20 May 2000
POLITICAL NEWS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
Turkmen President To Have Talks With Putin In Mid-JulyJune 16, 2000
Talks between Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Russian President Vladimir Putin will take place during the CIS summit on June 21, Niyazov said during a "sadak" (a funerary ceremony in honor of his late father) in the village of Kipchak near Ashgabat.
The Turkmen president said it is planned that a number of documents will be signed concerning the "practical content of bilateral cooperation between Turkmenistan and Russia in economic and other spheres" on the basis of the results of these talks.
The Turkmen president also said the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami will pay an official visit to Ashgabat in mid-July.
Speaking in the Gurbansoltan-edzhe memorial park (named in honor of Niyazov's mother), the president said the country's husbandry traditions have been revived. Also, despite the unfavorable weather in 2000, over one million tons of grain has been harvested in the course of 15 days of the harvest. Niyazov said he is thereby convinced that the plan according to which 1,600 thousand tons are to be harvested will be fulfilled. (Interfax)
Turkmens Forbidden To Have Accounts In Foreign BanksJune 16, 2000
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov announced today that Turkmen citizens are no longer allowed to have accounts in foreign banks. Turkmens who have accounts in foreign banks have three months to transfer all of their money back to Turkmen banks. (Interfax)
Turkmens Find No Newspapers In StoresJune 16, 2000
Turkmen newspapers failed to appear today at newspaper stands, RFE/RL Turkmen service correspondent reports from Ashgabat. Usually, shops sell newspapers only until 11 o'clock in the afternoon. The government-run Printing House, the agency which oversees newspaper production, said today that newspapers were not delivered to stores on time due to the late-night Cabinet of Ministers' meeting. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Turkmenistan Orders Closer Monitoring Of ForeignersJune 16, 2000
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has demanded stricter monitoring of foreigners in the Central Asian state, a government source said on Friday.
"At Thursday's cabinet meeting the head of state supported the idea of creating an inter-organizational council responsible for the control and registration of foreign citizens arriving in and located in the country," the source said.
"The council will be formed with the participation of the National Security Committee (KNB), the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the border service," he added.
Information on visas, arrivals and foreigners' whereabouts during their stay will be collected in a computer center controlled by the KNB.
In remarks broadcast on state television on Friday, Niyazov said the system was being introduced in the interests of "national security."
"It is not that we do not trust people, we just need law and order," he said. "There are those, for example, who live in Ashgabat without a visa and who are buying and selling houses."
Niyazov also repeated earlier calls for borders to be strengthened, particularly along Turkmenistan's northern frontier with Uzbekistan.
Turkmenistan has distanced itself increasingly from other former Soviet republics, introducing visas unilaterally for members of the Commonwealth of Independent States last year.
Western diplomats in Ashgabat say that Niyazov's isolationist economic and political policies result partly from a wariness of outsiders and how they view his gas-rich state of five million people. (Reuters)
Turkmenistan to Strengthen Borders with CIS NeighborsJune 16, 2000
Turkmenistan will soon establish more border posts and send additional guards to the country's borders with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov made the announcement last night at a session of the Cabinet of Ministers. Niyazov said the very southern border with Uzbekistan will be especially important to guard as it lies not far from Tajikistan which has become a major stop on narcotics trafficking routes. Niyazov did not mention any extra measures along Turkmenistan's borders with Iran or Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Turkmenistan's Interior Ministry, Security Ministry and border forces were also tasked with keeping close watch on all foreign citizens entering the country. A special commission will be established to coordinate this effort. (RFE/RL)
Turkmen Foreign Minister To Visit TurkeyJune 15, 2000
Boris Shikhmuradov, Turkmenistan's Foreign Minister, will pay an official visit to Turkey in early July, his Turkish counterpart Ismail Jem told Turkish NTV channel in the aftermath of his visits in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan earlier this week.
Shikhmuradov will be in Turkey to discuss bilateral relations. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Turkmen Parliament Ratifies Partnership Agreement With European UnionJune 15, 2000
The parliament of Turkmenistan ratified today a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union that was signed in Brussels in 1998.
