Wednesday 1 September 2004
September 01, 2004
U.S.: Former Rights Official Discusses Challenges In Central Asia, Iraq
The U.S. State Department's former top human rights official, Lorne Craner, spent much of the past three years grappling with the challenge of pressing reforms with new U.S. allies in the war on terror. During his final few months in office this year, the State Department de-certified Uzbekistan for economic aid and helped censure Turkmenistan in the UN Human Rights Commission. Craner says such actions demonstrate that, despite accusations to the contrary, the Bush administration has maintained human rights as a foreign policy priority. Craner talked with RFE/RL on the sidelines of the Republican Party convention in New York.
August 30, 2004
Analysis: A River Runs Through It
Ashgabat already boasts a 40-meter-high, gold-plated statue of President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov that rotates a full 360 degrees each day, the better to bask in the full glory of the sun's rays. But the Turkmen capital lacks one indispensable accoutrement of a truly great city -- a mighty river. Now, plans are afoot to remedy nature's oversight. And while they are of a piece with other grandiose projects conceived under the watchful eye of Niyazov, they are also part of an older Soviet legacy of schemes to subordinate and remake the natural world.
August 30, 2004
Turkmenistan: Projects Sounding Alarm Bells In Region (Part 2)
Turkmenistan is planning to build a lake and river in an effort to create a reliable storage area for water, expand farmland, and make the capital, Ashgabat, more attractive. Neighboring states are watching these projects with alarm, however. Previous water-diversion projects in Central Asia have left a devastating environmental legacy, the most visible being the dying Aral Sea. Rational use of water is a priority in the region, and many analysts cite disputes over water as being among the more likely causes of friction between the Central Asian states. In the second of two parts, RFE/RL looks at how the Turkmen water projects are being viewed outside Turkmenistan, particularly by its neighbors.
August 30, 2004
Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Has Grand Plans To Create Man-Made Lake, River (Part 1)
Turkmenistan, a country that is 80 percent desert, is taking dramatic action to meet its water needs. The government is building a massive lake in the desert, and now there are plans for a man-made river through the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat. With a burgeoning population and plans to increase agricultural output, there is a need for better, and more secure, supplies of water in Turkmenistan. The problem is that much of Central Asia shares the same need, and there is a limited amount of water. Earlier schemes to bring water to areas where it was deemed more necessary have, in some cases, resulted in massive environmental disasters. In the first of a two-part series, RFE/RL looks at Turkmenistan's grand water projects.
August 26, 2004
Central Asia: Japanese Foreign Minister Begins Tour To Unveil New 'Silk Route' Policy
Japan's Foreign Minister Yokiro Kawaguchi arrived in Uzbekistan today, starting a tour that will take her to four Central Asian states and Mongolia. Kawaguchi is due to give a speech in Tashkent that will articulate Tokyo's new policy toward the Silk Route countries. Kawaguchi's trip was already something of a success even before she left Japan, considering the Japanese Foreign Ministry has arranged a rare event in Central Asia -- a meeting in Astana that will include the foreign ministers of all five Central Asian states. RFE/RL correspondent Bruce Pannier looks at Kawaguchi's tour and Japan's new strategy in the region.
August 18, 2004
OSCE: Organization Shifting To Focus Greater Attention On Central Asia, Caucasus
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should consider paying extra attention to Central Asia and the Caucasus. That's the view of the OSCE's current chairman, Solomon Pasi. Pasi, who is also Bulgaria's foreign minister, says it makes sense now to concentrate on those parts of the world, in view of new international realities. He also said it would be "far more useful" to hold the OSCE's major annual economic forum in Central Asia rather than in Central Europe. RFE/RL reports on what looks like a shift in emphasis for the 55-member OSCE, which is Europe's largest security and rights body.
July 22, 2004
Kyrgyzstan: Outspoken Ombudsman Possesses Unique Regional Voice
Central Asia is a region where few dare challenge the will of the presidents. Most officials follow their president's lead, and what attempts there are to find an official to act as a bridge, a mediator, between the people and the government are usually made to serve the interests of the authorities. But there is one man, the ombudsman in Kyrgyzstan, who routinely voices opinions that contradict the government's views.
July 21, 2004
Turkmenistan: Government Orders People Out Of Their Homes In Name Of 'Urban Renewal'
The Turkmen government is ordering people in the capital Ashgabat to vacate their homes on short notice. These victims of the city's plan to create space for new upscale building projects -- are not receiving new homes or any compensation for their loss. They are simply told to leave and to find a new place to live.
July 16, 2004
Western Press Review: Anglo-American Intelligence Failures, Uzbekistan's Human Rights Record, And A Wellspring Of Trouble In Turkmenistan
Prague, 16 July 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Among the topics at issue in some of the major dailies today are the release of two separate reports, in the United States and Britain, documenting intelligence failures in the run-up to war in Iraq; frozen aid and human rights in Uzbekistan; and Turkmenistan's "troubled waters." We also hear from the widow of Paul Klebnikov, the editor of the Russian edition of "Forbes" magazine, who was slain last week in Moscow.
July 15, 2004
Turkmenistan: Leaflets Calling For Overthrow Of Government Appear In Bazaars
Leaflets calling for the overthrow of the Turkmen government have appeared in bazaars in the capital Ashgabat. It remains unclear who is behind the leaflets, but it is a strange and potentially serious act of defiance in a country where the government is known for exercising strict control over society. RFE/RL looks at what's in the leaflets and what threat their distribution could have for the government of Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov.
July 13, 2004
Turkmenistan: Last Freely Available Outlet To Outside News Shuts Down
Turkmenistan on 11 July halted broadcasts of Russia's Mayak radio station -- the last Russian news outlet to reach the Central Asian country. For all practical purposes, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov has now cut off his citizens from the outside world. Turkmen without access to a satellite dish or shortwave radio are now living in a total information vacuum. Officially, Ashgabat says the Mayak shutdown was prompted by technical reasons, but Russia seems unconvinced and has demanded an official explanation.