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for centuries are still central to the national identity of we shall be opening a Europe House in Ashgabat.
modern-day Turkmens. You can clearly recognize this A further stimulus to our relations is the enormous in our government’s foreign policy based on the prin- potential the EU has in economics and trade, fi nance ciple of positive neutrality, which has been followed and investment, manufacturing and high technolo- Turkmenistan
from the moment Turkmenistan became independ- gies, science and culture, which are vital to every ent. Ever since the UN General Assembly unanimous- country. Many member countries of the EU, especial- ly passed the relevant resolution on December 12, ly Italy, Germany, and France are important trade and 1995, Turkmenistan has been recognized throughout economic partners for Turkmenistan in these areas.
in the modern world
the world as a country that embraces permanent neu- Q: Could you, Mr. President, tell us something about
trality in the eyes of international law.
projects Turkmenistan is carrying out in joint ventures ese underlying principles of permanent neutrality with countries of the European Union? Interview given at the time of the 62nd General Assembly of the
and the international obligations we have assumed, A: Th ere are many diff erent joint projects which all serve
shape the foreign policy priorities that help Turkmen- to support our society’s sustainable development. United Nations to the Herald of Europe international magazine
istan to fulfi l its national interests eff ectively and to ey are mostly related to science and education, civil comply with the basic aims and principles of the UN law practices, government agencies, and nongovern- by KURBANGULY BERDYMUKHAMEDOV
Charter and the world community as a whole.
mental organizations that we want to develop. Also, While Turkmenistan’s neutrality is aimed at harmo- we benefi t enormously from projects that help us to President of the Republic of Turkmenistan
nizing the interests of the diff erent countries in the make headway in manufacturing, transportation, region, it also provides the framework for construc- communications, agriculture, fi nancial and invest- tive dialogue and cooperation with other countries, ment facilities, and the private sector. I take this oc- international organizations, and major business in- casion to convey my best respects to the European Q: During the Soviet Era it was commonly held that the
celebrated scholars offi cially recognize Margush as the terests that want to have a hand in this country’s ma- Commission’s Directorate for External Relations and Central Asian republics, including Turkmenia, as Turk- fi ft h centre of world civilization, along with Ancient jor projects, above all those in the fuel and energy menistan was called then, were a kind of buff er zone India, China, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.
between the European part of the former Soviet Union Apart from Margiana, several other states, including A crucial role in this respect is played by Turkmeni- Q: Which of the projects now under way are of most impor-
and the rest of Asia. Turkmenistan, in fact, has Iran and Parthia and Urgench, or Gorganj, which arose on our stan’s unique geopolitical position, which has assisted Afghanistan as its neighbours in the South, Kazakhstan soil, also had a major infl uence on the politics, eco- our cooperation with other countries in transporta- A: Th ere are very many, and I want to name only the
in the North, and it looks towards Russia and Azerbai- nomics, and culture of the East, and on relations be- tion and communications and our integration into the most successful of those we have launched here in jan across the Caspian Sea. I would like to ask you how global infrastructure of networks and commercial and your country’s geopolitical position aff ects the basic prin- Now an independent country, Turkmenistan is a vast economic corridors. As a result, our country is turning ciples of Turkmenistan’s foreign and domestic policies? territory inhabited by people who faithfully maintain into a major transportation hub that serves, if you like, establishment of farming associations and a pilot pro- A: Th e way you frame your question suggests we both
the traditions of peace and friendship with other na- as a “dynamo” of expanding regional cooperation.
gramme to introduce renewable micro-credits; know the obvious answer — my country’s geopoliti- tions inherited from their forefathers, and which they Q: Mr. President, given these fundamental principles of
projects to modernize the Turkmenbashi seaport; cal position has always been vital for Turkmenistan’s follow to this day. Above all, we are cultivating these Turkmenistan’s foreign policy, would you please give us a training centre for Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Gas, international relations in recent history and in the dis- your vision of your country’s relations with the European Q: Th e Turkmen people certainly have a history to be proud
a science research station to improve the quality of Q: Can you perhaps elaborate?
