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Turkmen Report: May 20, 2002

20 May 2002
Turkmen President Awarded For Aviation Development

18 May 2002

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov was awarded a gold medal and honorary diploma "for specific contribution to the development of aviation" on 17 May, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Tatyana Anodina, the chairwoman of the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee, presented the award to Niyazov.

Anodina praised "the enormous contribution of President Niyazov to the creation and development of national aviation in Turkmenistan." She said the country had considerably renovated its aircraft fleet in the 10 years of independence, launched dozens of new international flights, reconstructed runways of its central airports to international levels, and modernized the air navigation system. Turkmenistan was one of the first CIS countries to build a modern airport in its capital, Ashgabat. (ITAR-TASS)

Belarusian President Ends First Official Visit To Turkmenistan

17 May 2002

Turkmen President Niyazov and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka agreed to increase cooperation in the spheres of oil, gas, and agriculture, RFE/RL reported on 17 May. Lukashenka ended a three-day visit to Turkmenistan, which started on 15 May, with a press conference in Ashgabat. He said Belarus intends to buy 50,000 tons of cotton from Turkmenistan, and that his government is "closely studying the issue of oil and gas production in Turkmenistan." Niyazov said at the press conference that his country is interested in receiving agricultural equipment from Belarus. He also said the two former Soviet republics "will cooperate in the military and technical spheres."

Niyazov and Lukashenka signed a friendship and cooperation treaty between their countries, an agreement covering the delivery of Belarusian machinery and automobiles to Turkmenistan and Turkmen cotton to Belarus, as well as an agreement to extradite criminals and a document regulating tax issues between the two countries. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, AFP, ITAR-TASS)

Iran To Boost Oil Barter With Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan

17 May 2002

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Iran seeks to boost oil-barter trade with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, AFP reported on 17 May. Khatami, speaking in the northern city of Sari in Mazandaran Province, said Iran is currently trading 40,000 to 80,000 barrels per day with the two countries. He said he hoped for agreements that will increase the figure to between 300,000 and 380,000 barrels per day.

Iran buys oil, mainly from Turkmenistan, in exchange for goods. Khatami called for the "development of trade in marine industrial [products], fishing, and maritime transport" with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. (AFP)

Turkmenistan Intends To Buy Modern Military Equipment In Belarus

17 May 2002

A delegation from the Turkmen Defense Ministry plans to visit Belarus to see what that country's defense industry can offer to Turkmenistan, President Niyazov told a news conference in Ashgabat on 17 May, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Turkmen delegation will also be present at military exercises, which are to take place in Belarus, Niyazov said.

"A sovereign and neutral state, just like any other country, must be able to defend itself. It is for the purposes of defense that we intend to provide the army with the most up-to-date hardware and draw on the latest achievements in this respect," Niyazov emphasized. (Interfax, ITAR-TASS)

World Bank Considering Central Asian Pipeline

15 May 2002

World Bank President James Wolfensohn says the World Bank is interested in possibly becoming involved in a proposed pipeline to transport gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan or India, AFP reported on 15 May. Speaking during his visit to Kabul, Wolfensohn said a number of companies have expressed interest in the project.

He said the World Bank does not want to take an entrepreneurial role, but may consider becoming financially involved in the pipeline project. Wolfensohn added that the governments of the countries involved need to discuss the pipeline further before the World Bank would be ready to participate. (AFP)

Another Officer Of National Security Committee Fired

14 May 2002

A senior officer of the Turkmen National Security Committee (KNB) and chief of the Foreign Ministry's Consular Section, Lieutenant Colonel Serdar Yagshiev, has been dismissed, Interfax reported on 14 May. Yagshiev was transferred to the Foreign Ministry in 2001.

