While Niyazov surrounded himself with several Turkish consultants and Turkish construction companies were assigned numerous of the most lucrative construction contracts, Berdimuhamedow repeatedly showed reluctance to work with Turkish companies. His statements suggest strong reservations about Turkish companies and workers. Since Berdimuhamedov came to power, little progress has been made in Turkish-Turkmenistan relations. At the same time, Turkish citizens are still among the few who can travel to Turkmenistan without a visa, while, conversely, a visit to Turkey is also possible for Turkmenistan without obtaining a Turkish entry visa.
Of growing importance are relations with China, which is now the largest purchaser has become for Turkmenistan natural gas and had to make the construction of such pipelines at its own expense and by its own workers. This corresponds to the general growing interest of China in the Central Asia region and, conversely, the region’s interest in China. The most visible sign of this interest is the Chinese ” Belt and Road ” initiative, in which Turkmenistan is also involved.
Russia, on the other hand, is continuously losing influence. In addition, the relationship is strained by differences over the dual citizenship of Turkmenistan of Russian origin and their discrimination in everyday life in Turkmenistan. Against the background of the growing influence of China, the Russian government is actively trying to make up lost ground and to keep Turkmenistan as an implicit part of the Russian backyard in Central Asia for reasons of national security. Evidence of this is the upgrading of relations initiated by Russia to the level of the ” strategic partnership ” in 2017. At the same time, Russia is showing the Turkmenistan government with sometimes clear tones the limits of freedom of action within such a partnership. In line with Turkmen’s interests in improving relations with Russia, the Turkmenistan government has so far not drawn any conclusions from such reproaches, although government spokesmen usually harshly reject statements that are perceived as interference by third parties in internal Turkmenistan affairs.
EU and USA
Relations with the EU and the USA are overshadowed by their criticism of the human rights situation and deep mutual distrust. The EU regularly criticizes the Turkmenistan policy of ” enforced disappearances “. Just as Turkmenistan keeps out of the internal affairs of other states, it expects in return at least the tolerance of its own domestic political procedures without comment. On this basis, an honest dialogue has so far been challenging.
At the same time, the US is using Turkmenistan’s strategic location for special operations in Afghanistan and as an outpost in its policy towards Iran. A is discharged from the EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement is since 1998, although signed, but still unratifiziert on ice. According to the European Parliament, the reason for this is the further deterioration in the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.
According to the HRH’s answer for Foreign and Security Policy of the European Commission, Cathrine Ashton, in response to a request from the European Parliament in this regard, the EU’s cooperation with Turkmenistan in the important areas of human rights, democratization and the rule of law can only be initiated after the partnership and Cooperation agreement can be significantly improved. The applicable legal basis for relations with Turkmenistan is the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. It lacks any reference to human rights. With this in mind, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will not only create a solid legal basis for developing our relations and a solid framework for bilateral dialogue,
The bilateral political relations between Germany and Turkmenistan are just as expandable as the economic relations between the two countries. The cultural exchange can also still be expanded. An indication of this is the funding from the DAAD, which supported a total of 4 Germans during their stay in Turkmenistan in 2018 and 53 Turkmenistan during their stay in Germany (for comparison: Kyrgyzstan 96 and 439; Kazakhstan 173 and 716).