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Saparmurat Niyazov: "We Have Sold Fundamental Issues"

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SAPARMURAT TURKMENBASHY THE GREAT (1940-2006)

Excerpts from the speech of President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov at the session of the People's Council

ON TRADITIONS OF THE KHALK MASLAKHATI AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

«It has been a tradition since the ancient times, from the time of our parent Oguzkhan, to gather elders, respected people, military officials and state officials and to hold a council. When we became independent we also started holding councils in the same way as our ancestors. Today 2,507 people are attending this event as members of the council. There are also 200 guests - foreign diplomats working in Turkmenistan, people from Turkey and other countries working in Turkmenistan and journalists. Some of the members of the World Turkmen Association have also shown the willingness to attend the council and we have invited them too. In total, 2,703 people are here in this hall. But the number of permanent members of the People's Council will be 2,507 people, including all state leaders, members of the Mejlis, people's representatives, leaders of the clergy, heads of all enterprises working in Turkmenistan, and heads of parties, labor unions and associations. All of them constitute the People's Council...

...The People's Council is to become the supreme body in Turkmenistan. We will give more powers and duties to the People's Council. It incorporated all strata of the Turkmen society. The main participants are the elders. They have lived through both good and bad days, and they can discriminate between bad and good things from their own experience. On the other hand there are state officials - from the president to village heads - among members of the People's Council. Turkmenistan is the presidential state. All parties will be included in the Council too. We have just one party now, but newly-formed parties will also be able to become members of the People's Council. The country's president can be voted out of office by the present People's Council with a two third majority. It has the right to put it to vote, or call a referendum to resolve some issues.

...Those who betrayed Motherland should be declared parricides. Everything can happen but parricides cannot be pardoned. They have to be called to account and sentenced to life imprisonment. That is why we have amended the Constitution. And the second issue... The People's Council has to branch out both in the velayats (region) and etraps (districts). It is necessary in order to quickly remove an imminent threat. The People’s Councils of the etraps and velayats should urgently convene the People's Council of the state. It has to be lawful and not infringing on the people's rights.

We will change state leaders and hold elections. If everything goes as planned we will hold presidential elections too. We will discuss this issue at a session of the People's Council sometime in 2005-2006. There is nothing permanent on earth, and so let presidents be replaced, too. Never should the fate of an entire nation depend on a single person. Otherwise there will be fears as to who will be the next president and will he be able to take over the responsibility. Therefore let every one work in set periods of time. There are good fellows and let them make preparations. We will make an announcement about elections when we discuss this issue in 2006-2007. According to our Constitution the age of incumbent President is limited to 70 years. We should not believe the one saying that he will be good President the period after 70...»

ON THE ATTEMPT OF COUP D'ETAT

«It is being done so that the events of November 25 never happen again. Terrorists from other states were trained and equipped to destroy our state. These are 6 mercenaries from Turkey, 3 - from Russia, 1 - from the USA and some - from a number of countries. They acted together with rotten Turkmen accused of theft and living outside the Motherland. They aimed at overturning the Turkmen state. But first, they had to kill the President. Some 20 armed men, wearing masks, our run-away thieves wishing unrest, and foreigners had to seize the Mejlis. The third group armed with automats and other weapons had to seize the TV and Radio stations. After killing the President they wanted to force the Mejlis to dismiss the People's Council. They wanted to give the Mejlis a right to form a provisional government. Shikhmuradov was to become the head of government, and Khanamov, the run-away thief and former Central Bank chief Orazov, the wicked Yklymovs were to become members of that government. They had decided to come to power in Turkmenistan. They were puppets in the hands of those states that helped them. What were the terms of granting them assistance? It was already defined what part of the Turkmen riches would go as payment for help. My poem describes it as Turkmen «being cut» by Turkmen. I say it sincerely. Turkmen are brave people, but they have never been a puppet in somebody's hands. Turkmen are patient. It has been only 12 years that Turkmenistan lived independently. And all this time Turkmenistan has lived in peace and friendship with its neighbors. Turkmenistan got a status of permanent neutrality in the United Nations. It has imposed a new duty on us and gave us new rights. And, nevertheless, those wicked managed to get passports in European states and they travel in Europe and the USA. Two years have passed since we started sending official documents to all countries that those people are the criminals, peculators and state property embezzlers. But they did not pay attention to it and covered them, manipulated them and pursued their own goals. Why am I telling this? Because we have slept all this time. We got self-complacent. We were saying that our people are united, and there are no such hard-working people like us in the world. We don't infringe on the rights of other peoples and ethnicities in our country be it Russians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tatars. They all have the same rights as Turkmen. But still, there are talks that Turkmen infringe on the rights of Russians. It comes not from here but from outside. Bad intensions are behind it. It is a test for our unity. Will our people be a puppet in alien hands or will they make a right choice? This is the question. And the huge national resources of our country are the reason of raising such question. By average estimates Turkmenistan has the biggest oil and gas reserves per capita...

