Problems of the Turkmen opposition
Information about the Turkmen democratic opposition, whose leaders live in the West, appear very rarely these days. The oppositionists’ activity has risen following Saparmurat Niyazov’s death, as they expected the new government to commence at least a basic dialogue. They also hoped for internal reforms to be launched in Turkmenistan, but their hopes very quickly turned out to be vain.
The interview with Nurmuhammed Khanamov, one of the opposition leaders, published by Deutsche Welle backs this thesis. The politician confirms the problems which the opposition contends with: passivity, lack of unanimity and hope for a change. But Khanamov focuses on the policy of the West towards Turkmenistan and criticizes e.g. the European Union for an excessively lenient attitude towards Ashgabat as far as human rights are concerned.
When you ask during these meetings: why don’t you ask these questions, although it is dictator’s regime, the Western countries’ representatives would usually respond – we are glad to have managed to establish dialogue. We are afraid to scare Berdymukhammedov, because he might then restore the country’s isolation as was the case during Niyazov’s rule. However, I consider such attitude as not quite correct.
Still, I am wondering if Khanamov is right. First of all, Western countries must be very careful in their criticism, because if it is too persistent, the Turkmen government will simply limit or withdraw from the cooperation with the West and turn towards Russia or China.
Secondly, we must pose ourselves a question regarding the Turkmen opposition. The passivity and lack of unanimity are not its only problems, but also the fact that it does not have any influence in Turkmenistan, where it is completely unknown. The Turkmen society is totally passive, I would even say apolitical, so the authorities do not have to undertake any special measures in order to neutralize the opposition’s internal activity. The opposition’s isolation from the rest of the society is also due to years of exile. It is sad, but the opposition constitutes no threat at all to the government.