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"Blue exploration" of German Business

A large group of German businessmen headed by governmental representative on foreign trade, state secretary of the federal ministry of economy and technology, Mr. Axel Gerlach will soon arrive in Turkmenistan. This is the first visit to Turkmenistan of such a representative delegation of big German business for the last few years. German companies till recent time used to limit themselves to participation in one-time short-term projects, and therefore were able to do without political support of its government. This time to all appearances they look far ahead and intend to conduct a "thorough exploration" of opportunities for their involvement in promising projects and first of all in the oil and gas sphere.
German companies have been showing a great interest in cooperation with Turkmenistan in this field for a number of years. In 1997 during a visit to Germany by the President Niyazov and his meetings with representatives of business circles the bosses of German business spoke about their interest to invest in the gas projects, in particular in construction of the export pipelines. The political situation at that moment however in the neighboring Afghanistan (and exactly at that time an afghan rout was already of much interest) was at least unclear and traditionally conservative German business took wait-and-see position. Today situation not only in Afghanistan but also in the world as a whole has changed. Although a visit by the German delegation on the eve of the first meeting of the supervisory committee on realization of Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan pipeline project is just a simple coincidence the fact remains that Germans chosen a good time for discussion with Turkmen side of serious and long-term plans of cooperation.
Of course, the point is not only to "secure a place" in the trans-afghan pipeline project. It goes much further - to begin full-scale and multiple cooperation with Turkmenistan. It is worth reminding that Germany represents a key country of unified Europe and was a staunch defender of its creation over the all last years. That is why any contacts of such a level inevitably have a "European implication". Europe, standing under the common flag, has its own vision of the processes taking place in Central Asia which the least politically engaged in the region Turkmenistan fits more harmoniously. The regional strategy of Ashgabat has always been aiming at removing political barriers for the sake of full-fledged economical partnership. In general such a stance corresponds to European approach to Central Asian's affairs that gives a reason to speak about good perspectives of cooperation and not only in business.

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By Serdar Durdiyev

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