Turkmenistan under the command of a Visionary President!!! Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov

Having diplomatic relations with 132 countries, Turkmenistan is one of the 25 former socialist countries in Europe and Central Asia that embarked on a transition in the early 1990s. In agriculture, the transition was expected to improve the productivity of the chronically inefficient collective farming inherited from the Soviet era.

Improvements were achieved through the transfer of land and assets from collective farms to individual operators, in line with the established practice of agriculture in market economies. The progress of agricultural reform in Turkmenistan is by focusing on land distribution, farm structure transformation, and changes in production patterns, marketing, and farm performance.

In December 2006, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took power in Turkmenistan, and the initial uncertainty has now shifted towards a more fully consolidated system. The provisionary leadership developed basic transition mechanisms already before the presidential election of February 11, 2007. At that time, it appeared as if the Berdimuhamedov government would be more oligarchic in nature, and the orchestrated election campaign subtly hinted at a possible liberalization of the generally repressive system. After he was elected, Berdimuhamedov first task was to constitute and stabilize his own system of government. Elite structures were reshuffled and potential contenders or challengers to the rule of the new president were eliminated. It became apparent that natives of his region would play a more important role than was the case with his predecessor. The new president gradually became a real leader with undisputed supreme authority and a broad base of loyal clients. The current government has sought to develop a new ideology. With the new leader of Turkmenistan officially installed, the next question was how Berdimuhamedov would exercise his power. Rapid democratic reforms were not expected; it was clear that rhetorical promises of opening up the regime would be kept only as far as they were advantageous to those in power. In the wake of taking office, Berdimuhamedov turned around a few of Niyazov’s, the former president, more offbeat strategies. Web bistros offering free and uncensored Web were opened in Ashgabat, mandatory training was stretched out from nine to ten years and classes in sports and outside dialects was re-brought into the educational modules, and the legislature declared plans to open a few particular schools for expressions of the human experience.

President Berdimuhamedov has called for change of training, social insurance and benefits frameworks, and government authorities of non-Turkmen ethnic root who had been sacked by Niyazov were permitted to come back to work. He likewise reestablished the benefits of 100,000 elderly individuals whose annuities were cut by Niyazov, despite an unspecified spending emergency. Later on, he revived the Turkmen Academy of Sciences, which had been shut by Niyazov. Berdimuhamedov additionally found a way to control the broad identity clique encompassing his ancestor. He required a conclusion to the detailed expos of music and moving that in the past welcomed the president on his entry anyplace, and said that the Turkmen “holy promise”, some portion of which expresses that the speaker’s tongue ought to wilt on the off chance that he ever talks sick of Turkmenistan or its leader, ought not be recounted different times each day but rather held for “exceptional events.” He additionally surrendered his entitlement to rename any points of interest, foundations, or urban areas. He likewise reestablished the conventional names of the long stretches of the year and long periods of the week (Niyazov had renamed them after himself and his mother, among other things), and declared plans to move the notorious gold pivoting statue of Niyazov from Ashgabat’s focal square. In any case, in 2015 a mammoth brilliant statue of Berdimuhamedov riding a steed on a white marble bluff was raised in Ashgabat. In 2008, he let go of Akmyrat Rejepow, the long-term head of the presidential security detail and one of the principal defenders of Niyazov’s identity clique. Investments in megalomaniac construction projects within the republic continue under the direct supervision of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The continuing growth of Berdimuhamedov’s cult is inevitable in the present atmosphere of servility to the republic’s leader and generally to the institution of leadership in Turkmen society. It initially appeared that Berdimuhamedov’s regime was more open than Niyazov’s. He eased travel restrictions and reopened libraries in rural areas. However, he explicitly ruled out any move toward Western-style democracy. In August 2013, Berdimuhamedov suspended his DPT membership for the duration of his presidency in order to remain above partisan politics and promote a multiparty system. In February 2016 a commission headed by Berdimuhamedov drafted amendments to the constitution that would increase the length of a presidential term from five to seven years and remove the upper age limit on the president, which had been set at 70. Observers generally saw the amendments, which went into effect just months before the presidential election scheduled for February 2017, as further evidence that Berdimuhmedov intended to hold the presidency for longer. As expected, Berdimuhmedov won a seven-year term in 2017 with 98 percent of the vote.

