Turkmen President Saparmurat Niazov heard encouraging progress reports yesterday in Ashgabat from Yosi Maiman, chairman of the Israeli company Merhav, and Ahmet Calyk, head of the Turkish conglomerate Calyk Group, on the trans-Caspian pipeline project. The Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey pipeline would provide the first major export route for Caspian gas to bypass Russia. Merhav is responsible for putting together the building consortium, led by the PSG partnership of the Bechtel and General Electric companies of the United States. The Calyk Group is responsible for the accompanying commercial agreements covering Turkish purchases and transit of Turkmen gas. Maiman and Calyk reported that the commercial agreements will be ready for signing as early as May 30 with the Turkish state pipeline Botas, and that the composition of the building consortium should be finalized by the same date.
Israel’s Maiman is a key official adviser to Niazov, and his Merhav company is empowered to mediate Turkmenistan’s oil and gas deals with Western partners. Turkey’s Calyk also holds a senior government post in Turkmenistan and is a major investor in the country’s fast-growing textile industry, based on local cotton. He heads the export-oriented GAP-Turkmen denim factory, ranked as the largest textile plant in Central Asia, and is currently building another plant in Turkmenistan with a Japanese state credit (Radio Ashgabat, April 13; see also the Monitor, February 23, March 15; Fortnight in Review, February 26).
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