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Turkmen Report: December 16, 2001

16 December 2001
Ashgabat And Astana Agree Upon Mutual Admission Of Education

14 December 2001

The government of Kazakhstan has approved an agreement with Turkmenistan about mutual admission of the documents about education and scientific degrees and ranks.

The agreement was signed by governments of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Astana on 5 July during the visit of President Saparmurat Niyazov to Kazakhstan.

The agreement determines the order of admission of state documents on education issued by educational institutions of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with internal form of study, documents on awarding of academic degrees, and scientific status issued in both states. (

Turkmenistan Celebrates Neutrality Day

12 December 2001

A military parade marking the sixth anniversary of Turkmenistan's neutrality took place on 12 December in Ashgabat. The parade started at 11.00 a.m. and lasted about 15 minutes. No military vehicles of any kind were involved. The military part of the proceedings was followed by a performance given by folk dancers.

The parade was very similar to the one held to mark the 10th anniversary of independence on 27 October this year. (Turkmen TV)

Turkmenistan Ready To Supply Power, Oil To Afghanistan

12 December 2001

Turkmenistan is ready to take part in restoring postwar Afghanistan's statehood and economy and to provide humanitarian aid for its peaceful people, Turkmen Ambassador to Kazakhstan Muhammet Abalakov told a news conference at the Turkmen Embassy in Astana. The news conference was held to mark the sixth anniversary of the country's neutrality status granted by the UN General Assembly.

"Turkmenistan will take part in all peacekeeping actions in Afghanistan," he said.

The envoy said that more than 15,000 tons of various humanitarian supplies, including food, medicine, and vehicles, had been delivered to Afghanistan via Turkmenistan since the start of the humanitarian campaign.

Also, Turkmenistan is ready to increase electricity and oil products supplies to Afghanistan, Abalakov said.

At the same time, the diplomat said that Turkmenistan "will never participate in military operations in Afghanistan" and will not provide "military aid or assistance in supplying weapons and military contingent."

Abalakov also denied some media reports that there are Afghan refugees on the Afghan-Turkmen border. The Turkmen-Afghan border, which is about 870 kilometers long, "is closed and its protection has been stepped up recently," he said.

The diplomat said that "all Afghan refugees have rushed to the west, in the direction of Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan." Therefore, "there are no refugees on the Turkmen-Afghan border and we don't expect them to appear there," he concluded. (Interfax-Kazakhstan)

Zarubezhneft, Itera Become Partners Of Turkmenistan In Development Of Oil, Gas Deposits

12 December 2001

On 11 December Russian state-owned Zarubezhneft head Nikolai Tokarev and Itera group head Igor Makarov signed the tripartite "Protocol on intentions on development of oil and gas deposits of Turkmenistan" with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat.

In September Zarubezhneft and Itera created a joint company focused on development of perspective deposits in Turkmenistan. Signing the tripartite frame agreement, Niyazov noted that Zarubezhneft is the first Russian oil company to draw up its cooperation in the oil-and-gas sphere in Turkmenistan. This step can be regarded as a fully political event, the Turkmen leader emphasized.

The same day, Itera head Makarov signed a contract on the purchase and sale of 10 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas in 2002 with officials of the Turkmenneftegaz state trading corporation in the presence of Niyazov. (

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan Draft Border Agreement

11 December 2001

Trilateral negotiations on draft agreement on the convergence point of the borders between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have ended in Ashgabat. The sides agreed on a draft agreement which now has to be signed by leaders of the three states.

Bilateral agreements on the delimitation of borders between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have been signed by presidents of the three Central Asian countries. The Turkmen parliament has already ratified these documents.

Determining the point of convergence between the three states' borders has remained the only open question until recently, but now it is hoped to be close to final settlement. (

President Examines New Governors, Dismisses All, Advises Them To Read 'Rukhnama'

11 December 2001

At an expanded meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on 10 December, Turkmen President Niyazov asked the candidates for the positions of administration head for six rural regions of the republic as well as the heads of the state commodities exchange and the agricultural technological association about their duties. Then he made the conclusion that they would not be able to do their jobs because they did not know their duties and he decided not to appoint them to their posts. He set them the task of preparing written submissions about their plans for their future work before he would appoint them.

