HE Ms Maysa Yazmuhammedova, Deputy Chairwoman, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, a very good evening to you and welcome to the Queen’s Birthday Party 2015, which marks the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
On this happy occasion I would like to send warm greetings, on behalf of the British Government, to His Excellency President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the people of Turkmenistan. And congratulate them on the twentieth anniversary year of Turkmenistan’s recognition by the United Nations as a permanently neutral country.
We are celebrating an anniversary of our own in the United Kingdom this year. In fact, yesterday, 15th June, marked the 800th anniversary since the sealing of the Magna Carta.
Magna Carta was a peace treaty sealed in the year 1215 between King John of England and his barons. The treaty established for the first time the principle that everybody, including The King, was subject to the law. Magna Carta was the first step on the journey towards parliamentary democracy and respect for individual rights, and has inspired people around the world for 800 years. Its principles are reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the United States Bill of Rights. I was pleased to see the passion with which the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, spoke last Saturday about the importance of the rule of law and freedom of expression.
The overall relationship between the United Kingdom and Turkmenistan continues to develop well. Though there is always room to do more. Bilateral trade increased last year. We were pleased to welcome a cross-sectoral group from the Turkmen government and agencies to the UK last November for the Turkmenistan – UK Trade & Industry Council meeting.
In particular they were able to understand the strength of the UK’s educational sector. Good education is of course crucial to the development of Turkmenistan’s young citizens. We’ve increased the number of Chevening scholarships we award to Turkmen post-graduates this year, which is a sign of the importance we attach to educational development. One which I know His Excellency the President shares.
The Deputy Chairwoman may comment on the lack of cultural exchange between our countries, but I hope, subject to approval from the Turkmen authorities, that we might bring you a taste of the very best British theatre later this year.
In all our work, we depend on the collaboration and friendship of many different people and institutions. We are grateful for the positive help we receive from various ministries and departments of the government of Turkmenistan.
It is also a privilege for us to work with the UN agencies and OSCE. And to my colleagues in the diplomatic community – thank you for your help and advice – and for your humour.
To the resident British community here – you are few in number, but the impact you have is very important. The people-to-people contacts that you have each and every day helps build a greater understanding between our countries.
And to the British companies that work here and visit. You do some great work, which helps build the ties between our countries. A particular thank you to those companies that have sponsored this evening’s reception: to Rapiscan Systems; Toye, Kenning & Spencer; JCB; Shell; Buried Hill; De La Rue; CSM Strategic: The Royal Mint; Petrofac; and Hermes Datacomms. Very many thanks for your generosity and wishing you, and all present, a successful year ahead.
Finally, I would like to thank the wonderful orchestra, the staff of the Yyldyz hotel, and my own colleagues at the British Embassy who have not only worked hard to prepare tonight’s reception, but work hard every day to further our bilateral relations here.
I would now like to invite Ms Yazmuhammedova, Deputy Chairwoman to address our guests, after which we will raise a toast to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her birthday.