Mr Serdarov, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Those of you who know me, know that I do not make long speeches. There is a lot of information on our Embassy website about the work we do here in Turkmenistan. And this is not a conference. It is a celebration. In fact, it is multiple celebrations!
I am going to propose two toasts. I hope you will join me.
The first is to her Majesty The Queen, whose birthday we celebrate today, and whom I am enormously proud to represent here. As many of you will know, her sixth great grandchild arrived yesterday, a little boy, a brother for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. And next month we celebrate the wedding of her grandson, Prince Harry, to Megan Markle – an American citizen, giving a new resonance to the phrase “special relationship”. But tonight is about our Queen, who has throughout her long reign served as a model of so many of the qualities which we value most: service to our country, to the British people and to the Commonwealth, integrity, steadfastness in difficult times, and sharing a love of our countryside - she still rides out regularly in Windsor Great Park. We are very lucky. I offer you a toast: Ladies and gentleman, The Queen.
It is right this evening to offer another toast. As Turkmenistan commemorates its place at the heart of the ancient Silk Road, we look to a future where the countries of Central Asia are once again linked together by ties of kinship and trade, encouraging the permeability of ideas and innovation and people across borders, and with Turkmenistan again at its heart. We hope and expect that Britain will continue to have a place in that future, as a friend, supporting your role in improving regional security and reducing conflict, and looking always for the greater good and happiness of the Turkmen people.
Ladies and gentlemen, I offer a toast to the President and the people of Turkmenistan.