We, Turkmen, don't argue with other peoples, and we are not going to do so. We have good relations with our neighbors. We take no offence at those who train and cover such people. We will strengthen our unity. We will create such conditions that there is no chance for enemies to emerge in the society...

Many of terrorists got life imprisonment and serve their term. They are singing nightingale songs and giving testimonies now. When you listen to them you understand as to why ancient Turkmen had decayed and why they had split up, why they had built a bridge over dried out river. One has to stand the test of being well and rich but they could not make it.

We must not let a few puppets guided from abroad destroy the state that we were so eager to build. We have to be vigilant. There are tensions in the world. Every state has its national interests. By making them happen they could lay an eye on our natural resources or be interested in the geopolitical location. That is why one should be vigilant even in today's peaceful time. This doesn't mean that we have to hustle and impose distrust. Our main task is keep peace in Turkmenistan. We have no other task. We ourselves do not want to depend on someone and bring down others. If everything is normal, the Turkmen state will develop and achieve great successes».

ON RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS

«International problems, religious issues, issues of interstate relations sometimes lead to tension and conflicts. We have no problems with neighbors as regards those issues.

We thank Iranian people; we have good relations with them. We have trade relations with them and respect each other. And the Turkmen living there have taken a new lease of life. There is no point in prosperity if one cannot get along with its neighbor.

We have very good relations with Afghanistan and its leaders.

We also highly estimate and respect the Uzbek nation. It was not the fault of the Uzbek nation that its executives let terrorist Shikhmuradov come to Turkmenistan. We have held many talks so that it never happens again. We have lived with Uzbekistan as neighbors for many years. We will still respect the Uzbek nation in future even if its leadership commits bad deeds. A year ago we offered to organize a petrol trade at the official border checkpoints. They have problems with petrol products and people could buy it. But they did not support the idea that time, and now there were cases of people from their side crossing the border to our side to buy petrol. We also have dishonest people who take petrol to sell it there at the price as much as three time in order to make extra five manats. At the time when everything is in abundance in Turkmenistan, Turkmen should not do that. As a whole, Turkmen-Uzbek relations will be taken to the more high level.

We have no disagreement with Kazakhstan either. There are no problems with any of our neighbors.

We have diplomatic relations with 123 countries. There are 23 foreign embassies accredited to Ashgabat. Turkmenistan is a member of over 40 international organizations. Thirteen representatives of international organizations work in Asgabat. We want the UN authority to steadily grow and the UN role in resolving conflicts to enhance. We are supporters of resolving all problems by peaceful means. And if a conflict is very complicated the UN should be given a right to settle it. We suggest that the majority of the UN member-states should solve all conflicts. On September 25, the next UN session starts its work. I have received two invitations from the UN Secretary-general. There will be considered measures, including this issue, on enhancing the UN authority in international affairs. Turkmenistan has no unsettled problems with any countries. We don't ask anything from others and have no debts.