of, but I would rather like you to speak about today. A: We, in Turkmenistan, have always given consider- wheat and produce seeds, mini meatpacking and dairy A: For centuries my country has been at the crossroads
A: Actually I want to start with history to give you a
able attention to deeper ties and greater momentum between East and West, South and North. It was a glimpse of where independent Turkmenistan stands in our diversifi ed cooperation with the European major stage on the Silk Road, and an important ele- in relation to other countries. In reality the civiliza- Union and its individual member countries. Business ment in the network of routes crisscrossing the vast tions that arose on our ancient soil fl ourished precise- contacts between Turkmenistan and the EU were es- projects to develop information and telecommunica- ly because our political and diplomatic traditions were tablished in the early days of my country’s independ- tions technologies and high-speed access to the Inter- We know from historical records and the fi ndings of built on a unifying idea. I would call it the Turkmens’ ence. And I am glad to tell you that interest has been net under the Virtual Silk Road programme jointly modern science that present-day Turkmenistan was unfaltering devotion to dialogue with other nations displayed recently on both sides, as can be seen from with the NATO science programme and TEMPUS a cradle of the ancient civilizations that contributed and their deep respect for other people’s views and the intensifi ed dialogue between us. Visits from the enormously to the emergence of the world as we know ese aspects of the Turkmen mentality were European Union’s high-level delegations have become establishment of an Interbank Finance College; it today. Last year, my country hosted an international at the root of the choices they made for the structure more frequent recently. A highly productive practice, assistance in the preparation of civil, customs, and tax academic conference on the ancient land of Mar- of government and the domestic and foreign policies as I see it, is the annual sessions of the Turkmenistan- codes for Turkmenistan, and for compliance with the gush, known to Greek and Roman historians as Mar- European Union joint committee, and there is more international conventions on the conservation of the COUNTRY FOCUS
giana. At that world forum which I masterminded To put it another way, the traditions of peace, toler- besides. In the next few months, we shall have a series Caspian Sea marine environment, climate change, and and attended, I was fortunate enough to hear world ance and respect for our neighbours we have cherished of high-level meetings with delegations of the EU and h e ra l d of e u ro p e 5 / 6 2 0 0 9
a programme to promote higher education institu- Q: Th is is, Mr.  President, exactly the subject we want to
neutrality, equitable and mutually benefi cial coopera- a billion and half U.S. dollars has been invested to hear you discuss in greater detail. One of the biggest tion, and, of course, the country’s national interests.
date to modernize existing plant and to build new ey are many, indeed, you will agree, and we shall problems facing the European Union today is energy It is in this context that we see favourable prospects distillation units at the Turkmenbashi cluster of oil soon see the benefi ts once they have been completed. security, which implies stability of energy supplies with in our relations with member countries of the EU. at is why Turkmenistan welcomes the European fuel gas at the top of the list. What is your country’s out- Already today, many famous European companies, New plants are under construction to manufacture Commission’s eff orts to encourage the European Un- look for cooperation with the EU, particularly in the con- including among others, Maersk of Denmark, Win- petrochemical products and process liquefi ed gas, and ion’s closer involvement in large-scale reforms and text of its recent agreements on Russia’s involvement in tershall of Germany, and British Barren Energy, are a project is under consideration to build a facility to the construction of a joint gas pipeline? running successful operations in Turkmenistan.
convert gas from the gas fi elds in Eastern Turkmeni- Q: Could you talk about any new joint projects and pro-
A: Let me say, fi rst of all, that Turkmenistan is fully in-
Our country is demonstrating that it is one of the spective cooperation between Turkmenistan and the Eu- dependent in choosing strategic routes to reach world leading countries that give a sense of energy security Q: Your country’s prosperity today depends on how much
energy markets and in building up its oil and gas ex- to Europe and Asia. Turkmenistan’s policy in this area oil, gas, and petroleum products originating in Turk- A: It is a welcome fact in this context that this year has
is to put its abundant natural resources at the service menistan you put on the world market. My question witnessed the largest increase in technical assistance take in our partnership relations with Russia, China, of sustainable development and the prosperity of peo- then is what are you doing to process more crude hy- projects undertaken in the country since the start of Iran, and other countries, for that matter.