Turkmenistan’s principal external interests lie to the north of its borders, primarily in Russia, but also to Ukraine and Belarus. This is a legacy of over a century of connections within a single state, first tsarist Russia and then the Soviet Union, as part of which Turkmenistan belonged to one of the most underdeveloped areas. Thus, Turkmenistan’s development had for a long time been largely dependent on support from the center. Under President Berdimuhamedov’s leadership, Turkmenistan reached out to participate actively in regional organizations. The president has met with all the leaders in the region, as well as with those of other countries of importance to Turkmenistan. China has a strong and growing commercial presence in Turkmenistan, and continues to court the president through a series of high-level commercial and political visits. The bilateral relations continue to be colored more by the image of Turkey’s lucrative trade and construction contracts that are eating up large amounts of money from the national budget.

Accompanying President Berdimuhamedov’s focus on reaching out to Turkmenistan’s near and more distant neighbors was an increased effort to participate in and cooperate with regional fora. During President Berdimuhamedov’s tenure, Turkmenistan has become an increasingly active player in a number of regional fora, including the (counter-narcotics) Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center, the Central Asian Trade Investment Framework Agreement mechanism (TIFA), and the European Union’s Central Asian Troika process. While cognizant of its neutral status, it bolstered its previous participation in meetings of the Commonwealth of Independent States and in its participation as an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as in NATO with the status of a Partnership-for-Peace country.

Economic growth on the surge!!!

The financial development of Turkmenistan is done based on the national and state programs for short and long haul periods.

Today, Turkmenistan has the broadened, multifunctional economy exhibited by ventures of intensity industry, oil and gas creation, oil-handling, compound and petrochemical field, mechanical designing and metal-preparing, objects for delivering building materials, light and sustenance industry. The development rate of Turkmenistan’s GDP made up 10.2% in the year 2013 when contrasted with 2012. The development volume of modern creation represented 7.3%. In examination in the past period the development rate of speculations paralleled to 7.1%, the measure of wages added up to 11%. At the exhibit, in the nation, under the authority of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, grandiose reforms are in progress in the system of the national and state programs, which are gone for the expansion of the national economy and at the accomplishment of creative character.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Turkmenistan expanded to 6.20 percent in the first quarter of 2018 over the same quarter of the previous year. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Turkmenistan averaged 6.86 percent from 1994 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 16.50 percent in the fourth quarter of 1999 and a record low of -17.30 percent in the fourth quarter of 1994. Turkmenistan is the world’s largest producer of cotton per capita. While the government has recently enacted much needed reforms in agriculture and banking, reduced subsidies for fuel and is promoting tourism, it remains mostly authoritarian and in control of the economy. In this unique situation, conventional areas have significantly become more prominent over the ongoing years: oil and gas complex, control building, horticulture, development, transport, and correspondences. In the meantime, a great deal of work is being completed for the arrangement of new divisions of the economy: synthetic, material and building materials enterprises, media communications and other cutting-edge circles. Unique projects have been worked out, for example, the “National program for financial improvement of the nation for 2012-2016.” They are focused at the further upgrade of the above-named branches for a medium-term prospect. Turkmenistan effectively builds up its outside financial relations with different nations. Today Turkmenistan has built up exchange relations with 103 nations of the world. In 2012, the development of the remote exchange turnover represented 102%. The aggregate volume of hydrocarbon assets adds up to 45.44 billion tons of oil equal. In 2012 Turkmenistan delivered in excess of 69 billion cubic meters of gaseous petrol and 11 million tons of oil. The Program on the improvement of oil and gas complex of Turkmenistan stipulates the expansion of gas generation up to 250 billion cubic meters, and oil 110 million tons continuously in 2030. Having by in excess of 24 trillion cubic meters demonstrated stores of petroleum gas, and additionally considering the quirks of the land area, Turkmenistan actualizes the strategy of expansion of its global collaboration, especially in the vitality segment, based on an equivalent accomplice access to the wellsprings of Turkmen hydrocarbons and their methods for conveyance. This includes the production of multivariate transportation pipeline foundation on the finish of Turkmen vitality assets to worldwide vitality markets.

