Sergey Lavrov meets with Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has met with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Ashgabat.
He conveyed the warmest wishes on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to him, Russia hopes to develop and strengthen international and bilateral cooperation with Turkmenistan.
"We are interested in coordinating our actions on issues related to the prevention of terrorist threats, drug trafficking and manifestations of organized crime," Lavrov said.
He also noted that the inter-governmental commission for trade-economic cooperation "has started to work actively." Lavrov pointed to qualitative changes, including in the agricultural sphere and medical industry. "We appreciate the attention you pay to humanitarian and cultural relations," the Russian minister said.
"We hope that during the visit we will be able to confirm the trend of progressive development of relations between Russia and Turkmenistan," TASS cited Lavrov as saying.
The Turkmen President, in his turn, said that Ashgabat expects a visit from the Russian President. According to him, there are "a lot of great opportunities and potential" for bilateral ties.
The President pointed out that the establishment of the transport transit corridor with Russia has great potential.
The head of state said that the results of the meeting of the intergovernmental commission in 2015 led to a significant increase in trade turnover between Russia and Turkmenistan, drawing attention to the successful cooperation in such areas as textiles, construction, agriculture and the oil sector.
A senior scientist of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the RAS, Stanislav Pritchin, said in an interview to Vestnik Kavkaza that "the situation in the relations between Moscow and Ashgabat is not easy, because a lot of problems have accumulated on the regional agenda, primarily security issues."
"The whole of last year was full of rumors that there are problems on the Turkmen-Afghan border. And, of course, the issue of instability in Afghanistan is on the agenda in all the Central Asian states. But Turkmenistan occupies a special position. The issues of counteracting the situation in Afghanistan and fighting Daesh are the main ones at this stage," he said.
There are also some difficulties in the energy sector. "Recently, Gazprom withdrew from the contract with Turkmenistan on gas supplies. The problem is that its formula was adopted before the significant decline in gas prices. And when the price in Europe has declined substantially, it just became unprofitable for Gazprom to buy gas," the expert explained.
"Russia has tried to conclude it on different terms. But there is hope that they will be able to achieve some progress, because energy cooperation is very important for both Turkmenistan and Russia," Pritchin said.
According to him, "the Caspian theme, of course, will be on the agenda, because this year we expect a summit at the highest level."
In general, the expert expressed hope that Lavrov's visit to Ashgabat will improve relations between the two countries.
The Director of the Analytical Center of the Institute of International Studies, Andrey Kazantsev, in his turn, said that currently there are certain difficulties in relations between Moscow and Ashgabat. In particular, from time to time, Turkmenistan expresses the view that Russia "inflates a threat to stability in the Central Asian region in order to increase its influence and gain some market share of Turkmen gas."
According to the expert, "Minister Lavrov during his visit to Turkmenistan should solve the complex set of problems." "I think there is an opportunity to resolve the crisis that emerged in relations with Turkmenistan. And Lavrov's visit was prepared largely in connection with the fact that Turkmenistan is ready to cooperate in the field of security, because the threat to its security is growing and the country does not have an opportunity to counter these challenges. So it will be difficult to do it for Turkmenistan without Russian help," Andrei Kazantsev concluded.