The Parliament also passed 18 regulations and bills, including constitutional laws on the procedure for opening criminal cases and banning searches of homes.
Parliament also debated bills concerning enterprises in the country, food safety, radio frequencies, and libraries and library services, among other documents. (Interfax)
Amnesty International Denounces Human Rights Abuses in Central AsiaJune 14, 2000
Amnesty International's Central Asia researcher says that Central Asia was a center last year of widespread and severe human rights abuses.
Maisy Weicheding told RFE/RL correspondent in a telephone interview that torture, unfair trials, executions, and religious persecution were common all through the region.
Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog group, published today its annual report on human rights abuses.
According to the report, in 1999 "the (Turkmen) government restricted access to Turkmenistan and banned several foreign human rights monitors, making monitoring of the human rights situation increasingly difficult. Members of unregistered religious denominations reported frequent harassment by the authorities, including short-term arrest. Fears for the safety of political prisoners heightened after the death in custody of possible prisoner of conscience Khoshali Garayev. The death penalty was abolished in December."
Maisy Weicheding added in her interview with RFE/RL that "in Turkmenistan we have a number of members of Christian denominations who were harassed, their churches were pulled down by bulldozers, members were arrested, some were forcibly deported, some were forced to live in internal exile." (RFE/RL)
Turkmen Baptist Prisoner Threatened With Punishment Cell?June 11, 2000
Keston News Service reports that imprisoned Baptist Shegeldy Atakov faces the prospect of a further spell in the labor camp punishment cell.
Atakov is serving a 4 year sentence in a labor camp in Seydy near Turkmenistan's north eastern border with Uzbekistan for his involvement in an unregistered Baptist congregation in the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi.
According to unconfirmed reports, the camp authorities may place Atakov in a punishment cell for his continued refusal to swear the daily oath (of loyalty to Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov). (Keston News Service)
Turkmenistan And Azerbaijan To Continue Talks On Trans-Caspian PipelineJune 17, 2000
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan will hold another round of negotiations on the status of Trans-Caspian pipeline project in the near future, press service of Azerbaijan's State Oil Company said on Saturday.
Two sides reached an agreement on continuing the talks at last week's ECO summit in Tehran.
Vice President of Azerbaijan's State Oil Company Ilham Aliyev said earlier this week that Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have already made great progress in developing the pipeline construction project, but there remain disagreements on the issue of sharing Caspian gas and oil deposits. Aliyev said that negotiations will continue only if Ashgabat will use "common sense" during the talks. (MPA News Agency)
Investments In Turkmenistan's Economy Up 5.3% From January To MayJune 16, 2000
Investments in the economy of Turkmenistan (from all sources of financing) grew 5.3% from January to May of this year compared to the same period of last year to 2.7 trillion manats, or 32.5% of the country's 8.3 trillion manat GDP.
The Turkmen National State Statistics and Information Institute said the greater part of those investments came from the enterprises' own resources, 34% of the total; from state funds 20%; and direct foreign investments 10%. The share of state budget allocations was 3%, the population provided another 3%, and other sources chipped in 1%.
The share of loans from Turkmen commercial banks in basic capital investments rose compared to last year from 1% to 6%, weighing in at 153 billion manats by June 1.
The share of foreign credits fell from 35% to 23%, some 621 billion manats by June 1.
The bulk of the investments (85%) were poured into production. A large part (78%, or 2.1 trillion manats) was absorbed by the state sector of the economy, the private sector received 22%, or 594 billion manats.
The official exchange rate on June 16 was 5,200 manats/$1. (Interfax)
Turkmenistan's State Budget Surplus From January To May Is 0.33% Of GDPJune 13, 2000
The surplus of the state budget of Turkmenistan, based on the results of the period between January and May, has reached 27 billion manats, or 0.33% of GDP. On the basis of the results of the first five months of 1999 the year, a budget deficit amounting to 47 billion manats was seen.
The amount of GDP based on the results of the period between January and May has been estimated at 8.3 trillion manats, the Turkmen Economic and Finance Ministry has told Interfax.
