Topic: Foreign Relations
U.S. Ambassador to Ashgabat Tracey Ann Jacobson liked traveling around the country very much
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the U.S. to Turkmenistan Tracey Ann Jacobson gave an interview to a correspondent of the State news agency (TDH).
- Tell us, please, a bit about yourself and your life.
- I came in Turkmenistan in August 2003. Almost two years have passed since that time. Time goes by so fast. Turkmenistan is my first assignment as Ambassador. In total, this is my fifth assignment in my diplomatic career. I worked in Seoul, Nassau, Moscow and Riga. I also worked in the State Department, Washington, and the National Security Council at the White House during Bill Clinton’s second term in office. However, as is known, an oversees assignment is what any diplomat desires most. An assignment to the countries with political and economic systems under transformation is particularly interesting. I hope it will be as much interesting in my remaining period in Turkmenistan as it was in the beginning.
I was raised in the international family. My father served in the U.S. Air Forces. My mother’s parents served in the British Army during WWII, and my sister married a navigator of the U.S. Navy. As for myself, I decided, after graduating from a University, that I would serve my country as a diplomat.
- You are heading the diplomatic mission with the 13-year work experience in Turkmenistan. What do you consider the most valuable of this experience?
- Development of mutual understanding between our two states and making a positive contribution to the development of Turkmenistan has been the top priority of our Embassy for the past 13 years.
We focus on the following four directions: promotion of democracy and human rights, reformation of economy and heath services and cooperation in the sphere of security. I am happy that we have achieved progress in our cooperation in the sphere of security, and I hope for the great progress in promotion of democracy and human rights as well as in cooperation in economy.
- What steps do you personally plan to undertake to further develop and strengthen relations between out countries?
- I believe one of the most important steps that I can undertake is to promote educational and professional exchanges. This is not only an opportunity for citizens of Turkmenistan to improve their skills in a new country but also a chance for Americans who meet them to learn more about Turkmenistan. Exchange programmes are our best instrument for deepening mutual understanding and development of relations. We sent 128 people to the United States this year under various programmes, and I would like this number to increase.
We also try to expand our activities outside Ashgabat, in the regions of Turkmenistan so that schoolchildren and students from all over the country could participate in our exchange programmes. We opened Internet-centers and conduct trainings all over the country. Our volunteers from Peace Corp work hard in the regional centers and villages. We launched a new programme this year to provide scholarships for English language learning. We plan to cooperate with the Ministry of education in realization of the program “PEAKS” on the partnership in the field of education. The main objective of these efforts is providing equal opportunities for schoolchildren and students in rural areas as well as in the cities to learn English language and their further participation in the exchange programmes.
We look to the expansion of our cooperation with the government of Turkmenistan in the field of security. We want to help Turkmenistan to strengthen its borders and fight international crime such as drugs and human trafficking. I hope that during my tenure as Ambassador we will be able to expand our cooperation in this field through granting equipment, holding training seminars and exchange programmes.
I think it is very important for us to continue getting to know Turkmenistan, including its vision of the future and our role as its partner. In this regard, I hope I will be able to continue developing trustworthy businesslike relations with President S.A.Niyazov and representatives of the government.
- What have you been able to see and feel deeply in Turkmenistan? To what extent do your impressions of our country differ from the original expectations?
- I grew up in California. The climate in my native city and in Ashgabat is almost the same. That is why I felt myself at home from the very beginning. The first distinctive feature that I noted immediately was boundless hospitality of the Turkmen people. I liked traveling around the country very much. I visited each region two times as minimum. Ashgabat is a beautiful country, but I think it is important for diplomats to visit every corner of the country to understand the way people live, work and think. I liked meeting with leaders of civil society, businessmen and graduates of our exchange programmes all over the country, especially with young people. Before I came here, I was told that the main wealth of Turkmenistan was its oil and chemical resources. Now, I know that people are the main wealth of Turkmenistan.
State news agency of Turkmenistan (TDH)