8 July 2000
POLITICAL NEWS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Taliban Calls On Turkmens For HelpJuly 8, 2000
The head of Taliban's chamber of commerce Movla Abdul Khalyl Khalyly has recently traveled to Turkmenistan to discuss economic problems caused by deadly draught in Afghanistan, RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent reports from Islamabad.
According to Pakistani newspaper "Vakhdat," during his trip Khalyly sought to purchase Turkmen grain and persuade Afghani Turkmen businessmen who had left the country during civil war to return and invest in Afghan economy.
"I persuaded the Afghans that nothing would threaten them in Afghanistan," Khalyly said. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service)
Industrial Growth, Record Harvest, Low Crime Highlighted At the Cabinet of Ministers MeetingJuly 7, 2000
The overall growth of industrial production in Turkmenistan has stood at 34% this year, President Saparmurat Niyazov announced at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Speakers at the meeting emphasized that this growth rate was achieved by intensifying development of some industries, particularly oil and gas complex. The president said that 3.5 million tons of oil has been produced - nearly as much as in all of 1991.
Turkmenistan will continue improving and enlarging its export industries, including production of electric energy. New power plants will be built in Bekdash (on the Caspian Sea), Serkhetabat (the former Kushka), Dashoguz, and Tukmenabat (the former Chardzhou) by 2010 with a prospect of creating a single energy system in Turkmenistan.
Niyazov also said that in 2001, 1,800 thousand tons of grain will be produced in Turkmenistan. This year the republic for the first time harvested a record amount of crops (1,700 thousand tons, which is 200 thousand more than was planned), the presidential administration told Interfax. The problem of the country's bread security has therefore been solved, and in the course of the next two years Turkmenistan's full food security will be ensured, the president said. It is expected that by 2010 Turkmenistan, which has been buying grain and flour from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Iran, will be able to export about 2.5 million tons of grain.
The crime level in Turkmenistan decreased by 16% in the first half of 2000 in comparison with the same period in 1999, Niyazov also said. In his opinion, the large-scale amnesty carried out in 1999 and also this year, releasing from jail about 30 thousand people, yielded positive results.
Niyazov recalled that Turkmenistan has declared moratorium on the death penalty, complicated the procedure of initiating criminal cases, and imposed a ban on raiding the houses of Turkmen citizens (except when there are drugs weighing more than 5 kg or weapons in the house).
Turkmen President To Take Short Vacation On Caspian Sea CoastJuly 7, 2000
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov flew to the city of Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) after visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin departed Ashgabat.
Niyazov is planning to relax by the Caspian Sea until Saturday evening, a source in the presidential administration has told Interfax.
Deputy prime ministers went along with the president, and there are plans for the entire administration of Turkmenistan taking off for a week's leave in the next few days. Niyazov made this demand at one of the recent government sessions. (Interfax)
China, Turkmenistan Oppose Rights-Above-Sovereignty ThesisJuly 7, 2000
China and Turkmenistan stand against the so-called "humanitarian interference" in internal affairs of sovereign states, Chairman of the People's Republic of China Jiang Zemin and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov agreed in a joint declaration signed yesterday in Ashgabat.
"Under no circumstances, even reasons based on a thesis of 'priority of human rights over sovereignty,' does any state have the right to interfere in internal affairs of other sovereign states," the document says.
Zemin and Niyazov spoke for tightening the fight against national separatism, terrorism, and religious extremism, and stressed that neither side allows on its territory activity of any organization or forces directed against sovereignty, security, and stability of the other side.
Chinese and Turkmen leaders called for "fair and rational new international political and economic order" based on the goals and principles of the U.N. Charter and on recognized norms of international law. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Itar-Tass)
Turkmen President Denies Political Arrests, Crushing OppositionJuly 6, 2000
Turkmenistan's authoritarian President Saparmurat Niyazov denied today that he had crushed opposition forces or conducted political arrests in the Central Asian state.
"In Turkmenistan there is no multi-party system nor opposition, but that does not mean that we persecute them and squeeze them," he said during a live broadcast on Turkmen television while hosting Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.
Niyazov, who calls himself Turkmenbashi - or Father of All Turkmen - accused the West of unjustly dubbing him a dictator.