We will continue developing the fraternal relations with Russia. Russia is a great country. We have signed the agreement with Russia on gas sale for 25 years. We have to sell them 2 trillion cub.m. of gas over this period. It has already been defined where and how much we would sell for 25 years. We have undertaken to sell 80-100 billion cub.m. of gas to Russia annually. The average price of 100 billion cub.m. is $10-12 billion. The fate of Turkmen is predefined. There will be no poverty, no hunger. We will be selling 250 billion cub.m. of gas to Ukraine until 2007. It is a tremendous wealth, and it should belong to the people.

Some people say that Russians live poor lives in Turkmenistan. But those who say it have evil intentions. If Russia wants, we can invite even more Russian citizens to work here. We are not against them living or working here. However, let them abide by our laws because the times are different now. As you may have read in yesterday's newspapers Turkmenistan is home to some 6.07m people and 94.7 per cent of them are Turkmen. There are also 121,000 Uzbeks and 109,000 Russians. About 2 per cent are Kazakhs, Tatars and other nationalities. Therefore we have just around 5 per cent of other ethnic groups. We will never discriminate against them in anything - their language, religion ceremonies and traditions. Let them work and feel free in Turkmenistan. We will not treat them differently. However, all of us are equal before the law. And now there is the Turkmen state. The Turkmen nation is growing stronger, reviving the Turkmen traditions, developing schools and higher education institutions. It is being practiced in the world and is natural. We have no disagreements with other states. We will live and develop building on the neutral policy».

ON THE PROGRAM OF STATE DEVELOPMENT UNTIL 2020

«One thing I want to underline is that Turkmenistan is going its own way. Turkmenistan doesn't copy any model. The policy of Turkmenistan pursues well being of our people. If well being of people is getting worth we regard it as the state policy failure. After gaining independence our main preoccupation were people, their health and good standards of living, well being of people in villages and cities. All that things provide well being and unity in the country as a whole in the long run. To achieve those goals we needed to work honestly and righteously. We needed to set up conditions for working people. Words were not enough. What did we have to start with? We knew that there was not a single presentable factory in the country from the Soviet time. We produced millions of tons of cotton but we did not have a single presentable textile factory. We produced tens of millions tons of oil but did not have a normal oil refinery. In the Soviet time we sent 90 billion cub.m. of gas outside but could not imagine processing it in place of extraction... We put the questions in a different manner after gaining independence. We were the owners of oil, gas, cotton and other resources and the only question remained as to how to use it in the interest of people. There was no outlet to the world markets. Then we gathered and decided to build processing industry. We used to process only 3% of cotton here before. We had only one textile factory. There was one plant in Ashgabat. Now that 12 years have passed we have as many textile enterprises as needed and process 40% of Turkmen cotton. We produce various types of yarn from cotton; make ready to wear clothes and other stuff. These products are on demand in the world market. I want to raise one issue here. We have to build a textile complex in every cotton growing etrap until 2015. Sow the fields, harvest cotton, take seeds, if you want, sell this cotton yourself. It is not a problem. Each etrap should have a ginnery, a factory on yarn production, on fabric coloring, clothes making. We have 60 etraps. 50 of them grow cotton. 4 factories in each of them will give 3-4 thousand jobs. To multiply 50 by 4 we will have 200 000 jobs only in the textile industry. It will provide the population with new jobs.

