Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 104

Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov plans to proclaim his country neutral, and a zone of peace, in his upcoming address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Describing neutral status as the external counterpart to internal stability, Niyazov says that Turkmenistan does not wish to become a "juicy chunk" to others. Niyazov underscores that his country has stayed out of military conflicts nearby (i.e.Tajikistan and Afghanistan) and would not join any alliance or bloc. And he expects neutrality to be buttressed by both regional and "transcontinental" cooperation (i.e. export pipeline projects). (15)

The timing and forum Niyazov has chosen to proclaim his country’s neutrality suggest that this is a response to Boris Yeltsin’s September 9 and subsequent statements about forming a military alliance of ex-Soviet republics. "Zone of peace" (in the Soviet/Russian terminology still often used by post-Soviet countries’ elites) usually connotes an area out of bounds to foreign troops and bases, and in some cases neutralized under international guarantees. Turkmenistan also intends to create a national army and has contacted Ukraine for military assistance, as Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov said in an initial Turkmen response to Yeltsin’s statement.

Government Bloc Leaders Urge Reintegration of Ex-Soviet Countries.