"We will build a democratic society in Turkmenistan, but with regard to Central Asian mentality and without instruction ... on how that should be done," Niyazov said.
Speaking before a concert that he was to attend with Jiang, the Turkmen president explained that his country was undergoing a transition period.
The Chinese leader, who is on his first visit to the Central Asian country, said Turkmenistan under Niyazov had gained impressive success.
"China respects the path and model of development chosen by Turkmenistan and strongly supports the politics of constant neutrality that has been determined by Niyazov," Jiang said.
He added that the aim of his visit to Turkmenistan was to strengthen ties with the Central Asian country and deepen bilateral relations. (AFP)
China, Turkmenistan Expand Oil And Gas CooperationJuly 7, 2000
Specialists from China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will visit the Gumdag oil field in Turkmenistan to determine ways to boost oil yields, says cooperation agreement signed yesterday by Yolly Gurbanmuradov, head of Turkmenistan's oil and gas sector, and CNPC President Ma Fucai.
The agreement also covers joint study of investment projects at state oil company Turkmenneft involving hydrocarbon exploration and production in the coastal area of Turkmenistan's Caspian sector. CNPC will join the project to study hydrocarbon resources at fields on the right bank of the Amu-Darya River, which could lead to a production-sharing agreement. A joint group is to submit its recommendations in one year.
Turkmenistan and CNPC will also set up a joint working group to study construction of an oil pipeline from eastern Turkmenistan to the Chinese border. In addition, they will discuss purchasing and leasing of Chinese-made oil equipment. CNPC will assist in exporting the equipment to Turkmenistan. (Interfax)
Chinese President In Turkmenistan, Signs AgreementsJuly 6, 2000
China's President Jiang Zemin is in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat today for talks with the country's leader Saparmurat Niyazov.
The two presidents signed an agreement to continue cooperation in the gas and oil sector. They are also discussing the planned natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
The 5,700-kilometer long pipeline will supply China with 30,000 million cubic meters of gas annually. Completion is expected in ten years.
Niyazov said China will begin receiving liquefied natural gas from Turkmenistan next year but gave no figures.
Jiang and Niyazov also signed an agreement whereby China will loan Turkmenistan about 10 million dollars. (RFE/RL)
Kazakh-U.S. Group Discusses Kazakhstan's Participation In Azerbaijani-Turkish Oil ProjectJuly 7, 2000
The Kazakh-American working group on commercial power engineering met today in Astana to discuss prospects of Kazakhstan's participation in the Baku-Ceyhan oil project.
Senior U.S. Commerce Department official Allan Bowser, a co-chairman of the group, told the press the U.S. wants to discuss practical steps of Kazakhstan's participation in the project as stipulated in the Istanbul Declaration, signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in October 1999.
Bowser said the American side wants to boost capacities of the Kazakh port of Aktau (the republic's west) and shipping lanes through the Caspian Sea as the first link in Kazakh oil export to Baku and on to Ceyhan.
The U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Johns, who attended the press conference, said the USAID agency is prepared to provide the necessary funds for the research project. (Interfax)
U.S. Urges Georgia To Work On Baku-Ceyhan ProjectJuly 4, 2000
U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has called on Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to work together on the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.
Ratification of the pipeline treaty by Georgia's parliament indicates the East-West transportation corridor is moving ahead rapidly, Richardson's message says.
The U.S. supports the project and is counting on maintaining the tempo and spirit of regional cooperation by searching for financing to begin implementation. (Interfax)
Solution Of Caspian Problems Depends On Kazakhstan, RussiaJuly 7, 2000
The position of Kazakhstan and Russia is crucial to "further positive involvement" in the solution of Caspian problems of other regional states, in particular Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny said today during his meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev in Astana.
Kalyuzhny, who is the Russian president's special representative on the Caspian status, added that there are "lots of unresolved problems," concerning the Caspian region, and the regional countries "should do all they could to ensure the positive" solution of these problems. "Otherwise, we could simply lose the Caspian [region]," he said.
The bulk of Kalyuzhny's meeting with Tokayev took place behind closed doors. After the meeting, Kalyuzhny told the press that Moscow proposed solving the problem of the Caspian oil fields by joint exploitation of them on an equal share basis.