"Yagshiev has recently become less demanding on the job and failed to control compliance with law and order, which gave rise to serious violations," KNB Chairman Colonel General Poran Berdiev told journalists. "Yagshiev breached regulations and laws relevant to the law enforcement agencies. He compromised himself as a serviceman of the National Security Committee. Yagshiev abused his office for personal gain," Berdiev said. In compliance with Niyazov's decree, Yagshiev was stripped of his military rank, material and other benefits, as well as state awards. (Interfax)

U.S. Ready To Support Project Of Trans-Afghan Gas Main

14 May 2002

The United States is ready to support any commercially profitable project of pipeline construction from Afghanistan to Pakistan, U.S. State Department Special Envoy in the Caspian Region Steven Mann told journalists in Ashgabat. According to on 14 May, a meeting of President Niyazov, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai is to take place later this month in Islamabad. The possible construction of a trans-Afghan gas main for the delivery of Turkmen gas to Pakistan will be discussed during the meeting.

Speaking with journalists on 13 May, Afghan Minister for Mines and Industry Mohammad Alem Razm said that at the forthcoming meeting in Pakistan, Hamid Karzai intends to make a proposal on construction of a road parallel to the pipeline and a gas-distribution network of the nearest populated areas in Afghanistan. According to Razm, "Afghanistan assumes all responsibility for the safety of the gas pipeline and hopes that in 30 years it will become Afghanistan's own," (

Turkmen President Meets Head Of Russian Foreign Intelligence

14 May 2002

President Niyazov and Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Lebedev met on 14 May to discuss cooperation between the intelligence services of the two countries under modern conditions, ITAR-TASS reported the same day.

The cooperation agreement between the Turkmen KNB and the Russian SVR has been in effect since 1994. Cooperation between the two bodies covers such areas as countering organized crime, drug trafficking, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Niyazov and Lebedev also discussed the search for and extradition of criminals. They agreed that mutually beneficial cooperation with due consideration of the security interests of Turkmenistan and Russia would be useful for both countries. (ITAR-TASS)

Niyazov Makes Changes In Interior, Defense Bodies

13 May 2002

Speaking at a government meeting on 13 May, President Niyazov said that fire department, traffic police, extra-departmental guard service, and some other components of the Interior Ministry will be subordinated to the Defense Ministry by fall, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Niyazov said the measure was aimed at restoring order to the "corrupt, bribe-taking traffic police force."

Newcomers to the force have so far been selected exclusively from wealthy families. Nepotism has been standard practice. From now on motor traffic will be controlled by officers and men on active service stationed at military garrisons. President Niyazov hopes the very nature of military service will rule out bribes.

To let soldiers perform the duties of traffic police the Turkmen president signed a special resolution allowing the issuing of driving licenses to young men who have turned 17. Volunteers can join the Turkmen army also at the age of 17. To give army officers professional training the military academy will open a special traffic police department.

Niyazov has also announced plans for staff reductions in the Interior Ministry. A total of 9,000 Interior Ministry staff members will be dismissed. The president demanded that former staff members from the traffic police, the fire department, and the extra-departmental guard service not be employed in the new institutions. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Interfax, ITAR-TASS)

New Interior Minister Appointed In Turkmenistan

13 May 2002

During a 13 May session of the Turkmen government, President Niyazov appointed Colonel Annaberdy Kakabaev as the new interior minister for a six-month probation period, Interfax and reported. In the event of his failure to perform his official duties up to requirements, he will be dismissed without being offered another post.

Before his promotion, Kakabaev served as deputy interior minister responsible for correction institutions. The previous interior minister, Colonel General Poran Berdiev was named head of the National Security Committee (KNB) about two months ago.

Kakabaev was heading the KNB's department in the Lebap Velayat (former Charjou region) two months before he joined the ministry. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Interfax,

Turkmenistan To Attend WTO Conference In Tbilisi

12 May 2002

Turkmenistan will attend the international conference of economic, finance, and trade ministers from the countries of the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia to take place in Tbilisi, Georgia, under the aegis of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 21-22 May.

The participants will determine and create the conditions necessary to include these countries in a trade system in the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia. Another purpose of the conference is to determine the amount of technical support needed to accomplish this task and who will receive support, the Georgian Foreign Ministry told Interfax on 12 May. Delegations from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan are to attend the conference. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and WTO General Director Mike Moore will convene the conference.

The conference participants will include representatives from the U.S., Japan, the EU, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Pact, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Bank for Regional Development, and other international organizations as well as embassies accredited in Georgia. (Interfax)