Turkmenistan. Since 1993, access to gas, electricity and
water has been free in the country, and in 1996 access to
flour and bread was also free.
Countryaah.com, Turkmenistan has been a member of the Partnership for
Peace since 1994. Defense spending for 1996 was estimated at
25 billion Turkmen manas. This represented 9.1% of the
country's total budget.
The earlier plans, together with Turkey, made plans to
transport Turkmen natural gas, the country's main export
product, via Iran to Western Europe were still valid in
Niyázov was re-elected in June 1992 with 99.5% of the
vote. In 1993, the country signed a series of trade
agreements with Russia, and without distancing itself from
that country, it made closer ties with Iran - ia. through
the building of an Ashkhabad-Tehran railway line.
Furthermore, the United States was given the status of "most
favored trading partner".
In a January 1994 referendum, Niyázov was de-facto once
again re-elected as president. This time with 99.9% of the
vote. The president continued his confrontation policy
towards the opposition, prompting several opposition leaders
to seek asylum in Moscow.
In January 1995, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan
and Russia signed an oil pipeline financing agreement to
enable Turkmenistan to export its natural gas to Western
Europe through Iran and Turkey.
Despite attempts to restrict the opening of relations
with Iran and the "balanced" policy of relations with
Moscow, Russia was still worried about the Turkmenistan-Iran
Russian observers estimated that the demonstrations
against the Turkmen president in July 1995 - in which 3-500
people protested against the dictatorship - were organized
with the support of Moscow.
In December 1997, the first oil pipeline was opened
between Turkmenistan and Iran, through which Turkish oil and
gas were exported to the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.
However, it also forced the country to negotiate with the
United States to avoid sanctions that the United States has
otherwise imposed on companies, subsidiaries or individuals
investing more than $ 40 million annually in Iran's oil and
Niyázov announced in February 1998 that a meeting with
senior officials would be held in May with a view to
transferring more power to parliament. It was predominantly
perceived as a gesture prior to the meeting with US
President Bill Clinton. Following his visit to Washington in
April, Niyázov stated that discussions on constitutional
amendments would not take place until after the December
1999 parliamentary elections.
The ruling Democratic Party was the only one allowed to
stand for parliamentary elections in December 1999. This was
the reason why the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE) withdrew its bid to monitor the election.
the government replied that in almost all constituencies 2
or more candidates had been appointed. After the election -
where the turnout was 95% - Parliament nominated Niyázov as
president for life. However, he declared that he will resign
when he turns 70 in 2010. Parliament also passed a law
abolishing the death penalty. Turkmenistan thus became the
first country among the 5 former Soviet republics in Asia to
abolish the death penalty. In February 2000, the OSCE
criticized the detention of opposition activists, who were
subsequently sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Niyázov decided not to attend a summit for the
Turkish-speaking countries in Asia in Azerbaijan in April
2000. Participants were Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The summit was seen as an
expression of rapprochement among these countries, but
because of disagreements with Azerbaidjan on the extension
of the Caspian Sea oil pipeline, the Turkmen President did
not want to participate.
In October, Niyázov declared that the country will not
privatize the oil and gas industry within the following
10-15, and at the same time indicated that this industry
will remain a turning point in the country's economy.
Turkmenistan halted gas supplies to Russia in early 2001 due
to price disagreement. However, deliveries resumed in
February when the country agreed to supply 10,000 million
cubic meters of gas to the Russian company Itera. The price
was set at US $ 40 per cubic meters that Turkmenistan had