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Turkmen Report: April 15, 2000

15 April 2000
Russia's Putin To Visit Turkmenistan At The End Of May
April 14, 2000

Russia's President-elect Vladimir Putin will visit the Central Asian state of Turkmenistan at the end of May, the official Turkmen Khabarlary agency said on Friday.

"We expect high level Turkmen-Russian talks to take place towards the end of the following month," the agency said.

The Russian embassy in Ashgabat confirmed the information but was unable to provide a concrete date for the visit.

Turkmenistan's oil and gas ministry said the sides would likely sign a deal to export 50 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas every year to Russia for the next 30 years.

The deal was recently proposed by Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, who has been frustrated by the slow progress of U.S.-backed export routes for his country's gas.

Turkmenistan currently sells 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Russia, albeit at a low price of $36 per thousand cubic meters. He has asked Russia to pay at least $42 under the new agreement.

Putin will be inaugurated as Russia's second democratically elected president on May 7. (Reuters)

China's Jiang Zemin To Visit Turkmenistan In May
April 14, 2000

Chinese President Jiang Zemin will visit ex-Soviet Turkmenistan at the end of May and is expected to discuss a planned pipeline to ship Turkmen gas to China, the state-owned Turkmen Khabarlary agency said on Friday.

"The official visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin, scheduled for the end of May, will give a fillip to Turkmen-Chinese bilateral relations," the agency said.

Jiang is expected to announce a grant of five million yuan ($604,000) for joint Turkmen-Chinese projects in the country, it added.

He will also discuss with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov a project for a pipeline linking Turkmen gas fields with markets in China. The line, with a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters a year, is eventually to be extended to Japan.

The Chinese National Oil and Gas Corporation, Japan's Mitsubishi and U.S. Exxon Mobil Corp. signed an agreement in 1995 to conduct a feasibility study for the pipeline which is expected to cost $10-12 billion.

Turkmenistan has enormous gas resources but is hard pressed to export this wealth to dollar-paying markets as it remains dependent on Russian pipelines. It is seeking a number of export routes, though none of them has yet materialized.

Russia's President-elect Vladimir Putin will also visit Turkmenistan towards the end of May and is expected to sign an agreement for the export of Turkmen gas to Russia. It was not clear whether the visits of Putin and Jiang would coincide.

The two leaders are due to meet next month in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on the sidelines of the annual Shanghai Five group summit. The grouping includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. ($1=8.279 Yuan) (Reuters)

Turkmens, Uzbeks To Sign Border Agreement
April 14, 2000

Ex-Soviet Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will soon sign an agreement to officially demarcate their common state borders, a Turkmen government official said on Friday.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that the presidents of the two countries had discussed the issue by telephone. No time-frame was given for the planned agreement.

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan signed a friendship treaty in 1996. But last year they introduced a visa regime for travel between their countries, and Turkmenistan has since erected checkpoints along its borders.

It shares a 1,600-km (1,000 mile) border with Uzbekistan but the old Soviet-era boundaries are not clearly demarcated. The ambiguous borders have caused tensions between the Central Asian states, particularly between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Kazakhstan and Russia are currently working to clearly demarcate their borders. (Reuters)

Turkmen Opposition To Gather In Stockholm For Second Conference
April 11, 2000

In an interview to RFE/RL's Turkmen service, representative of opposition to the regime of President Saparmurat Niyazov, Halmurad Soyunov, said members of the opposition will gather on April 21 in Stockholm for a second conference.

The first such assembly took place on February 26 and was the biggest and most unified showing of the Turkmen opposition ever.

Soyunov told RFE/RL that invitations have been sent to activists in Western Europe and Russia and that the conference pursues the goal of uniting efforts of various groups and movements which oppose Niyazov's regime.

Soyunov also criticized human rights situation in Turkmenistan and praised the results of recent hearing on democratization and human rights in Turkmenistan at the U.S. Congress. (RFE/RL Turkmen service)

Leaders of Turkic-Speaking Nations To Cooperate In Fighting Terrorism
April 8, 2000

Officials from six Turkic-speaking countries ended their summit in Baku today with the adoption of a joint declaration calling for boosting oil and gas production while improving efforts at environmental protection.

The meeting was attended by the presidents of Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were represented by their respective parliament speakers - a snub reflecting disagreements over key issues, such as the use of regional natural resources, according to observers.

