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Turkmen NGO Officials Allowed Entry To OSCE Meeting

The exiled leaders of two Turkmen nongovernmental organizations have been allowed to attend the second part of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference in Vienna, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Nurmuhammet Hanamov, founding chairman of the Republican Party of Turkmenistan, and Farid Tuhbatuliln, head of the Turkmen Initiative Group, were allowed into the conference on October 19 after being told at the start of the meeting on October 18 that their applications were still being considered.

Hanamov, a former Turkmen ambassador to Turkey, told RFE/RL from Vienna that the decision to allow him and Tuhbatuliln to participate in the conference was made by the OSCE's general secretary after strong support from the U.S. and several European delegations at the conference.

Hanamov said attempts to keep him and Tuhbatuliln from participating "harms [Turkmen President Gurbanguly] Berdymukhammedov's image and reputation."

Hanamov told RFE/RL that the two men were not allowed to enter the conference, which continues until October 26, when it opened.

"The conference organizers asked us to come the next day," he said. "The delegation from United States has shown great concern with the situation regarding Turkmen NGOs and promised to report the issue at the U.S. State Department as it is following this matter closely."

OSCE conference delegates from the United States and several Western European countries showed support to Turkmen NGO representatives during the OSCE's Warsaw conference from September 30-October 8 when two Turkmen activists, Hanamov and Annadurdy Hajiyev, were initially barred from the conference.

After two days of talks with OSCE officials, Hajiyev was allowed to attend the conference.

Hanamov said the Turkmen government has identified him as being a part of a group of people that seeks to overthrow the government structure. He denies the accusations and said he hopes for dialogue with Turkmen authorities.

Some 400 NGOs are participating in the review conference, which takes place in three stages over a period of two months in Warsaw, Vienna, and Astana on December 1-2.