21 October 2001
Turkmen President Calls For Talks On Afghan Crisis
19 October 2001
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov in his speech to mark the 10th anniversary of Turkmen independence at a joint session of the People's Council, the Elders' Congress, and the National Revival Movement -- a coalition of political parties and public associations -- said:
"We express our attitude to and opinion on each war in the world via the UN. We are not indifferent to everything that happens.
"Today, there is a difficult situation in Afghanistan. We are very sorry -- our Turkmen people live there as well, but we do not interfere in this country.
"The worst thing is that the Afghan people are fighting each other. We suggest solving the tension by negotiations, by peaceful means, and raising the international prestige of Afghanistan again. We strongly believe that all internal discord or guilt ascribed to it [Afghanistan] will be solved peacefully.
"The Afghan people are our blood relatives. If they solve the war and damage by negotiations, then peace will soon be established there. Peace in Afghanistan will bring us great prestige and support [as received].
"We are doing our best via the UN for the establishment of peace and friendship in this country, and we wish it blessings, and work towards this.
"The necessary aid for them [Afghans] is now being transported via our country, children's clothes and food are being sent there by aircraft from Turkmenabat and Ashgabat." (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Turkmen TV)
Turkmenistan Adopts President's Code of Ethics
19 October 2001
Turkmenistan adopted on 19 October a national code of spiritual conduct called "Rukhnama," written by President Saparmurat Niyazov.
Niyazov's 400-page book of moral and ethical commandments was adopted by the country's Khalk Maslakhaty, or Council of People.
Niyazov told the parliament he wants his book to help restore forgotten folk traditions, customs, and the cultural heritage of the nation. Niyazov said his book should rank in importance alongside the Bible and Koran. The "Rukhnama" had already prompted Niyazov's admirers to liken him to a prophet. Niyazov's spokesman said earlier this year that he believed Niyazov was a prophet.
The parliament bestowed upon Niyazov the "Hero of Turkmenistan" award for what it called "outstanding service" to the Turkmen people.
It was the fourth time Niyazov has received the award. He is the only person to have received the recognition. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, ITAR-TASS, AFP, Turkmenistan.ru)
U.S. Caspian Envoy Promotes Energy Cooperation With Turkmenistan
19 October 2001
The U.S. envoy on Caspian energy issues said on 19 October that he wanted to promote greater energy cooperation between Turkmenistan and the United States, particularly by helping bring Turkmen gas to Western markets.
"I did not come to ask about new concrete projects," Steven Mann said. "The first step is for our two countries to sit down and just take a look at the current situation in energy."
Meeting with President Niyazov, Mann stressed that the U.S. was interested in developing alternative routes for exporting Caspian oil and gas. He also told an oil and gas conference that his mission was in part to improve U.S. relations with Turkmenistan, which is one of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia bordering on Afghanistan.
"As always, the United States of America fully supports the sovereignty and independence of Turkmenistan and wants to decisively move forward in the search for ways to deepen our ties," Mann said. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, AP)
Turkmen President, Iranian Foreign Minister Discuss Situation In Afghanistan
19 October 2001
President Niyazov and visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi discussed the situation in Afghanistan on 19 October, saying that their nations were interested in the quick completion of the U.S.-led military campaign and expressing concern over civilian casualties. Niyazov said the international community has to help establish a broad-based government in Afghanistan so that the big powers could not maintain their presence in the region under the pretext of protecting Afghanistan. He said Turkmenistan does not approve of the U.S. attacks against Afghanistan since it leads to the killing of innocent civilians.
"The situation in Afghanistan provokes alarm in neighboring countries," Kharrazi told reporters after meeting with the president. "We are concerned that many civilians are suffering from the military actions in Afghanistan. In our opinion, a government must be formed in Afghanistan that will suit everybody. And this would allow the normalization of the situation inside the country."
The Iranian foreign minister earlier on 19 October visited Dushanbe and met the Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov. (IRNA news agency, AP, RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
9,000 Convicts To Be Amnestied In Turkmenistan
19 October 2001
Some 9,000 convicts will be freed under an amnesty that is to begin in Turkmenistan in December, Turkmen President Niyazov announced at a 19 October session of the top legislative body, the People's Council. The president declared that the number of convicts kept at detention centers in Turkmenistan was more than 18,000. Nonetheless, the president stressed that crime rates in the country had been declining by 15 percent annually.
