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.