Turkmenistan plans naval base on Caspian Sea

Turkmenistan announced plans to build a naval base on its Caspian Sea coast, an area at the centre of a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan.

Turkmenistan plans naval base on Caspian Sea

Turkmenistan announced plans on Monday to build a naval base on its Caspian Sea coast, an area at the centre of a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over oil and gas fields.

"We are already buying military ships equipped with missiles," President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said in televised remarks to the national security council. "Naval exercises should be held regularly".

Turkmenistan, Central Asia's biggest gas exporter, and Azerbaijan are at loggerheads over a number of large oil and gas blocks in the Caspian Sea.

Berdymukhamedov last month ordered his government to take the dispute to an international court.

Iran, another energy-rich Caspian state, has opposed dividing the sea into sectors, an approach favoured by ex-Soviet republics Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen leader made it clear however that the navy would not be used to settle such disputes and would instead protect his nation from external threats.

"We have no territorial claims," he said. "There are international terrorist groups which, it should be said, would like to disturb the Turkmen people's peaceful life."

Berdymukhamedov did not specify how large the Turkmen navy would be but said it should be complete by 2015.

Turkmenistan has shown particular interest in joining Nabucco since April when Russia stopped buying Turkmen gas in a row over supply terms.

The row followed a pipeline explosion blamed by Ashgabat on a sudden cut in gas intake by Russia's Gazprom. Russia used to buy about 50 billion cubic metres of Turkmen gas a year, making it a key source of Turkmenistan's export revenues.

Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Ağustos 2009, 17:29
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