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Turkmen Report: September 16, 2000


16 September 2000
POLITICAL, SOCIAL, HUMAN RIGHTS NEWS
Turkmen Parliament Opens Autumn Session
September 15, 2000

The second Turkmen Mejlis [parliament] started its autumn session today.

In the first day, the Mejlis members focused on President Niyazov's recent address to the UN Millennium Summit, "The Turkmen nation and the world," Turkmen TV has reported. It said that the lawmakers agreed that "this document is the major program for developing the Turkmen society and state in the 21st century."

The Mejlis also discussed plans for and determined the list of draft laws to be considered during the autumn session. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen TV Channel 1)

OSCE Center In Ashgabat "Is Doing Its Utmost" - Center Chief
September 14, 2000

"[The OSCE center in Ashgabat] is doing its utmost to carry out its mandate in its entirety, including those parts related to democratization and human rights," head of the center, Ambassador Istvan Venczel, said in a letter to RFE/RL.

The Ambassador's remarks come as a response to a letter from RFE/RL listeners in Turkmenistan published in the RFE/RL Turkmen Report last week. The listeners claimed that the OSCE officials in Ashgabat are not able to provide an adequate protection of human rights and refuse to meet with visitors.

However, Ambassador Venczel assures that "the signatories of the letter are always welcome to come to the Center and speak with the appropriate staff."

Venczel dismissed the letter-writers' allegations against the Center staff, saying they are "totally unfounded and unworthy of further comment." (RFE/RL)

Niyazov Moves Oil And Gas Minister To Governor Post
September 14, 2000

Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov appointed the minister of oil, gas, and mineral resources, Rejepbay Arazov, a governor of the Balkan region in western Turkmenistan, Turkmen State News Service has reported. Niyazov briefly visited the region today. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen State News Service)

Niyazov Approves Plan For Building Presidential Residence In Turkey
September 14, 2000

Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov has approved plans for building a presidential residence in Antalya (Turkey).

A picturesque plot of land of 20 hectares on the Mediterranean coast is said to have been set aside for Niyazov several years ago as a gift from the Turkish people.

Niyazov discussed construction plans at a meeting with Akhmed Chalyk, Turkmen envoy for fuel and cotton marketing in Turkey. He also mapped out guidelines for the Turkmenin Altyn Asyri joint venture which sells natural gas both in and outside Turkey. Headed by Chalyk, who holds both Turkish and Turkmen citizenship, the company works together with the Turkish company Botash, the official Turkmen gas buyer on the Turkish market. (Interfax)

Uzbek President To Visit Turkmenistan On September 21-22
September 14, 2000

Uzbek president Islam Karimov will visit Turkmenistan on September 21-22, Karimov and his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov agreed during a telephone conversation yesterday.

Karimov and Niyazov are expected to discuss situation on the Uzbek-Turkmen border, known as "a border of peace and friendship" in Turkmenistan, and sign a package of bilateral agreements. (Interfax, Itar-Tass)

Turkmen President In Good Physical Shape
September 14, 2000

A top German heart surgeon gave a clean bill of health to Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov despite his failure to attend the recent UN Millennium Summit in New York due to illness, a report said.

Hans Meissner, head of the Munich Cardiology Center, told the Neitralny Turkmenistan newspaper yesterday that he was satisfied with the condition of the 60-year-old president.

"Despite the huge (work) load, connected with the fulfilling of his duties as head of state, my distinguished patient is in good physical shape," Meissner told he newspaper.

Meissner, who conducted open heart surgery on Niyazov in 1997, travels to Ashgabat twice a year to examine the Turkmen leader. (AFP)

Listeners' Letter Claims Authorities Destroy Homes, Cemetery
September 14, 2000

Turkmen authorities are carrying out systematic destruction of residential buildings and homes, RFE/RL listeners' letter claims.

Under the pretext of modernizing the country, the authorities demolish private residences and remove people from their homes, refusing to provide them with alternative housing, the letter says.

