The Other Guest
All of the media (or at least, all of the American media) is abuzz about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent speech at Columbia University. However, there was no mention of one of the speakers, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow. His speech included a presentation showing young students typing on brand new laptops, showing the many educational reforms that have taken place since the death of President Niyazov, as well as a variety of other topics. But even more importantly, he spoke of the developing markets in Turkmenistan.
The impressive speech was, however, met with a painful question-and-answer session, in which he was questioned about such issues as freedom of the press and gay rights. He avoided questions, bent the truth, and, in some cases flat-out lied to the people present.
Later, he met with business executives at Rockefeller Center to discuss the developing market that is Turkmenistan. Not only are they interested in Turkmenistan’s gas reserves, but also in the nation’s workforce. With more than half of the population being unemployed seasonally, Turkmenistan could very well become a major industrial center. It’s proximity to Europe also means it could become a good business partner with the European Union.
Will any of this emerge? That remains to be seen. However, it seems that major economic reforms are in place for Turkmenistan as the nation shifts towards the more pro-Western ideals of Poland, the Czech Republic, and other ex-Warsaw Pact nations. As for social issues, it appears that, in the president’s mind, the country isn’t quite ready for large-scale reform just yet.
The speech is available on Youtube at the following addresses:
Part 1 – http://youtube.com/watch?v=SROxZqYY3JY
Part 2 – http://youtube.com/watch?v=W7sw8XdRJPs
Part 3 – http://youtube.com/watch?v =1R9rP3MJkCU
Pert 4 – http://youtube.com/watch?v=p6h_wr6nfvQ
Part 5 – http://youtube.com/watch?v=MrbYcCvzZ6M
Part 6 – http://youtube.com/watch?v =Yv1Z5Zu5oO4
Part 7 – http://youtube.com/watch?v=a2NuMOMtFQI