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Turkmen Report: June 7, 2004

7 June 2004
Turkmen President Wants Excerpts From His Book Displayed Outside Mosques
3 June 2004

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has said on state television that he wants excerpts from his book "Rukhnama" displayed on the outside of a large, new mosque being built in his hometown, Reuters reported on 3 June.

Niyazov was quoted as saying, "If we only write things there in Arabic, many people won't understand it."

Niyazov's book, which provides behavioral guidelines, has been promoted by government officials as a second Koran.

A number of Islamic clerics have been dismissed in Turkmenistan for refusing to include passages from "Rukhnama" in their sermons.

The mosque in Niyazov's home village of Kipchak is still being built by the French company Bouygues at a reported cost of $90 million.

It will be the largest mosque in Central Asia when completed, capable of holding 10,000 worshippers. (Reuters)

Turkmen President Tells Ethnic Uzbeks To Decide Their Citizenship
3 June 2004

President Niyazov told ethnic Uzbeks living near the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border that they must decide with which country they want to declare their citizenship, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 June.

Niyazov recently visited Turkmenistan's Balkan province, which borders Uzbekistan and is home to several hundred ethnic Uzbek families.

Niyazov said that now that Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have agreed on the demarcation of their border in the region, ethnic Uzbeks living in the province must decide on whether to declare Turkmen or Uzbek citizenship.

Niyazov initiated a similar process against ethnic Russians living in Turkmenistan last year. Under an earlier agreement, it was possible to have dual Russian-Turkmen citizenship, but Niyazov unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and ordered those with dual citizenship to decide with which country they wished to declare citizenship. (ITAR-TASS)

Russian Duma Committee Criticizes Turkmen Policies
1 June 2004

The Russian State Duma's Foreign Relations Committee on 1 June criticized the Turkmen government's policies toward Turkmenistan's Russian-speaking population, ITAR-TASS reported the same day.

Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev characterized the Turkmen government's recent decision not to recognize any educational diplomas from foreign countries as "a stupid situation."

Kosachev said such a rule is not in the interests of Turkmenistan, a state he said is "turning into a mono-ethnic country."

The Russian Duma has been criticizing the Turkmen government's policies toward Russian-speakers since last year, when Turkmen President Niyazov announced he was unilaterally canceling a dual-citizenship agreement with Russia. Niyazov gave citizens with dual citizenship in Turkmenistan an ultimatum to decide on either Russian or Turkmen citizenship. (ITAR-TASS)

Reports Of Large-Scale Dismissal Of Russian-Educated Workers In Turkmenistan Denied
1 June 2004

An unidentified source from the Turkmen Foreign Ministry was quoted by Interfax as denying on 1 June that there have been mass dismissals in Turkmenistan of specialists who hold degrees from Russian universities and colleges, Interfax reported on 1 June, citing an unidentified source from the Turkmen Foreign Ministry.

"These rumors are being deliberately puffed up through the media by our so-called well-wishers, the representatives of the so-called opposition," the source said.

The source confirmed that "the decision was made to begin the procedure for recognizing the equivalency of certificates issued by foreign institutions of higher education outside the framework of intergovernmental and interagency agreements from 1 January 2003."

According to the source, "This was done because the CIS countries have seen a surge in the foundation of various commercial institutions issuing [fake] certificates."

The source also recalled that Turkmenistan and Russia do not have an agreement on mutual recognition of higher-education certificates. "This document is being discussed, but its adoption has been delayed," he said.

Asked what Russian university and college graduates working in Turkmenistan should do in this situation, the diplomat said: "All they have to do is verify their diplomas with the Turkmen Education Ministry. That is, have them undergo a special expert examination, and if the institution was a proper one, there will be no problems." (Interfax)

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan Settle Border-Demarcation Issues
1 June 2004

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have settled all the issues pertaining to the delimitation and demarcation of their common border, the press service of Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry said following a meeting of the bilateral commission in charge of state border issues, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 June.

The commission was set up after the signing of a bilateral border-delimitation treaty in September 2000.

"The sides have no territorial claims against each other," states a protocol endorsed at the meeting.

According to the Foreign Ministry, an area of around 17.87 hectares in the Dashoguz region has been given the full status of a Turkmen territory. During the Soviet era, Uzbekistan was granted economic oversight of the area.

The sides also agreed that all the Uzbek citizens living there are now eligible to seek Turkmen citizenship. (ITAR-TASS)