The EU-Turkmenistan energy relationship: difficulty or opportunity?

By Jos Boonstra, senior researcher at FRIDE

Policy Brief No 5 - October 2010

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The European Union (EU) is facing a dilemma over developing relations with Central Asia’s gas behemoth, Turkmenistan. If the EU keeps quiet about human rights abuses and the complete lack of democratic and economic development while forging strong energy ties with Ashgabat, it is likely to obtain profitable results in the gas sector. But if the Union sticks to its moral values of democracy and human rights and actively tries to influence the problematic situation in Turkmenistan, opportunities for gas import will almost inevitably decline, with Ashgabat increasingly focusing on export to China and other markets. Over the last decade, Turkmenistan has emerged as a classical dilemma for international ‘Western’ donors of pursuing development and democracy at the same time as building profitable economic relations. Read more.

About the author:

Jos Boonstra is a senior researcher at FRIDE. His research focuses on Eurasian and transatlantic security issues as well as democratisation in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. He takes a keen interest in EU, NATO and OSCE security policies. Jos is currently coordinating the EU-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) project.