"Russia put forward a proposal to simplify the solution to this problem today. Development at all the disputed areas, the number of which is four as of the moment, should be conducted jointly on a 50/50 basis," Kalyuzhny said. (Interfax)
Kazakhstan Considers Export Routes After Oil Find On Caspian ShelfJuly 6, 2000
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev spoke on the need of new oil export routes following new large oil find on the nation's Caspian shelf.
Based on preliminary data from the first test well at the East Kashagan structure, reserves on the shelf total at least 7 billion tons.
A pipeline from the Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan being built by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) "will only resolve the issue of transporting Tengiz oil," Nazarbayev said in an interview televised by the state-owned Khabar network. The CPC pipeline will start pumping oil in mid-2001.
Kazakhstan now "must actively integrate" with the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project, as well as on the route through Russia and the Baltic states via the Atyrau-Samara pipeline, Nazarbayev said. Concerning the Russian route, Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan and Russia needed to conclude a long-term agreement. "We can't be negotiating every year" on the amount of Kazakh oil to be shipped through Russia, he said. Russia and its new president, Vladimir Putin, completely understand that, he said.
The agreement might cover a 50-year period, he said.
"We have to have certainty" concerning the Russian route, he said. If not, Kazakhstan will have to look for alternative routes, he added.
Nazarbayev said the matter was touched upon at his meeting in Dushanbe with Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin. "Now that the oil volumes are there, we have to move ahead with construction of an oil pipeline from western Kazakhstan to China, Nazarbayev said. The two nations already have an agreement on pipeline construction. In addition, Kazakhstan must also make progress on new routes through Russia, he said. (Interfax)
Kazakh Officials, U.S. Trader Said to Be ProbedJuly 2, 2000
The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly probing financial transactions involving an American trade consultant, oil companies and Kazakh government officials.
The Washington Post reports today that U.S. officials sent a letter to Swiss authorities asking for help in investigating the financial activities of James Giffen.
Giffen is a veteran consultant in Russian trade deals who in recent years has focused on Kazakhstan.
A U.S. official who asked not to be identified told the newspaper that Giffen may have placed deposits in certain Swiss banks, possibly on behalf of Kazakh officials.
Giffen was traveling and unavailable for comment. The Post says Kazakh Embassy officials did not return the newspaper's telephone calls.
Separately, Newsweek magazine reports in its upcoming edition that the amount allegedly involved totaled 35 million dollars.
The investigation comes as the United States, Russia and Iran vie to win Kazakh approval for competing oil export pipeline routes. (RFE/RL)
Kazakhoil Head Denies Reports U.S. Companies Bribed Kazakh OfficialsJuly 4, 2000
The head of Kazakh state oil company Kazakhoil has denied media allegations he was involved in bribes reportedly paid by U.S. oil companies.
"I can tell you right now, I am clean. I guarantee it," Kazakhoil President Nurlan Balgimbayev told reporters today.
Balgimbayev said he was familiar with the media reports concerning an investigation into bribes paid by U.S. companies to Kazakh officials. He said that as far as he was aware, U.S. prosecutors had not contacted any official bodies in Kazakhstan.
As for the media campaign in the West, Balgimbayev had three observations: "Firstly, why did these reports occur simultaneously in three separate publications? Secondly, why, if someone wants to conduct an investigation, would publication of the reports be allowed before the investigation is completed," he said, speculating that the reports were "prompting and provoking the investigation."
"Thirdly, someone is unable to sleep at nights knowing that we have discovered first oil at the first test well at East Kashagan on Kazakhstan's Caspian shelf," he said.
Balgimbayev speculated that the publication "is somehow connected with U.S. presidential elections," and that perhaps "someone has a problem with the fact Russia and Kazakhstan have advanced to a new stage in relations with the election of President Vladimir Putin."
Balgimbayev also thought it was possible the reports were being disseminated by former citizens of Kazakhstan against whom criminal charges have been filed. (Interfax)
Summer Sturgeon-Fishing Season Poor In Russian Caspian RegionJuly 5, 2000
Russian fishermen have hauled in only 220 tons of sturgeon in this year's summer fishing season - well short of the 560 tons set quota, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Fisheries Commission Vladimir Izmailov told Interfax.
In both May and June the catch was "very bad, the spawns of beluga, sturgeon and sevruga [stellated sturgeon] were very weak."
