India - Turkmenistan Relations
Turkmenistan, one of the Republics of the former USSR, was proclaimed as an independent State on 27 October 1991. It shares borders with Kazakhstan in the north, Uzbekistan in the north and North-east, Iran in the South and Afghanistan in the Southeast. It has an area of 488,100 square kms and stretches 650 kms from north to south and 1,100 km from east to west. The main river of Turkmenistan is Amu Darya, which enters the country from Afghanistan and flows along the north-eastern borders before it enters Uzbekistan. The Karakum canal carries the waters of Amu Darya across the desert from the East to the West and is the main source of drinking water and irrigation. Turkmenistan is mostly covered with desert (about 80%). Some of the earliest cities in the world were developed here. Most interesting landmarks in Turkmenistan are ruins of ancient cities and fortresses. Hundreds of hills and crumbling ruins all over the country testify that this country had a great and interesting path. These were not just common cities: Merv was one of world's largest ancient cities on the Silk route in the beginning of the 13th century and Urgench was a major centre of culture, influencing architecture and art in the whole of Central Asia.
India enjoys close, friendly and historical ties with Turkmenistan. ‘Turkman Gate’ built in Delhi in 1650’s bears testimony to this friendship. Prime Minister Nehru visited Ashgabat in June 1955. Indian films and TV serials are popular here with Turkmen people. Similarly, Indian music also holds a special place in the hearts of Turkmen people.
Major visits from India - Major visits from India include visit of Prime Minister Shri P.V. NarasimhaRao, 19-21 Sept 1995; EAM ShriJaswant Singh - May 1999; MOS(P&NG) ShriDinsha Patel 13-15 Feb 2006; MOS(EA) ShriE.Ahamed- 1-4 Oct 2006 & 14 Feb 2007; Minister of Water Resources ShriSaifuddinSoz, 23-25 Dec 2006; Vice President Shri Hamid Ansari, 4-6 April 2008 ; EAM Shri S.M. Krishna 18-19 Sept.2009; MOS (PK) Smt. PreneetKaur, 8-9 Feb.2010, MOS(P&NG) ShriJitinPrasada, 19-20 Sept.2010; Minister (P&NG) ShriMurliDeora, 10-12 Dec.2010; MOS (Communications & IT) Shri Sachin Pilot, 16-18 October, 2011; Minister (P&NG) Shri S. Jaipal Reddy, 22-24 May 2012; Minister (Communications & IT) ShriKapilSibal, 16-19 September 2012; Minister (P&NG) Dr. M. VeerappaMoily, 9 July, 2013; ShriPaban Singh Ghatowar, Minister of State (Parl. Affairs) 26-28 October, 2013 and Shri A.K. Antony, Hon’bleRakshaMantri made a transit halt at Ashgabat airport on 18 November 2013 and ShriDharmendraPradhan, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt. of India led an Indian delegation to attend the TAPI Steering Committee Meeting held in Ashgabat on 20 November, 2014. EAM Smt. SushmaSwaraj held bilateral meetings with Turkmen President GurbangulyBerdimuhamedov on 12 September 2014 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on the sidelines of the 14th Heads of State Summit of the SCO where he was a guest. EAM Smt. SushmaSwaraj visited Ashgabat from 7-9 April 2015 for the 5th IGC held in Ashgabat,EAM made transit halts at Ashgabat on 19 and 21 October 2015 on her way to Moscow and back,Hon’ble Prime Minister, ShriNarendraModi from 10 to 11 July 2015 and Hon’ble Vice President Shri Hamid Ansari from 11-13 December, 2015.Mr.PonRadhakrishnan, Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways led a three member delegation for the Global Sustainable Transport Conference in Ashgabat on 26th and 27th November, 2016.
During the visit of Hon’ble PM ShriNarendraModi toAshgabat from 10-11 July, 2015 several agreements to expand and strengthen cooperation in the field of defence, chemical products, science and technology, sports, tourism, yoga and traditional medicine and Foreign Service Institutes were signed including a joint statement. A Yoga and Traditional Medicine Centre was inaugurated and a Mahatma Gandhi’s bust was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in Ashgabat during the visit. It was agreed to expand cooperation in energy and transport sectors.
Major visits to India- President SaparmyratNiyazov, 18-20 April 1992 & 25-26 February 1997; Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov 02-04 December 1992, Dy. Prime Minister & Foreign Minister 18-20 April 1995, 7-8 April 1997 and April 2000; Dy. Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, 20-22 January 2008; President GurbangulyBerdimuhamedov, 24-26 May 2010; Minister Oil & Gas Industry B. Nedirov, 28 April 2011; Deputy Minister of Defence JepbarAkyyev, 29 May-4 June 2011; Deputy Chairman of Parliament Ms.GurbangulBayramova, 3-4 October 2012; Acting Minister of Oil/Gas Industry K. Abdullaev, 14-17 October 2012; Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, 21-22 January 2013 and Deputy Prime Minister (Oil & Gas) Mr. BaymuratHojamuhammedov 21 July, 2015.Colonel General YaylymBerdiev, Defence Minister visited New Delhi from 16-17 February 2016. First DFM VepaHajiyev led a delegation to New Delhi from 17-18 March, 2016 for the Foreign Office Consultations.Mr.RashidMeredov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan attended the 6th Ministerial Conference on ‘Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process’ on December 4, 2016 in Amritsar.
