Comments to the report “Turkmenistan: political, economic and regulatory issues”
Our review of public domain statistics (BP etc) suggests it is the 13th largest by reserves and 10th largest by production
The country produces approximately 67 bcm per year of gas, but only exports around 47 bcm per year.
Turkmenistan is currently considering all natural gas export options, and maintaining a positive dialogue with all parties, in an open and clear effort to ensure diversification of routes and optimisation of netbacks. Prudently, the government has initiated an audit of reserves prior to committing to any specific schemes or relationships.
“As Turkmenistan shakes off Niyazov's cult of personality an accurate accounting of the country's natural gas assets is essential for attracting Western investment, as verified reserves serve as a valuable asset in attracting foreign capital. On 14 March Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov announced at the Cabinet of Ministry’s meeting that Turkmenistan has commissioned the British company Gaffney, Cline & Associates Ltd to audit the country's largest oil and gas fields. It should be recalled that Gaffney, Cline & Associates Ltd audited gas reserves in a number of gas fields of central and eastern parts of Turkmenistan in 2004, but the results of the audit has never been announced”.
“In Central Asia, if a late leader has not groomed a protégé, it is traditional for countries looking for a successor to follow the old rules and pass the torch to a member of the leader’s family.”
There is not real practice in Central Asia for grooming a protégé. All CA presidents obtained their president’s positions simply because they happened to be the First Secretaries of the Communist Party by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, an event pretty unexpected for everybody. The death of Turkmenbashi actually provides good evidence that a protégé scheme did not exist in Turkmenistan. In neighbouring Uzbekistan, for example, if something happens today to Islam Karimov, nobody knows how the regional situation would develop. Azerbaijan is not included in this list.
“His son had not been seen in public for years (and was rumored to be dead) and his daughter was locked away in an insane asylum.”
I actually have not heard any rumors on Murad Niyazov’s death. There were the rumors that he got beaten up in Moscow for gambling debt. In fact he was sitting with his daughter, mother and sister at his father’s funerals and looked fine. Murad Niyazov lives in Vienna and lead a playboy lifestyle. He was an exclusive supplier of duty free tobacco and alcohol to Turkmenistan. There was an attempt by his father to introduce him to the politics not far before his death, when Murad was sent for the state negotiations in UAE. It was covered by the Turkmen media.
Irina Niyazova, his daughter, lives between Moscow, Paris and London and is said to run a small bank in Paris. She also was responsible for overseeing family money. She was a frequent visitor to Ashgabad with her Mother and brother.
Constitutionally, Niyazov’s rule should have passed to a figurehead leader
from the country’s pseudo parliament, in this case National Assembly President Avesgeldy Atayev. However, since Atayev was under investigation at the time for corruption, the National Security Council named Deputy Prime Minister Gurbanguli Berdimukhammedov president. He subsequently received overwhelming support in the Feb. 11, 2007, presidential “election.”
His name is Ovezgeldy, he was the Chairman of Medjlis or Turkmen Parliament.
born shortly after Niyazov turned 18. This could explain why Niyazov promoted Berdimukhammedov who was trained as a dentist and has little political experience or finesse all the way to the highest circle of government positios. Theremarkable resemblance between Niyazov and Berdimukhammedov has further fueled this rumor.
One of the reasons that Berdimukhammedov has survived for so long was that he belongs to the same Teke tribe as Niyazov. Niyazov was born on 19th February 1940, while Berdymukhammedov was born on 29th June, 1957. Niyazov would have been 17 at the time of his birth if he was Berdumukhammedov’s father.
Before becoming president, his foreign dealings were limited to relations
In his capacity of the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers he was responsible for healthcare, education and a number of other fields. He supervised construction of all healthcare centers in the country, medical equipment supply, personnel training abroad, medicine supply. He was dealing with a number of countries, including Germany (Siemens is the main contractor for all above projects), USA, India, Turkey.
The possibility of Turkmenistan’s opening up to foreign investment and
relations has piqued global interest, although nothing has changed legally or diplomatically to facilitate this opening. Berdimukhammedov is preoccupied with the possible fracturing of his county and needs to address this issue before he can look beyond it.
