Reviews

The author of this rare monograph on present-day Turkmenistan provides us with a precious and detailed insight into the foreign policy of one of the most isolated and reclusive country in the world. Starting with a brief overview of the country’s historical background, the author rapidly focuses on the contemporary reality of a society that has remained closed to the world even after 1991. The author rightly points out that since gas and oil fields have been discovered there in 1998, while global prospects were already pessimistic about the running out of the world’s oil reserves, Turkmenistan has become of energetic and strategic importance to the regional and world economic powers. This only fact arouses interest in the nature and functioning of the regime set up by Saparmurat Niiazov, alias Turkmenbashi, in the 1990s. The central principle of international neutrality, inscribed in the Constitution and recognised by the UN, has served as the legal front for an authoritarian dictatorship based on the personality cult of the President. The author has dedicated a large part of his work to a comparison between the respective international policies of Turkmenbashi and of his successor Kurbanguli Berdimuhammedov. Differences between the two appear rather superficial, the latter ensuring the continuation of the policy designed by his predecessor. Of course, since his accession Berdimuhammedov has been travelling more (he went to Brussels and New-York) and giving illusion that he would be more open, but in the end he proves not to have the neither the wish nor the courage to change the innermost nature of the regime and its unchanged internal and external policies. Nonetheless this survey constitutes a rare material to help us understand the future of this too isolated country. It also usefully sheds light on Turkmenistan’s external policy towards Central Asia as well as most remote regional powers like Russia, China or Turkey.

Bayram Balci, French Institute of Central Asian Studies, Tashkent
CER: II-7.4.F-672