On March 25th, in the Kremlin the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev met his Turkmenian colleague Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. During the meeting the Presidents signed more than a dozen of documents. However, the most important document was not in the list – the agreement on the construction of Trans-Turkmenian gas pipeline East-West, that was planned to connect North-East gas fields of Turkmenistan with the Caspian, along which it is planned to lay the Caspian gas pipeline that is intensively lobbied by Russian. This document should have become the main achievement of the Russia-Turkmenistan summit. However, after negotiations no one from Russian Delegation wanted to explain, why the agreement hadn’t been concluded.
At the same time Turkmenian Party was 100% satisfied with the meeting in the Kremlin. Great diplomatic victory on the opposite field of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow was the declaration of Moscow that it will support the international conference for energy carriers transportation security to be held in Ashgabad. Turkmenistan has developed the idea of the convention on international and legal guarantees of pipelines operation for a long time. Earlier this was absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, as these guarantees would likely establish control over the pipelines performed by non-regional Parties, and first of all by the West.
Mr. Berdimuhamedow can consider as a personal merit the fact that the Turkmenian Conference that is in its essence a step to the convention so strongly rejected by Russia, has gained the approval of Moscow.
Fedor Lukjanov: “The collapse of the agreement with Turkmenistan on the East-West gas pipeline was due to the political bargaining of Berdimuhamedow with Russia and West for greater political and economic dividends.”
The failure to conclude the agreement with Turkmenistan on the East-West gas pipeline is mainly caused due to political reasons, rather than economic difficulties of Russia. Since the moment of Government change and specific international “defrost” Turkmenistan has been highly demanded, especially by the European Union. And Turkmenistan Government doesn’t really strive to choose in order not to lose the most political benefit, i.e. it bewares to sell its potential too cheap.
In general, from geopolitical point of view, Turkmenistan would benefit if finds the way to the market beyond Russia. This would break the overwhelming dependence of the country.
The breakthrough within agreements on Caspian gas pipeline, reached two years ago, has failed to develop. The USA and the EU are actively persuading Turkmenistan to become their ally, omitting the human rights and democracy issues. This kind of contest to gain the influence over Turkmenistan incites its Government to bargain with this or that Party.
Fedor Lukjanov - Editor-in-Chief of the magazine “Rossija v Globalnoy Politike” (“Russia within Global Policy”)