The state has to earn money by intensive and fine processing of the raw materials. We have to refine the same way oil and gas. It concerns the major resources that we have in the country. The domestic production was 42 trillion manats in the period from 2000 to 2003. We doubled production in 2003 making it 84 trillion manats. We expect the same results this year. This is to enhance well being of our people. I will brief you on the rest of years. If we produce goods worth 120 trillion manats in 2005 it means that we will increase production three times starting from 2000. In 2003 it will be 83.5 trillion manat, in 2005 - 120 trillion, in 2010 - 287 trillion. The GDP will increase 14.5 times by 2015 comparing to 2000 and by 2020 - 28 times. Today the domestic production in Turkmenistan is $6 000 per capita. This index will reach $10-11,000 by 2010. It is two times increase. In 2015 it will be $15,000 and in 2020 - 19,000. The Turkmen goods are on demand in the world market. These are oil products, gas, and cotton products. We buy the best modern technologies and produce the best quality goods. That is why we are confident in our future...

We are going to build many things in the coming years. We have already started building plants on production of fertilizers, paper and mint. Every year we invest about $6 bln in the state economy. $5 bln. of them are our money. We are going to expand Turkmenbashi oil refinery by 2010. We have to start building in Akhal region. There is oil close to Geoktepe in Karakum. We have to build oil refinery there with a capacity of 7 mln. tons. There are big oil reserves near Yolatan and we will build big oil refinery in the vicinity of Yolatan, Takhtabazar. Plus we have Seiydy oil refinery with a capacity of 7 mln. tons. In total we will refine 31 mln tons.

We think over plans to build a plant on metal re-melting in Akhal region. The national economy needs more metal. Such plants will be built in Mary, Dashoguz and Lebap regions. We also intend to build an aluminum plant in Mary. There is every condition for it, electric power. The metal is necessary for our economy. The main thing is that our economic development is based on our own raw materials. We will buy electronics and machinery products from abroad. We have enough money. It is unprofitable to produce it locally.

We have to finish construction of a bridge over Amudarya river near the town of Atamurat. It is the very big bridge costing $129 mln. We are going to lay motor and railways from Turkmenabat to Farab. In the near future we will finish construction of motor and railways from Ashgabat to Dashoguz. The problems of telephones will be settled in parallel. A world-class highway from Ashgabat to Turkmenbashi through Biyami has to be constructed by 2005. We will also finish a highway construction from Ashgabat to Turkmenabat through Mary and Khauzkhan. Then we are going to build a railway from Turkmenbashi to Karabogazgol and motor way from Bereket to Gidriolum».

ON PROVIDING THE POPULATION WITH FREE GAS, ELECTRICITY, WATER AND REFINED SALT

«I want to propose to you a Decree on extending the period of free consumption of gas, electricity, water and refined salt by the population of Turkmenistan. There was my Decree on providing the population of the country with free of charge gas, electricity, water and refined salt in 1992. If you support it I will extend the period of this Decree until 2020.

Esteemed people, this issue is really solved the Turkmen way. Our natural reserves belong to the entire population, and each man has a share in these reserves. That document has had great effect since 1992. Nowadays the saksaul is not cut over, the Karakum desert is planted with trees. The air is clearer. People health is good. These are priceless and righteous things - to divide between the families the wealth bestowed on us by Allah. This is great support in the way to sufficiency and well being.

...Before signing this Decree in 1992 we had been preparing for three years. At first, nobody believed that it was possible as regards both gas and electricity. How could it be done and where to take money from? But I was the only one to believe. If you recall I signed the Decree for 10 years in 1992. It expired in 2002. That is why we have extended its period from 2003 to 2020.

Big politicians dissuaded me from doing it, saying that there was no precedence in the world. But we did it, thanks to Allah, and made right decision. Many people told me that it contradicted the market economy laws. But I am happy that we decided so. We did it for the people. Their wealth should belong to them».

