Turkmenistan News Digest — Issue 1

Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN)


Turkmenistan: Where has all the flour gone? Alternative Turkmenistan News, 13 February 2019

The regions of Turkmenistan are in the grip of yet another shortage of bread and flour. Although flour supplies to state shops are slightly higher than at the end of last year, the lines are just as long.


International News


As traders tussle over tankers, Turkmenistan slashes oil exports, Reuters, 14 February 2019

A clash between trading house Vitol and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR over Caspian Sea oil shipments is forcing Turkmenistan to slash exports of crude due to a lack of tankers.


Germany wants to buy gas in Turkmenistan, Deutsche Welle, 14, February 2019

At the German-Turkmen forum in Berlin, they talked about the prospects for Turkmen gas to enter the EU markets. The German Foreign Ministry believes that Turkmenistan could sell 6 billion cubic meters a year in Europe now.


Turkmenistan: Sour cream of the crop, Eurasianet, 12 February 2019

Where the author talks of ATN’s research in the fakery of Turkmen’s agricultural output growth bulletins, with a reshuffle of the agricultural Ministry and queues in Ashgabat giving credence to these claims. Such unearned buoyancy may be part of the government’s attempt to cast Turkmenistan as a promising destination for private investment, supplemented by new legislation for Private-Public partnerships and continuing public announcements of cooperation agreements.


Russia takes temperature on its Central Asia ties, Eurasianet, 11 February 2019

Re Turkmenistan: The official pronouncements were characteristically upbeat and lacking in actual substance. Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov trotted out a hackneyed line about wishing to “expand [Turkmenistan’s] multifaceted ties with Russia. … All well and good, but the only thing Turkmenistan wants or needs is money. Specifically in the form of payment for its natural gas, which Gazprom stopped buying at the start of 2016. All Lavrov’s visit produced was a throwaway line about how negotiations are still ongoing, which does not sound promising at all.”


Majlis Podcast: What Was Lavrov Looking For In Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, And Turkmenistan RFE/FL, 10 February 2019


Paths Not Travelled: Turkmen Students Forced To Clean All Roads For President’s VisitRFE/RL, 9 February 2019

Schools directors in Ashgabat received an early morning call from education officials to gather hundreds of students on a Saturday to make the Turkmen capital’s roads pristine in time for President Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov’s weekend voyage.


German Tech Firm’s Turkmen Ties Trigger Surveillance Concerns, RFE/RL, 8 February 2019

The news agency takes up reports that Munich-based Rohde & Schwarz could be helping the Turkmen government by providing technology that assists surveillance of its citizens. Leaked internal documents from other firms in recent years indicate that Turkmen authorities have actively pursued Western surveillance technology.


Regional News


Turkmenistan interested in co-op with German oil and gas companiesAzerNews, 15 February 2019


Turkmenistan to host OSCE conference on countering terrorism financing, AzerNews, 15 February 2019

Turkmenistan is scheduled to host a conference on “Countering terrorism financing and organized crime” April 17-18, 2019, which will be organized with the participation of the OSCE.


Diplomacy of Turkmenistan: a strategy for peace, good neighbourliness and developmentTrend, 14 February 2019

A propaganda piece: “Under the leadership of its generally recognized Leader of the Nation Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Turkmenistan consistently follows the path of comprehensive development, actively participating in international affairs and realizing the principle of permanent neutrality in accordance with generally accepted international legal status”.


Turkmenistan’s armed forces recruit citizens unsuitable for military service, Radio Azatlyk, 14 February 2019

Due to a shortage of recruits, the Turkmen army are drafting citizens with severe diseases and sight and hearing difficulties.


Against the background of job cuts in Turkmenistan, a new labor “market” has emerged, Radio Azatlyk, 14 February 2019

Given the announcement that the government is looking to cut down on 15% of jobs in the education and culture sectors, an increasing number of educated Turkmen are seeking unofficial work at increasingly low prices.


Reports from the Turkmen Fields, Radio Azatlyk, 14 February 2019

Increasing reports about the fixing of agricultural output figures by the Turkmen government.


Turkmenistan eyes to increase electricity exports to Afghanistan, AzerNews, 13 February 2019


Turkmenistan halts 100 railway wagons with cargoes for TajikistanRadio Azatlyk, 13 February 2019

According to the document that came to the Tajik service of Radio Azatlyk on February 12, as of February 8, 2019, 108 freight wagons of Tajikistan were jammed at several railway stations in Turkmenistan.


Turkmen government doubles cotton and triple wheat prices, Radio Azatlyk, 11 February 2019

Against the backdrop of reports about the use of compulsory labor for civil servants to collect cotton, delaying payments to Turkmen farmers, low yields, and tenants’ refusal to grow cotton due to unprofitability, the state has increased the purchase prices for wheat and cotton since the beginning of 2019.


Turkmenistan, Tunisia mull prospects for trade, economic co-op, AzerNews, 11 February 2019


EBRD will not give credit for oil development on the Caspian’s Turkmen shelfRadio Azatlyk, 10 February 2019

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has cancelled a loan to Turkmenistan, intended for the development of oil fields on the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea. The loan was to be provided to CMI Offshore Ltd., a company that provides offshore and logistics services to projects for the development of offshore oil fields in the Caspian Sea. (Although this is just being reported now, it is likely the loan was cancelled last year).


Americans are banned from flying on Turkmenistan AirlinesRadio Azatlyk, 9 February 2019

On 7 February 2019, the US embassy banned its staff flying on the national airline, following the ban from the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Turkmenistan eyes to export electricity through Uzbekistan, Azernews, 9 February 2019

Work is underway to implement a project for the supply of Turkmen electricity along the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) route.