28 October 2000
Turkmenistan Marks Ninth Anniversary of IndependenceFriday, October 27, 2000
Today Turkmenistan marked the ninth anniversary of its independence. An official ceremony to launch the start of two-day independence festivities all over Turkmenistan was held on Garashsizlik Square in Ashgabat. President Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan's top officials and the heads of foreign diplomatic missions were present. Following the raising of the state flag, selected battalions of the Ashgabat garrison took part in a short military parade. No speeches and congratulatory remarks were made during the 60-minute ceremony. (RFE/RL)
"We are Building Fair Society"Friday, October 27, 2000
The tenth volume of the collection of works by the first and life-term President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Turkmenbashi called "We are Building Fair Society" has been published. (Neutral Turkmenistan)
Turkmen President Announces Amnesty for PrisonersThursday, October 26, 2000
Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov announced today that 10,000 prisoners would receive an amnesty.
Niyazov spoke at a ceremony for a new monument dedicated to Turkmenistan's ninth year of independence, which is on October 27. He said the amnesty will be granted on December 23, the Islamic holy night of Kadr.
Niyazov said there are currently 19,000 people in jail and 3,000 to 3,500 awaiting trial. He would set free "mainly women, old men, and those who committed crimes accidentally or for the first time". Some 600 of those to be set free "out of goodwill" are foreigners, mainly Uzbeks, Russians, Iranians and Afghans, he said.
Such amnesties are a tradition in Turkmenistan and are timed to coincide with national holidays such as the February 19 Flag Day, which is also Niyazov's birthday. (RFE/RL, BBC Monitoring, Turkmen TV-Channel 1)
Turkmenistan Resumes Persecution of ProtestantsThursday, October 26, 2000
Following a lull in the summer months, Turkmen police and security officers have raided at least three Protestant churches in Ashgabat since the beginning of this month, Keston News Service reported on October 25. Members of all three congregations had their passports temporarily confiscated and were warned not to attend services in the future. (RFE/RL)
Highest Award of International Academy Handed to President NiyazovWednesday, October 25, 2000
Highest award of International Academy of Informatization "For merits in information science " is handed on Wednesday to the president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov.
This award has been presented to the leader of Turkmenistan by the first vice-president of International Academy of Informatization and president of European Academy of Informatization professor E. Evreinov who specially arrived to Ashkhabad.
According to the professor, the Turkmen leader's achievements are highly praised among the world intellectual elite. E. Evreinov also emphasized that S. Niyazov made "significant contribution to the theory and practice of the state structure, developed and implemented within his country completely new principles of the social system and democratic regulations of social processes at the end of the millenium".
International Academy of Informatization has headquarters in several European and American cities. (RFE/RL,Interfax)
Turkmen Style should be Represented on Podiums of World ShowroomsWednesday, October 25, 2000
"Turkmen style should be represented on podiums of world showrooms", the president of Turkmenistan has declared today during the participation in solemn opening of a metropolitan House of Style and Marketing " Altin Aseri " (Golden Century).
In it's spacious hall, where the samples will be henceforth arranged, the best collections of styled wear from Turkmen clothes designers were represented. Impressed by a high level of their skills, the president noticed how originally the models looked in traditional home made cloths (keteni), with use of traditional embroideries and colors characteristic to national wear of the Turkmen women, unique to the region of CIS, because they saved their outfit in everyday life.
After having a look at trade and office spaces of the House of Style and Marketing, the President of Turkmenistan expressed his gratitude to the head of the Turkish company "Chalyk Holding " Ahmet Chalyk for constructing a perfect building. Among the Turkish contractors this company plays a leading role in the country's textile industry. The construction costs exceeded $7 million.
In his speech during the opening celebration the President of Turkmenistan said that the House of Style and Marketing has become the major exposition for Turkmenistan's light industry.
The exposition also includes Turkmen carpets and the variety of samples of production of the leading textile enterprises, including the cotton jersey and jeans fabrics. (Itar-Tass)
Turkmen Gas Goes to UkraineWednesday, October 25, 2000
Ukrainian consumers will start receiving gas from Turkmenistan from November 1, the Ukrainian fuel and energy minister told reporters on October 25.
According to minister Sergei Yermilov, the cost of Turkmen gas on the Ukrainian border will make up $54 for 1,000 cubic meters.
