Turkmenistan says it has dropped one of the most contentious issues in its relationship with Russia, promising, after leaving them in limbo for 10 years, to grant passports to Turkmen citizens who also hold Russian citizenship.
On June 14, Ashgabat said it will begin issuing passports this week to the 110,000 dual citizens Russia says live in Turkmenistan. Moscow hailed the decision.
The announcement comes seven years after Turkmen authorities started refusing to issue new biometric passports to Turkmen citizens with dual Russian citizenship, saying they had to renounce their Russian citizenship first.
Tens of thousands of Turkmen citizens have dual Russian nationality, in accordance with a December 1993 Turkmen-Russian agreement.
In 2003, Turkmenistan's parliament ratified the document on annulling the dual-citizenship agreement with Russia, which the Russian Duma refused to ratify.
Ashgabat had ratcheted up tentions in late 2012, signaling it would strip Russian citizens of their Turkmen citizenship, thus forcing those who wished to remain Russian citizens to leave Turkmenistan or become stuck without valid travel documents.
It is unclear what prompted the sudden about-face. Several days before the announcement, the Kremlin reiterated that President Vladimir Putin had accepted Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s invitation to visit soon.
Upon disembarking in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s marble-clad capital, photographer Ikuru Kuwajima couldn’t help making comparisons to Astana, the capital of another resource-rich Central Asian nation. “I was mesmerized by the vast districts of marble-coated white buildings and some bizarre futuristic tall buildings springing up around the center of the city.”
This week, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, visited Turkmenistan for talks with his Turkmen counterpart, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, marking yet another of the very frequent high level visits to Turkmenistan by Turkish officials, as Ankara is Ashgabat’s chief trading partner and Turkmenistan the main destin