drocarbons on site in order to increase the share of high its cooperation with the European Commission in e fact that Turkmenistan is taking a leading place Q: What are the estimates of the hydrocarbon wealth hid-
added value products on foreign markets and what are in global energy policies imposes great responsibility e EU’s projects running in Turkmenistan today on us in our approach to international problems fac- A: In the estimates of foreign experts, Turkmenistan’s
A: It might appear at times that our endeavours and
include a national programme in education, travel, ing the world today. Current international experience hydrocarbon resources comprise 23 trillion cubic me- plans to build a welfare state are linked only to the sale science and technologies, statistics, and coordination suggests there is a need for new approaches to fi nding ters of natural gas and 12 billion tonnes of oil. Given of our rich natural resources. Yes, it was Mother Na- of the EU’s technical assistance. In addition, several such capacity, Turkmenistan is building its foreign ture that lavished hydrocarbons on the land of Turk- regional projects are being pursued in oil and gas un- e current rate of industrial growth in the world and trade strategy around exports of crude hydrocarbon menistan, and it would be wrong to expect us to wax der the INOGATE programme, in marine transpor- the rising role of energy sources in sustaining the world along any economically viable route, based on the rich by selling off this wealth indefi nitely. tation under the TRASECA programme, and in na- economy means every country must construct the en- principle of multiple options for its emerging pipeline Turkmenistan has received an unsurpassed opportu- ture conservation under the Caspian Environmental ergy security system that suits it best. As the biggest nity to avoid repeating the mistakes of other countries Programme. Also very much under way are the EU’s consumers of the global supply of energy and fuels, it We have already built and put into service a gas pipe- blessed with oil and gas that placed their bets on sell- long-term regional programmes — border manage- is the world’s leading powers and major industrial cen- line from Western Turkmenistan to Iran. A few weeks ing their resources without giving thought to building ment in Central Asia (BOMCA) and Central Asian tres that have the greatest need for energy security. ago, we gave practical eff ect to our agreements with an infrastructure for the coming generations of their is underlies the growing interest in the world mar- China to build a gas pipeline and pump natural gas to In the second half of this year, several new national ket toward regions known to have large reserves of oil Although our main focus is, of course, on oil and gas programmes were launched in an eff ort to promote As you may be aware, we are also working on the de- we are building the most up-to date plants and fac- economic growth, agriculture, education, internation- Much depends on the kind of strategy at the core of velopment of a project to build a gas pipeline from tories in other manufacturing industries as well. I am al arbitration law, coordination of the EU’s assistance, relations with countries whose rich natural resources Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, and on to Pakistan and certain that the projects we have initiated, with a help- give them international stature and leverage in inter- India. We are also ready to look into proposals to have ing hand from leading foreign companies, will enable Please note here that our attention is focused on rais- national aff airs, and which are deluged with lucrative Turkmen gas delivered westward as well, to European us to make the best use of available opportunities and ciency of the ongoing projects. It is impor- off ers of joint development of their oil and gas fi elds.
sharpen the competitive edge of our economy to meet tant to gain experience, and we are currently giving Undeniably, this is especially important against the Q: What, in your view, lies at the basis of your focus on the
more weight to short training tours for our personnel background of a new economic set-up beginning to oil and gas industries in your country? Fast growth in the output of the petrochemical indus- in EU countries and training programmes off ered here take shape in the world, with some regions supplying A: Our continued emphasis on oil and gas is based on the
try is an off shoot of the infrastructure we have devel- to executives and managers in various industries, and energy to others, and neither being able to survive need for foreign investment and modern technologies also to public servants, both in Turkmenistan’s central without the other. Having accepted this truth as an to pour in to develop our country’s hydrocarbon re- ter of refi neries alone has signifi cantly increased the obvious fact, Turkmenistan is in favour of a pattern ciently. Our successful open-door policy share of high added value output aft er the refi neries To answer your question about the prospects for of relationships that work towards global cooperation and the passage of the Hydrocarbon Resources Law switched to new processes and technologies.