In the political portion of their joint declaration, the six countries pledged to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev said he has evidence that extremists responsible for a long hostage-taking incident in Kyrgyzstan last year could attempt a new attack in Uzbekistan this spring or summer.

Nazarbayev did not go into details, but he warned that his country will consider "any action against Uzbekistan as an action against Kazakhstan." (RFE/RL - AP - Itar-Tass)

Pakistani Leader Meets With Afghani-Turkmens
April 2, 2000

Pakistani military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf met with two representatives of the Turkmen Diaspora in Afghanistan to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is a home of more than one hundred thousand Afghan-Turkmens who fled Afghanistan during the civil war and also two years ago during the Taleban's attacks. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)

Turkmen Delegation At OSCE Economic Forum Highlights Reforms And Growth
April 14, 2000

Official delegation from Turkmenistan participated in the Eighth Economic Forum of the OSCE, which took place on April 11-14 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Delegates of the Forum addressed the theme of "economic aspects of post-conflict rehabilitation: the challenges of transformation." Topics discussed at the Forum included economic cooperation between nations, the role of the OSCE, rebuilding and rehabilitation in conflict regions of Kosovo and Central Asia, and environmental consequences of military conflicts.

In a statement presented at the plenary session on April 11, the Turkmen delegation highlighted Turkmenistan's economic growth and its commitment to market economy and the rule of law. According to the statement, "real growth [in 1999] reached 16%, while annual inflation stabilized at 18%."

The delegation said that "the high figures of economic growth were attributed to the increased production of gas and oil products, record harvests of cotton and grain - 1.5 mln. tons of each, rehabilitation and construction of new roads, plants and factories." Also according to the delegation, "Turkmenistan's state budget for 1999 was implemented without any deficit."

Discussing issues of international globalization and legal reform, delegates from Turkmenistan criticized tendency among some nations and international organizations to force the laws and norms of behavior of developed countries onto economies in transition, while ignoring their specific features.

Turkmen delegation urged participants of the Forum to continue programs of international development assistance in countries which are undergoing transition to market economy. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service - OSCE)

Niyazov Stops The Rain For Farming Season
April 12, 2000

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on April 10-12 visited the Tashauz region in the north of Turkmenistan.

Speaking to the farmers, Niyazov said: "So far we have been ableto hold the rain till the end of the farming season, but farming has been slow. I will not be able to hold the rain for more than 9-12 days, because the vegetation might die. I would control the weather, but animals on the farms would be left with no food." (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)

Turkmenistan GDP Grows 12% Over Year
April 11, 2000

Gross domestic product (GDP) has grown 12% over a year to 4.9 trillion manats (5,200 manats/$1), statisticians said in comparing Turkmenistan's economic performance for the first quarter of 1999 and that of 2000.

Industry accounts for 43%, agriculture for 11% and construction for 12% of GDP, the Turkmen National Statistics and Forecast Institute said.

Added value increased 14% in industry, 16% in agriculture and 5% in construction during the year.

The natural gas sector accounted for 21% of GDP in this period, added value in the industry going up 14%. (Interfax)

Turkmenistan Budget Shows Deficit Of 1.4% Of GDP In 1st Quarter
April 11, 2000

Turkmenistan's budget showed a deficit of 71 billion manats or 1.4% of gross domestic product in the first quarter of this year.

One U.S. dollar was worth 5,200 manats on Tuesday at the official rate. (Interfax)

Turkmens Extract Over 12 Billion Cubic Meters of Gas In Jan-Mar 2000
April 10, 2000

Turkmen State News Service reports that since the beginning of the year Turkmenneft [Turkmen Oil] state concern extracted 100,000 tons more oil and gas than in the same period last year. They extracted over 1.5 metric tons of hydrocarbon resources over the first quarter of the year.

The natural gas extraction increased 1.3 times in the west of the country. A total of 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas were extracted there over the first three months of the year 2000. Over 800,000 cubic meters of gas were exported to Iran via the Korpedzhe - Kord-Kuy Turkmen-Iranian gas pipeline.

Overall, the gas extraction in Turkmenistan grew by almost 16% compared to the previous year. Over 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas were extracted by April 1, 2000.

