Turkmenistan revamps approach toward youth

23 october, 15:06 1184

A new Turkmen law on youth policy meant to benefit the rising generation has sound intentions, but implementing it might be difficult, observers said.

Turkmen students walk for exercise during the

The law was enacted in August and its provisions, which call for assisting youth with housing, work, education, and their studies, should improve the lives of youth and of all other Turkmens, officials of the Makhtumkuli Union of Youth of Turkmenistan (MUYT) said.

"The old law was vague and did not correspond to new realities, but the new one is more specific, which makes our work with youth easier," Agageldi Nepesov, a spokesman for the MUYT central board, said, noting that the document also uses the experience of other countries and offers initiatives for youth leisure activities and for the development of programmes for sport, arts and crafts, which were not there before.

Concerns about implementation

While the concept behind the law has drawn support, some wonder whether it, alone, is enough.

"Formally, the law is all in order," Khemra, an Ashgabat lawyer who asked not to give his last name, said. "The legal status of the young, various guarantees, government support and protection of youth associations, and appointment of a presidential plenipotentiary on youth issues – it's all there."

He expressed concern, though, about how the law would work out in practice.

It's not enough to have only the MUYT implementing state youth policy, and simply passing a law won't fix matters either, Khemra said.

"The MUYT is a government-financed organisation, and he who pays the piper calls the tune," he said, adding that he saw no prospect soon of dynamic, independent work with the younger generation.

One organisation is not enough to implement the law, even if it does have 600,000 members, Sadyk V., a recent college graduate in Ashgabat, said, but it is a good starting point. He urged the creation and expansion of other youth organisations to help join forces with pushing the youth agenda forward in a progressive manner.

Besides passing a law, authorities need to notify the public, Begli Achilov, CEO of a large enterprise in Lebap Oblast, who works mainly among youth, said. "Ask some youth, and not one of them, I am sure, will be able to tell you when and why the law on youth policy was adopted."

Informing the public of its rights is the first stage in putting the new law into effect, Nepesov said.

In the next few weeks, officials will release more details of the programme to the media, youth centres, schools and colleges, he added. In particular, he said, it is important for youth to learn about the new opportunities for work, sport, housing and family assistance. Now, Nepesov said, work on publicising the law has been "intensive."

However, Achilov expressed doubt. Some youth among the unemployed, rural dwellers and migrant labourers working abroad will be outside the policy's reach, Achilov said.

A presidential representative

The law has one innovation that has great potential to help youth: the creation of the post of presidential plenipotentiary for youth issues. The change is capable of transforming the government's work with youth, state media said.

The plenipotentiary will co-ordinate the activities of all interested parties, produce new bills and state programmes and submit them to the government for approval, Nepesov said. He or she will monitor implementation of relevant laws and projects. But it's too soon to say what extent the new post will have to remedy the situation with youth, Khemra said.

Sadyk V. welcomes the initiatives but would like to see them working in practice. "I haven't been able to find a job in my field [transport engineering] for a whole year now," he said. "I'd very much like to feel the support of the state and the new law in that matter."


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