One belt one road initiative…

The holistic approach that is woven into all the policies and initiatives of Turkmenistan was on display at the Caspian seaside in May 2018 when President Berdimuhamedov moderated the opening session of an international forum and led the commissioning ceremony of the Turkmenbashy Port. The forum was built on the theme ‘The Great Silk Road – Towards the New Frontiers of Development.’ China’s “One Belt, One Road” project aims to make central Asia more connected to the world, yet even before the initiative was formally announced China had helped to redraw the energy map of the region. It had built an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan, a gas pipeline that allowed Turkmenistan to break its dependence on dealings with Russia and another pipeline that has increased the flow of Russian oil to China. Chinese companies have funded and built roads, bridges and tunnels across the region. A ribbon of fresh projects, such as the Khorgos “dry port” on the Kazakh-Chinese border and a railway link connecting Kazakhstan with Iran, is helping increase trade across central Asia. The first Chinese-Turkmen tourism forum opened new horizons for residents of the two countries. The Turkmen visa service center named “Silk Road” was opened as part of the meeting in Beijing. It will significantly increase the flow of tourists, experts say. Representatives of state bodies, tourism and hotel business and a diplomatic corps representing Central Asian countries in China attended the forum. The sides called the meeting historic and expressed hope for expansion of cooperation between China and Turkmenistan. Last year, about 10,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkmenistan, and 14,000 travelers from the Central Asian country visited China. The two sides are planning to open direct flights and create new tourist routes. In June 2009, the opening service of the principal offices of the Avaza National Tourist Zone occurred on the Caspian drift. The “Avaza” venture started by President of Turkmenistan possesses a unique place in the vital plans of the nation throughout the following decade and, in this way, is committed to aggregate the greater part of the most progressive accomplishments of world engineering, building, specialized outline and inventive thoughts. As of now, the cost of developed offices here is in excess of 1.5 billion dollars.

In the second phase specific consideration will be paid to the formation of a full-scale diversion and stimulation complex – the development of a water stop, yacht and games clubs, eateries, campgrounds, a wide range of attractions, malls. Today safe stream runs 7 kilometers through the entire region of the resort. Scientific sphere in Turkmenistan is considered as important factor of the improvement of scientific and technical potential as well as of the modernization of the country. As is known, the concept of social and economic development of the state assigns leading role to innovative economy based on deep scientific and theoretical knowledge and wide practical experience joined together in efficient technologies. The subject set by the Leader of the Nation is to bring national science to new world level of the development, to increase practical turnover of the researches and technical developments and to aim them to the solution of topical issues of social and state life. Special role in solution of this objective is given to the Academy of Science as to the main coordinator of scientific and research works and leading innovative, technological and experimental centre. Academic circles of the country were represented by the leading scientists, specialists and heads of scientific and research institutes in the conference hall of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. Deputy Chairmen of the Cabinet of Ministers heads of ministries and departments were invited to participate in the session. Turkmenistan co-organizes and participates in events promoting democratic principles, including the European Union (EU)–Central Asia Rule of Law Platform. As part of this initiative, in April 2016 the Turkmen government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and EU representatives organized a seminar on civil society development in Turkmenistan. To guarantee people’s political rights and freedoms, the Turkmen government claimed to follow a step-by-step process of establishing governmental and public institutions. “The analysis of tendencies of current world development, place and role of our country in it, proves correctness of the course selected by us to develop wide and full-scale international cooperation of Turkmenistan, its active involvement into mainstream processes of the present- in politics, economy, trade, in information, culture, science- education, social and other spheres.” said Berdimuhamedov.

Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in July 2018.

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Amna Malik
About Amna Malik 44 Articles
Author is the President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’.