Go East, young Turkman
Business and Economics, Cross-regional and BlogosphereOne Comment
Go west, young man, go west. — John B. L. Soule, 1851
In my last post I explored whether the new pipeline to China will bring the region’s leaders closer together or tear them apart. The experts with whom I spoke — Robert Ebel, director of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C, and Michael Lelyveld, a correspondent with Radio Free Asia — were largely doubtful that the situation will really change all that much.
Ebel, for one, felt that the pipeline will do little to change the geopolitical orientation of the region. I recently spoke with Richard Pomfret, a professor of economics at the University of Adelaide in Austrailia, who is knowledgeable on Turkmenistan and has a very different view on the subject.
Pomfret has noticed increased cooperation between Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, all countries along the route of the Central Asia-China gas pipeline. He remarked to me,
A really important development last year was that Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have negotiated jointly on the prize to be paid by Gazprom before they negotiated separately about the issue, and that they agreed on the transit rights and location of the new pipeline.
Historically they had been not on very good terms, not coordinating well.The relations between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are better than 3 years ago, under the new Turkmen president.
He added that although the Russain monopoly over Turkmen gas is being reduced, Russia is nonetheless actually much happier that gas is going to China rather than to the EU. The reason is because it’s still an Eastward tilt, keeping Central Asia out of Western hands.