Below what have been done within the last few months in terms of improving Turkmen legislation to attract foreign investments:
State News Agency of Turkmenistan (TDH)
On the watch of the interests of business
On March 18, the new laws called upon to encourage development of private entrepreneurship and co-operation with foreign partners came into force in Turkmenistan. During the recent sitting of the Cabinet of Ministers held with participation of Turkmen private commodity producers President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed the Law “On Foreign Investments” and “On Amendments and Additions to the Tax Code of Turkmenistan”.
The Law “On Foreign Investments” creates the legal basis of the activities of foreign investors and foreign investment enterprises in the territory of Turkmenistan and stipulates for considerable expansion of the investment capacity of potential foreign partners on the Turkmen market.
According to the Mejlis of Turkmenistan the Law “On Foreign Investments” complies with the norms of international law, provides the firm guarantees of protection of the rights of foreign investors including insurance coverage, the opportunity of capital repatriation, etc. The Law not only regulates but also really encourages foreign investment promoting avoiding the unnecessary administrative barriers, the growth of the activity of Turkmen entrepreneurs and as a result an increase in the volume of foreign investments. The Law introduced the new for the current national legislation definitions, for example foreign direct investments, foreign investment enterprises, re-investment, payback period of investment projects, etc.
Basing on the provisions of the new Law the other legislative acts can amend the legal regulation on foreign investment. Thus, this document eliminated the contradictions between the other national laws including the Tax Code and the Customs Code as well as bound to bring the subordinate regulatory acts in compliance with its provisions.
Providing a number of the major incentives to foreign investors the Law “On Foreign Investments” will enable them to enjoy the real advantages of collaboration in the long-term investment projects implemented in Turkmenistan that, in its turn, will guarantee wide attraction of advanced technologies and best international practice to the country, which is resolutely advancing along the path of the large-scale social and economic reforms.
Thus, consistently improved at the legislative level the economic mechanism creates the requisites for the favourable investment climate, development of private business and market relations. It is the aim of the Law “On Amendments and Additions to the Tax Code of Turkmenistan” to introduce a number of the substantial amendments and additions to the Tax Code of Turkmenistan. Aimed at further improvement of the tax system this document is called upon to offer the class of private commodity producers able to inspire healthy competition between the state and the private sectors a powerful incentive to grow.
Since it was adopted in 2004 the Tax Code of Turkmenistan had been working as a reliable instrument to ensure the steady earnings for the State Budget of Turkmenistan. Though, the world practice shows that serving as an effective legal instrument of regulating the tax relations the tax code needs improving and updating to reflect the realities. Introducing the new amendments and additions was conditioned by the necessity to improve tax collection management and the existing procedures of computation and discharge of taxes as well as the measures to ensure discharge of taxes and review services of the tax agencies.
The amendments are aimed at improving the procedure of defining and computing the tax base for the particular taxes. In particular, the provisions regulating value added tax were amended in compliance with the best international practice of applying the VAT to the specific taxable operations. The provisions regulating the legal entity income tax were amended to eliminate the inaccuracy of the definitions of the tax base and the legal norms allowing ambiguous misinterpretation. The provisions of the Tax Code regulating the procedure of computation of the income tax of natural persons and private entrepreneurs were amended. The amendments exempt realization of goods (works, services) within the framework of the humanitarian aid from income tax, excise duties.
The amendments eliminated the contradictions between the particular provisions of the Tax Code and the inaccuracy in the definitions as well as made the stylistics of some provisions of the document more clearly. The new Law neither stipulates for increasing the amount of the taxes nor infringes the interests of citizens and legal entities of Turkmenistan, foreign investors. The existing taxes, tax rates, subjects of taxation remain the same that testifies to stability of the fundamentals of the tax policy combined with the private business development programme initiated by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and consistently improved legislation providing the considerable incentives and the state guarantees of respect for the rights and protection of the interests of private entrepreneurs creating the favourable conditions for establishing the class of private commodity producers in the country.
The above piece of news was picked up by virtually all international media from Herald Tribune to Iran Oil and Gas.
Purges and clans
Turkmenistan is composed of five regions: Ahal, Balkhan, Dasoguz, Lebap and Mary, each having one or two clans (three of the five regions are named after their largest clans).
Correct spelling would be: Akhal, Balkan – no H, DasHoguz – yes to H.
Then Berdimukhammedov decided that he wanted to control the secret services, but this pitted him against the head of the Lebap clan, Lt. Gen. Akmurat Redzhepov, who is also the country’s second most powerful man behind the president.