Budget revenue for this period came to 2.180 trillion manats, 99% of the targeted figure and 28% more than the level registered between January and May of last year.
The main part of tax revenues (38%) came from the oil and gas sector. The greatest specific weight (88%) in the general structure of tax levies falls on VAT, profit tax, excise duties, payments to the public security fund, and taxes imposed on the population. The share of tax revenues received in cash came to 81%, and 19% of the tax revenues has been paid in treasury bills.
Public budgetary expenditures came to 2.153 trillion manats (84% of the targeted amount). The greatest part of the money (81.4%) has been used for financing the social security sphere.
The official rate for June 13 was 5,200 manats/$1. (Interfax)
Afghanistan Country without State?June 15, 2000
RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent in Germany reports that a three day conference symposium "Afghanistan - Country Without State?" opened on June 15 at the State Museum of Ethnology (Staatliches Museum f��������rkunde) in Munich.
The symposium is organized jointly by Arbeitsgemeinschaft Afghanistan (AGA) and Mediothek f����fghanistan and supported by the German Foreign Office, Deutsche Forschungs-gemeinschaft, and Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung.
The symposium consists of an art exhibition and a conference, attended by experts on Afghan affairs from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere. Participants are expected to address issues of conflict resolution and state building in Afghanistan. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Central Asian Economic Union Finishes SummitJune 14, 2000
The presidents of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan finished their economic summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe today.
The leaders re-affirmed their desire to increase economic cooperation among their countries and agreed to take further measures to establish stability in the region. They also pledged to form a common economic zone among the four states by 2002.
The presidents prepared a statement to the United Nations expressing deep concern over the situation in Afghanistan. The statement says fighting in Afghanistan and the use of that country by international terrorists and narcotics traffickers is having a negative effect on the economic stability of the CIS Central Asian states.
The presidents also called on the international community to help ensure the Sarez Lake reservoir in Tajikistan does not burst. (RFE/RL)
Central Asia Counter-Terrorism Conference Opens in WashingtonJune 13, 2000
About 40 security officials from Central Asia, the United States and Europe convened today a three-day conference in Washington on countering terrorism in Central Asia.
Participants came from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and from Russia, Egypt, Spain and the United States.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the U.S. views anti-terrorism as a serious and important matter. Reeker said the meeting is being held at an undisclosed location in Washington and behind closed doors. He said there would no media availability by the participants.
U.S.-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright promoted the conference during a recent visit to Central Asia. She said she noted a disturbing surge in extremist Islamic terrorism in the region when she was in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan last April. She said also that over-reaction with non-democratic anti-terrorist remedies foments the violence it seeks to cure.
This week's meeting is the second U.S.-sponsored anti-terrorism conference. A conference last year addressed terrorism in South Asia and the Middle East. (RFE/RL)
Kazakhstan Considers Transporting Oil Via IranJune 13, 2000
Kazakhstan is mulling the possibility of transporting crude oil via Iran, Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said at today's meeting with Ismail Gem, Turkey's foreign minister, in Astana.
Tokayev said that Iran's president Mohammad Khatami has suggested that Kazakhstan should speed up bilateral negotiations on joint oil projects.
Prime Minister said Kazakhstan wants to have as many export pipelines as possible "so that Kazakhstan can export as much oil as possible."
Kazakhstan is especially interested in the construction of pipeline from the Kazakh oil field of Tengiz to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, he added.
According to Tokayev, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium project should enter into effect in the middle of next year. This would enable Kazakhstan to double oil production and to increase exports accordingly. (Interfax)
Kyrgyz Round Table Talks EndJune 13, 2000
Round table discussions between the Kyrgyz political leadership, some opposition parties and non-governmental organizations ended in the capital Bishkek today.
The round table held two meetings this month, both attended by President Askar Akayev. However, the main opposition parties and non-governmental organizations did not participate. They demanded the release of arrested opposition politicians and protested at last-minute changes to the format of the meetings.
