TURKMENISTAN’S BALANCING ACT.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 137
Turkmenistan’s government has agreed to at least maintain and possibly increase, the flow of gas supplies to Ukraine in 1996 and to lower the price for gas, despite Ukrainian arrears for past deliveries. In negotiations with Ukrainian first deputy prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko in Ashgabat, Turkmen leaders also agreed to waive payment in hard currency or currency-earning goods for part of the gas, accepting instead Ukrainian participation in investment projects in Turkmenistan in partial payment. Ukraine for its part has agreed to train 200 Turkmen military cadets in Ukrainian military academies, with the cost of training to be defrayed from the gas bill. (19)
In parallel with this agreement, Turkmen president Saparmurad Niyazov and Russian Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev have agreed to found a joint Turkmen-Russian company for the purpose of exploring, extracting, and marketing gas from the right bank of the Amu Darya River, and in a second stage, from Turkmenistan’s Caspian shelf. Vyakhirev claimed that the company, Turkmenrosgaz, will control 100 percent of Turkmenistan’s gas exports to CIS countries. (20)
The agreements cumulatively reflect Turkmenistan’s geopolitical and economic predicament, Ukraine’s effort to escape one-sided energy dependence on Russia, and Russia’s attempts to maintain control over Central Asian mineral resources and exports. Turkmenistan possesses the world’s third-largest gas deposits, but lacks the means to develop them. Its gas exports are declining because of lack of access to international markets and exclusive dependence on Russia’s pipeline network. International projects that could break that stranglehold are being resisted by Moscow and delayed by reluctance in some Western countries to use the Iran route.
Summit Again Postponed.