Monday, April 30, 2012 -
Turkmenistan’s southern city of Mary has officially become the 2012 cultural capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Monday.
Mary authorities were handed a certificate from Turkmenistan’s leader in early April declaring the city, capital of Mary province, CIS cultural capital for the year.
The regional capital sits near the site of the ancient city Merv.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was joined at the ceremony on April 3 by CIS executive chairman Sergei Lebedev, who led a Russian delegation to Turkmenistan.
Choice of the city was approved in December at a meeting of the association of former Soviet states.
Mary was an important center on the fabled Silk Road, which for centuries linked China and the Far East with Europe and the Middle East in trade, economic, cultural, political and diplomatic ties.
The CIS is a loose group of 11 nations formed shortly after disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Member Turkmenistan is joined by the other four Central Asian republics - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – along with Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Armenia. Ukraine participates in its activities, but has not ratified the CIS Charter.
The international UN agency UNESCO has recognized the city as a World Heritage Site.