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Turkmen, Turkish Presidents Sign Cooperation Agreements

By Nigar Bayramli October 30, 2023

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Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedow signed cooperation agreements with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and discussed energy cooperation on October 26, 2022, during his two-day official visit to Ankara. / TRT Haber

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Turkmen counterpart Serdar Berdimuhamedow have signed cooperation agreements and discussed energy cooperation.

“We made agreements in 13 areas. Turkmenistan is among the biggest countries in the world in terms of energy resources. Turkmenistan natural gas has gained strategic value. We attach importance to energy security steps thanks to cooperation mechanisms,” President Erdogan said at a news conference after meeting in Ankara on October 26, according to the Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber.

The two sides inked cooperation deals covering various sectors, including transportation, trade, information technology, small to medium-sized enterprises, the environment, climate change, media, and education.

Erdogan proposed that Turkmenistan transition from an observer state to a “full member” of the Organization of Turkic States, a status it has held since 2021.

During the opening ceremony of the Turkmen-Turkish business forum in Ankara, held as part of his two-day official visit to Türkiye, President Berdimuhamedow called for increased cooperation on joint projects, particularly in the energy sector. He urged Turkish investors to consider partnering with Turkmenistan in this sector.

“Energy plays a huge role in bilateral relations. We are speaking about sending Turkmen energy resources, specifically electricity and natural gas, to Türkiye,” Turkmenistan Today quoted Berdimuhamedow as saying.

“We invite Turkish business circles to our country to work together on the above-mentioned projects, especially on the concept of ‘Ashgabat-City,’ which will be built based on the principles of a modern ‘smart city,’ and on the industrial cluster that will be built in the city of Arkadag,” he added.

The Turkmen president further suggested establishing a joint investment fund and a working group for investments, encouraging leading Turkish banks “to explore the possibility of opening branches” in Turkmenistan “to facilitate financial operations of Turkish investors and industrialists in the country.”

Berdimuhamedow also proposed the creation of a joint transport and logistics center to enhance cooperation and coordination in this field, involving relevant government sectors and private transport and logistics companies.

He further urged Türkiye to establish partnerships in agriculture and water resource management, emphasizing the potential for increased agricultural production, improved seed selection, and the adoption of new technological advancements through collaboration with Türkiye.

Addressing the topic of climate change and the rational utilization of water resources, Berdimuhamedow highlighted specific projects, including “the reconstruction and expansion of the infrastructure of the Karakum River’s bed and canals.

“We would like to express our readiness for close cooperation with specialized Turkish companies in these areas as well,” he added.

In recent months, Türkiye has expanded its political and economic influence in Central Asia, filling the void left by Russia’s declining regional presence. Türkiye’s historical, cultural, and economic ties with Turkic states in the region have facilitated this growing influence.

Türkiye’s pursuit of greater influence in this region has been encouraged by the diminishing dominance of Moscow, particularly following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Central Asian countries are actively seeking diversification away from dependence on Russia and exploring political, economic, and infrastructure partnerships with alternative partners.

Turkmenistan, as one of the world’s most energy-rich nations, possesses substantial oil and natural gas reserves. It ranks fourth globally in terms of proven gas reserves, following Russia, Iran, and Qatar. Currently, Turkmenistan mainly exports gas to China and Russia.

A Turkmen deputy prime minister affirmed in November 2022 that his country remains committed to the TransCaspian pipeline project, aiming to transport Turkmen gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. The project envisions supplying up to 30 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas annually through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Türkiye to the European market, with a duration of at least 30 years.