For the third year in a row, Turkmenistan will pardon convicts on the last day of the holy month of Ramadan, ahead of the Night of Power. Convicts are released only after they swear on the Koran that they will not break the law in future. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Interfax, ITAR-TASS)
Arab Emirates To Expand Partnership In Turkmen Fuel Sector
18 October 2001
The United Arab Emirates plan to expand partnership with Turkmenistan, UAE Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Ubayd Bin-Sayf al-Nasiri said, following talks with the deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, Yolly Gurbanmuradov. (Turkmenistan.ru)
30 Tons Of Humanitarian Aid Sent From Turkmenistan To Afghanistan
17 October 2001
Thirty tons of humanitarian aid were sent via three trucks from the Turkmen city of Turkmenabat (former Chardzhou) to the Afghan city of Anhoi, the UNICEF representation in Turkmenistan reported.
This time the shipment consists of blankets, crockery, preparations for water disinfection, clothes, and portable generators. UNICEF representatives said that in a few days a fourth plane with humanitarian aid will arrive in Turkmenabat from Copenhagen. (CNA, Turkmen TV, RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Turkmenistan Intends To Start Wide Introduction Of Mobile Communication
17 October 2001
The government of Turkmenistan plans to begin introducing mobile satellite communication in the country and is currently examining offers from foreign companies. The final decision on this question will be accepted by the Turkmentelekom state telecom, according to a press release from the international exhibition on telecommunications and computer technologies "TurkmenTel-2001," distributed in Ashgabat.
According to a report by the exhibition press service, "according to the national program 'Strategy and development of communication branch of Turkmenistan,' in 2001, 638 kilometers of optical fiber communication lines with mounting of all necessary equipment will be installed, and in 2002, 655 kilometers."
There are also plans to replace the analog telephone exchanges with digital exchanges, introduce capacities for 15,000 numbers in Ashgabat and 2,500 numbers in regional centers, and to construct 230 kilometers of digital radio relay line in Lebap Velayat, an area in the east of Turkmenistan. (CAN, RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Turkmenistan Offers Foreign Companies 47 Fields For Oil Prospecting
17 October 2001
Turkmenistan has presented a new program of licensing development of its oil resources at an oil and gas conference under way in Ashgabat, the Turkmen state news agency reported on 17 October.
It said the program involved 32 fields in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea shelf and 15 fields inland, containing a total of over 45 billion tons of oil.
"The central event of the first day of the forum was the official presentation of a new program of licensing development of both offshore and onshore oil resources of Turkmenistan. A number of promising areas, containing more than 45 billion tons of oil, have been offered for prospecting and further development," the agency said. (Turkmen State News Service)
Jubilee Silver Coin Presented In Turkmenistan
16 October 2001
A silver coin with a value of 500 manats was issued by the Central Bank of Turkmenistan in honor of the 10th anniversary of Turkmen independence.
The diameter of the coin is 38.61 mm, weight is 28.28 grams. A portrait of President Niyazov is depicted on the face of the coin, and the Turkmen independence monument on the reverse. (CNA)
OPEC Allocates $5.2 Million For Water Supply In Turkmenistan
13 October 2001
On 12 October the Ambassador of Turkmenistan in Austria Vladimir Kadyrov and the chairman of the OPEC Fund Board of Governors, Salekh al-Omar, signed in Vienna an agreement on provision of a loan worth $5.2 million for implementation of a project on the improvement of the potable water supply for the population of Turkmenistan's western locale. (Turkmenistan.ru)
NEWS FROM THE NEIGHBORS
Northern Alliance Controls One-Third Of Afghan Territory
19 October 2001
The Northern Alliance has taken control of over one-third of Afghanistan's territory, sources in the Tajik Defense Ministry told Interfax on 19 October.
The Northern Alliance is ousting the Taliban either by positional exchanges of fire or simply by occupying communities deserted by their adversary after U.S. air attacks, the source said. It now controls the provinces of Badakhshan, Samangan, and Bamian, and part of Ghor, Parvan, Balkh, and Takhar.
A spokesman for the anti-Taliban United National Liberation Front told Interfax on 19 October that the two sides periodically exchange fire in the vicinity of the strategic road connecting the river port of Sherkhanto to the town of Imamsahib seven kilometers from the border, where a 2,000-strong Taliban unit is stationed.
Taliban units have forced the advance force of General Abdurashid Dostum to leave the southern outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif and move towards the village of Marmol 20 kilometers south of the city, from which they started their offensive on the city a few days ago, sources in the general's headquarters told Interfax. Meanwhile, Ato Mukhammad's units are still in control of the area around the Mazar-i-Sharif airport.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov is confident that activity by an international "humanitarian coalition" will "minimize the threats of a huge population migration from Afghanistan."
A report released by the presidential press service on 19 October says Rakhmonov, meeting Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu in Dushanbe, reiterated the republic's readiness to "create the conditions necessary for the delivery of world humanitarian community resources to the impoverished population of Afghanistan." (Interfax)
Kazakh Lawmakers Warn Against Civilian Losses In Afghanistan
19 October 2001
In an appeal obtained by Interfax, the Mazhilis, Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament, has warned the United States against civilian losses in Afghanistan.
