Melvin, Neil J. (2006) Turkmenistan's uncertain future. CEPS Commentaries. [Policy Paper]
[From the Introduction]. The sudden death of Saparmurat Niyazov after 21 years of misrule in Turkmenistan represents a challenge for the international community. Under Niyazov, Turkmenistan emerged as one of the world’s major gas suppliers. In recent years Ashgabad has been strongly courted by Russia and China in order to ensure access to Turkmenistan’s vast natural gas reserves. The EU and the US have also shown increasing interest in the country’s energy resources as a means to diversify from dependence on Russia. Given the importance of Turkmenistan as an energy supplier, ensuring stability following Niyazov’s death is a priority. At the same time, the leadership transition in Turkmenistan represents a real opportunity to move beyond the strong-man model of political rule that is prevalent in central Asia and to promote a more pluralistic political order in the country. Such a change would have a much needed positive impact inside Turkmenistan but could also be a stimulus for reform within Central Asia as a whole.
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