Turkmenistan’s relations with the European Union, I and integration, rather than dividing the world into have appreciably improved the investment climate Our lubricants, polypropylene, plastics, and other want to point up that Turkmenistan is always open to in Turkmenistan and made it attractive to investors products are fi nding a ready market in many countries Access to sources of oil or gas should never become a to come here and put their money into oil and gas We are ready to cooperate with other countries in cause for confrontation around the world nor a tool in production. Several big-name European and Asian Recently, we have encouraged the emergence of high- many fi elds, including fuel and energy. You will not the hands of some countries to put pressure on others.
companies are operating in Turkmenistan under earning small and medium-size gas processing busi- be surprised when I tell you that many countries are In the context of global processes unfolding in the profi t-sharing agreements, intent on going aft er more nesses using state-of-the-art technologies. Th eager to engage with Turkmenistan in this area, in the 21st century, the energy component of Turkmenistan’s is that Turkmenistan is soon set to become the biggest COUNTRY FOCUS
fi rst place, because our subsoil is very rich in natural strategy toward the rest of the world evolves from its Building modern-age oil refi neries and a petrochemi- liquefi ed gas producer in the region, with an output resources, with large deposits of hydrocarbons.
acceptance of the underlying principles of permanent cal industry is yet another priority for us. More than nearing a half million tonnes of liquefi ed gas a year.
h e ra l d of e u ro p e 5 / 6 2 0 0 9
Q: Could you tell us which industries, apart fr om natural
on women’s involvement in politics, or, to put it other- a favourable impact on the peace and stability of the provides medical services to Afghan citizens at our resources, are next in line for a boost? wise, given the highly tolerant strain of Islam in your A: A strong trend is for other key industries, such as
country, our next question is — how does Turkmenistan We are fully convinced that present and future rela- As trade and economic links between our two power generation, manufacturing, textiles, foodstuff s, build its relations with its neighbours, Iran and Af- tions between Turkmenistan and Iran rest on fi rm countries expanded, we launched long-term energy transportation, and communications, among others, ghanistan, notorious for their fundamentalist variety of principles, which have been reinforced during the re- projects which we expect to last long into the future. to follow the path travelled by oil and gas.
Islam that behaves aggressively towards other religions? At present, we are gradually stepping up the export of Textiles are a good example of how quickly other in- A: I, for one, would not rush to stick questionable labels
lateral relations and the agreements reached between electric power from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan. In dustries can rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Aft er on any one of the existing religions, including Islam. us provide durable foundations on which to develop addition, Turkmen civil engineering companies have textiles hit rock bottom, we had to turn it around from Every nation and every county has a national culture and fortify the long-term mutually benefi cial coopera- built and put into service several power generation near zero. A rare exception was cotton fi bre processing unlike any other nation’s, a culture steeped in tradi- but even that, at the time of independence, could han- tion and fed from historic roots, at the foundations of Turkmenistan and Iran have gained enormous expe- Q: Even though Turkmenistan has declared neutrality,
dle barely 3% of the cotton harvest.
its civilization. In this sense, we show a great respect rience in fruitful cooperation on a number of major we know that no one country in the world, even if it Now that Turkmenistan’s textile factories have been for our neighbours, both nations and their govern- joint projects. In particular, the building and opera- has longstanding traditions of neutrality, can feel safe refurbished with the world’s latest equipment, they are ments, and maintain friendly and amicable relations tion of the Dostluk Dam, a key water management against aggression by other countries. What are you, processing at least half the country’s cotton harvest.
