefore, in the course of the negotiations, we have set new perspectives and identified concrete projects of mutual cooperation in the field of industry, agriculture, transport and science.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan:
In the face of the Republic of Belarus, we have a long-standing, reliable and responsible partner. A good example of the joint efforts is the construction in Turkmenistan of the Garlyk mining and processing plant for the production of potash with a capacity of 1.4 million tons per year.
In 2015, the countries turnover was $94 million. For example, one can find Turkmen carpets right in the center of Minsk.
Svetlana Karman, representative of the Turkmen-Belarusian Trading House:
There is a trading house of Turkmenistan in Minsk and the trading house of Belarus in Ashgabat. They have been established on a parity basis. Naturally, it is profitable for both the Belarusian and the Turkmen side.
In order to link the two countries even stronger, the heads of state opened the Turkmen embassy in Minsk.
This embassy is like a bridge. A bridge always unites the two banks. This embassy is a bridge that unites the souls of our people right in the center of Minsk. It is also symbolic.
There is a saying in Turkmenistan: "Home is where the carpet is rolled." This is folk wisdom. The Belarusian leader was presented a carpet with Turkmen motifs. The Turkmen president was given a carpet with Belarusian color.
During the visit the presidents repeatedly mentioned about the youth and students. Belarus really trains staff for Turkmenistan. The fact is that a demographic situation in that Asian country does not allow local high schools to take all school leavers who would like to get higher education. More than 9,000 Turkmen students are studying in Belarus.
Vadim Reznikov, head of International Relations Office of the Belarusian State University:
About 48% of all foreign students are from Turkmenistan. They are the most numerous category of foreign students. Second are China and Russia is third.
Quality training and high international rankings means that a graduate with a Belarusian diploma has good future. Many alumni hold responsible positions in Turkmenistan. The demand for such specialists is high.
Supplies of Belarusian equipment, the development of agriculture and processing industry of Turkmenistan and the joint design of railway infrastructure. However, the two countries are going to conquer other heights too: for example, they would like to create unmanned aircraft systems.
During the visit, several documents were signed. They will be the next stage in the development of Belarusian-Turkmen relations.