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TURKMENISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 6,010 7,672 4,000 110
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,120 1,200 950 131
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 350 - (25/02/10)

The Turkmens are back
There is no doubt that Turkmenistan is back in the reckoning, after being a pariah under its lunatic dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, thankfully deceased over three years ago. It is un interlocuteur valable or valid negotiator once again.

It is still a dictatorship, but under a saner man, albeit with a mouthful of a name. The joke is that he is the former dictator's son, indeed his former dentist. He is thankfully not a chip off the old block. He is not a megalomaniac.

Mohammed greets the new star
HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met the visiting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on February 9, 2010 at Emirates Palace. There was of course plenty of ceremony, requisite for the occasion. The star of the East was meeting that of the Middle East.

Sheikh Mohammed welcomed President Berdimuhamedov, hailing the deep-rooted historic ties between the two friendly countries. He cited the fact that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had played a remarkable role in bolstering the historic ties between the UAE and Turkmenistan. He added that the UAE under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was keen to further strengthen joint cooperation with Turkmenistan in the best interest of the two peoples. Sheikh Mohammed noted that the relations were based on cooperation, understanding, mutual respect and common interests.

"There is joint interest to benefit from investment, economic, tourist and cultural potentials enjoyed by the two countries. They are also looking forward to forging genuine partnership between the public and private sectors to boost cooperation in the fields of oil, gas, petrochemicals and transformational industries", Sheikh Mohammed said.

The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince added that the UAE would continue its efforts to support the plans of Turkmenistan to enhance the educational, health, social, transport services and others in the best interest of friendly people of Turkmenistan.

On his part, the Turkmen President, stressed the keenness of his country to boosting the relations with the UAE due to its belief in the wise balanced policies of the UAE leadership and unprecedented development of the UAE in all fields.

He thanked the UAE for his reception, hoping the visit would have fruitful results in regard to cooperation, existing economic partnership and benefiting from the UAE experience in wooing investments.

An abundance of gas forthcoming
Turkmenistan has an abundance of gas riches, probably much more than it realises. A recent find has put a new complexion on this. Recourse to Western geological experts in gas exploration has revealed that the fourth or fifth largest gas field world-wide is located in Turkmenistan. It is poised to play an incredible role in supplying world markets with the fossil fuel of the future.

The president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, said significant progress had been made in the nation's oil and gas sector; but he blasted what he called financial irregularities and equipment mismanagement.

Turkmenistan's natural gas riches have make it a target of courtship by both Russia and the West, but development of the sector has been hampered by poor management and lack of transparency.

A perestroika of the energy sector, and then of other sectors, has got to come before any glasnost. China, not Russia, is to be the model.

The Czech connection
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek travelled to Turkmenistan on February 13, 2009 for talks with President Berdymukhamedov. Discussions focused on ways to enhance Ashgabat’s "cooperation and collaboration" with the Eurasia Union.

The Czech Republic currently held the presidency of the European Union at the time and the Czech government is pushing for the Nabucco pipeline project to proceed. The $10.3 billion project has regained momentum in recent weeks, but still needs committed gas supplies to attract investors.

Turkmenistan has voiced an interest in the pipeline, but has yet to make any firm supply commitments. It is exporting 50bn cu m per annum to and via Russia and is now committed to 40bn cu m to China. But a new vista is opening up!

COULD IRAN BE THE MISSING LINK TO EUROPE?
Turkmen gas could be heading for Europe as soon as 2014, but not via Russia or along a trans-Caspian route. Instead it could be pumped to Turkey via Iran, according to an Iranian newspaper report.

The Iran Daily reported February 18, 2009 that Tehran seeks to become a gas transit hub and energy exporter to Europe. Those aims received a boost from a February 14 agreement under which Ashgabat agreed to export an additional 10 billion cubic meters (bn cu m) of Turkmen gas to Iran. The two countries also agreed in principle on a joint-development project in the Yoloten gas field in south-eastern Turkmenistan.

The head of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, Reza Kasaeizadeh, said a "Persian Pipeline" could rival the proposed Nabucco project. This rival route would rely on existing infrastructure to transport gas as far as the Turkish border. Kasaeizadeh added that Iranian officials were seeking the support of European Union member for the plan. The proposed Iranian export route has a current capacity of 40 bn cu m annually. Nabucco, as currently envisioned, would be able to provide 31 bn cu m of gas to Europe every year.

Iran itself possesses reserves that could make it a formidable exporter. Some plans call for Iran to boost domestic production to 465 bn cu m by 2020. The country’s economic difficulties, as well as problems accessing international credit markets, could prevent Tehran from realizing its aims.

The budding Turkmen-Uzbek axis
President Berdymukhamedov visited Uzbekistan on February 24-25, 2009. Uzbek President Islam Karimov was keen to enhance what he describes as the "time-tested relations of friendship" between the two authoritarian states.

The discussion of energy diversification was obviously on the agenda. Uzbekistan lacks the vast energy resources of Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan. But given the troubled state of Afghanistan, it is a possible conduit country for their energy exports to China and beyond.

Then it is also the core country of a forthcoming Central Asian Union, an equivalent in the hub of Eurasia of the EU. This might seem like a fanciful idea – but then so did the EU in its time. A lot could depend on the budding Turkmen-Uzbek axis.

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