Ministry of Culture, Sports And Tourism of the Republic of Korea

04/15/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/14/2019 23:10

[Sharing a Prosperous Global Village] Ambassadors' Voices in Korea 5: Turkmenistan

To gauge the direction of cooperation between Korea and the world, is running a series of interviews with ambassadors to Korea. This episode features Turkmen Ambassador to Korea Myrat Mammetalyyev, who discusses diplomatic relations and areas for potential cooperation between Korea and Turkmenistan, one of the three Central Asian nations where President Moon Jae-in will visit.

Turkmen Ambassador to Korea Myrat Mammetalyyev on March 11 gives an interview at the Turkmen Embassy in Seoul's Yongsan-gu District.

By Yoon Sojung Photos = Kim Sunjoo

Though Korea and Turkmenistan seem to lack much of a connection at a glance, Turkmen Ambassador to Korea Myrat Mammetalyyev said the relationship between the two nations has an amazingly long history.

'The history of relations between Korea and Turkmenistan can be traced back to the era of (Korea's) Silla Kingdom. Our ancient city Merv had a great economic influence on Silla when it was trading with the Western world via the Silk Road,' he said in a March 11 interview with

'Like the Silk Road period of the past, Turkmenistan has a favorable geographical situation in being at the crossroads of the main routes of two continents, which can play a crucial role in cooperation with Korea's New Northern Policy.'

Calling the upcoming visit of President Moon Jae-in to Turkmenistan a 'historic event,' the ambassador said, 'I hope President Moon's visit can help deepen the relationship between Seoul and Ashgabat.'

The following are excerpts from the interview, which was held in written form.

- Bilateral trade volume has jumped more than 25 times since diplomatic ties were formed in 1992. What factors do you think have helped both countries develop close ties?

Diplomatic ties between Turkmenistan and Korea were established in February 1992, but the history of bilateral relations goes back to the ancient times of the Silk Road period.

Our ancient city Merv, located on a Silk Road trading route, had great economic influence on the Silla Kingdom (of Korea). We can see the same today. Turkmenistan has a favorable geographical location at the crossroads of the main routes of two continents. So geopolitical location and economical pragmatism attract attention from both countries. For this reason, we can create synergy if both sides closely work together.

We're also focusing on widening cultural understanding of Turkmenistan by the Korean people. Through the Central Asia-Korea Partnership Association in Korea under the Korea Foundation, we've continued cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Most recently, we introduced aspects of Turkmen culture by participating in the event 'Central Asian Spring Festival - Nowruz in Seoul,' which features the cultures of five Central Asian countries through April at Seoul's Cheonggye Plaza.

- Korea considers Turkmenistan a major partner in Central Asia. What sectors are both countries showing the most active cooperation in and what are promising fields for collaboration?

Major Korean companies have successfully operated in various sectors of the Turkmen economy for many years. Many of them engage in cooperative projects including the building of industrial facilities for Turkmen oil and gas, transportation and construction. Most of Turkmenistan's public transportation fleet is composed of Korean buses and cars. Hyundai Motor Company, in particular, was one of the official car suppliers to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games held in Ashgabat in 2017.

On potential collaboration, Turkmenistan and Korea are exploring partnership opportunities in sectors such as textiles, chemicals, and urban and road infrastructure development. They've signed several contracts mostly in oil and gas, textiles, metallurgical industries, sports, science, technological sectors and other areas.

Both countries are also actively seeking to promote cooperation at the government level. High-profile Turkmen officials have visited Korea to discuss bolstering cooperation in various areas including energy and plants. Such officials include Muratgeldi Meredov, deputy chairman of the Turkmen Cabinet of Ministers in charge of oil and gas who visited Seoul in February, and Rashid Meredov, deputy chairman in charge of foreign affairs who visited here last month.

Also in February, the seventh meeting of the Intergovernmental Turkmen-Korean Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation was held in Seoul, where both countries discussed developmental cooperation in many areas. And more than 100 officials from both countries and private industry attended a bilateral business forum on the same day. There, many of the participants had more than 50 bilateral meetings on business cooperation.

- What attractions of your country would you recommend to those who wish to visit?

Definitely visit UNESCO World Heritage sites including ancient Merv, (Parthian fortresses of) Nisa and Kunya-Urgench. Ancient Merv has an archaeological park that is one of the oldest and most preserved oasis cities along Silk Road routes in Central Asia.

You should also visit Nisa, which was the ancient capital of the Parthian Empire, and is located 18 km west of the capital Ashgabat. The fortresses there served as a political barrier to the eastward expansion of the Roman Empire.

Another place to visit is the Kunya-Urgench municipality in northern Turkmenistan. The town is home to the Urgench, the ruins of Khwarezm (site of an ancient Iranian civilization) of the Achaemenid Empire. Much of the urban layout of Kunya-Urgench has been lost but the few remaining monuments such as the mosque are authentic and a precious semblance of the elegant architecture and building traditions that existed between the 11th and 16th centuries.

- You arrived in 2014 to assume the post of Turkmen ambassador to Korea. What do you like best about life here?

On weekdays, my family used to enjoy walking in Itaewon (foreign district of Seoul) as we lived nearby. On weekends, we liked to go to Namsan Park in central Seoul or the Hangang River to take a stroll or ride a bike. We now live in Seongbuk-gu District, and on weekends, we try to get more experience in and information on that area. I know that there are many mountain paths, so climbing could become our new hobby.

Turkmen Ambassador to Korea Myrat Mammetalyyev on March 11 says the upcoming visit of President Moon Jae-in to Turkmenistan can help deepen bilateral relations.

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