Today's discussion was devoted to stabilization of the social-economic situation in the country and needed reforms of the judicial system. Akayev told the meeting that proposals of the opposition and non-governmental organizations on stabilization of the economical and social situations would be included in the national development plan for 2001-2010. The program should be worked out by the end of the year. (RFE/RL)
Iran Warns Caspian Regional Conference Against External PressureJune 11, 2000
Iran's president told a meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Tehran today that regional states should not give external states influence over their economic and energy fields.
Mohammad Khatami, speaking on the second day of the conference, said external powers only think about short-term interests. He called on participants to give preference instead to the lasting interests of the region's own countries.
He also repeated Iran's position that Iran is the best route for a pipeline to carry Caspian Basin energy to world markets through Turkey and the Persian Gulf.
The ECO's members are Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Its main goals are to promote transportation and telecommunications networks, to remove trade barriers and to ease visa restrictions. (RFE/RL)
Khatami And Niyazov Discuss Economic CooperationJune 11, 2000
The Iranian and Turkmen presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Saparmurat Niyazov, met on the sidelines of Organization for Economic Cooperation summit in Tehran yesterday.
Niyazov said at the meeting Turkmenistan has "good, neighborly" relations with Iran.
Khatami in turn called for further consolidation of economic contacts within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation.
He said a legal status of the Caspian Sea should be established to meet interests of all Caspian states. (Itar-Tass)
ANALYSIS FROM RFE/RL
The Turkmen Of Iraq And Turkey
by David Nissman, RFE/RL
The Turkmen population of Iraq is between 2.5 million-3 million, comprising approximately 16 percent of Iraq's population. They are the third largest ethnic minority in Iraq, and about 10 percent of the Turkmen live within the borders of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is not under the control of Baghdad; the other 90 percent are directly under Baghdad's control, and subject to the current policies of arabization and assimilation promoted by the Ba'th Party. This is only one of the problems the Iraqi Turkmen face in the effort to preserve their ethnic and national identity.
The Turkmen came to the territory of present-day Iraq during the Seljuk invasions, beginning in the eighth century; at the same time, almost one million settled in Iraq and an even larger number in Afghanistan. There are also some 250 thousand Turkmen in Syria, where they arrived at the same time as the Turkmens in Iraq. While the Turkmens in Syria are concentrated in Aleppo (Halep), they have also been dispersed throughout the metropolitan areas of Syria. In the past, the ruling party of Syria, the Ba'th Party, has also pursued a pan-Arab policy and subjected the Turkmen to the same pressures as Baghdad.
With the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One and the rise of Ataturk, Turkey tried to maintain control over northern Iraq, especially the region around Mosul, where many of the Turkmens are settled. This attempt to maintain control over the area was unsuccessful; since then, Ankara has maintained an interest in the Turkmens, but it has not always been a consistent interest, especially recently, since Turkish policy has always had to make a choice between their relations with Baghdad and their relations with the Turkmen minority.
The result of the inconsistency and unreliable support of Ankara, the Iraqi Turkmens began to form modern political organization in the mid-1990s. At the First Iraqi Turkmen Congress, held in Irbil in October 1997, the participants issued a "Declaration of Principles" which stated who they were and some of their attributes. Because the Iraqi Turkmens felt they had no international identity, they had to define themselves. It was thought that if they were recognized by the international community as a people, they could gain greater support in their struggle for the freedoms other peoples enjoyed.
One of their basic problems is their language. Article Three of the "Declaration of Principles" says: "The official written language of the Turkmens is Istanbul Turkish, and its alphabet is the new Latin alphabet." In fact, it is forbidden to use the Latin alphabet is schools in Baghdad-controlled Iraq, and the use of Latin is not permitted in all parts of Iraq under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Ankara, which had been supplying textbooks to Iraqi Turkmen schools, was forced to abandon this program. In terms of language relationships, Iraqi Turkmen is much closer to Ashgabat Turkmen.
Ashgabat, after the 'discovery' of their Iraqi Turkmen compatriots in the 1970s, and their recognition as a people at the First World Congress of Turkmens, has not shown any interest in them. The Turkmens are still relying on Ankara to help them in their time of need and some of the relatively new Turkmen political parties of Iraq maintain offices in Ankara to lobby for their cause.