An agreement to supply five billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas to Ukraine this year was reached in Ashgabat on October 4 during a meeting between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov. (RFE/RL, Itar-Tass)
Turkmen Leaders Receive Marching Orders, LiterallyWednesday, October 25, 2000
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov made a surprise announcement in a speech on Wednesday, commanding his government ministers and other top officials to get their walking boots on for a 36km one-day health hike.
"On November 4, after the end of festivities and two days of rest, we will set out for a new 36 km Serdar Yoly [Path of the Leader] walk," Niyazov said in his speech, marking the start of the country's 9th independence anniversary celebrations, broadcast by Turkmen TV.
"Everybody should be ready and get there at 08:00 on November 4. You leaders, you have to be well prepared. We all have to walk these 36 kilometers. We will gather there at half past seven in the morning of the 4th and at eight we start walking. It will be good for our health. We also invite all our guests on this journey."
The Path of the Leader is Niyazov-inspired civic project - a path leading from the Turkmen capital Ashgabat up the nearest mountain, built over recent years to promote healthy walks among Turkmens. (BBC Monitoring, Turkmen TV-Channel 1)
New Mosque Opens in Western Turkmen RegionWednesday, October 25, 2000
A new mosque has been built and opened in the village of Bugdayly of Esenguly District in Balkan. It is the 61st mosque to be built in the Region. Its opening was timed to coincide with [Independence Day] festivities. (BBC Monitoring, Turkmen TV-Channel 1)
Turkmen Leader Meets World Bank Vice PresidentMonday, October 23, 2000
Turkmen President Saparmurat Turkmenbashi met the World Bank vice president [for Europe and Central Asia], Johannes Linn today. A World Bank executive director and the head of its Central Asian department also attended the meeting.
The sides agreed that they could cooperate in optimizing financial management, improving the health system, developing the social sector, and raising the yield of main agricultural crops, solving environmental issues and supporting private business. The draft cooperation program will be ready by the autumn of 2001. After the talks with the Turkmen leader, Mr. Johannes Linn talked to journalists: "I am very pleased with my first visit to Turkmenistan. We discussed a new three-year program of the World Bank's assistance to Turkmenistan. It supports the president's ten-year program in five areas: first of all, the improvement of the public sector and budget management; second, the health and social sectors; third, agriculture; fourth, environment and, fifth, support of private enterprises. The president and I agreed that the program could go ahead. And we are looking forward to cooperation. We will draw up a document and send it to our board after a thorough discussion with the government. It envisages allocating a World Bank loan, and we hope that next year, starting from next year, probably in the second half of the year, we will prepare loans for the rehabilitation of the Karakum river. We are also planning to give a loan for projects in the health sector and to protect crops. We also discussed two important matters, which the government agreed to settle, before we offer new loans. They are to do with giving information on the national debt, which we get from all our borrowers, and, secondly, on the loan which was given under government guarantees and now needs to be settled, and we need to ensure it has been properly handled. We expect these matters to be fully settled by early spring  and on the basis of this we will continue our assistance". (BBC Monitoring, Turkmen TV-Channel 1)
Priest/Bureaucrat Justifies Orthodox AwardFriday, October 20, 2000
Turkmenistan's senior Russian Orthodox priest has defended the granting by his Church of an award to President Saparmurat Niyazov. In a telephone interview from Ashgabad on October 20, Father Andrei Sapunov, the dean of Turkmenistan who is also a government official, stressed that the Order of St Prince Daniil of the first degree was the highest Church award given to heads of state. The award was granted on the instruction of Patriarch Aleksiy and conferred on President Niyazov on October 10 during a conference in Ashgabad by Archbishop Vladimir of Tashkent and Central Asia, whose diocese includes Turkmenistan. "Similar awards have been given to President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan. It is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's highest awards and was even given out during the Soviet period." Father Andrei pointed out.
Asked why President Niyazov merited the award given the persecution of religious believers of many denominations in Turkmenistan, Father Andrei responded: "You are mistaken. There is no persecution. No one is persecuted." Asked whether he and the Russian patriarch were happy that an Adventist church was demolished in 1999, leaders of various religious groups including Baptists and Jehovah's Witnesses were deported, and Muslim, Baptist and other religious leaders have been sent into internal exile or detained, he agreed that they had taken place but said: "There are a lot of things that you don't know about these events, a lot of nuances"
He denied that the Adventist church demolished in Ashgabad in November 1999 had been a church. "The Adventists never had a church here. It wasn't registered as a church." Told that a registered congregation of Adventists had built the church with official permission he declared of the demolition: It wasn't done deliberately against them. It was done by the mayor's office as part of a road building scheme.' Told that there has been no evidence of construction of a new road on the site he declared: "There is construction going on there".
