Can a deal struck with the EU help the plight of Turkmen – or are we only interested in their country's gas?
EU CENTRAL ASIA STRATEGY
Considering the rapprochement of Russia and Uzbekistan observed in the middle of the first decade of the ХХIst century, the number of Russian companies, and first of all Gazprom and LUKOIL, managed to become leaders within Uzbekistani oil and gas industry and to “book” a number of biggest gas fields in the Republic being supported by the Government of the Russian Federation.
Gazprom and Rosneft are accelerating exploration efforts in Central Asian onshore projects. Their experience may show that interesting opportunities exist away from the Caspian Sea oil and gas fields, where most of the business focuses on.
White Stream, the proposed gas pipeline from Georgia to Romania on the seabed of the Black Sea, is intended to maximize European gas imports from Central Asia through the E.U.-initiated Southern Corridor. The Corridor grand design spans Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and –with White Stream– also a maritime route to European Union territory via the Black Sea. At its other end, the Southern Corridor is premised on a trans-Caspian link to Turkmenistan for massive European imports of Central Asian gas.
George Krol, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs with VOA TV Uzbek Service – Navbahor Imamova.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington Thursday, with a raft of issues on the agenda. The fate of German carmaker Opel is Germany's biggest concern.
Angela Merkel accepted a rare invitation and addressed the US Congress to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The German chancellor made it clear that climate change is a top priority.
With the war in Afghanistan drawing international attention, the Kyrgyz Republic and other Central Asian countries seem to have fallen off of the American agenda. During his diplomatic visit to the United States, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbaev spoke at the Carnegie Endowment about the need to revamp Kyrgyz-US relations. In particular, he stressed that many of the problems plaguing Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan are in fact regional problems, and that multilateral negotiations and mutual concessions can help find solutions to these problems.
Kyrgyzstan’s growing list of troubles has recently been further complicated by yet another predicament. Tashkent has announced that Uzbekistan is likely to leave the Central Asian power supply cascade in the coming months. According to Tashkent’s official interpretation, Uzbekistan can now provide its population with enough locally generated electricity and does not need to be part of the network created during the Soviet period. This means that Kyrgyzstan’s south and parts of Tajikistan will experience severe electricity shortages due to the break in regional cycles.
The European Union appears poised to lift its four-year arms embargo against Uzbekistan. EU officials say strategic necessity is exerting pressure on Brussels to fully engage Tashkent. Critics, however, contend that by compromising on principles, the European Union is sacrificing long-term interests for immediate, but likely fleeting gains.