ON THE EXCHANGE RATE

«In 2005 the wages of working people in Turkmenistan will increase by 50%. And every five years it will increase two times. Not only wages but also pensions and stipends will increase. Along with this we will enhance purchasing power of the national currency. The rich state which production is on great demand in the world should not face the problem of currency exchange. But the problem is if we strengthen the manat it will be easy to export our products abroad. We may have some problems because of it. We will not influence the exchange rate of our currency until 2010. And in 2010 we will be able to make exchange rate as 100 to 1 due to big profits. We will have every possibility to do that. And by 2018-2020 we will make it 10 to 1. There has to be no hurry. In some developed states the wages are high but goods are very expensive. We have to adopt a balanced approach. The bankers advised us to do so. We accept it. But for this to happen one invested manat has to earn 1 manat 24 tenge in one year. Today this indicator is 93 tenge. Therefore the exchange rate is somewhat shaky. But this can be corrected. Bankers will improve the manat turnover within Turkmenistan. I talked to them. They will manage to return 1 manat on 1 invested manat by the year-end. We have to use more credit cards like in developed states to reduce cash turnover. Both people and state will benefit from it».

ON RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE AND DEMOCRACY

...I address one more time clergy representatives. The national Turkmen spirit is that Turkmen faith is in their souls. Faith cannot be mixed up with politics. It is wrong to use it to achieve certain objectives. Faith cannot be used to exasperate enmity and oppose one group to another. Some people suggest Sharia Law like in some countries. But they have no idea as to how people live there, and they won't be able to live there. There is such kind of talks in mosques and in other places. Nobody can claim his supremacy over other man by reason of religion, because of alleged belonging to Shikh, Ovliyat (tribes ascending to Prophet Mohammad). I ask clergy to maintain order in these situations. Such talks resumed somewhere. One man has made noise over that issue in one of Ashgabat mosques recently. It won't do. Religion is used in politics only to make a conflict.

50% of our products are made in private sector of economy. It doesn't mean that we have to immediately privatize oil and gas sector, railways, transport, and electrical power. We will never do it, because every citizen of our country has a share in it. Although we are advised to do otherwise, no country in the world privatized everything. Turkmen follow it own path that doesn’t hurt anybody. This is part of the worldwide practice. We don't infringe on the people's rights and have no violence. It is prohibited to search houses and file a suit in court without consent of elders. Our country is a state where ordinary people's rights are secured. With the development of society everything will develop and there will be multiparty system. Let them set up a party even now but only within the law. But the People's Council should prevent those with ill feelings and those who have embezzled state property and fled Turkmenistan from trying to create chaos here, taking advantage of the situation and occupying leadership positions. The point is not about me, but about Turkmen's fate. Turkmen must defend their state and prevent it from a breakup.

...Today few of the wicked are in the Scandinavian states, yet it is known that they are thieves and scoundrels and those state have this information. But they cover them either in Sweden or Norway. We contacted them but they did not bother to respond. We talked to their ambassadors. They plan to use them in the turmoil. They believe that people have short memory and will forget what has happened here. Anyway, these people won't have a place here while I am in power. As to those who come after us, we will prepare them. Allah willing, we will see ourselves the generations change in the country by 2010. We will have a chance to see it from the side. Esteemed people, I want to urge you to be vigilant.

ON PEOPLE'S COUNCIL FUNCTIONS

...I propose to elect Mejlis Chairman Ovezgeldi Atayev and President's Administration Head Rejep Saparov my Deputy chairmen of the People's Council. If something happens to the chairman then first deputy chairman has to urgently convene the Khalk Maslakhati and elect a new chairman in three days. The Mejlis chairman has to be the first deputy and in charge of the procedural matters. The second one - Saparov - has to be in charge of the chancery, records keeping and control for implementation of the official papers. There will be an office of the People's Council Chairman with departments functioning on the permanent basis. In total, there will be 30-40 people. The office will work with the Council branches in the etraps and velayats. We have to set up them too. They will have a mandate to take effective measures on countering anti-state activities.

Each epoch has its woe and adversity. The People';s Council has to protect our people from it. We need to see peaceful and stable Turkmenistan to fulfill the grandiose tasks set in the development program until 2020. We have no doubts that these tasks will be fulfilled.

Turkmenbashi city, August 14-15, 2003

Translated and published at http://eng.turkmenistan.ru

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