The man was arrested only because he was a shadow of Niyazov and was standing behind the election of Berdimuhamedov. Berdimuhamedov was smart enough not to become a marionette in Redjepov’s hands. The following article describes this.
Turkmenistan: Akmurad Rejepov falls victim of the regime he himself helped establish
31.07.2007 15:46 msk
Lieutenant General Amkurat Rejepov, former chief of the presidential security service, and his son Nurmurad Rejepov, ex-officer of the National Security Service, were sentenced to imprisonment in Turkmenistan.
Akmurad Rejepov was known as one of the most powerful men close to the late President Saparmurat Niyazov. He played an instrumental role in Operation Successor that culminated in election of Gurbankuly Berdymuhammedov the president.
Arrest of the once omnipotent Rejepov was never officially announced. On May 15, Turkmen TV only reported that Rejepov was relieved of his duties and would be offered another assignment. Neither did official Ashkhabad denounce Rejepov's arrest reports in foreign media outlets.
According to what information is available to Vremya Novostei, Rejepov was arrested the day following the meeting of the presidents of Turkmenistan, Russia, and Kazakhstan in Turkmenbashi (former Krasnovodsk). It took the arrestee himself absolutely by surprise.
One Murad Agayev, former head of Oriental (a major Turkmen company) and a prominent businessman, was arrested and sentenced together with the Rejepovs. All three defendants were convicted for corruption and criminal abuse of power. Interim reports indicate that Rejepov himself was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, his son to 13, and Agayev to 17.
Member of the Ferghana.Ru Export Council Artyom Ulunyan (Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences) calls Rejepov's lot actually typical in the post-Soviet territory.
Ulunyan: - Rejepov is one of the so called "attached", men of the State Security Committee (the feared KGB) who were supposed to see to security of CPSU functionaries - first secretaries and so on. When Turkmenistan regained sovereignty, Rejepov became grey eminence or power behind the throne merely because he had known Niyazov in person. It was Rejepov who handpicked practically all top nomenclature, who monitored all or almost all major economic deals, and who was involved in other major operations Niyazov had running both in the country and abroad...
Rejepov's downfall was to be expected because it was logical. On December 21, 2006, the day Niyazov died, everyone assumed that Rejepov was about to become the decision-maker regardless of the figurehead of the new President Berdymuhammedov. Rejepov aspired for winning a special position in the country and abroad (in the gas market - in the capacity of the man in the Turkmen leadership who made all decisions). He challenged both Berdymuhammedov and the men who had backed the latter in the election. It certainly seems that the new Turkmen leadership is has completed the process of formation. It is poised and ready for anything.
Niyazov and company give way to others. The so called advisers are all that remains of the former team. For instance, the former team is still represented by one Alexander Zhadan. Few men in Kazakhstan have heard this name of one of the most powerful confidants of both Niyazov and Berdymuhammedov. Berdymuhammedov has concentrated practically all powers in his hands, and the nomenclature swallowed it because it does not want another Niyazov's era when the fate of every state official depended on the Turkmenbashi alone and could actually land one in jail. Rejepov fell victim of the regime he himself helped establish.
* * *
One of the independent experts with broad and lengthy experience in Turkmenistan also fails to perceive Rejepov's arrest as something bizarre.
The expert: - Rejepov and Agayev belonged to Niyazov's inner circle and were actively involved in business deals with the president's son Murad. Rejepov did help Berdymuhammedov in his climb to the pinnacle of political power. Berdymuhammedov is now getting rid of the people who helped him, and going about it through pretty traditional ways and means.
This article is also very good: http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=620638
However, Redzhepov has not truly gone away; his allies are still in control of the country’s police and military hierarchy
Not anymore! They’ve gone – all of them. Berdimuhamedov started doing it as soon as Akmurad Redjepov was arrested:
Turkmen president fires heads of Ashgabat and Dashoguz province police departments
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a decree dismissing the head of Ashgabat police department of the Interior ministry of Turkmenistan, lieutenant colonel, Kakaly Tyllayev, for "serious shortcomings in work".
As the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru reports quoting the press service of the head of state, by another decree of the president, the head of Dashoguz province police department of the Interior ministry of Turkmenistan was dismissed on the same grounds.
President of Turkmenistan appoints heads of military and law enforcement agencies
Today, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov signed a number of decrees appointing Geldymukhammet Ashyrmukhammedov as minister of national security of Turkmenistan, Agageldy Mammetgeldyev as minister of defence of Turkmenistan, Bayram Alovov as chairman of the state border service, commander of border troops of Turkmenistan.