TAPI- Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI countries) signed two basic documents on 11 December 2010, making a beginning to the TAPI project. The TAPI Gas Sales & Purchase Agreement (GSPA) was signed in May 2012. Transit fee payable by India to Pakistan and Afghanistan has also been agreed. At the 22nd Steering Committee Meeting of TAPI held in Ashgabat on 06 August, 2015, Turkmenistan offered to lead the Consortium. During this meeting Shareholders Agreement was initialled among the parties and India agreed to take 5% stake in the project. Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Hamid Ansari attended the TAPI Ground-breaking ceremony held in Mary on 13 December, 2015. At the 24th TAPI Steering Committee Meeting held in Ashgabat on 07 April 2016, shareholders of the TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL) signed an Investment Agreement which provides an initial budget of over $200 million to fund the next phase of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline.
As of October, 2016, Turkmenistan has constructed about 15 kms of TAPI pipeline on Turkmen side. They are seeking finances and participation from countries including Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar. On November 10, 2016, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) based in Saudi Arabia has extended $500 million in loans to finance the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
Defence Cooperation agreement was signed in July 2015 during the PM’s visit to Ashgabat. India provides ITEC training courses to Turkmen officers/cadets. 16 slots / courses have been allotted to the Turkmenistan Armed Forces for the Training Year 2015-16.A tailor made Counter Terrorism course is attended by Turkmen officers. Deputy Minister of Defence participated in the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) which took place on November 3 -5, 2016 at VigyanBhawan, New Delhi.
Trade- Total trade for the year 2015-16 stood at 109.39 million of which exports from India stood at US$ 63.30 million and Imports by India at US$ 46.09 million registering a surplus of US$ 17.21 million in India’s favour. Major items of import from India include electronic and electrical items (LG products made in India), machinery and woven apparel and pharmaceuticals, frozen meat and tyres. Exports to India comprises of raw hides and inorganic chemicals (e.g.Sulpher, Iodine). Turkmenistan produces cotton, wheat, rice, limited variety of vegetables and fruits but remains short of needs for its population. Turkmenistan imports some food items such as rice, sugar, milk and milk products, fruits & vegetables, etc. from various countries. The high transport costs are hindering bilateral trade.
Bilateral trade in (in million US $ )
|Year||Indian exports||Indian imports||Turnover|
Air links with Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Airlines operates 7 flights a week to India – 2 direct flights to New Delhi (Wednesday and Saturday) and 5 flights to Amritsar (all days except Tuesday & Friday).10,877 visas have been issued by the Embassy till November, 2016. The Embassy in coordination with India Tourism, Frankfurt organised a ‘Know India Seminar’ in Ashgabat on 22 November 2015 to promote tourism in India.
Education India provides ITEC training for Turkmen nationals in India. In the year 2016-17, 20 ITEC slots were offered to them. In all, since the inception of the programme for Turkmenistan in 1994, over 350 Turkmen nationals have been trained in various courses. India provides ICCR Scholarships to students from Turkmenistan. 20 ICCR scholarships are offered every year. There are over300 Students from Turkmenistan pursuing various studies in India in various universities.
Cultural relations A 15-member cultural troupe from Turkmenistan visited Surajkund to participate in the International Crafts Mela from 1-15 February 2016. Hindi film festivals are held on regular basis. Several cultural troupes from India performed including 7 member ‘Namaste India’ dance troupe which visited on 07 March 2015 and ‘Namaste Turkmenistan’, a 10 member dance troupe which visited on 16 October 2015. Both dance troupes were sponsored by ICCR. Turkmenistan held its cultural days in India on regular basis. Hindi Chair at Azadi University is functioning and 50 students are registered for 5 years course. ‘Hindi Day’ is celebrated in International Institute of World Languages, Ashgabat regularly. A Turkmen Cultural delegation visited in November, 2016 for performance in Delhi and Chennai on the occasion of 25th Anniversary of Independence.
Traditional Medicine and Yoga Centre TheTraditional Medicine and Yoga Centre was inaugurated by Hon’ble PM during his visit to Ashgabat on 11 July 2015. There are over 1500 registered Yoga Practitioners in the Centre. The 1st International Day of Yoga was celebrated in Ashgabat on 21 June 2015 with participation of 300 school children with great enthusiasm. Health Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister had graced the occasion. The 2nd International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21 June 2016 at the complex of the Traditional Medicine and Yoga Centre in Ashgabat. Over 700 yoga practitioners attended the event. State television telecast programme on Yoga. Yoga was also taught at State Medical University and Niyazov Hospital. A Yoga Therapy course was initiated at the State Medical University, Ashgabat.
Indian community in Turkmenistan There are presently 500 Indian nationals in Turkmenistan. Indians in Turkmenistan are spread over- Ashgabat – 270, Mary – 80, Balkan- 97, Ahal – 26, Lebap- 27. Majority of these are semi-skilled workers in the oil & gas sector as well as in construction sector. There are also a few engineers, professionals and technicians working in oil and gas sector. No Indians are settled in Turkmenistan as the local law does not permit citizenship to any foreigners. Therefore, there is no Indian Diaspora as such, in Turkmenistan. There has been a decline in number of Indian workers due to the completion of certain projects of foreign companies for which the Indians were working. There are no Indian Associations or Indian students in Turkmenistan.
Embassy of India, Ashgabat website: http://www.eoi.gov.in/ashgabat
As on 7 December 2016