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TURKMENISTAN


 

 
Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 7,672 4,000 4,400 98
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,200 950 750 127
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Turkmenistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
488,100 

Population 
4,775,544 

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Turkmens 77%
Uzbeks 9.2%
Russians 6.7%

Capital 
Ashkhabad 

Currency 
Turkman Manat

President 
Saparmurat Niyazov

  

Background:
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: 282 - (30/06/04)

Events in neighbouring Uzbekistan must be alarming the dictator in Ashkabad, Saparmurat Niyazov. In late March explosions and armed attacks took place in the Uzbek police stations of Tashkent and Bokhara. Clandestine groups, notably Hizb-ut-Tahrir, with alleged links to al-Qaeda, were held to be responsible. There were 47 deaths. Niyazov runs an even tighter regime. But an assassination attempt on his person nearly succeeded on November 25th 2002. 

He believes in taking no risks. He did not attend a meeting of the Group of Shanghai in Tashkent on June 25th, despite the fact that the agenda was dominated by the campaign against terrorism. The Group of Shanghai is an organisation that was created in 1996 by Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, plus Russia and China, to combat 'terrorism,' regional separatism (as of the Uighurs) and the huge drugs trade in the region Right up Niyazov's street one might think. But he dare not take the risk of leaving his country for a day - trust in his colleagues and subordinates clearly is non-existent.

The disappearing statuary
The Turkmen are rather startled by a new development, a widespread dismantling of the numerous statues of President Niyazov, the object of a massive personality cult. The culling of the statues is clearly on official orders, indeed Niyazov's own. 
He must be aware that the cult has got out of hand and is making him an international laughing stock. But there is no indication that the president's power is slipping. "We still know who our president is - I don't think anything's changed," one 70 year-old pensioner said.

Religious upheaval and discrimination
That the cult goes on unabated in essentials is shown by the way that a religious tome, Ruhnama (Book of the Soul), by Niyazov is being relentlessly pressed down the throats of schoolchildren to the point where it is usurping time formerly devoted to maths and the sciences.

The Ruhnama is being treated as a sacred text on a par with the Koran. Most Turkmen are genuine Moslems, to whom this would be blasphemy; but even for non-believers the claims for parity here must seem outrageous. The former communists must think that their president is a ridiculous crackpot, with a wild megalomaniac streak.
The calendar has been changed into eight months of 45 days on average. The names of the month have been changed to those of his family, his mother's being April.

The threat of assassination
Niyazov has a particular reverence for his mother because she saved his life in a 1948 earthquake, an event commemorated in statuary across the country, which is not being dismantled. There must be many Turkmen who wish that she had failed.
While the assassination attempt on November 25th 2002 failed, another could yet succeed. Turkmenistan is the least reformed of the FSU states. Even members
of the elite are getting fed up with their mad leader, as the defection of diplomats shows. 
In 1999 Niyazov was elected for life, having had his 1996 tenure extended to 2002 by a 99.9% vote. The Turkmen must now be feeling that one can have too much of a good thing. Niyazov is living dangerously, leaving his enemies no other recourse it seems but another assassination attempt.

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AGRICULTURE

Turkmen grain harvest grows


Turkmenistan is expected to harvest 2.8m tonnes of grain in 2004, with the country's annual grain consumption estimated at 1.7m tonnes, President Saparmurat Niyazov, said during his recent tour to some of the country's regions marking the start of this year's harvesting campaign, Interfax News Agency reported.
Niyazov said that he denied plans to sell grain abroad. "We need a stock of grain to last for six months or a year." 

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ENERGY

Turkmenistan to export over 100 bcm of gas from 2007 


Turkmenistan will be able to export over 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per annum from 2007, Turkmenistan President, Saparmurad Niyazov, said at the opening of a natural gas dehydration unit at the Deryalyk compressor station in the north of the republic recently, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The president said that natural gas exports will be increased not only by reconstructing existing pipes and building new pipelines, but also by gas dehydration and pumping capacities. 
A source in the state company Turkmengaz said that Turkmengaz signed the contract for the construction of the Deryalyk station, costing US$23.143m, with Germany's Pall GmbH, Switzerland's Sulzer Chemtech and Belgium's Enex Process Engineering in April 2002. Construction took 15 months, starting in November 2002. 
The source said that the launch of the new gas purification and dehydration unit with a capacity of up to 75 bcm per year will increase the quality of the exported gas and significantly increase the capacity of the Turkmenistan-Europe pipeline system. The unit will make it possible to bring the gas humidity level - the so-called dew point - to minus 10 degrees, which is higher than the European standard of minus eight degrees Celsius. 
In addition to Ukraine, which will buy 36 bcm of gas from Turkmenistan from 2006, the republic's gas is also sold to Iran - 6.5 bcm per year, and Russia - which started to implement a 25-year gas agreement this year. Supplies to Russia should amount to 5 bcm by the end of this year. 

Turkmenistan to boost export potential of oil and gas

Turkmen President, Saparmurat Niyazov, signed a decree on May 17th, which aims at ensuring the reliable and safe exploitation of the Dowletabat-Deryalyk and Naip-Deryalyk systems of gas pipelines, expansion of their throughput and enhancement of the country's export potential, Turkmenistan.ru website reported.
The president authorised the state concern Turkmengas to sign a contract with a consortium of Ukrainian Ukrgasprom and Liechtenstein's Caspro Pipeline Service AG on the design and construction of the overhead stretch of the passage of these systems through the Dostluk collector on a "turn key basis."
The contract's cost is 35.6m. Construction will begin in June. The project is to be commissioned in May 2006.
The document provides for handing over the used pipes to the consortium, with a total weight of 1,334 tonnes and 1,020mm in diameter, for making posts for the overhead passage of the systems of pipelines.
The work on the design and construction of the passage is financed by natural gas supplies at a price of 44 per one cubic metre on the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The state trade corporation Turkmenneftegas is authorised to supply 810m cubic metres of natural gas to the above-mentioned consortium in 2005-2006 as payment for work.
By the same document the state concern Turkmengas is instructed to implement construction of an underground passage of the pipelines worth 937,000, which is to be connected to the existing system of gas pipelines Dowletabat-Deryalyk and Naip-Deryalyk.

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MINERALS & METALS

Ashgabat sets up aluminium smelter


Turkmenistan recently reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates on the construction of an aluminium smelter in the country, during a visit by the delegation of the Chamber of Commerce of the UAE headed by Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa Ben Zaid Al-Nahayan to Ashgabat. The visitors submitted a project on the construction of the aluminium smelter on a "turn key" basis with the annual capacity of 350,000 tonnes. It will meet Turkmenistan's needs in nonferrous metal export its production to regional states. 
According to the document, specialists from the UAE will start preparing an analysis of economic feasibility of the aluminium smelter construction in the near future, New Europe reported.

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