Russian fish factories in the Caspian basin have failed to build up the necessary stock of black caviar for artificial sturgeon breeding, Izmailov said. According to preliminary reports, the plants will release not more than 35 million sturgeon, beluga and sevruga fry into the wild, which is 40% less than last year.
Izmailov believes the fall sturgeon fishing season that begins in the Caspian Sea region in September, "can do little to improve the situation, and under the most favorable circumstances the total sturgeon catch in 2000 may come to 320-340 tons."
Russia caught about one thousand tons of sturgeon and exported a little less than 100 tons of black caviar in 1999. The amount of exported black caviar may weigh in at less than 30 tons this year. (Interfax)
REGIONAL NEWSSecurity Council Warns Of New Measures Against Taliban July 7, 2000
The United Nations Security Council has warned Afghanistan's ruling Taliban that it faces further punitive measures for disregarding the council's resolutions.
The council approved a statement yesterday reiterating its concern about a range of developments it says has occurred under the Taliban's leadership.
In particular, the council called on the Taliban to act against international terrorists on its territory. This refers in part to the Taliban's refusal to turn over accused terrorist Osama bin Laden to face U.S. charges. It also reflects Russia's concerns that the Taliban is supporting terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists.
The council statement also said Afghan territory under the control of the Taliban continues to be used for the production and trafficking of illegal drugs.
A Taliban official earlier rejected the allegations about terrorism and drugs. (RFE/RL)
NATO Chief Visits Uzbekistan, KyrgyzstanJuly 6, 2000
NATO's Secretary-General George Robertson today urged Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to strengthen the fight against ethnic extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking in Central Asia.
Robertson spoke during visits to both countries today as part of a tour of the region.
Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldayev said "transnational" terrorism is destabilizing Central Asia and urged greater cooperation with NATO in its Partnership for Peace program. (RFE/RL)
U.S. Continues Normal Trade With Most Former Soviet StatesJuly 5, 2000
The U.S. says normal trade relations with 10 of the 12 republics of the former Soviet Union will continue.
In a letter to the U.S. Congress, President Bill Clinton said the emigration laws and policies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan remained in compliance with international standards on the freedom of emigration. Changes in U.S. trade laws in the mid 1990s enabled the president to continue normal trade relations with the former Soviet states without the need of an annual review of their emigration policies. However, the president is required to submit periodic reports to Congress attesting that human rights standards are being met.
In addition, Clinton signed an order earlier this week extending normal trade relations for the first time to Kyrgyzstan.
On July 3, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky suspended Belarus from a U.S. program that grants favorable tariff benefits to imports from developing and emerging nations. Barshefsky said Belarus was suspended because, in her words, it continues to suppress trade union rights and harass union leaders. (RFE/RL)
Chinese, Central Asian Leaders Support Chechnya WarJuly 4, 2000
Foreign ministers of China, Russia and three Central Asian nations expressed support today for Moscow's military campaign in Chechnya and opposition to U.S. proposals for a national missile defense.
The foreign ministers, meeting in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, also said they support China's push for reunification with Taiwan, which broke away amid a 1949 civil war and is considered by China a renegade province.
Tomorrow, the presidents of the five nations - Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan - will meet.
At one-on-one talks earlier today, Chines President Jiang Zemin and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmonov signed documents aimed at promoting cooperation and peace in the restive region.
Shanghai Five Summit Concludes in DushanbeJuly 5, 2000
The fifth summit of the so-called Shanghai Five concluded today in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, with the presidents of China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and observer nation Uzbekistan vowing closer cooperation in security matters.
The group agreed to set up an anti-terrorism center in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek and cooperate in the fight against trans-border crime, terrorism, extremism and separatism. Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov said the summit provided new impetus to efforts aimed at securing regional stability.
The group released the Dushanbe Declaration which calls on all nations to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology and refrain from military actions against countries without the approval of the United Nations. The presidents also expressed support for Russia's position on the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and criticized plans by the United States to create a tactical missile defense system. Support for Russia's campaign in Chechnya was also expressed by the presidents.
The group approved changing the name of the organization to the Shanghai Forum. (RFE/RL)
Uzbekistan Denies Jailed Poet Was TorturedJuly 5, 2000
Uzbekistan has denied a report that a poet jailed for supporting a banned opposition party had been tortured in prison and is dangerously ill.
