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Turkmen Report: January 6, 2002

6 January 2002
Russian Foreign Minister To Visit Turkmenistan

4 January 2002

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will pay an official visit to Turkmenistan on 8-9 January, according to a press release from the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan. Ivanov's talks with the Turkmen leadership will be part of his Asian tour to begin on 6 January. During his first foreign trip in the year 2002, the Russian foreign minister also plans to visit China and Uzbekistan.

Ivanov's meeting with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, the press release states, will be mainly devoted to issues of preparations of Niyazov's working visit to Moscow due to be held this year (according to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry, it is scheduled for 21 January). The sides are also to exchange opinions on key international and regional issues, accentuating on the situation in Afghanistan and bilateral interaction in the struggle against international terrorism and extremism.

The sides will also focus on problems of the Caspian Sea. The press release notes that the stands of Russia and Turkmenistan on the status of the Caspian Sea have drawn considerably nearer recently. They will discuss issues connected with preparations and holding of a Caspian summit and a draft of its concluding declaration.

During meetings in Ashgabat, the sides are also to make a deep analysis of the state of trade and economic cooperation, including prospects for long-term partnership in the fuel and energy sphere. They will consider the course of preparation of an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the gas industry. The sides plan to discuss the course of realization of the Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the field of science, culture, and education signed during the official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Ashgabat in May 2000.

During the visit of the Russian foreign minister to Turkmenistan, the sides are to sign a Program of Cooperation of the Foreign Ministries of Russia and Turkmenistan for 2002. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, ITAR-TASS,

Christmas Eviction Of Adventist From Her Flat

4 January 2002

Marina Ismakaeva, a Seventh Day Adventist, has been evicted from her flat in the Turkmen city of Turkmenabat (formerly Charjew) and made homeless, Keston News Service reported. The Turkmenabat city court issued the eviction order on 21 December on the grounds that an unregistered community of Adventists had been meeting in Ismakaeva's flat. (Keston News Service)

Turkmenistan Tightens Fuel Export Rules

2 January 2002

Turkmenistan has tightened export rules applied to the products of its fuel and energy complex. The new rules effective as of 1 January were authorized by the president on 31 December and concern crude oil, oil products, natural and liquefied gas, and electric power.

All other products will be put up for sale as before, under the rules of the raw materials exchange established back in 1994.

As before, the state trading corporation Turkmenneftegaz will act in the capacity of the seller on behalf of the fuel and energy complex, but now it must agree with the government on the volumes, delivery dates, and base prices of products offered for sale.

Open trading (auctions) will be arranged and held weekly by the Observer Council, led by a government representative. The Observer Council will consist of representatives of the state exchange, customs, tax service, and law-enforcement agencies working on a disinterested basis. The council will control progress in transactions and the execution of the purchase contracts.

Under the new rules all potential buyers of products offered by the Turkmen fuel and energy complex must file an application and make a monetary deposit to demonstrate the seriousness of intentions. The collateral will later be included in the payment for the purchased products. If the customer defaults on the purchase contract and the deal is stalled, the seller retains the collateral. (ITAR-TASS)

Caspian Sea Level Down By Almost Half Meter Since 1996

2 January 2002

The level of the Caspian Sea has been lowering since 1996. By 2000 it had fallen by 46 centimeters against 1995, and in 2001 it went down further by an estimated 3-5 centimeters, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry told Interfax.

It said, however, citing the Russian Hydrometeorology Center which has calculated the sea level with due account taken of water dumping from the Volgograd hydropower plant and of the river flows, that in the first four months of 2002 the level of the Caspian Sea is likely to rise by 4-10 centimeters against the same period last year. (Interfax)

China Gives 20 Million-Yuan Interest-Free Credit To Turkmenistan

2 January 2002

The Chinese government has issued an interest-free credit worth 20 million yuan ($2.4 million) to Turkmenistan.

The intergovernmental agreement to this effect was signed recently by the deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and the minister of textile industry of Turkmenistan, Jamal Goklenova, and the Chinese ambassador to Turkmenistan.

The credit will be used within the next five years exclusively on technical and economic cooperation projects, the ambassador said. The credit will be paid off either in hard currency or in Turkmen goods over 10 years, from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2021. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Turkmen State News Service)

Turkmen Envoy To Moldova Sacked

2 January 2002

President Niyazov has relieved Nurmuhammet Orazmuhammedov of his post as the Turkmen ambassador to Moldova. Orazmuhammedov has also been stripped of the diplomatic rank of ambassador. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Turkmen TV)

Afghanistan's Ethnic Turkmen Seek Peace-Building Role

3 January 2002

By Charles Recknagel

Afghanistan's ethnic Turkmen community is known for being industrious and peaceful in a country whose recent history has made it difficult to be either.

As factional warfare dominated Afghan life from the end of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1989 to the recent collapse of the Taliban, the country's some 2 million ethnic Turkmen raised no significant military force of their own. Living largely in the northeastern areas controlled by ethnic Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum, they instead concentrated on maintaining a livelihood through the traditional pursuits of carpet weaving and agriculture.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Turkmen who fled to Pakistan during the 10-year Soviet occupation also survived by carpet weaving, gaining a reputation for self-sufficiency even within the refugee camps.