Myrat Garryev is appointed minister of justice of Turkmenistan. Akmammet Rakhmanov is appointed interior minister of Turkmenistan. Yagshygeldy Esenov is appointed chairman of the supreme court of Turkmenistan. Mukhammetguly Ogshukov is appointed prosecutor general of Turkmenistan.
By the decree of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, lieutenant colonel Mukhammetberdy Kulyev, who until recently served as chairman of the Ahal province department of the Ministry of national security of Turkmenistan, is appointed rector of the military academy of Turkmenistan.
Jora Hudayberdyev is appointed rector of the police academy of Turkmenistan. Atamyrat Gurdov is appointed rector of the military institute of the ministry of defence of Turkmenistan. Earlier, he worked as pro-rector, first, in the police academy and, then, in the military institute.
According to the decree signed by the president of Turkmenistan, Agamyrat Geldyev is appointed editor-in-chief of Esger (Soldier) newspaper.
- News of the Rejepovs' detention, meanwhile, coincided with reports in regional media that Turkmenistan National Security Minister Geldymurad Ashirmukhammedov had been arrested and his deputy, Agajan Pashshyev, dismissed. Subsequently, however, the Russian RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unnamed source in the Turkmen presidential administration as saying Ashirmukhammedov remained at work and continued to fulfill his ministerial functions. In addition, in April, Berdymukhammedov dismissed Interior Minister Akmammet Rakhmanov as interior minister, accusing officials of his ministry of corruption and links to organized crime.http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/Article.aspx?id=888
16 October 2007:
- “Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov fired two more high-placed Interior Ministry officials, only days after dismissing the head and deputy head of the ministry, Turkmenistan.ru reported Monday.
Lieutenant Kakaly Tyllayev was released from his responsibilities as Ashgabat chief of police, while Major Gurbangeldy Kurbangeldyev was dismissed as acting chief of police in Dashoguz district. Both were discharged for “serious shortcomings” in their professional conduct, Turkmenistan.ru reported.
Tyllayev was appointed head of police by late President Saparmurat Niyazov in March 2006.
Last week, the security ministries underwent a serious shake-up after Interior Minister Khojamurat Annagurbanov, First Deputy Interior Minister Nuryagdy Yagmyrov, and National Security Minister Geldymukhammed Ashirmukhammedov were all removed from their positions.
Berdymukhammedov cited a various reasons for his decision to dismiss Annagurbanov, including abuse of office and nepotism. Yagmyrov was dismissed for professional shortcomings, including his handling of the fire at the Russian Bazaar in Ashgabat. Meanwhile, Ashirmukhammedov reportedly asked to be discharged for health reasons.
The abuses cited by Berdymukhammedov at a special meeting of law enforcement bodies held on Oct. 8 resulted from an inquiry conducted by a state commission set up to investigate citizens’ complaints about the Interior Ministry.
Berdymukhammedov noted at the meeting that public complaints had doubled recently, without specifying a specific time-frame for the inquiry.
A report detailing instances of bribery and forged evidence sanctioned and ordered by Interior Ministry was presented to the meeting by the Prosecutor General Muhammetguly Ogshukov. He cited a specific case in which Annagurbanov, who has been replaced by 37-year old Orazgeldy Amanmyradov, sought to cover up a serious crime committed by his nephew.
Speaking about the Interior Ministry department’s role in the fire at the Russian Bazaar, Berdymukhammedov lamented its failure to draw conclusions from a resolution passed in spring to carry out a complete inventory of facilities for compliance with fire safety regulations.
The dismissal this week of city-level Interior Ministry officials indicates that the purge of the country’s security apparatus is not yet over. Moreover, the rhetoric and the style in which the rotation was executed were highly reminiscent of that deployed under Niyazov’s rule. The charges were at simultaneously generic and lacking in specific detailed as well as highly personalised. Vague references to abuse of office were coupled with accusations of nepotism, which have been the grounds for the downfall of many high-placed Turkmen officials.
The change of personnel and the source of the charges suggest some degree of inter-ministerial conflict and rivalry, also hallmarks of Niyazov’s regime. While the National Security Minister was replaced by the head of the presidential security apparatus, 41-year old Charymurat Amanov, who had himself taken over from Niyazov’s eminence grise, Akmurad Rejepov, the source of the claims made against the Interior Ministry emerged from the office of the Prosecutor General.