Asked whether the Russian Orthodox Church would be allowed by the Justice Ministry to register new parishes if it wanted to, Father Andrei said: "Of course." He claimed that all 12 of the parishes in the country had at least the 500 founder members required by law when they applied for and received registration from the Ministry of Justice.
Father Andrei admitted that only the Sunni Muslims and the Russian Orthodox have state registration in Turkmenistan but denied that any religious groups had been "banned", claiming that failing to achieve registration (which, he argued, makes any communal activity illegal) was not the same thing. "There are laws under which the state operates," he declared. "There is a law on religion. The Baptists, Adventists and others were offered registration. For various reasons that have failed to attain it." He declined to specify the "various reasons'", pleading lack of time.
Father Andrei denied that his simultaneous duty as a Russian Orthodox priest and a deputy chairman of the government's Council for Religious Affairs meant that the Orthodox Church was participating in the repression of other religious groups. "The Ministry of Justice decides on registration," he declared. "We are just a consultative body." (Keston News Service)
Religion Law Introduced "To Cut Number of Mosques"Friday, October 20, 2000
In a frank admission, one of the deputy chairmen of the Turkmen government's Council for Religious Affairs has told Keston News Service from Ashgabad that the restrictive amendments to the law on religion introduced in 1996 deliberately set a high membership threshold "because there were too many mosques". Father Andrei Sapunov declared in a telephone interview on October 20 that the minimum of 500 members introduced in 1996 (it had previously been 20 for non-Muslims and 300 for Muslims) was designed not to prevent Christian or other non-Muslim communities from registering but to "restrict" the number of mosques.
Father Andrei - who is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Turkmenistan as well as being a state functionary - claimed that the government was unhappy about the mushrooming numbers of mosques. "In one village of 1000 inhabitants, for example, if there was already one mosque people were opening a second." Asked whether this was not what freedom of conscience was about he replied: "Freedom of conscience is different here. The government wants only enough mosques as people need." He rejected suggestions that it should be the role of believers to decide how many religious communities and premises they should have.
More than half the mosques and most religious schools lost registration in 1997 in the compulsory re-registration drive that followed the adoption of the revised religion law. Most mosques in Turkmenistan function without registration. Last July Council for Religious Affairs official Mered Chariyarov confirmed that the government exercises direct control over the hiring, promotion and sacking of both Sunni Muslim and Russian Orthodox clergy. (Keston News Service)
Iranian Foreign Minister Visits TajikistanThursday, October 26, 2000
On a working visit to Dushanbe on October 25, Kamal Kharrazi met with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional security, Russian agencies reported. (RFE/RL)
Nazarbayev Calls Afganistan a Problem for Central AsiaTuesday, October 24, 2000
Afghanistan is a special problem for the Central Asian region, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on October 24 in his annual address to the nation, delivered at a joint session of the two chambers of the Kazakh Parliament. He said Afghanistan "became not only a territory in which terrorists are concentrated, but also a place from which narcotics are spreading and drug dealers are operating."
The president said "some 100,000 people may come pouring into Central Asian countries from Afghanistan shortly before the beginning of winter. If this really happens, one may forget about stability in the region for a long time to come because refugees are not only old people, women and children, but also thousands of armed men."
New threats called for new measures in national security, he said. "I have given instructions to the Security Council, to the army, the police and the security services to draw up a state program for the struggle against terrorism and extremism for the period of 2001-2003," the president said. (RFE/RL, Itar-Tass)
Turkey Denies Targeting Gulen Schools in Central AsiaTuesday, October 24, 2000
State Minister Abdulhaluk Cay has denied that the state deliberately closed down certain schools in the Turkic republics and had them replaced with others, the Anatolia news agency reported yesterday. In a written statement concerning a news report published in a recent newspaper, Cay said that while he and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer were in Central Asia last week they had asked Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev that vocational colleges and Anatolian high schools in Kazakhstan, belonging to the Turkish Republic, be opened in his country. Nazarbayev granted the request and said they would support the opening of Turkish schools in his country. The Schools opened by Fethullah Gulen in any of the Turkic republics have to be run according to the laws of those countries. Should any breach of the law be noted, the state can make the necessary investigations. We have never received any complaints from any Turkic republic regarding these schools, apart from Uzbekistan." (Turkish Daily News)
Turkmen Independence Finds Little CheerFriday, October 27, 2000
By Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL
Turkmenistan marks nine years of independence today (Oct 27), but the country's short history as an independent state offers little reason for celebration.
