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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 historical 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. Indian Cinema 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) ShriSachin 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 Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov 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.During the visit of Hon’ble PM ShriNarendraModi to Ashgabat 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.

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.ShriAjitDoval, National Security Advisor transited through Ashgabat on January 29 & February 1, 2017 during his visit to Moscow & met with Minister for Defence, Gen. Col. Berdiyev. Dr. Arvind Gupta, the Deputy National Security Adviser visited Ashgabat from 28 -31 May 2017. He met with DPM & FM Mr.Meredov and Turkmen Defence Minister Col. Gen. Berdiyev to discuss bilateral cooperation in various sectors. ShriArunJaitley, RakshaMantriduring his transit halt at Ashgabat on June 20 2017 on his way to Moscow,  met with Secretary of the National Security Council and Defence Minister of Turkmenistan Col General YailymBerdiyev at the airport to discuss bilateral cooperation in defence sector. General BipinRawat, Chief of Army Staff of India visited Turkmenistan from 4-6 August 2017. 

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 Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, 24-26 May 2010; Minister Oil & Gas Industry B. Nedirov, 28 April 2011; Deputy Minister of DefenceJepbarAkyyev, 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 Mr. 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. He also visited New Delhi on August 13, 2017 on a two day visit for the 6th Session of Inter-Governmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation. The Turkmen DPM called on ShriVenkaiah Naidu, Vice-President of India, met with ShriArunJaitley, Minister for Finance &Defence, ShriNitinGadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways & Navigation and with ShriDharmendraPradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas. 

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 initialed among the parties and India agreed to take 5% stake in the project. Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Hamid Ansari participated at 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.

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, and variety of vegetables and fruits.

Bilateral trade in (in million US $ )

YearIndian exportsIndian importsTurnover

Air links with Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Airlines operates 8 flights a week to India – 3 direct flights to New Delhi (Wednesday, Saturday& Sunday) and 5 flights to Amritsar (all days except Tuesday & Friday).The Embassy issued 11,846 visas in 2016 as compared to 2,047 in 2013. The Embassy in coordination with India Tourism, Frankfurt organised a ‘Know India Seminar’ in Ashgabat on 22 November 2015 to promote tourism in India and the first ever food festival on May 23, 2017 in Ashgabat to mark 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Indian and Turkmenistan. The week long celebrations of ‘India week’ from May 16-23, 2017 included ‘Vastram’ Exhibition, Bollywood Performance, Film Festival& Food Festival.

Education India provides ITEC training for Turkmen nationals in India.  In the year 2016-17, 30 ITEC slots were offered to them.  In all, since the inception of the programme for Turkmenistan in 1994, over 380 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. Hindi Chair was established in Azadi Institute of World languages, Ashgabat where Hindi is being taught to about 50 students.

Cultural relations  A15-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 in different cities in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan held its cultural days in India every two years. Hindi Chair at Azadi University is functioning and 50 students are registered for 5 years course.  ‘Hindi Day’ is celebrated in in Turkmenistan. A Turkmen Cultural delegation visited in November, 2016 for performance in Delhi and Chennai on the occasion of 25th Anniversary of Turkmenistan’s Independence.A cultural troupe ‘Silicon’ sponsored by ICCR performed at a Friendship concert at Berkerar Mall in Ashgabat on 26th January 2017 to celebrate the Republic Day. A Jugalbandi (duet) was played among Indian and Turkmen musicians.‘India Cultural Week’ was celebrated in Ashgabat from 16-23 May 2017 to mark 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between India and Turkmenistan. The week long celebrations included ‘Vastram’ Exhibition, Bollywood Performance, Film Festival &first ever Food Festival. A 14 member Kuchipudi Dance Performance Troupe ‘Achutamansa’ performed in Ashgabat and Turkmenbashi on August 24 & 25, 2017respectively in commemoration of 70 years of India’s 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 3000 registered Yoga Practitioners in the Centre. The 1st International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated in Ashgabat on 21 June 2015 with participation of 300 university students with great enthusiasm. Later, 2nd (2016) and 3rd IDY’s (2017) were celebrated with much more enthusiasm and with the support of the Turkmenistan government. Health Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister had graced the occasions. Yoga was also taught at Niyazov Hospital and a Yoga Therapy course was initiated at the State Medical University, Ashgabat.Quiz &an essay writing competition was also conducted on the occasion of 3rd IDY in June 2017.

Indian community in Turkmenistan There are presently 1200 Indian nationals in Turkmenistan. Indians in Turkmenistan are spread over- Ashgabat, Mary, Balkan, Ahal and Lebap.  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. There are no Indian Associations or Indian students in Turkmenistan.

Useful Resources:
Embassy of India, Ashgabat website: External website that opens in a new window

As onAugust 31, 2017

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