Books on Turkmenistan
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: 280 - (29/04/04)
The Messiah of Central Asia
The Turkmen are lucky. They have in their president, Saparmurat Niyazov, a man who has a hot line to the deity no less. Indeed he is a divine being himself, the author of a new religious tome to rival, if not surpass the Bible and the Koran, namely the Rukhmana.
This has been lauded by the governor of St Petersburg as "a serious philosophical work." It would be an impiety to suggest that her judgement in this regard was in any way swayed by Russia's desire to exploit Turkmenistan's abundant gas reserves and copious oil reserves.
As befits someone with divine attributes, there is a glorious gold statue to Niyazov in the capital, Ashkabad, that revolves, always to be facing the sun. He was elected president in 1992 with 99.5% of the vote and was unanimously approved by parliament as president for life in 1999. Woe for anyone so misguided as to oppose him!
The Turkmen are one big happy family under his rule. So happy are they that the month of January has been renamed after himself, April after his mother (who providentially saved him in 1948 in an earthquake, a miracle immortalised in another statue) and the other months after other members of his family. The days of the week are also dedicated to his extended family.
Beware Big Brother
Video surveillance of Turkmen citizens is ceaseless and vigilant, to make sure everyone is beaming with delight at being in paradise. This is not about lack of trust; only a depressed and depressive Westerner would think that. It is to avoid disorder and to keep people constantly smiling at their benign lot. As Saparmurat puts it himself; "We should know if a fly quietly buzzes past."
Everything the president does, whether creating a bank holiday for a melon to banning long hair and car radios, is for the spiritual advancement of his people.
There is one idea that Niyazov has introduced, indeed, from which the overstretched welfare states of the West could learn a thing or two. Niyazov has decreed that middle age starts at 60 and old age at 85. How about that for a neat solution to the West's pensions crisis!
Ashgabat ups Q1 gas production, export
Turkmenistan has produced 18.9bn cubic metres of natural gas in the first three months of 2004, a 3.5% increase year on year, said the national institute of statistics and information. According to the institute exports of Turkmen gas have risen by 5%. Foreign customers have received 13.6bn cubic metres of Turkmen gas in January-March. Out of this amount 11.6bn cubic metres of gas have been sent to Ukraine and Russia through the Central Asia - Centre gas pipeline system, and two more billion cubic metres of gas have been supplied to the Iranian northern provinces through the Korpeje-Kurtkuiy gas pipeline. Turkmen gas workers plan to produce some 74bn cubic metres of gas this year, 58bn cubic metres of which are to be exported. It is worth mentioning that Turkmenistan has contracts on Turkmen gas purchases for 2004 with Ukrainian Neftegas (36bn cubic metres), International group of companies Itera (10bn cubic metres), the National gas company of Iran (7bn cubic metres) and Russian Gazprom (5bn cubic metres)
Turkmenistan oil production increases 2%, gas up 6%
Turkmenistan increased oil production 2.0% year-on-year to 1.54m tonnes in the first two months of the year, with gas production up 6.0% to 12.8bn cubic metres, New Europe reported recently.
According to the National Institute for State Statistics and Information, of this total Turkmenneft accounted for 1.215m tonnes of oil, which is 1.0% more than in January-February last year; and 10.8bn cubic metres of gas - up 6.0%. Turkmenneftegaz refineries refined 1.32m tonnes of crude in January-February this year, which is 13% more than in the same period in 2003. Capacity utilisation at the refineries amounted to 57%. Gasoline production increased 24% to 369,000 tonnes, diesel - 11% to 315,000 tonnes and polypropylene - 30% to 16,160 tonnes. Production of liquified gas in Turkmenistan increased 75% year-on-year to 62,900 tonnes in the first two months of the year. Growth in liquefied gas production was largely due to the launch of new equipment at the Turkmenbashi oil refinery complex. Turkmenistan increased oil production 11% to 10.004m tonnes in 2003, with gas production up 11% to 59.09bn cubic metres.
Zarit to sign oil deal with Turkmenistan
Russian company, Zarit, plans to sign an agreement with Turkmenistan in the near future dealing with exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, a source in the Turkmen presidential press service said recently. The source said that after a recent meeting, Itera Director, Igor Makarov, Zarubezhnef's Director General, Nikolai Tokaryev, and Rosneft Vice President, Alexei Kuznetsov, met with Turkmen President, Samparmurat Niyazov, to inform him about work on the document, which has been practically completed. "Over a year and a half we have actually carried out an enormous volume of work with our Turkmen colleagues. However, despite the fact that we are close to signing an agreement, there are several issues that need to be agreed and adjusted. This will be the first important agreement with Russian companies, and may serve as a start to major Turkmen-Russian economic cooperation," the source said, New Europe reported.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Ashgabat supplies Ankara with 600m kWh
President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurad Niyazov, and Turkish Energy Minister, Hilmi Guler, recently signed a protocol under which Turkmenistan will supply 600m kWh of electricity each year to Turkey starting in 2004, a source in the presidential administration said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Turkey also hopes to import natural gas from Turkmenistan, the source said. Under an agreement, signed last December, Turkmenistan agreed to supply 300m kWh of electricity to Turkey each year.
Niyazov approves new cotton mill project
The president of Turkmenistan recently approved by his decree an investment project designed jointly by the Ministry of textile industry of Turkmenistan and Folkestone Holdings from British Virgin Islands on the construction of a new cotton mill in Abadan city, New Europe reported.
According to the document, the ministry and Folkestone will set up a JV for the construction and financing of the project with the Turkmen side and Folkestone holding 69% and 31%, respectively. Under the project the first line's capacity stands at 4,900 tonnes of dyed terrycloth and 19 million pieces of ready terrycloth products a year, and the second line's capacity at 39.0 million m2 of coarse cotton texture and 68.0 million m2 of dyed cotton fabrics and 19.7 million pieces of ready closing manufacture products.
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