by S. Frederick Starr
In recent months Turkmenistan has emerged from its self-imposed shell. Under its new president, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, it has launched a very active, though still cautious, foreign policy. While reaffirming its neutral status, which the UN recognized in 1995, it has intensified its relations with all the global powers and, significantly, with its neighbors as well. Both the U.S. and EU have applauded these initiatives and the new president’s strategic concept that underlies them. However, events unfold, Turkmenistan has decisively lifted its head, and will henceforth be a significant factor in regional and continental affairs and not simply a perplexing outlier.
By Slavomír Horák
February 15, 2022, the CACI Analyst
Turkmenistan's Halk Maslahaty extraordinary session, scheduled for February 11, 2022, was expected with great expectations within the Turkmenistan expert community. Unlike formal and ritual phrases usually accompanying the event, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow's rhetoric differed in this case. The proclaimed adoption of the strategy for the next 30 years was connected with the new leader, expectedly his son Serdar Berdimuhamedow. The Halk Maslahaty announced an extraordinary presidential elections for March 12, 2022, yet another step in the power transition in Turkmenistan. However, several external and internal as well as long- and short-term factors determined the timing of the transition. At the same time, the transition will not be fully accomplished as the current president does not fully step back from power.
By Robert M. Cutler
March 12, 2021, the CACI Analyst
For over twenty years, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have been at odds over the mid-Caspian oil and gas field that the former called “Kepez” (often rendered “Kyapaz” from the Russian) and that the latter called “Sardar.” In late 2020, they agreed to rename it Dostlug/Dostluk, meaning “Friendship” in their Turkic languages. On January 21, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreeing on the terms for their joint exploration and development of the field. This agreement removes the last obstacle to the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP).
By Brenda Shaffer
February 16, 2021, the CACI Analyst
On January 21, 2021 the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan signed an intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for joint development of the newly named Dostluq (friendship in Azerbaijani and Turkmen languages) oil and natural gas field. This agreement will likely facilitate multiple new ventures in oil and gas in the Caspian Sea. It also reflects the mutual desire of the two states for increased cooperation in multiple spheres beyond energy and is the result of increased contacts between the two neighboring countries over the last two years. Increased cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan is likely to emerge beyond the sphere of energy.
By John C. K. Daly
November 19, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The year 2020 is proving to be inordinately arduous for Turkmenistan, inflicted with a multitude of problems including the Covid-19 pandemic, plummeting natural gas prices and increasing concerns about rising violence in neighboring Afghanistan. Complicating the Turkmen government’s response to these crises is the country’s relative isolation imposed by its internationally recognized policy of strict neutrality. Given the transnational nature of these issues, the Turkmen government is fitfully readjusting its domestic and foreign policies to cope, as the threats are both internal and regional. The Turkmen government is increasingly aware that Turkmenistan cannot unilaterally resolve these threats and is attempting to devise international outreach programs for assistance, a significant deviation from its previous isolationist nationalist policies.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.