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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ASHGABAT1188
2007-11-05 04:14:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Ashgabat
Cable title:  

TURKMENISTAN: BERDIMUHAMEDOV'S NEW EMPHASIS ON IMPROVING

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  SCUL  KPAO  TX 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASHGABAT 001188 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, DRL, ECA, IIP
DOE FOR LANA EKIMOFF/KAY THOMPSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SCUL KPAO TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: BERDIMUHAMEDOV'S NEW EMPHASIS ON IMPROVING
STATE MEDIA - LEARN FROM OTHERS




1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.



2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The President of Turkmenistan told State media
and cultural officials that they must improve their profession. The
President emphasized the need for developing creativity, learning
from contemporary world practices in the field, as well as using
competition to stimulate further development. Although he also
emphasized the role of media and culture in building national unity,
Turkmen patriotism, and pride, most of the President's emphasis
appears to signal still more movement towards a more diversified and
open cultural and media environment than under his predecessor.
While change will naturally be at a gradual, deliberate pace, and
will likely have fits and starts, this development is positive. END
SUMMARY.

A SPECIAL MEETING FOR CULTURE AND MEDIA



3. (U) On October 30, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov convened
a meeting to discuss development of media and culture. Attendees
included Deputy Chairmen of the Cabinet of Ministers Maysa
Yazmuhammedova (for Culture and Broadcasting), Hydry Saparlyev
(Education), and Gurbannazar Ashyrov, as well as officials from the
Ministry of Culture and TV and Radio Broadcasting, the Ministry of
Communications, and all eight TV and radio channels. According to
the evening state news broadcast which detailed large parts of the
meeting, the "wide-scale transformation processes" started in
Turkmenistan require "us all to learn to work in a new way by making
use of the best world practice." Simultaneously, the broadcast and
the President emphasized the need to "preserve and multiply the
unique spiritual wealth" of Turkmenistan.



4. (U) President Berdimuhamedov placed special emphasis on the role
of mass media, especially electronic media. He noted the commitment
of $9 million for the expansion and modernization of "relevant"
infrastructure, including the recently opened headquarters for the
Ministry of Culture and TV and Radio Broadcasting, a new radio
station, and the re-opening of a journalism program at Turkmen State
University.

OTHER PECULIARITIES: INDIVIDUALS' INPUT AND PERFORMANCE



5. (SBU) According to the broadcast, the President asked for the
input and concerns of those attending and "attentively listened to
every speaker." This is an obvious contrastto normal government
meeting style. (COMENT: Berdimuhamedov has said he enjoyed the give
and take of the question and answer session when he spoke at
Columbia University in New York. Asking for input would be in line
with that willingness to listen to others - although who knows if he
takes much outside input on board. In any case, it is in stark
contrast with his predecessor, Niyazov's, style. END COMMENT.)



6. (U) Berdimuhamedov has frequently emphasized the value of
foreign exchange, but he added that "you constantly have to work on
improving your skills by demonstrating initiative and keeping a hand
on the pulse of contemporary times." He also discussed the need to
increase creativity and professional development. He said this
could be stimulated through competitiveness and perhaps eventual
introduction of market economy elements in which news outlets would
have to become self-financing. He also talked about the need for
all ministries to start "analytical" departments to study "advanced
world experience in practice."



9. (SBU) COMMENT: Post has witnessed a slow and gradual opening of
Turkmenistan's cultural and media space since February. But this
meeting was the first clear, overt indicator of a policy for greater
diversity and openness in culture and broadcasting in Turkmenistan.
Although President Berdimuhamedov did not call for freedom of speech
or the establishment of an independent media, his statements
recognizing the need for creativity and diversity in the cultural
and public sphere are still a shift from past practice. This also

ASHGABAT 00001188 002 OF 002


parallels the policy of gradual reform exercised in other areas of
national policy. Post also believes that Deputy Chairwoman Maysa
Yazmuhammedova may already have had a positive impact on recent
openings in media coverage. Now she has a presidential mandate to
go farther, but that will likely be at a measured, deliberate pace,
with some fits and starts. END COMMENT.

HOAGLAND