The letter-writers mention that in the village of Karadamak, residents gathered together to defend their homes and forced the authorities to retreat. However, they are afraid now that their dissent was videotaped and that they will be called up to the KNB, the state security service.

Also, according to the letter, the authorities are demolishing a cemetery Kochkar Ata in central Ashgabat, a resting place for many victims of the 1948 earthquake in Turkmenistan. The letter says that in spite of the Turkmens' traditional respect for and fear of the dead, the authorities force women to follow the bulldozers and gather the bones, immediately firing those who refuses to work. (RFE/RL)

Turkmenistan Criticizes Doubts About Plan To Build Lake In Desert
September 13, 2000

Turkmen officials today dismissed criticism of an ambitious presidential project to build a four billion dollar artificial lake in the middle of the Karakum desert, Interfax reported.

"Turkmenistan during its years of independence has shown that it can take on some of the grandest projects," a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

"Considering what we have achieved during the 1990s, it is obvious that the project, which will be realized over a 20-year period is completely realistic," the spokesman added.

Under the grandiose scheme of autocratic President Saparmurat Niyazov, the 132 cubic kilometer lake would cover three-and-a-half-thousand square kilometers of the arid Central Asian state, according to Turkmen newspapers.

Officials say the lake would gather water that usually floods the country's lowlands and would aid crop growth as well as fishing.

But critical Russian media have poured scorn on the scheme, saying Niyazov would have difficulty finding the cash to realize his extravagant plan.

The Izvestiya daily said that the Turkmen president wished to go down in history as the creator of such a monumental scheme in a country where he is already the subject of a personality cult.

Niyazov has already spent millions of dollars building lavish palaces and monuments to himself, while parts of the Central Asian state are left without electricity and running water. (AFP)

U.S. Congressmen Condemn Central Asian Leaders In A Draft Bill
September 12, 2000

U.S. congressmen Christopher Smith, Doug Bereuter, Steny Hoyer, and Michael Forbes have submitted a draft bill on Central Asia to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The congressmen express "deep concern about the tendency of Central Asian leaders to seek to remain in power indefinitely and their willingness to manipulate constitutions, elections, and legislative and judicial systems, to do so" and urge the U.S. government "to raise with Central Asian leaders, at very opportunity, the concern about serious violations of human rights, including noncompliance with OSCE commitments on democracy and rule of law."

The draft bill claims with respect to Turkmenistan that the country does not observe any internationally recognized human rights, "has committed political dissidents to psychiatric institutions," has failed to hold free and fair elections, and has banned all political opposition and censored the media. The bill further accuses Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov of being "the object of a cult of personality" and of having "orchestrated a vote of the People's Council in December 1999 that essentially makes him President for life."

The U.S. congressmen also urge "the Voice of America and Radio Liberty to expand broadcasting to Central Asia with a focus of assuring that the peoples of the region have access to unbiased news and programs that support respect for human rights and the establishment of democracy and the rule of law." (U.S. House of Representatives)

ECONOMIC NEWS
Georgia Fails To Reschedule Gas Debt To Turkmenistan
September 14, 2000

During visits to Ashgabat in early September, Georgian Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili and a Georgian government delegation headed by Deputy Minister of State Levan Dzneladze failed to reach agreement with the Turkmen leadership on rescheduling Georgia's $348.8 million debt for gas supplies in 1993-1994, Caucasus Press reported on September 13.

Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Avtandil Napetvardize told journalists that Tbilisi proposed two approaches to covering that debt, both of which would entail providing consumer goods to meet part of the sum owed and rescheduling the remaining amount. The Turkmen side, however, rejected both proposals. (RFE/RL)

U.S. Policy On Baku-Ceyhan Will Not Change After Elections - Wolf
September 13, 2000

John Wolf, advisor to the U.S. president and secretary of state on Caspian basin energy diplomacy, has reportedly stated that Washington's policy on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project would not change after the U.S. presidential elections on November 7.

Speaking at a conference "Azerbaijan: The Gateway to Eurasia" attended also by Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, Wolf said the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project has, for the most part, been going according to schedule.