One of the goals of Turkish policy in Iraq is to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdistan. In 1999, Bulent Ecevit, then Turkish Prime Minister, presented a "regional security plan" which was a welcome change to the regional security plan he presented in 1995. One of the stipulations of the new plan is that any new Iraqi government "must guarantee human rights and equality for all its citizens, and reach agreement about these issues with representatives of Kurds, Turkmens, and Shiites." Another stipulation is that "the world should be reminded of the Turkmen presence in Iraq" and "Baghdad should be aware of this presence, and it should be noted that providing certain rights and guarantees to the Turkmens will contribute to ending the division in the country."
Now, however, Turkey's interest is in reviving trade with Iraq. The fate of the "regional security plan" adopted by former Prime Minister Ecevit is unknown, although the Iraqi Turkmens continue to receive press coverage in the Turkish media. Whether this will help the Turkmens or whether they will be forgotten once again in the interests of Turkish trade is unclear.
In May 2000, RFE/RL Turkmen Service journalist Naz Nazar spoke with Wayne Merry of the Atlantic Council of the United States about the U.S. policy towards Turkmenistan. Wayne Merry has testified in front of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) during the March 2000 Hearing on the State of Democratization and Human Rights in Turkmenistan.
NN: You have testified before the U.S. Helsinki Commission. What is your impression of the hearing?
WM: My impression is that the hearing before the American Helsinki Commission on human rights questions in Turkmenistan was a very serious affair. By American congressional hearing standards, it was very long, it had a very serious list of witnesses, the members of Congress who attended paid very close attention, they obviously were very interested in the subject and asked a great many very good questions.
NN: What impact might the hearing have on the government of Turkmenistan, if any?
WM: It is difficult for me from Washington to judge the extent to which the Niyazov regime, which in effect means Mr. Niyazov himself, will either be aware of or responsive to such a hearing. The impact of the hearing of this kind is to change the thinking of many members of Congress who are interested in Central Asian issues, so that they focus increasingly on questions of the character of the governments involved, the lack of human rights and civil liberties, and the long-term stability and responsiveness of these governments. I think it is fair to say that in recent years many members of Congress have increasingly worried that the undemocratic and repressive nature of some of the regimes in Central Asia, in particularly in Turkmenistan, raise serious questions about the level of commitment the United States should make to these countries and how effective these countries will be in the long term even for developing their economic potential.
NN: How likely is it that the U.S. administration will toughen its stance towards Turkmenistan, which is known for its repressive regime?
WM: I think you may know that one step has already been taken, which is that Turkmenistan has lost its certification for U.S. cooperation and assistance under what is called the Cooperative Threat Reduction program. To my knowledge, there are only two countries which have ever lost their certification for participation in this program on human rights basis: the regime of Lukashenka in Minsk and now the regime of Niyazov in Ashgabat. So, I think you can point to that as one concrete step that has been taken. More importantly, what I can report on is an increasing sense of unease within the Congress, in the executive branch, and within the American business about the potential to do business with Turkmenistan. Some of the recent problems on the Trans-Caspian pipeline I think are characteristic. When the Trans-Caspian pipeline company received the demand from Mr. Niyazov for a 500 million dollar baksheesh even in advance of construction, this raised serious questions as to whether or not Turkmenistan is the kind of regime we have seen in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, or whether it is a serious country with which the United States can conduct real business.
NN: In your speech to the Helsinki Commission you said that a minimalist policy towards Turkmenistan today will pay dividends tomorrow, while the U.S. State Department's notion on that seems to be that there is a young generation in Turkmenistan that may benefit from economic investments and military assistance going into Turkmenistan today. Generally, is there a clear idea in the U.S. political scene about what can and should be done in cases like Turkmenistan?
