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Even for Favored Turks, Turkmenistan a Risky Investment

Construction of new government buildings continues behind a golden statue of Saparmurat Niyazov and Turkmenistan's Supreme Assembly in the capital Ashgabat in November 2010. Turkish companies have invested tens of billions of dollars in Turkmenistan, much of it in construction projects. (Photo: David Trilling)

Entrepreneurs from Turkey have enjoyed success in Turkmenistan, a market known mostly for natural gas rents and megalomaniacal vanity projects. But for all of their past business achievements, a growing number of Turkish investors are experiencing trouble in Ashgabat’s notoriously fickle business climate.
 
The preeminence of Turkish firms in Turkmenistan’s construction sector is highlighted by the Avaza project, a lavish $5-billion showpiece resort on the Caspian Sea built largely by Turkish contractors. Close by is the seaport of Turkmenbashi, where the Turkish firm Calik Holding began a $1.5-billion renovation in 2013. According to leaked US Embassy cables, Turkmenistan’s mercurial first president, Saparmurat Niyazov, treated the group’s chairman, Ahmet Calik, “like a son” and gave him citizenship.
 

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Chris Rickleton is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.

Even for Favored Turks, Turkmenistan a Risky Investment

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