Writing in Russian daily newspaper Vremya Novostei, Arkady Dubnov cites sources as saying that the Annagurbanov’s removal as Interior Minister was prompted by his attempt to extort bribes during the recent annual prisoner amnesty.
This is the most benevolent possible interpretation of recent events. The new appointments certainly have a post-Niyazov air about them and it can only be hoped that the Prosecutor General’s reports, which outsiders can only gain access to via state media, reflect some degree of newly discovered puritanical distaste for the excesses of corruption. However, so long as these alleged criminal activities are exposed in Niyazov-style rituals of televised humiliation, there can be no assurance that any progress has been achieved under Berdymukhammedov’s watch.
Transparency remains a distant goal under the present government, signalled most clearly by the almost instantaneous reversal of a policy on Monday to allow comments on the official state web site. If the West harbours any ambitions to engage further with Berdymukhammedov’s government and keep its conscience clean, these simple facts cannot be overlooked.”
Link: http://turkmenistan.neweurasia.net/index.php?tag=russian-bazaar and http://www.turkmenistan.ru/index.php?page_id=3&limit=event_720_20&lang_id=en&sort=date_desc
The possible instability and need for internal reconsolidation has kept the new president from implementing political and economic reforms, though he vows to sort through the disarray and turn his attention to what he considers more important: bringing in foreign investment to develop his country.
Berdimuhamedov has prepared quite an impressive list of things, decrees and resolutions for the last year starting from circus and opera return to the country, to the Academy of Science re-opening. Examples of specific reforms include:
he returned 10 year education;
pensions to the elderly;
re-opened the Academy of Science;
returned opera and circus; - it is not as funny as we can imagine!
returned post graduate education and stopped considering all those studying abroad the enemies of the country;
returned Russian language lessons to the school;
allowed all Turkmen government officials to travel abroad, something almost unheard of during Niyazov’s presidency.
- During the months since the inauguration, Berdymukhammedov has made some changes. He has restored pensions for the elderly and established a new oversight commission for law enforcement agencies. He also has signed a decree introducing compulsory 10-year education, ordered the reinstatement of the Academy of Science, and opened the first Internet cafes in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat.
Furthermore, Berdymukhammedov has put in place new restrictions on the president's power to rename institutions and geographic locations, and to redraw administrative borders. He also has abolished the state-funded dance and music concerts previously held to honor him as he traveled the country. Berdymukhammedov, meanwhile, is seeking a renewal of contacts with the outside world after the long isolation imposed by his predecessor. He recently has visited Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov set to increase number of higher education establishments and carry out pension reform
The candidate for the post of Turkmen president, acting president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov met voters of Mary province at the State Drama Theater in the town of Mary. The meeting was attended by representatives of organizations and industrial enterprises of the province, public organizations and mass media, honorable elders and youth.
As the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru reports referring to the State News Service (TDH), presenting his election program, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov addressed the problems of houses construction, employment, improvement of national system of education, development of agriculture and pension reforms. Touching on the issue of payment of pensions and allowances, the presidential candidate assured that if he is elected he would carry out pension reform in the near future. There will be also adopted decisions to support mothers and children, he said.
The candidate for the presidency particularly noted the problem of drug addiction calling it the "evil of all mankind". Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov assured that all measures would be taken to combat this evil. It is expected that responsibility of border and custom services and law enforcement agencies will be enhanced. Besides, the greater role in this fight will be given to society and, first of all, the Council of Elders.
Speaking about students, the candidate said that along with improving education system in Turkmenistan he would introduce the practice of staff training abroad and inviting foreign specialists to teach in the country's higher education establishments. According to Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the number of high education establishments and students will be increased soon, and a new building of the Turkmen Energy Institute will be built in Mary. More faculties will be opened at the institute in addition to existing once.
As regards the topic of reformation of agricultural complex, the presidential contender once again noted that the optimal program of development of agriculture would be worked out at the forthcoming XX session of the People's Council to be held in the town of Mary. The working group has been set up to prepare drafts of these documents. Our goal is to create a profitable sector that would make returns both to farmers and the state, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said.
May be to add a bit about the Turkmen manat exchange rate and petrol prices that were released by Berdimuhamedov?:
On February 8 2008, Turkmenistan’s president Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov held an extensive Cabinet session where the major courses of Turkmenistan’s economic reform were discussed. One of the key issues was a petrol price shake-up that promptly caught the population’s attention and caused a nationwide panic among car drivers.
