Turkmen Foreign Ministry Blasts Russia for Spinning Energy Talks
A week after President Dmitry Medvedev's visited Ashgabat and Russian media gave a positive spin to his talks about the Turkmen-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry has lashed out against Moscow's upbeat claims about the meeting.
According to a report from turkmenistan.ru, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement October 28, denying the Kremlin's version of the story of meetings between President Medvedev and President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov October 21-22. Ashgabat makes it clear in the frosty rebuttal that it has not endorsed Russia's participation in TAPI at all, and that any outside funders or contractors would be selected by the TAPI parties as a group.
Although Russian media portrayed both the Russia and Turkmen leaders agreeing to freeze the Prikaspiisky pipeline due to the current downturn in European demand, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry seems to take exception to this stark characterization, saying that Turkmenistan had already built its part of the pipeline -- and indicating that "apparently Russia does not wish to fulfill its commitments."
The Foreign Ministry's statement also addressed Russian Deputy Vice Premier Igor Sechin's dismissal of the Nabucco project as unworkable, and indicated that Ashgabat would pick and chose its partners and projects, including with Europe, as it pleased.
In particular, with reference to official persons of the Russian Federation, [the media] speaks about some "freezing" of the Prikaspiisky pipeline project, as well as a lack of prospects for Turkmenistan in cooperation in the Europe-oriented gas sector. At the same time, claims are made about the readiness of the Russian companies to "hook up" with implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project.
In this regard, the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenist states that such information has no basis. Moreover, statements cited in publications are viewed in Turkmenistan as an attempt to interfere with the normal course of international cooperation of our country in the energy field and to place in doubt its obligations to its partners.
Turkmenistan is developing ties with Europe not for the first year and quite effectively. Turkmenistan has concluded a number of agreements with major European companies which have shown themselves to be reliable, conscientious and predictable partners, including in the energy sphere. Such cooperation appears to be grounded and in keeping with economic and commercial logic. For Turkmenistan it is even more relevant under conditions where Russia has lowered the volumes of its purchase of Turkmen natural gas. Therefore, in compliance with the standards of international law on on a mutually profitable basis, Turkmenistan will go on increasing the European vector in its energy policy and will independently decide matters about its choice of partners.
The Ministry added that "no agreements exist" regarding possible Russian participation in TAPI and characterized the effort to question Turkmenistan's other partnerships with "statements in the media unconfirmed by facts" as "counterproductive". Turkmenistan urged Russia henceforth to be guided be "a sense of responsibility and realism" in its statements.
While the stinging rebuttal of Russia is obvious, what isn't as clear is what the Turkmen government *does* support now, other than TAPI. President Berdymukhamedov is said to have warmed to Nabucco, and he has mentioned the project positively in recent months, but Nabucco partners don't seem to be expecting him to participate anymore.
According to UPI, Islamabad today gave the green light for TAPI saying it was "vital for Pakistan to approve the multilateral pipeline from Turkmenistan to stave off an energy crisis in the country," Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper reports.