with them, as our tradition requires.
project, and Iran’s participation in our project to mod- in Turkmenistan, doing to maintain your own security ese days, Turkmenistan exports cotton yarn, denim I must concede you are right when you speak about ernize the cluster of oil refi neries at Turkmenbashi, to and what is your personal vision of this issue? and other cotton fabrics, and ready-to-wear textile the Turkmens’ religious traditions and the high tol- A: Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality and its foreign
erance of Islam as it is practised in our land. Today, Our main exports to Iran are liquefi ed gas, electric policy, based as they are on our country’s status in in- Other farming businesses are making a comeback un- the Constitution of Independent Turkmenistan guar- power, and natural gas, which is pumped down the ternational law, are guided by the will of our nation, der the impact of the land reform that has been vig- antees, through the institutions of the state, the free- pipelines running from Korpej to Kurt, Kui Artyk to its outlook and understanding of the world, and its dom of faiths and beliefs, which all are equal under private landowners and market instruments are being the law. Everyone is free to take whatever attitude to We also have commendable experience of cooperation is gives us a solid standing in the world community, religion they like, to practise alone or jointly with oth- in road building, an excellent example of which is the and wins us the respect and trust of our distant and e People’s Council, or Khalk Maslakhaty in Turk- ers any religion or embrace none at all, speak out and complete reconstruction of the highway from Ashga- near neighbours, in fact, all countries of the world.
men, which is the nation’s highest representative body, disseminate their views on religion, and participate in bat to Gokdepe and on to Archman, which was com- You must know, of course, that we have a defensive meeting in spring of this year, passed laws directly re- religious services, rituals, and rites. All this, I repeat, is pleted by Iranian engineers to high quality standards. military doctrine. We want our armed forces to be lated to reforms in agriculture, beginning with the guaranteed by Turkmenistan’s Constitution.
In our desire to meet the interests of other countries always ready for any contingency. A fi ghting force Farm Law and Farmers Associations Law.
As my country’s national laws enforce compliance and nations and to promote our relations of respect is a key attribute of the state, and our army must be We did not have to wait long to see encouraging re- with accepted international rules, they allow religious and friendship with our generous neighbour, Turk- trained to repulse an attack of whatever strength from sults coming in. Overall, Turkmenistan produces organizations and groups to be registered in Turk- menistan will continue to take part in various mutu- e concept of a military dimension in Turk- enough grain to meet its needs, and nearly 90% of menistan, regardless of the size of their congregations menistan’s foreign policy does not in any way confl ict other foodstuff requirements as well.
or faith. Turkmenistan’s laws allow religious and non- Q: How would you describe your relations with Afghani-
Add to this the fact that Turkmenistan is the only governmental organisations to practise without fear stan, a country that has been in turmoil for many dec- Permanent neutrality has rewarded us with many country in the world where no taxes are levied on of criminal prosecution even if they are not legally rights and opened up broad prospects for us, but at leaseholders and landowners. We do not impose taxes A: Turkmenistan is an immediate neighbour of Afghani-
the same time it has imposed on us a heavy burden of on land, or water, or cattle farming.
.Religious organizations and groups of Muslims and stan, and it has been, and still is, one of the countries responsibility. We keep out of all confl icts and wars. In broad terms, the country has every opportunity for Orthodox Christians, and about a dozen other reli- with the greatest interest in seeing that country stable is is the pledge we have given to the world commu- foreign companies to come in and start investing in cially registered and are practising their and at peace. During a recent visit by Afghanistan’s nity. We have not encumbered our nation with mem- local projects. Our national laws off er generous safe- faiths freely in Turkmenistan today.
President Hamid Karzai to Turkmenistan, we had bership of any military blocs, associations or alliances, guards to investors and give a battery of tax and other At the moment, our relations with the governments fruitful talks in an atmosphere of full understanding and we have only our defensive doctrine to draw on.
concessions to foreigners who start their own busi- of Iran and Afghanistan are not aff ected by the diff er- Working on the international scene from its vantage ences between our shades of religious practices.
