On January 18, Ashgabat hosted a meeting of the Government of Turkmenistan, which touched upon the progress of construction of the TAPI gas pipeline that is to link Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. According to the Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister, director of the State Agency on management and use of hydrocarbon resources under the President of Turkmenistan Yagshigeldi Kakaev, the Turkmenneftegazstroy State Concern (the contractor for construction of the Turkmen section of the project) is delivering specialized vehicles, equipment and pipe materials to the site.
Turkmenistan will buy pipe products in Azerbaijan – from Azertexnolayn, which is to supply products worth a total of $60 million. The Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan reported the news, noting the contract signed between the parties provides for delivery of 25,000 tons of water pipes during the current year. Turkmenistan will used these pipes in construction of the Turkmenbashi port on the coast of the Caspian Sea.
The Russian company Gazprom wants to “pause” its purchases of natural gas from the Turkmen state concern Turkmengaz, as announced by an unnamed source informed on the progress of the ongoing negotiations between the parties. According to this source, Uzbekistan is implementing a more adequate gas price policy, adjusting it in line with the changes in market conditions. As a result, the price proposed by Uzbekistan is “many-fold lower” than Turkmenistan's.
On January 9, the capital of Turkmenistan hosted a meeting attended by heads and representatives of the Ministry of Oil and Gas of the Republic, the state concerns Turkmenneft, Turkmengaz, Turkmengeologiya, Turkmenneftegazstroy, the Agency for management and use of hydrocarbon resources under the President of the Republic, a number of research institutes. The participants discussed performance of the oil and gas industry of Turkmenistan in 2015, and adopted work plans for the year 2016. This was reported by the press service of the Cabinet of Ministers on January 11.
In Turkmenistan, shops and other retail outlets have stopped selling cigarettes. Several local media reported the news referring to the human rights organization named “Turkmen Human Rights Initiative.” According to it, sellers of Ashgabat retail establishments were visited by representatives of the state service for safety and security of the healthy society, warning that sales of cigarettes may induce a fine of 10 minimum wages (TMT5,900 or $1,735). “After that, retail outlets began selling only to friends, from under the counter.
The parliament of Turkmenistan has ratified the Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Iran on cooperation in merchant shipping in the Caspian Sea. As announced by the Turkmen government, the document was signed in November 2015, during the official visit of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to the Islamic Republic of Iran. On January 7, during a meeting with President of Turkmenistan, Iranian Ambassador to Ashgabat Seyed Mohammad Musa Hashemi Golpaegani said that his country attached great importance to development of the multifaceted relations with Turkmenistan.
According to the results of the year 2015, Yoloten district of Mary province of Turkmenistan has been recognized as the best district and granted a government cash award amounting to one million dollars. As reported by local media, in 2015, Yoloten district demonstrated the best economic, social and cultural performance among all the cities and regional districts of the republic. As a consequence, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a special decree on allocation of the award and the city of Iolotan hosted the corresponding awarding ceremony.
Turkmenistan has introduced a ban on the sale of foreign currency to the population, particularly of US dollars. The news was reported by local media on January 12, with reference to an unnamed source from a bank in Ashgabat. According to the media, residents of Turkmenistan may not buy the US currency in the banks, but they are allowed to sell it. “The dollar is not quoted any longer,” so said a bank representative in an interview for the publication “Alternative news of Turkmenistan.”
Last year, Turkmenistan managed to maintain a high enough rate of economic development, despite the ongoing world crisis. As a result, as of 2015, the country's growth of gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to 6.7 percent, as reported by the Turkmen Ministry of Development and Economy. This information was also announced during the expanded meeting of the Turkmen government on January 9. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov delivered a speech, assessing the results of the country's development in 2015.
On January 8, during a government meeting, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov dismissed Minister of Social Welfare and Labor Bekmyrat Shamyradov. According to the presidential press service, deputy head of the department Kuvvatgeldy Redzhepov was also released from his position. “The head of state pointed out the shortcomings that have been identified in the work of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor. According to the President, head of the ministry Bekmyrat Shamyradov has been reprimanded more than once,” the press release reads.
In February, the Swedish news agency TT jointly with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) published the results of an investigation of the situation in the cotton industry of Turkmenistan. The authors of the report make loud statements about the use of child labor, encouraging Western companies to set aside raw materials of the Turkmen origin. What is actually behind this investigation?
The last month of 2015 and the first month of 2016 were marked by three important events in Turkmenistan: the launch of construction of the TAPI gas pipeline, the establishment of the National Oil and Gas Company (NAPESCO), and the establishment of the republic's own electronics industry.
During the past two decades, Turkmenistan – the happiest Asian state in the opinion of local residents, and the most despotic one according to Western non-commercial organizations – was witnessing the replacement of the “Golden Age” with the era of “Might and Happiness.” There appeared and disappeared dozens of gilded monuments to local rulers, the living images of the ancient oriental despotism.