Commenting on natural gas resources in the Caspian region, Wolf said the U.S. wanted Turkmenistan to join the project to sell natural gas to Turkey, but added that in the event of a Turkmen refusal to join, there were other natural gas reserves in the region similar to those in Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, the president of Exxon-Mobil, Terry Koonce, said he is not satisfied with the feasibility of the Baku-Ceyhan project. He proposed that Russia's Novorossiisk route should be considered as an option for the project's early oil production. (Turkish Daily News)

Caspian States' Summit In Tehran To Move Positions Closer - Kalyuzhny
September 12, 2000

The main aim of a working group trying to determine the legal status of the Caspian Sea at the upcoming meeting in Tehran at the end of September is to coordinate positions of the Caspian littoral states, Victor Kalyuzhny, Russian presidential envoy in the Caspian, told Interfax.

Kalyuzhny admitted that he does not expect "any major constructive decisions" to be made at the summit, but said that "these meetings give the states a chance to understand each other."

Kalyuzhny further commented on the recent agreement between Iran and Turkmenistan on the use of Caspian resources. "Our task in this case is to be patient and to promote Russia's position more actively - that is, general use of the water area with territorial division of the sea bed and joint development of disputed deposits," he said. (Interfax)

Kazakhstan's Oil Exports Move In Mysterious Ways
September 13, 2000

A massive 63 percent of all crude oil exported by Kazakhstan last year was delivered to offshore tax havens, an official report claims.

Information prepared by the ministry of energy, industry and trade, seen today by Reuters, shows that crude worth USD 1.2 billion, out of total oil exports worth USD 2.04 billion, went to tax havens in 1999. The level of exports to locations such as Bermuda and the Virgin Islands, not usually known for their massive oil demand, is growing again this year.

The reason, the government says, is transfer pricing. Under this system, exporters are alleged to sell crude to their own subsidiaries in tax havens at below-market prices. The subsidiaries then sell the crude on at the market rate, according to the government, so avoid paying full taxes to Kazakhstan.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev is working on measures to combat the practice, but meanwhile the Virgin Islands are still showing an unabated thirst for Kazakh crude.

Kazakhstan produces around 30 million tons (600,000 barrels per day) of crude oil and gas condensate. It exported 23.7 million tons (475,000 barrels per day) last year, the ministry said. (Reuters)

Turkmen President To Boost Economic Ties With Emirates
September 13, 2000

Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov met today with the special adviser to the president of the United Arabic Emirates on CIS affairs to discuss Turkmen-UAE joint projects. Among them are construction of a historical museum in Turkmenistan and modernization of an airport in southern Mary region to be financed by the Abu Dhabi development fund, Turkmen TV has reported.

President Niyazov is expected to visit the UAE next year. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen TV Channel 1)

Turkmenistan's Money Supply Rose 94.2% In January-July
September 13, 2000

Turkmenistan's money supply went up 94.2%, or 1.69 trillion manats, in the first seven months of 2000 and totaled 3.49 trillion manats as of August 1, according to Central Bank of Turkmenistan figures.

The volume of cash rose 51.7% to 1.53 trillion manats, while the non-cash component rose 148.8% to 1.96 trillion manats.

The share of cash in the overall money supply dropped from 56.2% to 43.8%, with non-cash rose from 43.8% to 56.2%.

The official exchange rate for September 13 is 5,200 manats for $1. (Interfax)

Turkmen State Budget Deficit Reaches 2.3% Of Expenditures In Jan-Aug
September 11, 2000

Turkmenistan's state budget deficit reached 86 billion manats, or 2.3% of expenditures, in the period between January and August 2000.

According to the Turkmen Ministry of Economy and Finance, the state revenue in this period reached 3 trillion 572 billion manats, or 96% of the targeted figure. As for the revenues, tax proceeds reached 3 trillion 374 billion manats (94.4% of all revenues), or 103% of the targeted figure. Most tax proceeds came from the oil and gas industry (37%).

The Turkmen state budget's expenditures in the period between January and August reached 3 trillion 658 billion manats, or 87% of the targeted figure.