For the people of this large and mostly arid Central Asian State, life remains hard.
The average monthly wage is under $20. Gas, electricity and water are free but often are rationed and for many, even in the capital Ashgabat, there are long hours without any of these conveniences. Joblessness and crime are on the rise, as is drug abuse.
The country's Academy of Sciences is closed. Those aspiring to higher education in the remaining universities must undergo a rigorous family check going back three generations. There are almost no opportunities for students to travel abroad because the government fears the ideas of both democratic and Islamic societies.
Medical care has also suffered. Clinics in rural areas were recently closed on Niyazov's orders, leaving regional centers as the only place to find treatment.
Politically, there is little room for free expression. Many opposition leaders have fled the country. Those remaining are in jails or psychiatric hospitals. There has been and still is only one political party in Turkmenistan -- the National Democratic Party -- led by Niyazov himself.
The president last year promised to make democratic changes and said he would grant the parliament more power. But the first act of that new parliament was to make Niyazov leader "for life." Niyazov now says the Turkmen people are not ready for democratic reforms.
The international community seems to be engaged in a "love-hate" relationship with Niyazov and his government.
Foreign businesses are anxious to profit from the country's oil and gas wealth. But foreign governments are reluctant to endorse Niyazov's autocratic ruling style.
Even other Commonwealth of Independent States countries does not actively court ties with Turkmenistan, preferring to keep their relationship restricted to economics.
Non-governmental watchdog organizations are nearly unanimous in their criticism. Turkmenistan remains on the black lists of Helsinki Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other international human rights and media organizations.
Niyazov's lavish lifestyle stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of his countrymen.
His presidential palace was built by a French firm at a cost of $80 million. There are statues to Niyazov everywhere, including one on the "Arch of Neutrality" in Ashgabat. The arch is crowned with a revolving statue of the president, timed always to face the sun.
Parliament voted in 1993 to give Niyazov the title of Turkmenbashi, the leader of all Turkmen. Niyazov proudly uses this name and is commonly referred to as Saparmurat Turkmenbashi
U.S. Specialist Critical of Turkmen Reservoir PlanThursday, October 26, 2000
By Bruce Pannier, RFE/RL
Following is the report on the interview with Professor Gregory Gleason conducted this week by Naz Nazar, RFE/RL. Professor Gregory Gleason is an American academic who in the past has advised Turkmenistan on managing its water resources. Eight years ago, Gleason worked on a Turkmen project to build a reservoir to turn some of the country's vast amounts of arid land into arable soil. That plan was later scrapped, but Turkmen officials recently broke ground on an even larger plan to recover deserted areas. Turkmenistan announced this month it will build a 3,500 square-kilometer reservoir in the Kara-Kum Desert at a cost of $4,000 to $6,000 million. Officials say that when completed, the new reservoir will increase Turkmenistan's harvests 30 percent. President Saparmurat Niyazov says the project will take just 10 years to complete, although earlier projections budgeted at least 20 years. Some say the timetable has been pushed forward so the reservoir can be completed before Niyazov, who is 60, dies:
Gleason was first asked about the concept of holding water in a reservoir and whether the plan, as it stands now, will actually increase the amount of water available to the country's farmers. He says that since much of the water to fill the reservoir will be drawn from fields, the actual net gain will be minimal: "The idea of holding water in a reservoir is appealing. Unfortunately, the amount of water available to Turkmenistan by this scheme will not be increased nor will the efficiency with which available water is used for agricultural purposes."
Gleason said when the grandiose plan was conceived, he and other international specialists told Turkmen officials it was not feasible. He was then asked whether the vast sums being directed to the reservoir could be better spent in other ways. He identified several alternative projects, which he says are more cost-effective: "That might include lining irrigation canals, it might include leveling fields to assure that the irrigation water was used more efficiently, it might include drip irrigation systems for more efficient use of available water, it might include research and development efforts to engineer crops which are resistant to salinity and that have a higher threshold for dry conditions."
