Viktor Sheiman’s Secret Mission to Turkmenistan
The assistant at large to the President of the Republic of Belarus Viktor Sheiman visited Ashgabat, where he conveyed greetings and a written message to the President of Turkmenistan from his Belarusian counterpart.
There is virtually no information on the meeting. The internet newspaper turkmenistan.ru gives only official information:
"During the meeting the sides expressed mutual interest in the development of traditionally friendly relations between Turkmenistan and Belarus. They discussed the main directions of cooperation, among which are the purchase of Belarusian agricultural and other special equipment by Turkmenistan, as well as training of Turkmen specialists in the Belarusian universities."
In addition, it is reported that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow addressed to the Belarusian partners a proposal for the construction of a residential village for employees of the Concentrating Plant for the production of potash fertilisers which Belarusians are building in Lebap province of Turkmenistan.
However, it is hard to believe that the meeting was limited to these issues. It is unlikely that the assistant at large to the President Viktor Sheiman had to fly thousands of miles away to express "the mutual interest in the development of traditionally friendly relations".
"In this country they try to keep everything a secret from the people", said the commentator Raman Yakauleusky to the correspondent of the news portal www.UDF.BY. He believes that the visit of the aide to Ashgabat with a personal letter from Lukashenko could be aimed at "somehow gaining access to Turkmenistan's considerable resources, both natural and financial".
In this regard, Mr. Yakauleuski, given that Sheiman is the chief curator of Venezuelan projects, did not rule out "Lukashenka’s strategic plans on interconnection of Turkmen gas and Venezuelan oil (supply, production)". As for the suppression of this visit in the state media, in the opinion of the political observer, this "one more time shows who and on what level of power determines and conducts Belarus’s foreign policy".
Could Lukashenka in his letter discuss with his Turkmen colleague the state of affairs in the mid-Asian region? – such a question the reporter of the news portal www.UDF.BY addressed to the international commentator Andrei Fedorov. In his view, this is impossible, because "Turkmenistan is not included in the Collective Security Treaty Organization".
"We can only guess what is the content of the letter", said Mr. Fedorov. "So I guess that the letter raises energy issues. Today it is the topic ¹ 1 for Belarus."
The head of the analytical centre "Strategy" Leanid Zayika shares his opinion. According to him, "it is hardly worth thinking that Sheiman went to Turkmenistan to buy skullcaps". Most likely, he went for gas, the expert believes: "You can buy gas in Turkmenistan, in Norway, in Algeria".
However, he said, this does not mean that in case of the contract Belarusians "will catch the smell" of the Turkmen "blue fuel": "The gas scheme is simple. We buy it from Turkmenistan and then sell to Russia which then delivers gas (yet other) in our country".
However, L. Zayika believes that "there is no need to make fuss." "It is high time to switch to liquefied gas which is much cheaper", said the economist to the news portal www.UDF.BY.