"European breakthrough": Gas Turkmenistan Activates Dialogue With Brussels

Turkmen President Gurbangulu Berdymuhammadov made an official tour to Europe, including Belgium, Germany and Austria over 6 months ago. The president commissioned Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov to hold direct talks with the European Union next two months, official sources said.

The Foreign Minister will lead the Turkmen delegation in the next Summit of the European Union - Turkmenistan joint committee to be held in Brussels on June 3-4 in 2009. The same composition will represent Turkmenistan at the "three" negotiations of the EU and Central Asian Foreign Ministers on May 29-30, 2009 to be held in Dushanbe.

Brussels in order to diversify sources of energy is trying to find a direct connection to the import of Turkmen gas. Europe considers the best option the Nabucco project which aims to ensure adequate supplies from Azerbaijan through Turkey and the Central Asian countries via the Caspian Sea. The European Commission officials said that Ashgabat has provided assurances about the transportation to its borders for the EU member states to 10 billion cubic meters annually.

Observers believe Ashgabat is close to support the European initiative. The signed memorandum with the German concern RWE which is a shareholder of the Nabucco project testified the abovementioned fact. Penspen company has launched engineering of the project recently.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso plans to visit Asghabat in the near future. The European Union representation may be opened during the visit.

The European House was opened in Ashgabat in 2008. Recently, the European Parliament has endorsed the signing of trade agreement with Turkmenistan, which had repeatedly rejected.

The Turkmen delegation attended the Energy Forum in Prague in May. As part of the summit, Turkmen Vice-Prime Tachberdi Tagiyev who supervises over the country's fuel and energy complex held a series of talks with leaders of the European Union.

Turkmenistan is rich with hydrocarbon resources, particularly, with world natural gas reserves. One of the last famous discoveries - South Iolotan-Osman has been included in the top five of the world's giant gas fields. Reserves of the block which is located in the country's east part amount to 14 trillion cubic meters of gas.
World press monitoring