Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow expressed his country’s willingness to strengthen the partnership with Russia in the field of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea.
“Turkmenistan attaches particular importance to the digitization of the oil and gas sector, the introduction of innovative environmentally friendly technologies, as well as the latest achievements of scientific and technical progress,” said Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, during a meeting with the guest chef. by Russian Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov, on October 19.
Referring to the “friendly and constructive” character of Turkmen-Russian relations, Berdimuhamedow said Turkmenistan has “always” been open to mutually beneficial cooperation with Russian companies, including in the field of energy.
For his turn, Vagit Alekperov briefed President Berdimuhamedow on the activities of the Lukoil Company in Turkmenistan, including the implementation of projects in the Caspian Sea Basin, and reiterated his interest in further cooperation.
He also affirmed the will of the Russian partners to participate actively in the large-scale sectoral programs carried out in Turkmenistan.
Issues related to the development of hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian region and the establishment of coordinated international relations based on legal standards were also discussed during the meeting.
In recent years, bilateral Turkmenistan-Russia relations have been characterized by a recovery after nearly a decade of crisis between the two states. Former President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, confidently continued the policy of “Turkmenization”, which removed the Russian language from all social areas, including the closure of schools with Russian as the language of instruction, and the ban on subscription to Russian periodicals and distribution of mass media.
The country downgraded its status in the Commonwealth of Independent States to associate member and has shown no interest in becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.
However, outgoing President Berdimuhamedow has made a strategic shift in the direction of the country’s foreign policy, expanding trade and economic cooperation with Russia, mainly in the energy sector, but also in other areas. Turkmenistan and Russia have agreed to build the Caspian Coastal Pipeline with Kazakhstan, which would have increased the volume of Turkmen gas exported to Russia by around 20 to 30 billion cubic meters.
Relations deteriorated in 2016 when Russian company Gazprom halted gas imports from Turkmenistan and filed a lawsuit against Turkmengaz in an international arbitration tribunal in Stockholm for a price in the supply contract.
After the return of Russian Gazprom to Turkmenistan’s energy market in 2019, the two countries have expanded their cooperation. Gazprom withdrew its lawsuit against Turkmengaz in 2019 and resumed gas imports from Turkmenistan by signing a 5-year contract to import up to 5.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year.
In May 2021, Berdimuhamedow approved the new program of economic cooperation between countries for the period 2021-2023, which envisages a further expansion of cooperation in a range of fields, including industry, agriculture, high technology, finance and energy.
On October 1, in an interview with the Russian news agency TASS, Berdimuhamedow described his regular dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “extremely confident, open and still substantial”.
“Relations between Turkmenistan and Russia are those of two strategic partners. And this description says that Turkmen-Russian cooperation is comprehensive, long-term and not sensitive to external conditions,” he said.
“In the economic field, Russia has been among the leaders in terms of foreign trade with Turkmenistan and is one of the main investment partners of our country,” said Berdimuhamedow, quoted by TASS.