Overview: In 2020 the Government of Turkmenistan continued its efforts to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism, ensure border security, and detect terrorist financing. Turkmenistan actively cooperates with international organizations and participates in the C5+1 regional framework to counter international terrorism, even as it continued to claim in 2020 that no nationals of Turkmen origin were in custody in northeast Syria. Turkmen authorities maintain close surveillance on the country’s population and its borders.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Turkmenistan in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no reported changes in 2020.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In 2020 the Turkmen government worked with the United Nations and the OSCE on countering terrorism finance, and Turkmen government officials attended trainings on responding to terrorist threats and combating money laundering. The government regulates alternative remittance services, collects data on wire transfers, and monitors non-profit organizations as part of a broader effort to prevent misuse of financing and sponsorship of terrorist activities. Turkmenistan belongs to the EAG. In November, representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Economy took part in the 33rd EAG meeting to enhance cooperation among member states and strengthen anti-money laundering and counterterrorism finance measures at the national level, in particular in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The Financial Monitoring Service of Turkmenistan became a member of the Egmont Group in July 2019.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2020 the Government of Turkmenistan cooperated with international organizations and participated in the C5+1 regional framework on countering violent extremism. In February the Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan to International Organizations in Vienna presented the National Strategy for the Prevention of Violent Extremism and the Fight Against Terrorism for 2020-24. The strategy was developed with the assistance of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia and the UN Counter-Terrorism Office and was approved by the President of Turkmenistan in December 2019. The Government of Turkmenistan continued to place heavy restrictions on and imprison groups it classifies as extremist, including those groups’ political and religious expression and activities.
International and Regional Cooperation: Turkmenistan works with international and regional organizations such as the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, UNODC, the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, the EU, and the OSCE.
As a member of the C5+1 diplomatic platform, Turkmenistan participates in the associated Security Working Group, which focuses on regional CT cooperation. In June the U.S. Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of the five Central Asian states met virtually in the C5+1 format to discuss multilateral efforts to build economic resilience and strengthen security in the region. The participants agreed to continue within the framework of the C5+1 Security Working Group to increase border security and counter terrorism and violent extremism. In October, Turkmenistan participated in a trilateral meeting with the United States and Afghanistan and expressed support for expanding cooperation with Afghanistan on border security, counternarcotics, and counterterrorism. The Government of Turkmenistan stated its full support for the Afghan peace process and offered to host peace talks in Ashgabat.
In February, Turkmenistan and Russia held consultations at the deputy foreign minister level to discuss countering terrorism finance and transnational crime in the Caspian region. The talks focused on identifying and suppressing sources and channels of financing terrorism, countering the spread of violent extremism and cross-border movements of foreign terrorist fighters, and coordinating positions within key multilateral platforms.
In 2020, Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov held several virtual meetings with multilateral organizations to discuss regional security and counterterrorism in Central Asia. In November, FM Meredov took part in a videoconference with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to discuss progress in the intra-Afghan peace talks and the importance of combating terrorism and cross-border crime. Later that month, FM Meredov also met virtually with UNODC to discuss increasing cooperation to counter transnational organized crime, terrorism, and illicit drug trafficking. FM Meredov also took part in November’s 16th EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting, which covered regional cooperation in addressing drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, human trafficking, and cybersecurity threats. During the ministerial, the EU and Central Asian foreign ministers agreed that an immediate ceasefire was necessary to advance the intra-Afghan reconciliation process and that a prosperous Afghanistan free of terrorism was vital for the development of the entire region.
During the December U.S.-Turkmenistan Annual Bilateral Consultations, both sides emphasized the significance of the Afghan peace process for regional security and the importance of formats such as the C5+1 and the recent trilateral U.S.-Turkmenistan-Afghanistan talks. The two sides also discussed expanding cooperation on border protection and combating drug trafficking.