The Uzbek Interior Ministry said yesterday that Mamadali Makhmudov's health is "satisfactory".
New York-based Human Rights Watch said last month that Makhmudov had been beaten, tortured and underfed and was on the brink of death.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Makhmudov has not suffered any illnesses or asked for medical assistance during the period of his imprisonment.
Makhmudov was sentenced to 14 years in jail last year for supporting a banned opposition party whose leader was accused by the authorities of masterminding a spate of bombings. One attack narrowly missed killing President Islam Karimov. (RFE/RL)
Armed Drug Incidents Along Afghan-Tajik Border DoubleJuly 2, 2000
A Tajik official says armed incidents between Russian frontier guards and drug traffickers at the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan have doubled since the start of the year.
A spokesman for the border guard service, Colonel Alexander Kondratiev, said today there have been 27 incidents since January, compared to 29 for the whole of last year. Some 140 traffickers, 90 percent of them Afghans, have been arrested, with frontier posts fired on 23 times.
A total of 240 kg's of drugs have been seized, 80 kg's of it heroin.
Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium.
Last month Russian troops increased their numbers to 11,000 men on the 1,500-kilometre border in an attempt to counter the trade. (RFE/RL)
China's Three Goals in Turkmenistanby Paul Goble (RFE/RL)
Jiang Zemin's recent visit to Turkmenistan advances three major goals of Beijing's foreign policy.
First, it allows Jiang to reaffirm his opposition to any foreign criticism of human rights violations in his country by meeting with a government that shares that view.
Second, it gives the Chinese president the opportunity to sound out the possibility of expanded political and even more economic linkages with Central Asian countries, both as an expansion of China's sphere of influence and as an effort to link up with Russia on certain issues.
And third, it highlights China's willingness to become a major player in the geopolitics of Central Asia, contesting not only American and Western influence on the human rights front but Russian influence economically and politically. In short, it represents a confirmation of the new activism of Beijing internationally.
Jiang Zemin Continues Central Asian Tour With Stop in TurkmenistanBy Avdy Kuliev, leader of Turkmenistan's political opposition in exile and Turkmenistan's minister of foreign affairs in 1991-92 Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, China has sought to increase its presence in Central Asia, a region containing bountiful energy reserves. China has limited energy reserves of its own, and needs to secure additional sources to fuel domestic economic development. At the same time, Beijing has sought the cooperation of Central Asian states in neutralizing separatist sentiment among Uyghurs in northwestern China. So far, the Chinese leadership has been largely successful in gaining the cooperation of Central Asian leaders - including Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan � in the struggle to contain Uyghur separatism.
Among the potential projects discussed by Jiang and Niyazov was construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China and Japan. The projected cost of the almost 5,000 mile (8,000 kilometer) pipeline would be upwards of $12 billion. Such a pipeline route was first discussed several years ago. In intervening years the project appeared dead, presumably because of the high construction costs involved. However, China's energy needs appears to have provided the spark to rekindle discussions.
Turkmenistan has been keeping its oil and gas export options open. Niyazov has been reluctant to commit fully to a trans-Caspian export route. Following talks June 30 with executives of the Dutch Shell Oil Company, the Turkmen leader said obstacles preventing the construction of the Caspian pipeline � which would bring Turkmenistan's gas to Turkey, via Azerbaijan and Georgia � had not been resolved. Niyazov added that there was no hurry to begin construction. Niyazov has additionally maintained an open door with Russia.
Niyazov, who has made two state visits to Beijing, has long cultivated friendly ties with China. For Turkmenistan, China represents an outlet to avoid international isolation over Niyazov's increasingly repressive domestic policies. In recent months, Turkmenistan has cracked down against domestic opposition activists. Dozens of opposition figures have been jailed on fabricated criminal charges. Turkmen authorities have completely stifled independent mass media. On May 29, the government moved to restrict the operations of internet providers in the country. In addition, Niyazov has supported moves to limit freedom of movement of foreign citizens in Turkmenistan.
