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Turkmen Report: October 20, 2003

20 October 2003
Ashgabat Hosts Regional Forum
19 October 2003

A two-day forum dedicated to regional cooperation on improving border control, customs regulations, and cross-border trade ended on 19 October in Ashgabat, reported the same day. The Ashgabat meeting was organized by the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum in cooperation with the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and with the support of the Turkmen government.

Delegations from the Central Asian states, Afghanistan, and Iran, as well as a number of international organizations and agencies participated in the forum.

Summarizing the forum, UN Assistant Secretary-General Danilo Turk said that the Ashgabat meeting was the first and very important step on the path to effective regional cooperation in the struggle against the most dangerous threats to humanity - terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking. (

Russian Archeologist Finds Ancient Palace In Turkmenistan
18 October 2003

An expedition headed by a Russian archeologist has found the ruins of an ancient palace in Turkmenistan, Interfax reported on 18 October.

"Unique architecture dating to the late third millennium BCE was discovered in the course of long and large-scale excavations of the royal city of Gonur, the capital of the ancient land of Margush," archeologist Viktor Sarianidi said in a letter to Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov.

The origin of the religion of Zoroastrianism is linked to Margush. "A monumental complex was built around the royal palace. The complex was surrounded by a square of brick defense walls with a large number of shooting towers," the letter reads. (Interfax)

Niyazov Approves 'World Of Turkmen Fairy Tales'
15 October 2003

President Niyazov has reportedly approved spending some $30 million to build an amusement park called the "World of Turkmen Fairy Tales" in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, AP reported on 15 October.

Turkmenistan's state-run "Neitralnyi Turkmenistan" newspaper carried the story on 15 October. The paper quoted Niyazov as saying the project is a good one because it is "important that joy be engendered in the souls of the young." Further details on the amusement park were not immediately available. (AP)

Niyazov Fires Officials For Poor Cotton Harvest
15 October 2003

President Niyazov on 15 October fired two officials for the country's poor cotton harvest this year, AFP and RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported the same day.

Niyazov told a meeting of the cabinet he was extremely displeased with the figures being given for this year's cotton harvest. "Our leaders have reported for three years that there is [enough] cotton, that it is packed in boxes [because of excess]" he said. "Yet, if we look at the results of this year's harvest it is obvious that we have not fulfilled our task." Turkmenistan has harvested only 23 percent of its 2 million-ton target figure for cotton in 2003.

Niyazov told the cabinet, "I demand real work, not empty promises," and dismissed the head of the state cotton company, Ereshkul Jumaev, and Balkan province Governor Kakageldy Kurbyshev. Niyazov also blamed other officials for the failure to harvest enough cotton. In its 12 years as an independent country, Turkmenistan has rarely met its agricultural target figures and such dismissals always accompany bad news about the harvest. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, AFP)

Energy Bridge With Iran, Turkey To Supply Turkmen Electricity To EU
15 October 2003

President Niyazov signed a decree on creating a Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey energy bridge for supplies of Turkmen electricity to Europe, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 October.

The decree said the energy bridge will be put into operation by the end of the year. Two agreements on supplies and transit of electricity will be signed in late October, the Turkmen Ministry of Energy and Industry said. The Turkish company Tetas will purchase the Turkmen electricity at the meeting point of the Iranian and Turkish energy grids. The Iranian company Tavanir will ensure transit of the electricity.

Some 300 million kilowatt-hours worth $10.3 million will be supplied to Turkey in the first year after the agreement takes effect. The volume of supplies will be overviewed every year taking into account the needs of Turkish and European markets, the Turkmen ministry said. Iran is currently the largest buyer of Turkmen electricity, while Afghanistan purchases 320 million kilowatt-hours of Turkmen electricity every year. (ITAR-TASS)

Turkmen President In Better Health, Returns To Work
13 October 2003

Saparmurat Niyazov made his first public appearance on 13 October after an illness forced him last week to cancel all public appointments, AP reported the same day. Niyazov met with French Ambassador to Turkmenistan Jean Claude Richard in Ashgabat.

State media said the 63-year-old Niyazov had spent several days at home receiving treatment from a cold, accompanied by a high temperature, and for calcium deposits on his feet. The Turkmen president underwent heart surgery in 1997 but state media say he was found to be in good health last month by a team of German doctors. (AP)