"In order to become a leader, first of all, you must have a great desire. You do not know your duties. Know your duties and rights," he said. "I made remarks in the 'Rukhnama' on the qualities needed by Turkmen leaders, you should read it."

Niyazov suggested that the candidates should first prepare their own program within a month's time, meet with the local population, and only then be appointed.

Niyazov has called on citizens of the country to personally send him suggestions on questions of selection and appointment of the managerial personnel.

It is planned that the republic's highest representative body � the National Council -- will adopt a law on the leaders next year.

Niyazov criticized rice planting in the regions and said, "People have to buy rice at a high price, but it is being transported to Uzbekistan [presumably being smuggled from northern Dashoguz region]." (Turkmen TV,

Turkmenistan Holds Third Place In The World In Gas Consumption

10 December 2001

According to "Neftegazovaya vertical" magazine, citing Western sources, Turkmenistan currently holds third place in the world in per capita gas consumption, following only the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Last year the world average gas consumption was 400 cubic meters of gas per person; in Turkmenistan this figure is 2,900 cubic meters of the "blue fuel."

The absolute leader in gas consumption is the UAE at 14,300 cubic meters per person, while Kuwait holds second position with 5,300 cubic meters. For comparison, the figures for a number of other nearby countries: Russia -- 2,600, Uzbekistan -- 2,100, Belarus -- 1,600, Ukraine -- 1,300, Iran -- 900, Azerbaijan -- 700, Kazakhstan -- 500, and Turkey -- 200.

The population of Turkmenistan receives their gas free of charge. (

Shikhmuradov Establishes Opposition Website

10 December 2001

The Provisional Executive Council (PEC) of the People's Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan (PDMT) opposition group established and led by former Deputy Premier Boris Shikhmuradov has launched a website at

The purpose of this website is to "inform everyone in the world about the real state of affairs in Turkmenistan, its' dictatorial regime of [President] S. Niyazov, facts about different opposition forces to him, PEC and their coordination in the activities of the democratic movement inside and outside of Turkmenistan." (PEC PDMT)

China To Provide Four Drilling Rigs To Turkmenistan In 2002

8 December 2001

China has signed a contract to manufacture and deliver to Turkmenistan four ZJ70D drilling rigs, components, and spare parts between September and December of next year.

The contract, signed by state enterprise Turkmengaz and China Petroleum Technology Development Corporation, is put at $52.5 million, of which 15 percent is to be paid in advance and the rest will be spread over a six-year period from 2003, a source in the Turkmen president's office told Interfax.

Turkmenneftegaz will have to use revenue from exports of gas condensate and condensate products to compensate for money to be spent under the deal by the Turkmen State Fund for the Development of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry and Mineral Resources.

The Turkmen president has exempted Turkmenneftegaz and Turkmengaz from all taxes, excise, customs duties, deductions for the Interbank Currency Exchange fund, and for the national foreign currency reserve and other duties on any operations under the project. (Interfax)

Turkmenistan Signs Oil Field Equipment Deal With Siemens

8 December 2001

Turkmenistan has signed an agreement with German company Siemens to supplement a framework contract to supply electrical equipment and materials for oil fields run by the state enterprise Turkmenneft.

Turkmenneft is the Turkmen signatory to the supplementary agreement.

About 7 million euros have been allocated under the supplementary deal for equipment and spare parts, a source in the Turkmen president's office told Interfax.

The source also said Niyazov had exempted Turkmenneft and state corporation Turkmenneftegaz from all taxes until all investment under the framework contract is repaid.

The Turkmen State Fund for the Development of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry and Mineral Resources is funding operations under the contract, which was signed in October last year. (Interfax)

U.S. Humanitarian Aid For Afghan Children Arrives In Turkmenistan

10 December 2001

U.S. military aircraft arrived in Ashgabat airport on 10 December with humanitarian aid for Afghan children on the occasion of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. This is the first of two special air flights organized by the U.S. Red Crescent, which have been sent from the state of Maryland in accordance with an initiative of U.S. President George W. Bush. The consignment, which consisted of warm jackets, tents, and presents, was purchased with charitable contributions from American children paid into the U.S. Fund for Afghan Children. The fund was established with the participation of the President Bush at the beginning of October and has already collected over $1.5 million.