We look at the prospects of deeper and broader bilat- point of positive neutrality for international peace We are doing more than just wishing to develop many And I want again to make my point that Turkmenistan eral ties from the angle of fraternal and good-neigh- and worldwide welfare, Turkmenistan has earned diff erent industries. We are doing exactly what we has always followed, and will follow in the future, the bourly relations between our two peoples growing the respect it truly deserves from its neighbours in want — building a versatile economy using advanced principles of respect, equality, and mutual benefi t in stronger and more diversifi ed. Our cooperation is on- the Central Asian region and the world community technologies and the ability to be self-suffi cient.
its relations with other countries. We do not, however, going and off ers us attractive prospects, particularly in at large. In recognition of this role, the UN is about Q: Turkmenistan is certainly a modern secular country,
look at our cooperation with them from the perspec- trade and economic links between Turkmenistan and to open in Turkmenistan’s capital city a UN Regional save that Islam plays a far greater part than you would tive of our own or mutual interests alone, but rather Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia, normally expect. Given the Turkmens’ ancient tradi- in the regional and international contexts. Th Among its ongoing projects, Turkmenistan supplies which is to become an eff ective early warning tool to COUNTRY FOCUS
tions such as fr eedom of religious beliefs, a generally more denying that stronger and deeper fraternal relations electric power to Afghanistan, helps Afghans to re- prevent confl icts from fl aring up and to achieve peace- equal role for men and women in society, no constraints between the peoples of Turkmenistan and Iran have ceive an education at its educational institutions, and ful settlement of perilous situations in our region.
h e ra l d of e u ro p e 5 / 6 2 0 0 9
Involvement in world politics for us is promoting co- our educational system, being fi red by an ambition The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in operation among all countries to the best of our abil- that school certifi cates and university degrees award- Main exports:
Europe has described the lack of press freedom in the ity. At home we want peace and stability, and a bet- ed in Turkmenistan should be recognized across the country as “unprecedented” in the body’s history. is year, we have raised enrolment at our GNI per capita:
Paris-based Reporters Without Frontiers said way to write our country’s history book, every line of higher education institutes. New schools and colleges former President Niyazov’s only use for the media was to Internet domain:
which will record the fi ne achievements of our people, or universities will soon be opened in the administra- International dialling
in which coming generations of our countrymen and tive centres of all velayats [regions]. Th Turkmenistan has “one of the worst media climates fraction of what we are doing with the sole purpose in the world,” according to the Canada-based Interna- Q: A question suggests itself here — what do you see dur-
of giving our children a bright future, and creating a tional Freedom of Expression exchange forum. ing your tenure as President as your main duty to your President: Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov
Programmes from Russian TV stations are cen- country’s young people, the rising generation, or, in other Q: Mr. President, I have the honour to thank you on be-
Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was sworn in as words, what do you want to do for them? half of our editorial board and readers of the Herald of president after winning elections in February 2007 with Turkmentelecom and other state bodies control in- A: Th e rising generation is the future of our country.
Europe international magazine for this interview and ternet access. There are around 70,000 internet users Time is running out fast on us, too fast indeed to I would like to say how dearly we hope to see you again. There were six candidates in the poll, all from the (ITU, March 2008). All foreign-based Turkmen opposition notice it at all — today’s children in schools and care A: It will be real pleasure for me. We have so much
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. Exiled figures from centres will be the country’s driving force tomorrow. to do, and I will be glad to tell your readers about the Turkmen opposition were banned from competing. And Turkmenistan’s tomorrow will be as good as we Electoral officials put turnout out at over 95%. Rights THE PRESS
teach them to be today. We have initiated reforms in groups and Western diplomats condemned the election Neytralnyy Turkmenistan — Russian-language,
Weeks later the president was chosen as chairman Turkmenistan — Turkmen-language,, published six
COUNTRY PROFILE: TURKMENISTAN
population consisting of Turkmens. There are also Uz- of the People’s Council, Turkmenistan’s highest legisla- Turkmenistan is made up mainly of desert and has
beks, Russians and smaller minorities of Kazakhs, Tatars, Watan (Homeland) — Turkmen-language, pub-
the smallest population of the five former Soviet re-
A former deputy prime minister, Mr Berdymukhame- publics in Central Asia.
