Turkmenistan 2016

Yearbook 2016

Turkmenistan. In January, Moscow halted its purchases of Turkmenistan gas, a severe blow to Turkmenistan’s economy. The country lost its main source of foreign currency income and exports, which fell sharply in the previous year, fell just over 40% in the first quarter. Low gas prices contributed to the decline.

The current population of Turkmenistan is 6,031,211. The central bank stopped the sale of foreign currency, which led to a higher dollar exchange rate in the black market in fear of devaluation. It did not, however, and in February the amount of money Turkmenistan is may send abroad.

Turkmenistan Population 2016

The regime restricted companies’ access to foreign currency due to the sharp decline in export earnings. It sparked speculation that the country’s foreign currency reserves were running out, but the government gave no information on this.

The budget information was also not public, but the IMF calculated that the government had a deficit after several years of heavy surpluses. The government was ordered by President Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov to investigate whether the country’s generous welfare system needs to be changed due to the economic crisis. This included, among other things, free access to drinking water, electricity and household gas.

In the wake of the economic crisis, President Berdimuchammedov made major changes to the government.

During the year, a modern trade route was opened through Turkmenistan along the historic Silk Road. The first freight train then went from China to Iran on over 1,000 kilometers of railroad. The trip took two weeks, which is a month shorter than the sea freight. A railway line was also opened between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan with a view to increasing gas and oil exports.

On a visit to Germany, President Berdimuchammedov said his country was negotiating with the EU on gas exports, an attempt to widen the market after the Russian downturn.

Berdimuchammedov himself led a commission that proposed a constitutional amendment with an extended mandate for the president from five to seven years and the 70 year old age limit for presidential candidates expired. The proposal was intended to consolidate 59-year-old Berdimuchammedov’s concentration of power and open him up to a long-term candidate. Parliament approved the constitutional amendments in September.

According to thereligionfaqs, public sector officials were given new rules during the year that prohibited them from openly criticizing the authorities and the regime’s policies. They were also forbidden to disclose information about the economy and they had to adhere to official dress code and code of conduct.

When Freedom House ranked the world’s countries for freedom of the press, Turkmenistan received the second worst rating after North Korea. A Swedish Turkmen journalist was arrested during the year in Belarus and threatened with extradition to Turkmenistan, where he was previously imprisoned and tortured, according to Reporters Without Borders.

In November, the president’s son, Serdar Berdimuchammedov, was elected to parliament by a parliamentary election. Assessors interpreted it as a sign that he was eventually appointed to succeed his father.

During the year, the Swedish Consumer Organization urged IKEA to stop buying cotton products from Turkmenistan, where the harvest is done with forced labor. According to human rights organizations, tens of thousands of public servants are forced out into the cotton fields in order for growers to deliver their quotas and not lose their land.

Turkmenistan Geopolitics

Turkmenistan, a Central Asian country subjected first to the Russian Empire and then to the Soviet Union, proclaimed independence in October 1991. However, its entry as a sovereign player in the international community did not coincide with the breakdown of decades of political isolation and economy of the country, which continued after 1991 with the absolutist leadership of President Saparmurat Niyazov, who ruled the fate of Turkmenistan until his death in December 2006. Niyazov, self-proclaimed Turkmenbashi ‘(head of the Turkmens), has given his country’s foreign policy a distinctly isolationist, neutral and non-aligned connotation with respect to the regional political blocs, showing a radical reluctance to be involved in cooperation mechanisms that do not have a purely economic agenda. This has cut Turkmenistan out of the main regional dialogue and cooperation forums, considerably limiting the potential offered to the country by its strategic geographical location and, above all, by the possession of huge and largely unexplored energy resources.

While maintaining Turkmenistan’s ‘permanent neutrality’, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov’s succession to Niyazov in December 2006 marked the opening of a new phase in foreign policy which, more resolutely aimed at capitalizing on the country’s structural strengths, it has opened a pragmatic line of dialogue and cooperation with the main actors of the international community, state and supranational. Berdimuhammedov’s central objective was to combine traditionally solid relations with the Russian Federation with a new range of regional and international diplomatic networks, based primarily on the attractiveness of the country’s energy resources. For the breadth of the reference energy markets and investment capacity in the sectors of exploration, exploitation and transport of energy resources,u) they have been the privileged interlocutors of the new course of Turkmen foreign policy. At the same time, the disappearance of Niyazov allowed Turkmenistan and the United States to turn the page in bilateral relations, relaunched, starting from February 2007 with the start of cooperation in the sectors of human rights (traditional point of friction), the economy and reforms to education and the national health system. There were also more timid signs of cooperation in terms of security cooperation in the fight against regional crime and anti-terrorism networks.

On the regional level, Turkmenistan has also thawed relations with the former Soviet republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia, both on a bilateral and multilateral level. In addition to relaunching the Turkmen participation in the Economic Cooperation Organization (E co) – which, alongside Turkmenistan, has Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Central Asian republics among its members – Ashgabat has deepened cooperation with those regional interlocutors who are central to the Turkmen energy strategy. Of particular importance, the attempts to open up to dialogue with Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, symptomatic of the desire to resolve traditional bilateral disputes. While the treatment of respective minorities and disputes over the use of scarce regional water resources have been a source of tension in Turkmen-Uzbek relations, relations with Azerbaijan – a potentially vital hub for Turkmen energy exports to the West – revolve mainly around to the still unresolved status disputelegal status of the Caspian Sea and the related ownership of some of its hydrocarbon fields.

Berdimuhammedov’s turnaround in Turkmen international relations was not matched by an opening on the internal institutional front. Turkmenistan, formally a presidential republic, remains a de facto one-party state – the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (Türkmenistanyň Demokratik Partiýasy), successor to the Soviet-era Communist Party – in which legislative power is emptied of any real institutional prerogative. The establishment, in August 2012 and in anticipation of the parliamentary elections of December 2013, of a second national party – the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs – was not enough to change the Turkmen political-institutional structure, so much for the absence of political debate, as for the declared loyalty to President Berdimuhammedov by the new party. The elections of 15 December 2013 assigned 47 seats out of 125 to the Democratic Party; 17 went to the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs against 33 from the Trade Union Organization. Despite the introduction of multi-partyism, the constitutional reform wanted by Berdimuhammedov in 2008 proved to be completely ineffective, according to which the People’s Council – the main instrument of government of the Niyazov era – was dissolved and at the same time the role of the unicameral parliament was strengthened., whose members were also increased from 65 to 125. The government, on the other hand, strictly controls the process of nominating candidates in the elections, traditionally judged by the main international monitoring organizations to be neither free nor fair. Not even the presidential elections of February 2012 were an exception to this rule, which ended with a 97% plebiscite in favor of Berdimuhammedov, elected to his second five-year term. Furthermore, the executive, appointed by the president like the main administrative and judicial offices, traditionally governs by decree, thus effectively emptying the power formally assigned by the Constitution to the parliament.