Books on Turkmenistan
Update No: 349 - (25/01/10)
A chip off the old block?
The most important event in recent Turkmen history occurred in December,
2006 when its long-time dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in his sleep. This
was a Christmas present for his nation. He had ruled them since 1985.
But it had a sting in the tail. His successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, was
his natural son, quite obviously so from the extraordinary physical resemblance
between them. He was his dentist no less, but a very privileged one.
The permanent shake-up
He is, nevertheless, turning out to be a rather different man from his father.
He wants to diversify his energy-rich country from over-dependence on Russia.
His father believed in a static relationship with the Muscovite overlord. He
believes in a dynamic one with as many consumers of Turkmen wares as possible.
He has fired his oil and gas minister for incompetence, just three months after
appointing him. Turkmen President sacked the minister, Oraznur Nurmyradov, for
"work deficiencies" and temporarily replaced him with his deputy.
"Certain chiefs of the oil and gas sector carry out their duties carelessly,
showing passivity in resolving questions of the development of the sector,"
Berdymukhamedov was quoted as saying in a press report.
Turkmenistan, a secretive Central Asian state with huge oil and gas reserves
that have been eyed by China, Russia and the European Union, has repeatedly
shaken up its energy chiefs under Berdymukhamedov's presidency.
Berdymukhamedov has sacked four oil and gas ministers since 2007, all of them
for incompetence, according to official explanations. Nurmyradov had been
appointed in October during the last reshuffle.
In the New Year Turkmenistan resumed exports of gas to Russia after a nine-month
interruption caused by a pipeline explosion and punctuated by squabbling with
Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom.
The ex-Soviet republic inaugurated a new pipeline to Iran in January, and in
December it opened a major new pipeline to China.
Chinese leader comes to town to launch gas pipeline
It shows the great importance that Beijing places on Turkmen gas that Chinese
leader, President Hu Jintao himself, visited Central Asia on December 12-14 to
launch a new gas pipeline from Turkmenistan, a new milestone in China's quest
for control over the region's abundant energy resources.
Turkmen gas is abundant. It is cleaner than oil, a very important point in this
ecological age. The landmark Central Asia-to-China gas pipeline, China's first
cross-border gas pipeline, has to wind 2,000km via Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and
Kazkhstan and then across 9 ,000km of Chinese territories to reach factories in
the south of China, a massive engineering feat.