Following talks in Ashgabat with the head of NATO’s Partnership Coordination Center, General Anthony Kolsteren, the Turkmen leadership has finalized and agreed to sign an individual country program for 1999-2000 in the framework of the alliance’s Partnership for Peace. The country program for Turkmenistan includes consulting services, English-language courses and participation in training seminars for Turkmen officers and for civilian officials involved in oversight of the military. Turkmenistan’s chosen status of permanent neutrality has thus far been interpreted in Ashgabat as a hindrance to active participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace. The leadership, however, has agreed during Kolsteren’s visit that such participation is indeed compatible with the country’s neutrality. Neutral Switzerland has set a precedent in that respect by joining the program (International agencies, May 11).
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