There is no shortage of European countries in the world following their commitments to ethical foreign policy and a moral conscience. But many of these nations’ involvement with Turkmenistan suggests such claims are merely a farce.
Unfortunately, governments have shied away from accountability because of the Western public’s general lack of interest in the often gruesome reality of life in Turkmenistan and because of organizations such as the media, which often requires an answer, is not able to do so. This leaves the people of Turkmenistan largely forgotten.
Across the amateur, western media of Turkmenistan chairman Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is often described as an “eccentric” dictator with a knack for staging bizarre photographs. Since 2016, Turkmenistan section on The Guardian website has been littered with videos of the “gun holding” president performing rap songs with his nephew, erecting a golden statue of his favorite dog breed and punching a hole in one. Likewise, nearly a third of Der Spiegel’s (admittedly limited) articles about the country focused on Berdimuhamedov’s infatuation with world record and the 2013 birthday of Jennifer Lopez a walk for the president.
Propaganda further Berdimuhamedov’s unique artwork gives a sense of humor a simple search for “Turkmenistan” on YouTube yields videos like “10 weird things about Turkmenistan, ”As well as a segment with more than 10 million views from the US prime time television show “Last Week Tonight” focuses on the “strange obsessions” of President Turkmen. The three most viewed YouTube videos on Turkmenistan – with aggregate figures of 16 million views – all follow a similar pattern, especially the bizarre exterior of Berdimuhamedov Investigate the dark interior of a deeply authoritarian society.
Freedom House’s annual report for the year 2020 describes Turkmenistan as “a The repressive authoritarian state where political rights and civil liberties are almost completely denied, ”Scoring a country 2 out of 100 unfortunately in its Free Score. To put this in context, North Korea scored 3 out of the existing 100 points in the same chart.
This should come as no surprise to anyone but knowledge of the country, where there is no freedom of the press and the right to access information is tightly controlled by the government. The state brutally punishes unauthorized expressions of religion or political beliefs. Torture, mistreatment, and imprisonment of political opponents and dissidents are systematic.
Despite these gruesome realities, Western countries that jointly support the core values of liberalism on the international stage – praising its commitments to democracy and freedom of speech – continue to greed. entering into active commercial relations with the Turkmenistan dictatorship. In Europe, Britain, Italy and Germany are the most outspoken.
Eager to explore new commercial opportunities with one of the most repressive regimes in the world, Germany hosted the organization. Turkish-German business forum in Berlin, providing a platform for entrepreneurs seeking new investment vehicles. Italy boasts the largest trading relationship with Turkmenistan of any European country Bilateral trade value peaked at 605 million euros in 2016. Efforts to maintain this fruitful commercial relationship have continued, with The first Turkmen-Italian business directory released in 2020 to encourage more investment.
More ominously, from 2007 to 2017, Italy has emerged as a major EU arms supplier to Turkmenistan, with 76% of all arms value in this period – 257 million of a total of 340 million euros – coming from Italy.
To keep pace, in February this year, the UK sent Winterbourne’s Baron Nicholson, the prime minister’s special trade envoy, to meet with representatives from the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry and a host of business organizations. famous for discussing the future of “new chance“Between two countries. Absurdly, this is framed as part of the UK’s “global England” agenda, which is ostensibly committed to becoming a “global force for the good”.
Such claims are even more ludicrous in the context of the UK’s willingness to sell weapons and technology to Turkmenistan. In 2017, the number of weapons export permits 15,000 percent spike compared to 2016, with 151 military weapons export permits provided for one year. This is a dramatic increase from the 80 licenses that were issued over the past decade.
Notably, 96% of these military weapons licenses are for cryptographic technologies and devices. Based on Human Rights WatchSuch technology is being used to specifically monitor and intercept communications over satellite and mobile in Turkmenistan. In doing so, the government “sought to isolate the citizens of Turkmen from information and communications deemed sensitive, even gently criticizing the government”.
Therefore, if they are concerned that “democracy is in retreat“The UK and other leading European democracies may wish to consider their own upstream role in the process, rather than continuing to support Berdimuhamedov in maintaining the same grip on Turkmenistan and their people Freedom interference is discredited in many quarters, but what is needed here is a form of free abstaining for regimes like Turkmenistan – rather than facilitating suppressed while everyone is indifferent or distracted by the latest wacky photo.