This first consignment shows the goodwill of the American children, President Bush said. We believe and hope that the fate of Afghan children will become happier and that the life of children all over the world will improve, he added.

The second special consignment from the fund is to arrive in the capital of Turkmenistan on 11 December. (RFE/RL, Turkmen TV)

Main Purpose Of Niyazov's Neutrality Is Isolation Of Turkmenistan -- Interview With Boris Shikhmuradov

12 December 2001

By Rozinazar Khoudaiberdiev

RFE/RL: Turkmenistan marks Neutrality Day on 12 December. Niyazov is considered to have given neutrality to Turkmenistan, "eternal" neutrality. But nothing seems to be forever.

Boris Shikhmuradov: This is phenomenon number two. Phenomenon number one is that Niyazov thinks he is eternal himself.

RFE/RL: You as a foreign affairs minister have been working hard for a long time on getting neutral status for Turkmenistan. Why did Turkmenistan need neutrality and how did it manage to acquire that status?

Shikhmuradov: The initial idea of transforming Turkmenistan into a neutral state was very fruitful. The Turkmen state and people could have received great benefits from neutrality, like Switzerland did, for example. But something happened that happens to a lot of things in my country. Whatever Niyazov touches, turns into ash, as in a famous old fairy tale. Niyazov has perverted and distorted the idea of neutrality in his own interests. Neutrality was a significant achievement of the entire Turkmen diplomacy. Niyazov uses neutrality to block various international projects. The main purpose of Niyazov's neutrality is the total isolation of Turkmenistan. As a result, Turkmenistan is to blame for no development of the integration process in Central Asia. Niyazov, under the pretext of the state's neutral status, blocks several vital pipeline projects, the Silk Road project supported by the UN and China. Turkmenistan is excluded from the antiterrorism campaign. This all is against the interests of the Turkmen people. If you compare Turkmenistan and Switzerland, you will see that Switzerland has had for more than a hundred years a truly neutral status; this is why the Swiss people have such high living standards today. Considering that the population of Turkmenistan is only 5 million people, it could be possible to provide normal life conditions to all Turkmens not within 10, but three or four years.

On 12 December 1995, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Turkmenistan's neutrality. Do not think it was like Niyazov had been taken to the maternity home, where he gave birth to a healthy strong child, not at all. Niyazov often repeats there are no talented diplomats in Turkmenistan. This is not true. I know there are many talented and highly professional diplomats in my country. Neutrality status was the final result of the joint efforts of experienced and young Turkmen diplomats. Turkmen ambassadors played a very important role in the process. Many foreign state officials and politicians assisted the Turkmen state, too. It had been a long, complicated process.

RFE/RL: What does constant Turkmenistan's neutrality allow and what does it oblige Turkmenistan to do?

Shikhmuradov: Constant neutrality means that a state must maintain neutrality both in peace and at war. More than a hundred years of the Swiss experience represents such a kind of neutrality. There are almost no restrictions, except prohibition of a support of any conflicting sides in a certain country during an ethnic or any other conflict within that country.

RFE/RL: In January 1998, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan came to Ashgabat to visit Niyazov, who said he had been "sick," and offered Niyazov the chance to join the Central Asian Economic Community. Niyazov replied that Turkmenistan was a neutral state and that was why it could not join such a community. How can this be explained?

Shikhmuradov: It is impossible to explain, this makes no sense. This is Niyazov's way of understanding neutrality. According to his own "conception," Turkmenistan has to surround its territory with a fence, and Niyazov would be able to do anything to the miserable Turkmen people.

Turkmenistan should on the contrary join the Central Asian Economic Community and play an important role there. Neutral status allows Turkmenistan to solve many serious problems. My country could have established such a financial and banking system that would attract investors from abroad and let them invest funds into the Turkmen economy. Today they cannot do this, because even Niyazov himself keeps his money not in Turkmen banks, but somewhere else. Investors want to be sure that they can put money into Turkmen banks and then safely withdraw it. Neutrality has great economic value, which has been completely destroyed by Niyazov. Although there have been no benefits for Turkmens from neutrality so far, I believe they will soon experience positive results from the decision, made on 12 December 1995.

RFE/RL: Happy Neutrality Day! (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)