But the Turkmen community's determination to stay out of the post-Soviet Afghan fighting has come at a high political cost. With no warlords or power brokers to represent them on the national scene, the ethnic Turkmen had no voice in the Bonn peace deal last month. The deal between four Afghan factions established an interim six-month government whose ministerial posts were shared among the signatory parties -- made up principally of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

Now, in an effort to play more of a role in Afghanistan's nation-building, Turkmen community leaders have formed a shura, or council, to meet with the interim government's top officials. The council is composed of intellectuals from the Turkmen refugee community in Pakistan and elders and other leaders of the Turkmen population in Afghanistan.

Delegates of the council visited Kabul this week and spoke with interim administration chairman Hamid Karzai and a number of key ministers. The delegation continues to Mazar-i-Sharif early next week in hopes of also meeting with Dostum, who was recently named the interim administration's deputy defense minister.

One of the delegates, Jamahir Anwari, described the purpose of the visit to our correspondent. Anwari -- who holds a doctorate in biochemistry -- is a member of the Turkmen refugee community in Peshawar, where he is in private business.

Anwari said the council's priority is to convey to the leaders in the interim administration the Turkmen community's readiness to fully participate in rebuilding Afghanistan. He said that includes an offer to raise units of ethnic Turkmen peacekeepers to work alongside the United Nations-mandated ISAF.

"The Turkmen people did not want to take part in the feuding [of recent years]. Now we are ready to announce that we are prepared to play a role as peacekeepers if necessary. Our young people volunteer to do duty beside the UN peace forces." Anwari said the Turkmens' neutrality in the country's recent conflicts would make such peacekeeping units acceptable to all the country's ethnic groups. He said leaders of Afghanistan's other ethnic groups recently confirmed to the Turkmen council that they regard it, and the Turkmen community in general, as a neutral party.

"Our [Turkmen] people have formed a council, and all the other brother peoples of Afghanistan have accepted it as a neutral body. All of them have confirmed its neutrality."

The interim administration so far has made no public response to the Turkmen community's peacekeeping proposal. But the visiting Turkmen delegates say the idea was warmly received in meetings with Karzai and top cabinet members. The proposal has not been conveyed by the Turkmen council to the UN, or to Britain, which will lead the ISAF for its first three months.

The Turkmen council delegates also presented a statement to the interim administration, detailing their hopes for Afghanistan's future. These included establishment of local councils through elections based on a census of Afghanistan's ethnic groups, press freedom, respect of women's rights, public education at the primary level in students' mother tongues, and promotion and protection of all ethnic cultures.

The statement also endorsed the key points of the Bonn accord, including establishment of a Loya Jirga, or national assembly, to guarantee the participation of all elements of the Afghan population in nation-building. The Loya Jirga process is to lead to the establishment of a national parliament and government through elections in two years.

The Turkmen council delegation is due to spend next week in Mazar-i-Sharif before members from the refugee community in Pakistan return to Peshawar. (RFE/RL)

Turkmen Council Delegation In Kabul

2 January 2002

By Shahmardanqul Muradi

A delegation of the Turkmen Shura based in Pakistan, which arrived in Kabul on 28 December, met with Afghan interim administration Finance Minister Hedayat Amin Arsala on the same day.

They discussed the inclusion of Turkmens in the interim administration, as well as the coming Loya Jirga. Arsala stressed that in the Loya Jirga the Turkmen would be represented and in the interim government some posts should be given to them. At the meeting Ustad Saleh Suleiman made a speech and introduced the newly elected Turkmen representative, Jamahir Anwari, to the audience.

Later the same day the delegation met with former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Turkmen representatives from Andkhoy, Aqcha, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kondoz came to Kabul and participated in the meetings together with the Turkmen representatives from the refugee community in Pakistan. They discussed the Turkmen Council and it's future activities. Turkmen representatives promised their support of the interim administration.

On 29 December, the delegation met with interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai. Anwari spoke about the goals of the Turkmen Council and then the deputy of the Council, Mohammad Saleh Suleiman, made his speech on the situation of Turkmen in Afghanistan.

Karzai showed great interest in having more information on the Afghan Turkmens. Later he met privately with representatives of the Turkmen delegation. At the meeting, the participants spoke on carpet woven by Turkmens. They said when the Turkmen refugees come back to Afghanistan they will open carpet-industry firms and establish businesses. They asked for allocation of land and Karzai accepted the proposal, promising to support the handicraft of carpet weaving.

The Turkmen delegations from Pakistan and from inside Afghanistan met with each other for a second round of talks. They discussed the goals of the Turkmen Council, its duties, and its independence from any party or political faction. Turkmens from inside Afghanistan accepted membership in the Shura. The total number of representatives was 80 people -- 20 from Pakistan and 60 from inside Afghanistan. Their meeting took place in the residence of former Minister of Trade Karim Jan Khaddam, who was a member of the Jamiat-i-Islami party.

Those who accepted membership in the Shura resigned from their previous parties and said they would only serve the goals of the Turkmen Council and work toward a durable peace in Afghanistan.

The delegation also met with the Water and Energy Minister Mohammad Shaker Kargar, Justice Minister Abas Karimi, Education Minster Rassoul Amin, and Finance Minister Amin Arsala.

On 30 December the delegation met with Minster of Information and Culture Sayed Makhdoom Raheen, at which Anwari informed him of the goals of the Turkmen Council. A member of the delegation, Wakil Ahmad Qarqin, presented the minister a special Turkmen outfit as a gift. Qarqin called for broadcasts in the Turkmen language on Kabul Radio, and asked that in primary schools in the Turkmen areas the Turkmen language should be taught. Raheen promised to support these requests. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)