WM: I believe there are different points of view in Washington concerning Turkmenistan, and different points of view even within the executive branch. I think that it's fair to say that there is a very large number of skeptical voices within parts of the U.S. administration concerning Turkmenistan, and that realistically American policy will be determined by events and practical responses that have come out of Ashgabat on issues like the Trans-Caspian pipeline. Only a few months ago at the time of the Istanbul summit of the OSCE, I think there was a great deal of optimism within the presidential administration here about this project. Today it is quite clear, and this is obvious in a number of press reports here in the United States, that Washington is quite prepared to let that pipeline project fail, because they simply do not believe that the government of Turkmenistan views it as a serious business enterprise, rather as simply a mechanism by which to try to extort money from Western businesses and Western financiers.
NN: Turkmenistan is obviously an issue where we often see energy and human rights interests clash with each other. Could a formula be found as to how to harmonize and combine these two interests?
WM: There is certainly no magic formula. There is always a dynamic relationship between the economic issues and political issues, between questions of money and questions of democratization. I think for all of Central Asian countries a few years ago the economic issues were dominant, but increasingly there is now a greater balance with the political issues. This is particularly the case because there is a greater understanding that the economic potential of the Central Asian region is not likely to be developed in the years immediately ahead, but in decades ahead. The natural gas and oil of Central Asia will be important on world markets, but not for some time. I think increasingly also there is a tendency in Washington to look at different Central Asian countries individually, rather than to group them together as one, and increasingly people understand that there is a difference between Turkmenistan and some of the other countries, and that the state of human rights, civil liberties, and democratization in Turkmenistan is particularly bad, and that this creates questions as to the long term viability and stability of a regime like this, because we have seen other regimes, similar regimes like this, let collapse simply because they were so repressive. So, I think there is a tendency in Washington to look with increasing skepticism at countries where there is not even a serious attempt to develop an accountable government or civil liberties, as is the case, unfortunately, with Turkmenistan.
NN: What genuine economic interests might the U.S. have in Turkmenistan given Turkmenistan's remoteness to the U.S. and also the size of the Caspian region's energy sources questioned lately? To what extent is the U.S. pursuing a genuine interest, or is it interested in Turkmenistan mainly because it borders Iran and Afghanistan and is under Russia's influence?
WM: I think there is a very real question as to whether the United States does have any significant national interests in Turkmenistan. For practical purposes, Turkmenistan is in the sphere of influence of Russia, and that's partly because the Niyazov regime wants it to be. The Niyazov regime obviously values its close relations with Moscow and will develop those in preference to any kind of relationship with the West and with the United States. I don't think that one can see any serious American interest in the region other than the economic and increasingly, as one looks at the changing nature of the oil and gas situation in the Caspian region, it's hard to see where the market for Turkmen natural gas will be other than either in Russia or through Russian pipelines or in Iran through Iranian pipelines. That being the case, the role for American business on a large scale is increasingly difficult to imagine, and since there are no other economic factors involved, I think one is going to see that the willingness of the United States to become engaged in Turkmenistan will be less a factor of economics and more a factor of the human rights and democratization issues.
NN: If the United States looses interest in Turkmenistan, will this mean that the international community will be less aware of what's going on in Turkmenistan, especially in sense of human rights abuses?
WM: That is not likely to be the case. There are enough Western embassies in Ashgabat that are reporting on these questions. So long as Turkmenistan is a member of the OSCE, it will be accountable for the human rights obligations of the OSCE, and those will be documented. I think a number of international non-governmental institutions are following events in Turkmenistan very carefully and that increasingly Turkmenistan is going to find that it's very difficult to hide these kinds of repressive practices in the modern world. With new technologies of communication and with increasing numbers of governments and organizations interested in human rights I think it would be almost impossible for the Niyazov regime to do the kinds of things it does in secret. The world will know.
NN: What kind of help do you think the United States could give to the forces that support liberalization in Turkmenistan?
WM: The kind of assistance that I think is the most effective is for the governments of Western countries to always talk about these issues with the Turkmen authorities, so that the Turkmen authorities are aware that there is concern in the West, and second, for Western private organizations and human rights groups to give assistance to their counterparts in Turkmenistan, so that these people can learn about human rights issues and at least be aware that the outside world knows what is going on and cares. The people of Turkmenistan and the government should know that they are being watched, and watched carefully.