Foreign Policy Blogs

Turkmenistan: Dealing in Turkey

For the first time in seven years, Ankara will host a Turkmen head of state, as President Berdymukhamedov visits the nation this March 24, 25. This diplomatic meeting quickly follows Turkey's President Gul's own visit to Ashgabat last December, as Turkey seems to be making an assertive effort to improve its relations with many Central Asian states, many of which hold populations with large Turk minorities. Turkmenistan's Berdymukhamedov-led government is also showing a greater diplomatic effort to spread its interests beyond Russia, as Turkey opens the door to greater relations with the US and EU.

Economic and energy issues are expected to be the two main areas discussed at this conference. During Gul's December visit, the two nations' agreed to establish a joint economic cooperation council and last July Turkey signed a preliminary deal with Iran to carry natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to Europe. The Nabucco 3,300-kilometer gas pipeline which would send Turkmen, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian gas to the EU via Turkey, was also said be on the agenda. The US and EU strongly desire such a pipeline as it avoids Russia's Gazprom's reach, but Russia's latest deal with Turkmenistan, which greatly raised Russia's purchasing price for Central Asian gas, puts Nabucco in jeopardy. Whatever precise details or deals come from this meeting, it can be assumed that Turkey and Turkmenistan have created a closer relationship, which may yet bear fruit.

In a new article discussing Uzbekistan's growing "thaw' with the US and EU, Joana Lillis reports that Uzbek authorities have made a showing of promoting greater human rights in their state to try to relieve some of the sanctions and isolation brought to the state since the 2005 Andijan incident. The Uzbek government announced on March 13 that the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had been banned from performing its mission in the country for the past three years, would be allowed to investigate the nation's prison/detainee system, which the US State Department just called "deplorable.' Lillis warns that this and other recent Uzbek human rights promotion efforts may just be cosmetic and that sanctions brought against the country should not be taken away lightly.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, at a recent European Commission summit, warned that "the severe impact of climate change in Central Asia is causing water and food shortages that could lead to regional conflicts' in the near future.

On a , here is a fascinating journal of an American who traveled to Beijing to watch the first MLB spring training game in China, the Dodgers vs. the Padres.



Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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