President Berdymuhammedov has put significant efforts into reforming the country’s economic and trade sectors in order to make them correspond to international standards and to move toward a market economy. Mr. Berdymuhammedov recently embarked on a project designed to conduct financial reforms by establishing a single exchange rate and declaring a currency denomination starting from 2009. As a part of his Cabinet speech, Mr. Berdymuhammedov spoke of developing a private sector by giving the growing businesses more incentives, such as tax relief and low interest rate loans. However, many wonder why the president would increase the price of petrol by a factor of almost ten while salaries remained unchanged.
Under the state welfare program, the population of Turkmenistan has consumed natural gas, electricity, salt and drinking water free of charge and petrol prices have been next to nothing. At the Cabinet meeting on February 8, Berdymuhammedov put an end to the old system of petrol trade by signing a new plan devised by his deputy prime minister for the oil and gas sector, Tachberdy Tagiyev. Starting from February 11, one liter of petrol costs between 2,800-3,100 manats, equivalent to 15-20 U.S. cents. Previously, one liter cost 1,5-2 cents (cheaper than a glass of soda), ten times under the newly established prices.
Despite the new price hike, the price of petrol is still significantly lower than in neighboring countries, let alone international rates. However, it strikes hard in the pockets of ordinary drivers and the general population. Upon hearing the news on February 8, car drivers hurried to petrol stations the next day, forming lines of several hundred meters, in an attempt to store extra petrol before the new rule took effect. Transportation prices in central cities and for intercity routes almost doubled. The symbolically low prices remained unchanged only for the government-subsidized transportation services in the capital city, Ashgabat. Similar buses for public transportation have long been anticipated in other cities around the country but have yet to appear. The radical shift to change the price has also caused a price increase for common consumer goods and most of the manufactured goods in the market.
The new regulation was met by muted but aggravated reactions. The people who used to pay almost nothing for petrol received the ten-fold increase with disbelief. A series of random interviews held among different layers of local society revealed that the majority of the population is disappointed with the reformist policies of the government. Some are hesitant to criticize the move, and regard the decision to stop a massive illegal flow of petrol and smuggling in other oil products into the neighboring countries as correct. As stated by petrol station employees, the increase in the price of petrol and diesel fuels will also affect the foreign heavy load trailer truck drivers who have benefited from low-priced refueling on their transit route through Turkmenistan.
In order to mitigate heavy resonance from the price hike, the authorities simultaneously introduced a system of rationing by establishing a quota of free petrol for Turkmen citizens. Consequently, car drivers are entitled to receive 120 liters per month, while trucks, buses and tractors receive 200 liters, and all types of motorcycles 40 liters of free petrol. Anything beyond the fixed allowance will be sold at the new price rates. The monthly allowance is given by issuing car owners with special coupons, which are distributed and obtained through the country’s banks. However, obtaining the coupons for 120 liters of free petrol has already caused irritation among drivers. First, drivers complain that the allocated monthly amount is insufficient. Secondly, due to the limited number of banks in the smaller districts of the country, thousands queue to acquire the daily coupons, causing many drivers to give up their entitlement for a free allowance.
Link: http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/4799, but it could be found anywhere.
It is impossible to do everything overnight. In addition, the whole generation of so called Ruhnama kids has grown up, hundred thousands of specialists have fled the country… but at least he is trying…
Berdimukhammedov has not proved to be so adept. The new president is concerned that clans other than his own Ahal clan have more power in the country (through drug money, petrodollars, intelligence services, etc.) and could overturn the Ahal’s hold on the government.
Tribalism is a problem in Turkmenistan, but it is sort of a well organized problem, if I can say so. The leadership of the country always makes sure that there is the right balance of all tribes’ representatives within their administration or organization. If, for example, the Minister is Teke, his deputy would be Chovdur, and his PA would be Ersary. They, in their turn, would bring the representatives of their clans to work. It is a pyramid which a stranger would hardly notice. People of one clan support each other enormously – that is true. Berdimuhamedov is part of the system and he knows how this system works.
Turkmenistan place in the world
I would add a paragraph on the Caspian Sea and relations between littoral states, including Azerbaijan. When Niyazov was alive, I do not remember a single country around Turkmenistan, may be only Talibans that we were the good friends with. He had extremely bad personal relations with all presidents. He did not go anywhere himself and rarely would invite people in the country other than in propagandistic aims.