Gleason says one big obstacle to the reservoir may be securing financing to complete it. He says the project is not likely to be finished without money from international organizations. That assistance, he says, will not come easily and will force Turkmen officials to take the environment into consideration: "It's unlikely that this planned 10-year development program will actually go forward to its conclusion without outside donor assistance. That outside assistance is not going to be manifested, it seems to me, until such studies or analyses are undertaken that make this data available to specialists in the outside world."
Gleason also spoke about the problem with water in Central Asia in general; noting Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev recently listed the region's main threats -- placing water resources and management after terrorism and narcotics trafficking.
He agrees water is one of the biggest problems facing the region. He says the division of Central Asia into five separate and autonomous states complicates the issue, separating upstream and downstream users in what he calls a "very unnatural" way.
Turkmenistan's Water Plan More Wasteful than WiseWednesday, 25 October 2000
The Turkmenbashi is at it again.
In the eight years since Turkmenistan was granted independence, Saparmurat Niyazov -- who styles himself the Turkmenbashi, or Leader of the Turkmen � has developed a cult of personality that would make Stalin blush. In the process he has isolated his Central Asian fiefdom: Most bank accounts are illegal, the Internet is banned, university matriculation requires three-generation security checks and all foreigners are registered and closely monitored throughout their stay.
As a result, the Turkmen economy has withered to almost nothing. Turkmen GDP is two-fifths of its 1990 level, harvests are at record lows and even most petroleum companies are now giving the natural gas-rich state a wide berth. Since Turkmenistan's two leading industries are cotton cultivation and natural gas extraction, this is particularly bad.
Under the new scheme, Turkmenistan will construct 600 miles of collection trenches to redirect water destined from the Amu Darya catchment basin to the sealed Karashor basin near Ashghabat to form a lake. According to the Turkmen government, the lake will provide a backup water supply for the Ashghabat area as well as allow agricultural production on an additional 1,500 square miles of land.
The reality will be nothing of the sort. First of all, diverting runoff from such a huge swathe of land will poison much of the transport route with salt while robbing the region's second-largest river of much of its water. Second, because the new lake _ and much of the catchment trenches _ will be in a desert basin, the amount of water lost to evaporation will be enormous.
Finally, Turkmenistan plans to grow cotton, Central Asia's leading cash crop, in the area around the new lake. Turkmenistan's annual crop usually generates between $200 million and $250 million, accounting for one-fifth of all export revenues. But cotton is one of the thirstiest crops available and Central Asia is one of the world's most arid regions.
The only reason cotton can grow there at all is due to massive Soviet irrigation systems that diverted water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, the region's two major rivers. The crown jewel of the Soviet scheme was the 700-mile Karakum canal, which draws water from the Amu Darya and routes it to agricultural oases dotting Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert.
These wasteful Soviet practices continued in modern day Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, have created other problems. At the top of the list is the loss of the Aral Sea. Even without Niyazov's latest scheme, the Amu Darya barely reaches the Aral at all. Soviet agricultural practices have reduced the Aral Sea to less than one-quarter of its 1960 volume and made it one of the world's most polluted bodies of water. Niyazov's new plan, which will prevent water from ever reaching the Amu Darya, will compound the Aral's plight.
Compounding the level of fear in this equation is Vozrozhdeniye, once a small island in the middle of the Aral that is now connected to the mainland. This would be little more than a geographic footnote if not for the fact that Vozrozhdeniye was where the Soviet Union once tested its biological weapons.