The biggest expense items were pension payments, allowances, and stipends - 2.8 trillion manats, including expenses on education of 530 billion manats. Treasury note settlements accounted for 23% of the budget spending. (Interfax)

Turkmenistan Produces Almost 30 Bcm Of Gas In First Eight Months
September 11, 2000

Gas production in Turkmenistan in the first eight months of the year amounted to 28.85 billion cubic meters, up 60% year-on-year.

According to the National Institute for Sate Statistics and Information, gas condensate production also increased 60% and reached 209,500 tons. Sales to consumers in the reporting period are estimated at 3.1 trillion manats ($1 = 5,200 manats), 98% of which was in export sales. However, consumers had paid for only 46% of gas supplied as of September 1 this year.

Oil production, including gas condensate, increased 1% to 4.74 million tons. The state company Turkmenneft sold 97% of oil for 851.3 billion manats (up 8% year-on-year). A total of 80% of oil produced was exported.

Primary refining of oil in the republic in the first eight months also increased 1% year-on-year to 34.17 million tons. The republic produced 643,400 tons of gasoline (up 14% year-on-year); 911,100 tons of diesel (down 1%); 1.06 million tons of fuel oil (down 3%); 84,700 tons of furnace oil (down 26%) and 38,400 tons of oil bitumen (up 2%). Total production in the oil refining industry is estimated at 296 billion manats (up 4%).

Oil products sold to consumers amounted to 396 billion manats (up 45%), including 174 billion manats in exports (4% of total sales, compared to 17% one year earlier). A significant share (85%) of the products sold has been paid for.

The overall share of the oil and gas complex in Turkmen industrial production, which amounted to 6.9 trillion manats in the first eight months of the year, reached 63% as compared with 49% in the same period last year. (Interfax)

Russia Should Pay Its Debts As Soon As Possible - Niyazov
September 10, 2000

Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov met in Ashgabat with the head of the governing board of Russia's Oneximbank, Mikhail Prokhorov, to discuss settling Russia's debts to Turkmenistan, Turkmen TV reported on September 8.

While praising Turkmen-Russian relations, Niyazov insisted that Russia's debts for 1992 and 1993 should be repaid as soon as possible. (BBC Central Asia Monitoring - Turkmen TV Channel 1)

REGIONAL NEWS
Third Night Of Fighting Reported In South Kyrgyzstan; U.S. Adds IMU To Terror List
September 15, 2000

Armed militants from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacked Kyrgyz government troops near the Tajik border last night for the third night in a row.

Kyrgyz Defense Ministry spokesman Bolot Imanaliyev said about 10 militants attacked the Jyluu-Suu border post using grenade launchers and high-caliber machine guns. Kyrgyz forces repelled the militants. The border post is located on the shortest route to Tajikistan.

Kyrgyzstan's government has repeatedly said the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has bases in Tajikistan and both this and last summer's invasions started from Tajikistan's mountains. However, Tajik president Emomali Rakhmonov, visiting eastern Tajikistan today, said there are no IMU bases in the region.

Meanwhile, the State Department says the U.S. has added the IMU to its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The action means that American citizens are prohibited from donating money or other material support to the IMU. It also means that IMU members can be denied entry permits into the U.S. or deported.

The designation also gives the U.S. Treasury Department authority to seize assets held by the group or its members in the United States.

IMU members are blamed for killing more than 30 Kyrgyz soldiers and 20 Uzbek soldiers in fighting in the Ferghana Valley since August. (RFE/RL)

Central Asian States Approve Plan To Counter Afghan Drug Trade
September 14, 2000

Representatives from Afghanistan's neighboring countries have approved a UN plan to counter the soaring trade in heroin from the country.

The UN's Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention said that the plan calls for greater regional cooperation in intercepting cross-border illegal drug shipments. Other measures include the control of chemicals used to produce drugs from Afghanistan.

The UN drug control office says Taleban-controlled Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of heroin. The Taleban regime announced steps to stop the trade earlier this year but flows of large amounts of heroin through Central Asia continue. The countries which met in New York to approve the drug fighting plan are Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, Russia and the United States.