China has been steadfast in asserting that human rights policies are the internal affairs of individual states. Indeed, the joint statement issued at the conclusion of the Shanghai 5 meeting opposed foreign "intervention" in other states' affairs in the name of "humanitarian intervention" or "human rights protection." (Central Eurasia Project)
Relations Between Turkey And Turkic Republics
by Dr. Nadir Develet, Professor at Marmara University in Istanbul and contributor to RFE/RL Turkmen Service After almost a decade of relations between Turkic republics and Turkey a question should be asked as to whether the partners are satisfied with these relations. According to Turkish political analysts especially, Turkey is rather frustrated than satisfied. Several reasons lie beneath this frustration, which is a result of mistakes made not only by Turkic partners, but also by Turkey herself.
In the beginning of 1990's some scholars, politicians, and journalists in Turkey believed that Turkey and Turkic population of former USSR have a common racial, historical, cultural and even religious ties, which is generally correct. But, on the other hand, not all Turkish citizens are ethnically Turks, and in Turkey there are different ethnic groups like Kurds, who do not accept this official version of common heritage. The relations between Turkey and different Turkic groups, so called "outer Turks" (in Turkey), were cut off for many centuries, first because of the Ottoman and Russian rivalries, and after that because of the Iron Curtain. In the Soviet period Turkey and USSR had almost no significant cultural or academic contacts. On the contrary, during these years scholars even in Turkey were detained by the administration because of their involvement with so called "outer Turks." In those years Turkey was afraid of the Soviet communist influence so much that nobody in the country could receive any Soviet newspapers. In other words, the knowledge on Turkic peoples in the USSR was very restricted and not up to date in Turkey.
When the USSR dissolved and at least five Turkic republics became independent, Turkey reacted to the unexpected political development very rapidly, immediately recognizing sovereignty of CIS countries. Almost at the same time Turkey granted a total of one billion dollars in aid and trade credits to Central Asian republics. Turkish official attitude towards Turkic republics can be seen in the words of former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who on October 20, 1994 said, "Our languages, our believes, ancestors, lullabies, epics, legends and customs are the same, therefore we are brothers and sisters. We also know that in the past the Turkish population, whose territory is stretching from Adriatic sea to the Chinese sea, never lived under a single authority. But still, they are our brothers and sisters. We are branches of a huge plane-tree."
On January 24, 1992, Turkish Foreign Ministry created a new body called "Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency" (TIKA), which was responsible for improving relations with Turkic republics. Turkey and Central Asian states signed a total of 472 bilateral and 43 multilateral agreements just in the period between 1990 and 1996: 129 - with Azerbaijan, 96 - with Kazakhstan, 93 - with Uzbekistan, 81 - with Turkmenistan, 73 - with Kyrgyzstan. 1992 alone saw 212 agreements. 144 of all agreements touched on cultural issues. Political, economical and trade treaties followed in numbers, as did transportation, health, telecommunication, natural resources and energy, security and banking agreements. But, as a matter of fact, Turkey is currently not in a position to offer the scale of investment credits required to give short or even medium-term boosts to the economies of the Central Asian countries.
Turkey is suffering from energy shortage, and natural resources (oil and gas) in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are of major interest in Turkey. In the recent years, the press always stressed importance of these resources when broadcasting or writing on Central Asia or Caucasia. Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline from Azerbaijan to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan has been ratified by Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It could be said that the question of Baku-Ceyhan has been solved. But the pre-agreement on the purchase of 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan did not bring expected results. The Putin-Niyazov agreement on exporting Turkmen gas to Russia created nervousness in Ankara. Also, Kazakh oil, which is planned to be transported via Caspian-Mediterranean pipeline, is not realizable for the time being.
All these and other annoying developments led Turkey to question its policy towards Central Asian republics. Turkey also has some serious political problems with Uzbekistan. Turkey was criticized by Tashkent for giving refuge to the opposition Erk party leader Mukhammed Salih, and all Uzbek students who were studying in Turkey were called back. Some Turkish schools in Uzbekistan were closed down. [Uzbek President] Karimov accused Turkey of being involved in a bomb blast in Tashkent on February 16, 1999. In short, Turkey had to rethink its relations towards Central Asian states. Otherwise the dream of brotherly cooperation could not be realized. The last official visits of Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on June 13, 2000 to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan could be seen as the changing political attitude towards Turkic republics. But some analyst believe that such movements will not bring reestablishment of closer relationship with these republics.