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09ASHGABAT201 2009-02-09 12:50:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Ashgabat
Cable title:  

TURKMENISTAN: MEJLIS COMMITTEE CHAIRS FOCUSED ON

Tags:   PGOV PREL KDEM TX 
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A recent meeting with two Parliamentary
Committee Chairmen revealed that the socioeconomic and
international relations committees will be revising the laws
on labor, customs, citizenship and emigration, but the timing
for completing the revisions remained unclear. Little else
appeared to fall inside their areas of responsibility. The
two men generally described plans to revise laws and the
process by which Government entities propose additions and
changes to legislation. They also recited statistics about
the Mejlis and the Government's foreign policy activity in


2008. The most disappointing element of the conversation,
however, was the way in which the Chairmen appeared to be
completely isolated from the individuals and agencies who
implement policies and programs that lie entirely within
their committees' areas of responsibility. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) On February 6, Political Officer met with two of
the five Mejlis (parliamentary) Committee Chairmen to learn
more about the activities and the leadership of the
committees. Bashim Annagurbanov was appointed Chairman of
the Committee on socioeconomic issues in January, and is one
of a handful of Mejlis veterans reelected to office in
December 2008. From 2004-2008 he was a member of the same
committee. Speaking from prepared notes, Annagurbanov
recited a statement on the recent history of the Mejlis, and
generally outlined the body's responsibilities. Its mission,
he said, was to revise and adopt laws, and assure that all of
the country's laws conform to international standards.

IMPROVING LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT BUSINESS A PRIORITY



3. (SBU) Regarding the duties of the Committee on
Socioeconomic Issues, Annagurbanov said the Committee was
focused on revising the labor code, and would also consider
revisions to the customs code in coming months. He said
President Berdimuhamedov had tasked the Mejlis to play a role
in facilitating reform that would improve socioeconomic
conditions for the people. He had also directed that the
Mejlis improve national legislation to enable it to support
the growth and prosperity of small- and medium-sized
businesses, Annagurbanov said. Beyond the labor code, the
customs code would also be under review this year. He did
not consider that the laws on housing and on family would be
priorities in the near term. When asked if his committee had
any role in the national rural development or socioeconomic
development programs that were currently being undertaken
around the country, he expressed no knowledge of the programs
and said his committee played no role in their development or
implementation.

EFFORTS FOCUSED ON UPDATING EXISTING LAWS



4. (SBU) Describing the process by which the committees
work, Annagurbanov said there was little need to draft new
laws from scratch, and his committee had no plans to do so.
Turkmenistan's laws, most of which are still largely based on
old Soviet laws, are still relevant, and need only modest
revision to ensure that they fulfill the needs of a modern
state, he said. When a decision is made to revise a specific
law, the various relevant ministries and government agencies
are tasked to suggest changes and additions to the existent
law. The Committee, in coordination with a working group
comprised of academics, lawyers, and experts then studies the
various suggestions and assembles a working draft. (NOTE:
None of our interlocutors in the Mejlis have ever been clear
regarding the path from working draft to working document
ready for adoption. Additional approvals within the
Government may be required before a piece of draft
legislation is ready for adoption by the full parliament.
END NOTE.)

FORMER TAX OFFICIAL IN CHARGE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
COMMITTEE


ASHGABAT 00000201 002 OF 002




5. (SBU) Batyr Berdiyev was appointed Chairman of the
Committee on International and Inter-Parliamentary Relations
in January. He is apparently new to the Mejlis. Berdiyev
said he was elected in a district in Dashoguz Province, and
has worked in government service for more than 20 years, most
recently with the state tax service in Dashoguz. When asked
about his international experience, he said he had studied at
an economics institute in Ukraine, and had done his military
service in Siberia. Berdiyev, speaking from notes that he
appeared to have memorized, recited recently published
statistics on the number of foreign delegations that visited
Turkmenistan, the number of countries with whom it has
relations, the number of foreign embassies here, and so on.
He expounded on the President's 2008 doctrine of "government
for the people," and said that fulfilling the terms of the
doctrine would be the role of the Mejlis.



6. (SBU) According to Berdiyev, his committee would oversee
revision of the national citizenship law, and would possibly
look at the law on emigration further down the road. When
asked about activities the committee would undertake to
promote inter-parliamentary communications, he described
various foreign delegations with whom he and other deputies
had met since January. He could not identify any specific
programs that would bring foreign parliamentarians here, nor
did he know of any specific plans for Turkmen deputies to
travel or study abroad.



7. (SBU) COMMENT: Both men appeared to have planned out in
advance what information they were going to share with
Political Officer, and avoided most specifics. Further, as a
freshman Deputy, Berdiyev was deferential to Annagurbanov,
allowing him to frequently cut in on Berdiyev's time as he
described the activities of his own committee. It was clear
that Annagurbanov was in charge. Both men had little to say
in regard to the details of the work they are doing, and
appeared to be convinced that revising old legislation was
the primary task of both the Mejlis and its committees. The
most disappointing element of the conversation, however, was
the way in which the Chairmen appear to be completely
isolated from the individuals and agencies who implement
policies and programs within their subject matter areas. END
COMMENT.
MILES