The destruction of what was the world's fourth-largest lake has already affected the local climate, and with it, the water availability. Draining water from a depleted river into a basin in the heart of a desert in order to water a thirsty, non-native crop will certainly not improve matters. The unlucky souls who live on the lower reaches of the Amu Darya have seen their world slowly wither. Thanks to the Turkmenbashi's latest scheme, they will see what is left of it dry up and blow away. (Stratfor Commentary)
Turkish President in Central Asia: More Cooperation That RhetoricMonday, 23 October 2000
By Prof. Dr. Nadir Devlet
Between 17 and 20 October Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer visited four Central Asian republics and signed several agreements or joint declarations. President Sezer as a former president of Constitutional Court has no political experience, but until today in his short period of presidency he has shown an ability of cooping with international issues. His first stop was Tashkent where he met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Maybe this was the most important meeting of Turkish President, because they signed documents on defense cooperation and international organized crime. When we look to the past the same Karimov was accusing Turkey of backing terrorism. Islam Karimov told that he had respect to the Turkish army and admired the political thoughts of Turkish General Staff when he met President Sezer. He also said (quote) "The path of great Ataturk is our path. In Turkey, who follows this path is my friend. Contrary, who is against it, is against me too " (end of quotation). According to Karimov Ubekistan is buying weapons and ammunition from Turkey, Turkey is also giving military training to Uzbek soldiers .In many fields healthy relations have started again. Also Uzbekistan is going to benefit from the Turkish experience combating terrorism. But President Karimov also mentioned some existing problems between two countries. According to him, in Turkey political asylum has been given to some Uzbek opposition figures and this fact is annoying him. Also Karimov told to the Turkish journalists that he is unhappy with the Turkish schools which have a Nur tarikat (religious order) background and operating in Uzbekistan. In his turn Turkish President Sezer told to the journalist that the errors and mistakes which aroused because of misunderstanding between the two countries in the past have been solved. These official statements were not welcomed by all in Turkey, especially in the pro Islamic media there were doubts against Karimov. Also left wing newspaper Radikal's author Erdal Guven wrote on October 20 that Uzbekistan, according to Transparency International, was among ten of most corrupt regimes. Also IMF announced two months ago that every year $600-800 millions are disappearing. Erdal Guven writes that Karimov is ruling his country in dictatorial manner and therefore he challenges his trustworthiness. Also Mukhammed Salih, chairman of banned Erk party in exile, is pointing to Karimov's dictatorial rule. But for Turkish foreign policy makers it is probably more important at the moment to have a fresh start with the existing Uzbek rulers, than to focus on democratic values. In other words, Turkey can't afford the luxury of disregarding undemocratic countries, or Turkey would be unable to have contacts or cooperation with any of the Turkic republics, since almost all presidents of former Soviet republics are dictators of varying degree.
The second stop of Turkish leader in Central Asia was Turkmenistan, where he met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Turkmenbashi Niyazov who could be described as a dictator like Karimov. Turkey is the second trading partner after Russia among Turkmenistan's foreign trade partners. Turkish businessmen actively participated in the formation of Turkmen light industry and at the moment 448 Turkish companies are registered in Turkmenistan. In other words, Turkish-Turkmen relations could be judged as good. Turkey is interested in Turkmen natural gas and both presidents discussed the possibilities to accelerate the implementation of the Transcaspian gas pipeline project. Another project deals with transporting electricity to Turkey from Turkmenistan. Certainly, implementation of both projects depends on many political and economic developments in the region, which could not be easily solved. Also both presidents discussed bilateral and regional cooperation.
The third stop of Turkish President Sezer on October 18 was Bishkek where he met with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. They signed a declaration on cooperation in fighting terrorism and organized crime. Turkey has pledged to provide the Kyrgyz armed forces with military and technical aid worth $2.5 million. Turkish businessmen are not heavily concentrated in Kyrgyzstan because of the country's poor economic possibilities, but Turkey is involved in the field of education. In Bishkek there is Turkish-Kyrgyz Manas University.
The last stop of Turkish leader was Kazakhstan. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev welcomed him on October 19 in Astana. Nazarbaev told journalists after his meeting with Turkish President that trade turnover between the two countries was expected to reach $500 million this year and that he and Sezer hoped the figure will double in the near future. Turkey is Kazakhstan's third largest trade partner. Sezer expressed appreciation for Kazakhstan's stated interest in the Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil. He also expressed his hopes that the two countries will embark on military cooperation. The Turkish government agreed to grant $1 million in aid to Kazakhstan's Defense Ministry. The two presidents also signed a joint declaration on cooperation in fighting terrorism. Then both presidents went to the celebration of the 1500th anniversary of Turkestan, a remote town in southern Kazakhstan where the famous Akhmet Yasavi's tomb is located. The tomb was restored by Turkey. Also a Kazakh-Turkish Akhmet Yasavi University has been founded for several years at the same place.
Turkish President Sezer's visits to Central Asian republics were very short and programmed in business-like way. In other words, the rhetoric of common culture or brotherhood was held in low profile and more precise issues like combating terrorism or doing business were emphasized. Maybe this is the difference between Sezer and former Turkish President Demirel. Or we can assume that Turkish diplomacy is learning from its mistakes.