Lawmakers urged the U.S. to plan its military action "on the basis of an extremely careful analysis" to try to avoid civilian casualties and "prevent a humanitarian disaster."
Otherwise the "justifiability" of the war "may be called into question" and the "image" of the United States and its partners in the antiterrorist coalition "may be seriously undermined," the Mazhilis warned. (Interfax-Kazakhstan)
Kyrgyzstan Adopts Official Status For Russian Language
19 October 2001
The People's Assembly of the Kyrgyz parliament today approved in the first reading a bill amending the constitution. The amendment concerns the status of the Russian language.
The majority of deputies recognize that there are many reasons for giving Russian official status. For instance, Kanybek ImanAliyev said that 90 percent of educational literature in Kyrgyzstan is in Russian, and "it will take decades and tens of millions of U.S. dollars to translate into Kyrgyz." (Interfax, RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Possible Islamic Caliphate In Central Asia?
19 October 2001
International terrorists along with religious extremists and drug dealers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia, the chairman of the Kyrgyz Security Service, Bolot Dzhanuzakov, said at an international conference on 19 October.
The conference, entitled "Strategy for Fighting Terrorism: Political and Legal Mechanisms," was organized by the OSCE Center in Bishkek, the International Israeli Center for Sociopolitical Research, and the Association of Kyrgyzstan's Non-Governmental Organizations.
The Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Uzbek Islamic Movement backed by the Taliban and Osama bin Laden will resort to "all possible means" to destabilize the situation in Central Asia. They focus on "sabotage, terrorist attacks, and ideological propaganda among the population," Dzhanuzakov said. (Interfax)
FEATURES AND ANALYSIS
Kazakhs, Kyrgyz Opt for Stricter Security Measures
17 October 2001
By Bruce Pannier
With fighting raging across Afghanistan, the country's neighbors are worried about their own security. None want Afghanistan's problems spilling over onto their territories -- even in the form of refugees from the fighting.
Afghanistan's northern neighbors -- Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan -- are no exception. All three have taken actions since the 7 October launch of U.S.-led air strikes in Afghanistan to increase security along their Afghan borders.
But fear of incoming problems from Afghanistan is also affecting life in places as far afield as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Security has always been a priority for the former Soviet Central Asian states.
Incursions into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan by an armed group calling itself the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in 1999 and 2000 gave governments good reason to increase border security. The U.S. government links the IMU to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban militia, which shelters him.
The IMU's incursions led the Uzbek army last summer to plant landmines along the mountain paths on the country's borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Uzbek-Kazakh and Uzbek-Turkmen borders were also reinforced.
Last week, Kazakhstan -- hundreds of kilometers from the Afghan border -- announced it had tightened security at facilities inside the country and reinforced its military presence on the border with Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan, in turn, started reconstructing checkpoints along part of its border with Kyrgyzstan -- the same checkpoints Uzbekistan removed last year at the Kyrgyz government's request.
While such moves may have improved security, they have also limited freedom of movement for people living along borders and have had a detrimental impact on trade.
Shortly after the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S., Kazakh authorities began deporting Kyrgyz citizens who were traders at bazaars of the former Kazakh capital Almaty. By the end of last month, 700 traders had been expelled.
Kyrgyz bazaar trader Suyun MamyrAliyev tells RFE/RL that Kazakh authorities took steps to ensure the Kyrgyz did not return.
"They [Kazakh authorities] detained me and put me in a special room with nine other people. I complained and they took my passport and tore it up. They caught a citizen of Uzbekistan and deported him to Kyrgyzstan also. They treated us like dogs."
MamyrAliyev said he left behind about 40 tons of goods in Kazakhstan and has no idea how to make up for the loss. His tale is similar to that of Asylbek Abdullaev, who was also detained with other fellow non-Kazakhs: "There were people with visas good until 20 December. They [Kazakh authorities] annulled the visas and these people were deported. There were Tajiks and Uzbeks, all citizens of Uzbekistan from Kara-Kalpakistan (western Uzbekistan). They were shipped across the border to Kyrgyzstan. No one has any idea where they are now."
As Abdullaev indicates, it was not only Kyrgyz who were being deported from Kazakhstan. Some Tajik citizens were also rounded up and shipped back to their homeland. Authorities in southern Kazakhstan's Zhambyl region boarded a Moscow-bound train about the same time the Kyrgyz citizens started being deported. They sent back 113 Tajik citizens who were traveling to Moscow seeking work.
An adviser to Kazakhstan's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Nusup Sagadiev, said the deportations were for security reasons: "This is all connected with the situation in Afghanistan. We are tightening the passport and visa regime."
In Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, authorities -- citing security concerns -- have also stepped up efforts to identify and deport illegal residents. By 2 October, Kyrgyz authorities had detained and expelled some 300 people, mostly Tajiks and Afghans. Some of the Afghans had been living in Kyrgyzstan for 20 years or more. And some of the so-called "Tajik citizens" were actually ethnic Kyrgyz who had lived in Tajikistan during the Soviet era and had fled during the Tajik civil war in the 1990s.
State control of the press makes it difficult to gather information about such matters in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
But restrictions on movement and deportations are becoming increasingly common throughout Central Asia, where hard times breed mutual suspicion and all too frequently lead to unilateral moves in the name of stability and security. (RFE/RL)
What Consequences Will U.S. Antiterrorist Acts In Afghanistan Have?
18 October 2001
By Avdy Kuliev
Having started a war in Afghanistan, the U.S. once again has shown that they will not leave unpunished anybody who dares to encroach on their safety and thus they will not ask anyone's consent to actions undertaken by them. The case with Afghanistan showed that practically all the world has joined the U.S. in their struggle against terrorism.
The first and the main result of the U.S. antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan is their geopolitical victory. The U.S. has deployed its armed forces on the territories of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The other two states of the Central Asia -- Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan -- also showed readiness for cooperation with the U.S. Turkmenistan abstains to express delight concerning the U.S. military presence in the region, but this restraint by the Turkmen leadership cannot last long. In case the U.S. proceeds to more resolute actions in the destruction of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, the Turkmen leader will soon define whose side he will take in this conflict, and will certainly join the U.S.
Events can develop under the following scripts.
1. The war against terrorism declared by the Americans in Afghanistan can develop into a large-scale military campaign and spread all over the region of Central Asia. All the states of Central Asia without exception are dictatorial, led by former Communist Party officials who do not want to let authority out of their hands. They resort to various shifts to not carry out democratic elections in their countries. The ruling methods of Turkmenistan's and Uzbekistan's presidents -- Niyazov and Islam Karimov -- have been especially odious and severe. They terrorize their nations no less than the Taliban does the population of Afghanistan. Bloody massacres, used by President Niyazov against his political opponents, offer enough evidence to be considered at an international court. The barbarous policy of Niyazov towards the population of Turkmenistan, which he has led to silent extinction, should be taken into account by the Americans during their antiterrorist operation. People of Turkmenistan, as well as the other Central Asian states, expect assistance from the U.S. in establishing democracy in these countries. The U.S. Congress adopted resolution 397 this year, which concerns the need for negotiations between representatives of the ruling regimes and opposition representatives in Central Asia. If events go on this way the U.S. will not only execute the antiterrorist mission, but also strengthen its geopolitical position in this important region of the world.
2. It is impossible to exclude that events can go on in the absolutely opposite direction. The Americans can stake on the existing ruling regimes in the region, taking care of its strategic and oil and gas interests. Thus they can recognize the present Central Asian dictators, which more or less manage to control the situation in their states. Why hasten with democracy if the majority of these countries accept their governments and do not demand their resignation? Such an approach will result on the one hand in strengthening dynasties of Niyazov, Karimov, Akaev, Nazarbaev, and, maybe, Rakhmonov. And on the other hand it will strengthen contradictions and the spirit of rivalry between them. Certainly Uzbekistan will try to play the role of local superpower, since it was the first to help the U.S. in a difficult moment. Tashkent hopes to dictate its policy and conditions of coexistence in the region to its neighbors -- Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan � relying on the expected U.S. support, as it was in the Soviet era when Uzbekistan was the private supervisor over those republics. If this happens, the people of the Central Asian nations can forget about democracy for a long time or even forever, and move to the Scandinavian countries in search of a better life.
The U.S. also faces a dilemma on how to make political arrangements in Afghanistan after the Taliban. It would be easier if the Taliban would have given up Osama bin Laden and did not make the U.S. continue the war. The U.S. does not believe in the ability of Zahir Shah to rule the country in union with the Northern Alliance. The Pashtun part of the Afghan population is the ethnic majority in Afghanistan and considers themselves the owners of the country. The Pastuns will not agree to an equal share of participation in the future Afghan government with Tajiks, Turkmens, Uzbeks, Aimaks, and Hazara. I think the U.S. does not trust the Northern Alliance, which has dealt with Russia for a long time.
Anyhow, the Central Asian region is on the eve of substantial changes. The main power in the act is the U.S. The further course of history depends on them in that part of the world. There is a chance for a victory of democracy. For this purpose the Central Asian people do not have to wait for the U.S. favor only, but also to act independently. Democratic forces of Central Asia will play an active role in this process. (United Opposition of Turkmenistan, Moscow)