Also at a conference in Kazakhstan on September 12, observers said fighting in Central Asia has more to do with the lucrative drug trade than with Islamic militancy, Reuters has reported. (RFE/RL, Reuters)

Kyrgyz President Registered To Run For Another Term, Opposition Complains Of Irregularities
September 15, 2000

Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission has officially registered the country's incumbent president Askar Akayev to run for another term in office in the next month's elections. Three other candidates, deputy speaker of parliament Omurbek Tekebaev, journalist Melis Eshimkanov, and chairman of the board of directors of the Forum industrial group Almaz Atambayev, are also officially registered.

Overall, 19 politicians submitted requests to run in the October 29 election before the closing date of September 13, but a number of them had already failed the required, but much criticized Kyrgyz language exam.

Atambayev has told Interfax that registration for the elections is being done "in an unfair manner." Also, a representative of the Arnamys party leader Felix Kulov, who is scheduled to take the controversial language exam on September 18, has asked the Election Commission to have law enforcement agencies discontinue "illegal methods" of checking and pressuring Kulov's supporters. Another candidate, Eshimkanov, has claimed there is "a realistic threat of falsification of the election results in favor of President Askar Akayev." (RFE/RL)

Kyrgyz Court Quashes Acquittal Of Opposition Candidate
September 11, 2000

An appeal court in Kyrgyzstan has set aside the acquittal of an opposition leader and ordered his case to go again before a military court.

Head of the Arnamys party, Felix Kulov, last month was acquitted of charges of abusing his position while national security minister. The court freed him to stand as a candidate in the October presidential vote.

Arnamys party lawyer Urmat Sovetov said the appeal court today revoked Kulov's acquittal and gave an order preventing him from leaving the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

The decision comes a month and a half before Kyrgyz presidential elections, during which Kulov was set to become the main challenger to President Askar Akayev. The current president has been in power since Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in 1991.

Sovetov said the reason for this decision is to remove Kulov from the election campaign. (RFE/RL)

Human Rights Violations In Central Asia Worry U.S. Congressional Panel
September 13, 2000

A U.S. Congressional subcommittee has taken up concerns about serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in most states of Central Asia.

In what is commonly referred to as a "mark-up," subcommittee members passed an updated version of legislation expressing deep concern about several ongoing events in Central Asia. Committee members took to task some Central Asian leaders, whom they said seek to remain in power indefinitely, all the while manipulating constitutions, elections and legislative and judicial systems to do so.

The bill next goes before the full committee of the U.S. House International Relations Committee at a time still to be determined. The legislation urges Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to comply with OSCE commitments on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, specifically with regard to the holding of free and fair elections.

The subcommittee also urges Central Asian leaders to establish conditions for independent and opposition media to function without constraint, limitation or fear of harassment. (RFE/RL)

Council of Europe Warns Azerbaijan Over Arrest Of Opposition Journalist; Azerbaijani Official Says Arifoglu Satisfied With Jail Conditions
September 12, 2000

Lord Russell Johnston, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has written to Azerbaijan's parliamentary speaker Murtuz Alesqerov to inform him that the August 22 arrest of Rauf Arifoglu, editor of the opposition newspaper Yeni Musavat, may delay Azerbaijan's admittance as a full member of the council, Turan and AP have reported.

Russell Johnston requested clarification of the charges of terrorism and attempted hijacking brought against Arifoglu, noting that "the obligation to guarantee freedom of expression and the independence of the media is a key commitment your country has undertaken to become a member of our Organization."

On September 7, presidential administration official Ali Hasanov said it would not be "a tragedy" if Azerbaijan were not admitted to full membership in the Council.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry press secretary Araz Gurbanov told journalists on September 9 that there is no truth to claims by Rauf Arifoglu's lawyer that the detained journalist's rights are being infringed or that an attempt has been made to poison him, Turan reported.

Gurbanov said Arifoglu is allowed to receive books, newspapers, and food brought by his relatives and to hold unlimited meetings with his lawyer, Vidadi Mahmudov.

