16 December 2003
Ashgabat Accuses States Hosting Turkmen Oppositionists Of Double Standards11 December 2003
Turkmenistan is concerned about the double standards being practiced by some European nations in the fight against international terrorism, according to a statement from the Turkmen Foreign Ministry published in the national press on 11 December, Interfax reported. "Turkmenistan has asked a number of foreign countries more than once to extradite the dangerous criminals Avdy Kuliyev, Nurmukhamed Khanamov, Khudaiberdy Orazov, and Saparmurat Yklymov," the statement says. "Turkmenistan's law-enforcement departments have supplied these countries with materials and documents in line with international law and asked them to detain and extradite the aforesaid criminals," it continues. "However, there have not been any appropriate reactions to Turkmenistan's requests. The Foreign Ministry is concerned about the fact that countries that say a lot about respect for the law and compliance with international legal norms are indifferent to the impunity of international terrorists."
Turkmenistan is concerned by the recent "gathering of criminals put by Turkmenistan on the international wanted list" in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Kuliyev, Khanamov, Orazov, and Yklymov are charged with serious crimes, including an alleged attack on the Turkmen president and an attempt to seize power. The statement cites extracts from criminal cases filed against the opposition leaders. The Supreme Court of Turkmenistan has sentenced in absentia three of the opposition members to life in prison. (Interfax)
Niyazov Appoints New Defense, TV Officials10 December 2003
In the course of a meeting with defense and state television officials on 9 December in Ashgabat, President Saparmurat Niyazov appointed two deputy defense ministers and three state television directors, RIA-Novosti reported on 10 December.
The two new deputy defense ministers are medical-service Colonel Mukhamedkuli Atabaev, who has headed the ministry's directorate for the highway police and the fire service, and Lieutenant Colonel Geldy Mukhammedov, who heads the quartermaster corps.
Niyazov also continued the replacement of the leadership of state television begun earlier this month with the removal of the director of Turkmenistan State Television and the heads of two of the three national television channels. He charged the new appointees with improving quickly the quality of television programming. Murad Orazov was appointed general director of Turkmen Television, Yazgeldy Gurbangulyev was designated to head the Golden Century channel, and Gurbangeldy Annaev will head the Heritage channel. To assist in improving programming, a technical service for television was created that will include Communications Ministry personnel and the state association that makes television films. (RIA-Novosti)
Joint Committee Approves Trans-Afghanistan Gas-Pipeline Route10 December 2003
A working committee of the Pakistani, Afghan, and Turkmen Ministries of Natural Resources has finally approved the route of the future trans-Afghan gas pipeline, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 December.
Pakistani Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Naurez Shakoor said in an interview published on 10 December that the pipeline would run from the Dovletabad gas field in Turkmenistan via the Herat and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan to Multan in Pakistan. Construction of the pipeline is scheduled to end in 2010 at a cost of $3.5 billion.
The Asian Development Bank will coordinate the efforts of the parties that have agreed to set up a working group on which two representatives of each country will sit.
The committee crowned two days work with the signing of a protocol under which Turkmenistan is obliged to certify the Dovletabad gas field. Pakistan is obliged to provide calculations of required gas supplies for the next 20 years. Afghanistan, for its part, is due to draft proposals and calculations related to ensuring the pipeline's security. (ITAR-TASS)
U.S. Caterpillar To Supply Machinery To Turkmenistan9 December 2003
The U.S.-based Caterpillar Company is starting the supply of earthmoving and construction machinery to Turkmenistan at a total cost of about $26 million, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 December. Turkmenistan will pay for the delivery from its foreign-currency reserves on guarantee of a European bank.
The contracts were signed at a meeting between President Niyazov and Caterpillar Vice President Rapp. The president said that U.S. excavators, bulldozers, and other machinery will be supplied for the construction of the Turkmen lake, highways, the infrastructure of oil and gas fields, and new oil and gas pipelines. Yearly deliveries will be made till 2010 under an agreement the Turkmen government and Caterpillar signed last year. (ITAR-TASS)
Turkmenistan Doubles Electricity Supply To Afghanistan8 December 2003
The recent completion of a power line between the Turkmen border town of Serhetabad (Kushka) and Herat has made it possible for Turkmenistan to double the amount of electricity it supplies to Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS and turkmenistan.ru reported on 8 December.
The new line makes possible the delivery of up to 200 million kilowatt-hours annually to Afghanistan's northern provinces. A power line from Turkmenistan to Mazar-e Sharif was completed in 2002, with further lines planned to Kabul and Kandahar. Turkmenistan also hopes eventually to sell electricity to Pakistan and India.
Turkmen President Niyazov has said that Afghanistan is being charged less for power than are Turkmenistan's other customers -- primarily Iran -- because he wants to help Afghanistan's ethnic Turkmens. (ITAR-TASS, Turkmenistan.ru)
Russian Foreign Minister Threatens To Take Turkmen Issue To International Organizations5 December 2003
Russia will try to solve the problem of Turkmen treatment of Russian citizens living in that country not only on the bilateral level, but also through the UN, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations, eurasianet.org reported, citing an interview of Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in the "Moskovskii komsomolets" newspaper published on 5 December.
Ivanov said Russia is trying to defuse the problems caused by Turkmenistan's unilateral revocation of dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship in April and subsequent allegations in Russia that ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Turkmenistan were being harassed and subjected to discrimination. He also said that talks with the Turkmen authorities are difficult.
The Russian foreign minister cautioned that Turkmenistan is a sovereign state and there is a limit to what the Russian authorities can do to protect Russian citizens living there. He also suggested that Russian Ambassador to Ashgabat Andrei Molochkov should have been more balanced in assessing the problems of the Russian citizens in Turkmenistan after Russian media began reporting extensively on the issue. Some Russian media accused the staff of the Russian Embassy in Ashgabat of being in the pay of Turkmen President Niyazov. (Eurasianet.org, "Moskovskii komsomolets")