Turkmenistan (State Flag)
The flag was officially introduced in 1997, adding to the original flag from
1992 a wreath of olive leaves, identical to the wreath of the UN flag; the
wreath should symbolize neutrality. Green is the color of Islam, the five stars
represent the five regions of the state, and the crescent moon is the symbol of
Islam. At the pole are five medallions (see güll), which show the country's
traditional tribal patterns used in carpet making. The original ratio of 1: 2
was changed in 2001 to 2: 3.
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Turkmenistan - history
Turkmen are descendants of the Turkmen tribes dating from the
700's. penetrated from present-day Mongolia to southwestern Central Asia and
further west. In the clash with the Arab world, they were converted to Islam.
First during the 1300-t. and 1400-t. the Turkmen nomadic tribes came to form
a linguistic and cultural community. However, they never formed a state, but
were either independent or subject to Persia or the Khanates
of Bukhara and Khiva.
When the Russians of the 1860's began to subjugate Central Asia, the Turkmens
were the last stubborn resistance. The decisive battle took place at Gök-Tepe on
12 January 1881, in which the Russian forces slaughtered more than 14,000
Turkmen. A few days later Ashgabat fell, and in 1884 the Turkmen in the oasis
Mary (Merv) surrendered to the Russians. Thus, Russia had secured the main
line of communication with Afghanistan, which was the decisive piece in the
"big game" against Great Britain about the influence in the area.
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The Russians did not interfere much in the internal affairs of the Turkmen,
and their presence was limited. In the 1880's, they built the Trans-Spas Railway
from Krasnovodsk (present-day Turkmenbasji) to the south. It was transported
cotton for the Russian weavers.
When the Russians in 1916 convened Central Asians, who had hitherto been
exempted from military service, the Turkmen also put up strong resistance, but
the uprisings were defeated. In 1924, the Turkmen SSR, the first Turkmen state,
was formed, and Sovietization began. The collectivization of agriculture from
1929 forced the Turkmens to settle, and a fierce campaign was launched against
Islam and Turkmen nationalism.
In the period 1985-2006, Saparmurad Nijazov led the country, first as prime
minister and party leader, since 1990 as elected president and
after the dissolution of the Soviet Union as chairman of the renamed Communist
Party, the Democratic Party, and president (re-elected in 1992 without rival
candidates with 99.5% of the votes). Nijazov, who made himself the subject of
intense cult of personality, has not been up for election since then, and from
1999 he was president indefinitely. Nijazov was in practice sole ruler and
suppressed all opposition; there were gross violations of human rights.
Economic growth did not benefit the population. The European Development Bank
EBRD suspended its lending to the country in 2001 due to Nijazov's reluctance to
pursue political and economic reforms.
As a neutral state, in 2001 Turkmenistan did not make bases available for the
US-led anti-terror coalition's war in Afghanistan. An assassination attempt on
Nijazov in 2002 showed that his authority was not as great as before, and he has
since sought to clear possible rivals from the road.
In 2003, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on Turkmenistan
to halt the "serious and persistent human rights violations". With its assumed
neutrality, Turkmenistan stood largely isolated on the international stage, and
most Western countries refrained from establishing contacts with the country as
long as it was governed so authoritarianly.
Turkmenistan's foreign policy is focused on securing routes and markets for
gas and oil exports. That is why relations with Ukraine and Russia are
particularly important. In 2006, the Russian gas company Gazprom signed an
agreement with Nijazov for deliveries of approximately 40 billion m 3 gas
pr. years in the years 2007-2009 at a cost of $ 100 per. 1000 m 3. This
gas is to be re-exported via the Russian pipeline system to Ukraine for about
twice the price.
In December 2006, Nijazov died, but new President Gurbanguly
Berdymukhammedov said in his post-election election in February 2007 that
Turkmenistan would abide by its energy supply agreements. At the beginning of
2006, Turkmenistan entered into an agreement with China, which involved
the construction of a gas pipeline between the two countries, which from 2009
was to lead 30 billion. m 3 gas annually to China. However, it is
doubtful whether Turkmenistan will then be able to maintain its gas supplies to
Berdymykhammedov promised to continue Nijazov's policies with certain
reforms, including a reorganization of the education system, easier internet
access and larger pensions, but the country did not become more democratic.