Mahmudov had quoted Arifoglu as saying that he is strip-searched both before and after his meetings with the lawyer.

Earlier in the week, the Baku municipal authorities rejected a request by the independent Union of Editors to convene a picket outside the Prosecutor-General's Office to protest Arifoglu's arrest. Deputy mayor Gabil Abbasoglu said such a protest could be construed as pressure intended to influence the conduct of the investigation. (RFE/RL)

U.S. Urges Azerbaijan To Ensure Parliamentary Poll Is Democratic
September 11, 2000

In a statement released in Washington, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker called on the leadership of Azerbaijan to implement the remaining proposals by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights aimed at creating conditions that will ensure that the 5 November parliamentary poll is free and fair, Turan reported.

Those proposals include guaranteeing access to polling stations by independent domestic election observers and allowing the functioning of free media. The statement also encouraged the Azerbaijani leadership to engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition in the run-up to the ballot. (RFE/RL)

RFE/RL ANALYSIS
Dispute Over Oilfield Costly To Both Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan
by Michael Lelyveld, RFE/RL

September 12, 2000

Azerbaijan has renewed its offer to develop a disputed Caspian oilfield jointly with Turkmenistan, but the issue remains deadlocked despite the cost of the disagreement to both countries.

Last week, Ilham Aliyev, vice president of the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, offered to set up a joint operating company with Turkmenistan to exploit the Caspian border field which is claimed by both countries. But Aliyev said Turkmenistan has refused and continues to claim two other fields where Azerbaijan is already pumping oil.

Aliyev, the son and possible successor to President Heydar Aliyev, said that Ashgabat would be unable to develop the Kyapaz oilfield on its own because of the high cost of building new infrastructure and access through Turkmenistan, which calls the field Serdar.

Azerbaijan has been offering to divide the oilfield's resources since 1997, when Turkmenistan lodged its claims and convinced the Russian government to cancel contracts between SOCAR and the Lukoil and Rosneft oil companies. Turkmenistan has been unwilling to settle for anything less than the entire field, which contains an estimated 50 million tons of oil.

Baku's latest bid for a compromise comes as President Aliyev visits Washington this week for an annual oil conference sponsored by the U.S.-Azerbaijan Business Council. Officials are scheduled to sign a contract for development of an onshore field that is believed to be less significant than Kyapaz-Serdar.

The pace of Azerbaijan's oil discoveries has slowed since the border dispute erupted, although the country has found huge deposits of gas. But the Caspian feud has aggravated problems for both oil and gas development on both sides of the Caspian shore.

Because development of the deposit has already been delayed for more than three years, it cannot help Azerbaijan as it tries to find enough oil to fill the planned pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. In retaliation, Azerbaijan has demanded a half-share in the capacity of the trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan, reducing the benefits for Ashgabat.

Attempts to put the oilfield issue aside or to pretend that it does not affect the trans-Caspian gas plan have proved fruitless. Azerbaijan, which faces a gas shortage this winter before its own fields are developed, also has been unable to tap into exports from Turkmenistan.

But in addition to the delays and lost benefits for both countries, the argument over Kyapaz-Serdar has created a puzzle for all Caspian nations that may be impossible to solve.

Because there is still no legal formula for dividing the Caspian among the five shoreline nations, there is no framework for settling the Kyapaz-Serdar dispute. Any formula for division also seems unlikely unless the claims to bilateral border resources can be resolved first.

Russia's representative for the Caspian, Viktor Kalyuzhny, recently proposed that all disputed border resources be shared, but Turkmenistan rejected the plan. Azerbaijan and Iran also found other aspects of the Russian division formula objectionable.

Without an agreement on dividing the Caspian, all offshore projects may be open to challenge by one country or another, even those developments that are already under way. Sooner or later, the situation is likely to entail costs or delays for all Caspian countries as each moves closer toward new offshore deals.

A meeting of foreign ministers in Tehran on the Caspian question is expected later this month. Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov also has made a bid for talks in Ashgabat.

But neither effort appears likely to be successful until Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan can untie the knot they have wound around Kyapaz-Serdar.

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