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Turkmenistan: No Rush To Democracy

All the news that's fit
All the news that's fit
First, he suggested setting up opposition parties.

Now, the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, wants to pave the way for private media in his country, known as one of the most closed nations in the world.

Turkmenistan is devoid of private and independent media. All the country's print media -- including 25 newspapers and 15 magazines, a news agency, and five television channels -- are under government control.

Berdymukhammedov seems to have a clear idea about what type of private media he wants and what its content should be.

"I consider it necessary to create a newspaper or magazine of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of the country," Berdymukhammedov told a cabinet meeting last week.

The private newspaper -- once established -- "may publish articles about the successes and positive experiences in the field of entrepreneurship," the president said.

Likewise, talking about the creation of political opposition parties in Turkmenistan, Berdymukhammedov had suggested forming an agrarian party.

The president, however, doesn't want Turkmenistan to rush into setting up private media or opposition parties.

"I just want to note that such issues...require a thoughtful approach," he said.

After all, the country hasn't had a single opposition party or a private media outlet during its nearly two decades of independence, or during its some 70 years of Soviet rule before that.

What difference would a few more years make?

-- Farangis Najibullah