Berdimuhamedov has made good contacts with his neighbors. Turkmenistan has, for example, sort of interesting relations with Iran. The gas supply to this country is till suspended, but every other month Iran would either arrange a Film Festival in Ashgabat or an Exhibition of the Iranian paintings… The regional situation with Berdimuhamedov is more predictable. I remember the words of Turkmenbashi – “I can feel the smell of the blood in the Caspian Sea” when the two countries started arguing about a disputed deposit. It was actually quoted by many media sources.
However, Berdimukhammedov is a more level-headed leader
and is making his own decisions. This accounts for why, for the first time in Turkmenistan’s history, its president is planning to attend the NATO summit April 2-4 in Bucharest,Romania. Though Turkmenistan has always been wary of the West, the new president is feeling out his options for security outside of Moscow’s umbrella.
I would add here a few words on the new military doctrine that was adopted just a few weeks ago and approved by Berdimuhamedov who seems to be understanding that the border with Iran, for example, should be taken care of within the country and by the country…
Turkmenistan Crafts New Military Doctrine to Meet Potential Threats
on 04 March, 2008 05:56:39 | 245 times read
Adjust font size:
Ashgabat, 4 March 2008 (nCa) --- Turkmenistan will soon adopt a new military doctrine to get ready for any potential threats.
The comprehensive concept covers strengthening of borders by building sufficient number of border posts, construction of new cantonments in strategic locations, introduction of the latest military hardware to bolster defense capability, attaining and maintaining the highest standard of training and battle readiness, and
New Military Doctrine
President Berdymuhamedov described the outlines of the new doctrine Monday during an expanded session of the national security council.
“Now that we are implementing major reforms in the economy and introducing democratic transformations in the society, before us is the challenge of formation of a new policy to counteract the possible threats to the security of Turkmenistan and vital interests of the state,” said the president.
Berdymuhamedov emphasized that there must always be friendship, unanimity and solidarity within the armed forces.
He said that discord can bring defeat even to the best army. He underlined that one of the lessons we could learn from own history is that a state can be lost in an hour because of disunity.
The Turkmen leader said that the basic principles [of the new doctrine] are still based on permanent neutrality of the state and the acknowledgment that necessary level of defense capability must be maintained.
He said that priority will always be given to political and diplomatic solutions and other peaceful means but Turkmenistan must use its full potential for military security.
“Turkmenistan adheres strictly to principles of positive neutrality and peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, inviolability of state borders and respect for conventional principles of international rights,” the Turkmen leader explained.
He called for qualitative improvement of the military and civil armed forces, and their preparedness through training and motivation.
The state will take wide ranging measures to enhance the prestige of the military service, provide social protection to the service personnel and their families, and look after them in every which way, the president said.
Cantonments and Border Posts
Construction of border posts and cantonments under a five year plan (2008-2012) will be covered under two presidential resolutions signed Monday.
Special battalions would be created to help speed up the construction work that is supposed to start as soon as possible.
Foreign contractors would be invited to build the cantonments and border posts.
Defence Minister Agageldy Mammetgeldiyev gave details of the proposed plans for building cantonments in strategic locations. A typical cantonment will have living accommodations for married and bachelor officers, well equipped barracks for soldiers, training and instructional facilities, medical centres and sports grounds.
Architectural designs of the prototype cantonments and border posts were approved during the meeting.
Source: News central Asia Link: http://www.newscentralasia.net/Regional-News/254.html
This has led Berdimukhammedov to pull Turkmenistan’s energy and economic policy in all directions without a clear focus – I would not say it too categorically. He may be a little schizophrenic at times, but is far more focused that his predecessor. There are not all cards on the table by now, we shall wait. He is cautious – that is true.
Most of the Western energy supermajors that have their sites on Turkmenistan’s energy sector -- ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron -- have set up shop in Ashgabat, ready to attack when the president begins dropping the restrictions. – which restrictions?
P.S. About myself:
I was born in Turkmenistan and spent in this fascinating country all my life. I worked for 11 years as the Head of Press and Public Affairs Section in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. My extensive and various duties in the British Embassy included but were not limited to preparation of various Strategy Papers for my Section, speeches for the Ambassador, political reports and reviews, presentations on Turkmenistan at international and local events, conferences.