In contrast to other former Soviet republics, it has dov became acting president after authoritarian leader Galkynys (Revival) — Turkmen-language week-
It possesses the world’s fifth largest reserves of been largely free of inter-ethnic hostilities. However, Saparmyrat Niyazov died in December 2006. Mr Niyazov ly, mouthpiece of the ruling Democratic Party of natural gas, and has substantial deposits of oil. Yet it is strong tribal allegiances can be a source of tension. still impoverished, and since independence from the So- With foreign investors keeping away, the Turkmen His nomination for the presidency surprised observ- Turkmen Dunyasi — Turkmen-language monthly,
viet Union in 1991 has remained largely closed to the ers because under the constitution the post should have mouthpiece of the Ashgabat-based World Turkmens The country has been unable to benefit fully from gone to People’s Council chairman Ovezgeldy Atayev. It is effectively a one-party state, that party being its oil and gas deposits due to the absence of export However, after Mr Niyazov died Mr Atayev became the Adalat (Justice) in Turkmen
the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan led by the late routes and because of a dispute between the Caspian subject of a criminal investigation and was sacked. Edebiyat we Sungat (Literature and the Arts) in
president Saparmurat Niyazov until his death in Decem- Sea littoral states over the legal status of the sea where The new president has promised to continue the policies of his predecessor but also to introduce re- The late leader styled himself Turkmenbashi, or Turkmenistan produces roughly 60 billion cubic forms, including unlimited access to the internet, better TELEVISION
Father of the Turkmen, and made himself the centre of metres of natural gas each year and about two-thirds of Turkmen TV — state-owned, operates four net-
an omnipresent cult of personality. Mr Niyazov, who was its exports go to Russia’s Gazprom. A protracted dispute Soon after coming to power, he restored pensions works, including main channel Altyn Asyr (Golden Age) made president for life in 1999, spent large sums of pub- between the two countries over the price ended in Sep- to more than 100,000 elderly citizens, reversing Presi- lic money on numerous grandiose projects, but not on tember 2006 when Gazprom agreed to pay 54% more. dent Niyazov’s decisions to withdraw them the previous His successor, Kurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, says Once Mr Niyazov’s personal dentist, Mr Berdy- he will follow in Mr Niyazov’s footsteps, but has shown Population:
mukhamedov became Turkmen health minister in 1997 signs of a different approach, for instance by eschew- Capital:
and deputy premier in 2001. One of his tasks was to im- NEWS AGENCY/INTERNET
ing the pomp that accompanied his predecessor’s public plement Mr Niyazov’s health service reforms which are Turkmen State News Service (TSNS) — official
widely seen as having brought about its near collapse. His influence spread into every conceivable area Major language:
Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was born in 1957. News Central Asia — Turkmenistan-based agen-
of life in the republic. Turkmens were even expected to Major religion:
take spiritual guidance from his book, Ruhnama, a collec- Life expectancy:
tion of thoughts on Turkmen culture and history. The Turkmen government has an absolute monop- Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-
/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1298497.stm
Turkmenistan is the most ethnically homogeneous Monetary unit:
oly of the media. The authorities monitor media outlets, Published: 2008/07/30 12:30:02 GMT
COUNTRY FOCUS
of the Central Asian republics, the vast majority of its operate printing presses and lay down editorial policies. h e ra l d of e u ro p e 5 / 6 2 0 0 9

Source: http://www.heraldofeurope.co.uk/Issues/5/Country%20Focus/Interview_with_President_of_Turkmenistan/Interview_with_President_of_Turkmenistan.pdf

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