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06 11 21 - peace reporting Turkic States Unlikely to Forge Energy Union
wpr: Turkic States Unlikely to Forge Energy Union for war and peace reporting Turkic States Unlikely to Forge Energy Union 21-Nov-06 ( From Annette M. USA)

Although a proposal to establish an economic and energy union was floated at the recent summit of Turkic states, NBCentralAsia analysts say it is unlikely such a grouping could be founded merely on the basis of linguistic similarities. A cultural and political grouping of Turkic countries seems a more realistic prospect. At a November 17 meeting in the Turkish town of Antalya, heads of state of the Turkic countries – Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – were due to discuss energy resources and ways of using these in pursuit of common geopolitical aims. In the event, neither Uzbek president Islam Karimov nor his Turkmen counterpart Saparmyrat Niazov turned up, and in the absence of leaders of these gas-rich states, participants focused on other matters such as a proposed rail corridor, an inter-parliamentary assembly for the Turkic grouping, and a “council of elders” which would bring together eminent public public figures from these countries. NBCentralAsia analysts say Turkey offers a viable export route for Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to get their oil and gas to market. But forging an energy union where admittance is based on Turkic-language ties looks less than feasible. Asylbek Kojakhmetov, a Kazakstan-based political scientist, told NBCentralAsia, “If [a country] has no energy resources of its own and want to buy them, it makes no economic sense to offer it a special deal solely on the grounds that it is linguistically Turkic.” For this reason, Kojakhmetov is doubts an economic association has much chance of success, although a union based on shared history and culture could work. Although Central Asian expert Mars Sariev believes a Turkic energy union could help some members, particularly Turkmenistan, free themselves from dependence on Russia as an export route, he argues that most of the countries involved would not seek open confrontation with Moscow on political or energy matters. Nor will Moscow allow such a grouping to emerge. “Russian leaders realise that creating a powerful Turkic economic union would encourage centrifugal forces within Russia itself, leading to the collapse of the state. Moscow will use every form of leverage to derail this project, and will most probably succeed in doing so,” said Sariev. Leading Kazak economist Oraz Jandosov says the only realistic energy projects that could unite Turkic countries would involve exports from Kazakstan and Turkmenistan via Azerbaijan and Turkey, while Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan would play virtually no role. “Agreements and treaties can be signed to make this kind of arrangement work,” he said. “But it will be difficult for the Turkic countries to tackle other economic matters.” (News Briefing Central Asia draws comment and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region.)


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