The extraction is rising depending on volumes of gas exports to Iran and Russia. A total of 6.7 billion cubic meters of gas were shipped through the Central Asia-Center [Russia and Europe] main pipeline system since the beginning of the year, which is almost 1 billion more than the amount shipped in the same period last year.

According to Turkmen State News Service, Turkmen oil and gas workers should meet the target for the year 2000: to extract 10 metric tons of oil and 46.5 billion cubic meters of gas. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen State News Service)

Tukmens Optimistic About New Oil And Gas Reserves
April 10, 2000

Turkmen State News Service reports that a new oil-gas deposit Mydar has appeared on the geological map of Turkmenistan.

An industrial inflow of oil was received during testing of the first prospecting borehole in Mydar area in central Karakum desert on April 7, 2000. According to the data of the Akhalneftgazrazvedka [Akhal oil-gas prospecting, in central Turkmenistan] directorate, belonging to the Turkmengaz [Turkmen gas] state concern, the output of the first drilled borehole at a depth of over 2,000 meters is expected to be 200 tons of oil daily. Turkmen State News Service says such impressive results are grounds for expanding prospecting work in Mydar area and on all the territory of the licensed block Kyrk, the common reserves of which are estimated to be more than 400 metric tons of oil.

Geologists are preparing for a second borehole.

According to Turkmen State News Service, new gas reserves have also been discovered in the south-east of the country. The reserves of natural gas in Tek-Tek deposit are more than 100 billion cubic meters [of gas].

A powerful flow of gas was received at the deposits of Toreshyh, including the structure of Kuleshor, Tumbe, Berdiglych and Serhetchi during the prospecting drilling. The reserves of discovered gas are estimated to be more than 600 billion cubic meters [of gas]. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen State News Service)

Azeri Speaker Discusses Caspian Status With Turkmen Counterpart
April 10, 2000

"Friendly relations and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are developing and strengthening day by day," [Azerbaijani] Speaker Murtuz Aleskerov told his Turkmen counterpart, Sakhat Myradov, who headed a delegation of his country at the sixth summit of heads of Turkic-speaking states in Baku on 9th April.

According to Azerbaijani news agency Trend, Aleskerov especially mentioned the Trans-Caucuses transport corridor and the signing of a declaration on the Transcaspian gas pipeline in Istanbul last November as important steps in bilateral relations and regional cooperation. The latter project envisages export of Turkmenistan's "blue fuel" to world markets through the territories of Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Aleskerov also touched on the legal status of Caspian Sea. He said he was sure that five littoral Caspian states would reach a consensus and legal status of the sea would be determined in accordance with international norms on the basis of the median line principle. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Azerbaijani News Agency Trend)

Indonesian Envoy Extols Oil Exploration Cooperation Prospects
April 5, 2000

The ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia [to Russia and Turkmenistan] John Ario Katili on April 5 presented his credentials to Chairman of the Turkmen Mejlis [parliament] [Sakhat] Myradov.

Touching upon the prospects for bilateral relations, Dr. Katili noted that both Turkmenistan and Indonesia have a number of similar economic priorities. The envoy advocated greater cooperation in developing offshore oil and gas deposits.

Ambassador Katili heads the ESCAP UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific research project studying the oceans of the East Asian region and has 16 years of experience as head of the department of natural resources.

The envoy said that Indonesia and Turkmenistan could cooperate in joint seismological research of Turkmenistan's territory, as well as preventive measures in ecology and environmental protection in arid zones. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen State News Service)

Father of President Niyazov To Be Remembered
April 10, 2000

Soil from the tomb of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's father in North Ossetia will be delivered to Turkmenistan.

The president on April 10 ordered the creation of a government commission to oversee the delivery of soil from the mass grave in the village of Chikola in North Ossetia where Atamurat Niyazov who was killed during World War II is buried.

The government commission will be led by the president himself.

The decision is in line with the national traditions of the Turkmen people and numerous appeals by World War Ii veterans and aims at bringing up the young generation in the spirit of patriotism and high moral standards, the presidential edict said.

The memory of Atamurat Niyazov will be perpetuated in May when the 55th anniversary of the victory over the Nazi in World War II will be marked.

Turkmen public organizations have proposed that Atamurat Niyazov be awarded the title of hero of Turkmenistan posthumously. (Itar-Tass)