Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1925. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. President NIYAZOV retains absolute control over the country and opposition is not tolerated. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects can be worked out.
Update No: 272 - (29/08/03)
The Caligula of Central Asia
The Turkmens are amongst the most benighted of the former citizens of the USSR. They have exactly the same ruler as under communism, Saparmurat Niyazov. But he is no longer restrained by communist ideology, which after all preached egalitarianism and democracy (without being too punctilious about putting it into practice). Now his egotism and arrogance know no bounds. He is probably certifiably mad. But there is no one bold enough to produce and sign the certificate.
He has issued a new religious oeuvre, said to replace the Koran and the Bible. The month of April is now named after him; his mother is deemed the source of all bounty, the bearer of the name of bread and the fount of justice. He has changed the calendar, which now has only eight months of forty-five days each. His verses are on every tongue, or so he would like to believe. His self awarded title, Turkmenbashi, translates as 'Father of the Turks' which raised derision throughout Turkic Central Asia and contempt in Turkey itself.
Diplomats have defected and an attempt was made on his life in November; but he is still there.
Spat with the Russians
Niyazov has just a residue of survival instinct. He has started a spat with the local Russians to divert attention from his own manifest shortcomings. The local Russians are being deprived of their dual citizenship. Many who comprise the management level in industry here, are leaving.
In fact the country is even more in subjection to Moscow than before, if possible. All its exports of natural gas, its one real earner (apart from cotton), go via Russia, which pays about a quarter of world prices for the privilege, namely $22 per 1,000 cubic metres. Another $22 is supposedly paid in kind with Russian goods, but they would be unsaleable on the world market.
Turkmenistan is being ripped off by the Russians; and so long as they are ruled by their buffoon of a president there is nothing they can do about it.
Boeing clinches purchase deal with Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan recently entered into an agreement with Boeing and US Gore Design completions for the purchase of a Boeing 767-300 aircraft, according to Interfax News Agency.
The US$130m deal was signed by Turkmen leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, and the company representatives. The Turkmen president said the cost of the plane will come from the central bank's currency reserves.
Earlier, the Turkmen government and Boeing inked a 10-year deal on cooperation in civil aviation. Another deal was signed for two Boeing 717-300 aircraft, spare parts and equipment, worth US$64.8m. Interfax reported the cooperation agreement envisions the training of specialists to fly and maintain such aircraft.
Turkmenistan was the first CIS country to begin cooperation with Boeing. US planes are used on all of its international flights and more than three quarters of its domestic flights.
Gazprom, Turkmenistan to ink gas project contract
Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, and Turkmenistan will sign a contract for project and pre-investment work to consider various option of modernising and creating new gas transport capacity for supplying Turkmen natural gas to Russia and to select optimal options. New Europe reported that according to a Gazprom release, this agreement was reached during a meeting between Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Gazprom GEO, Alexei Miller, held in Ashgabat.
Niyazov and Miller discussed progress in the fulfilment of the agreement on gas cooperation between Russia and Turkmenistan and the implementation of measures to ensure the supply of Turkmen gas to Russia. In addition, they discussed the execution of the contract for the purchase of gas in 2004. Niyazov and Miller said the work is going strictly in accordance with the intentional agreement on gas cooperation.
Turkmenistan's explored gas reserves are estimated at some 2.86 trillion cubic metres. About 60 billion cubic metres of gas are extracted in Turkmenistan each year. An estimated 10-12 billion cubic metres is used for domestic consumption and the rest is exported. The main consumer of Turkmen gas is currently Ukraine. Deliveries are made on the basis of a direct Turkmen-Ukrainian intergovernmental agreement. Ukraine is to get up to 38 billion cubic metres under the 2003 contract. Gaxprom acts as a transport operator of Turkmen gas through Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Russia. On the basis of an agreement on gas cooperation reached between Russia and Turkmenistan on April 10th 2003, a long-term contract has been signed for a period of 25 years, under which Gazexport will buy five-six billion cubic metres of gas from Turkmeneftegaz in 2004.
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