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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
10ASHGABAT40
2010-01-08 12:36:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ashgabat
Cable title:  

TURKMENISTAN: FANFARE (AND NO WOMEN IN SIGHT) AS

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  SOCI  ECON  EPET  IR  TX 
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VZCZCXRO3398
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAH #0040/01 0081236
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081236Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4040
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 6100
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0003
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4342
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASHGABAT 000040 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/IR AND SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI ECON EPET IR TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: FANFARE (AND NO WOMEN IN SIGHT) AS
AHMADINEJAD ATTENDS PIPELINE OPENING

REF: A. ASHGABAT 6

B. ASHGABAT 7

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Sylvia Reed Curran. Reasons 1.4(b) and
(d).



1. (C) Turkish diplomats and a UN agency head who attended
the official events organized for the visit of Iranian
President Ahmadinejad to Turkmenistan on January 5 and 6 gave
their observations in conversations with Iran Watcher.
Muzaffer Gultekin, the Turkish Charge, and Selim Topcu,
Consul, had both taken the specially-arranged night train to
the border town of Serakhs to attend the inauguration of the
Dovletabad-Serakhs-Khangiran pipeline on January 6 (the
Turkish ambassador is currently away and did not attend).
Topcu was also present at the welcoming ceremony for
President Ahmadinejad, and both had attended the official
dinner that evening, the night before the pipeline opening.
They described the pipeline opening as "full of fanfare,"
with thousands of students having been bused in for the
occasion and Turkmen and Iranian flags everywhere. (NOTE:
The Uzbek ambassador, who also attended, estimated that there
were 15,000 children present. END NOTE.) The event
reportedly included large television screens and a telephone
hook-up between a Turkmen official in Dovletabad and an
Iranian in Khangiran. The Turkmen called out, "Bismallah
al-rahman al-rahim (in the name of God, the merciful and the
compassionate), we are ready to pump gas, are you ready to
receive it?"

FEMALE GUESTS ABSENT



2. (C) Both Gultekin and Topcu noted that the Iranian and
Turkmen presidents "looked happy together" at the pipeline
opening, although they had apparently hardly spoken a word to
each other, despite being seated side-by-side (along with
interpreters) at the official dinner the night before.
(COMMENT: This is unusual behavior for these formal dinners.
Usually, President Berdimuhamedov spends a lot of time
chatting with his guest(s), even if it is through
interpreters. There are also usually a number of toasts,
something that would not have happened in this case. END
COMMENT.) Gultekin commented that with the exception of one
Iranian television reporter accompanying Ahmadinejad's
delegation, she had been "the only woman there for the entire
two days, at either the dinner or the ceremony." (COMMENT:
Normally, half the wait staff at these dinners is female,
including the twin young ladies who exclusively wait on
Berdimuhamedov and his honored guest. END COMMENT.) Even
the government officials, thousands of students brought in
for the pipeline opening, and the Turkmen in traditional
dress representing the five provinces, had not a single woman
among them. She also said that the absence of any European
diplomats (Ref B) at the pipeline opening was particularly
noticeable, and that the Islamic Development Bank, which is
partially financing the Atrak-Gorgan railway project (Ref A),
had "quite a presence" at the event.

OUT IN THE COLD...FOR HOURS



3. (C) Ercan Saka, the UNODC representative in Ashgabat, who
also attended both the dinner on January 5 and the pipeline
opening, said that the opening was "very professionally-done
and well-organized." He observed that the Iranian delegation
looked almost "unkempt" and "unimpressive" (and not just
because they weren't wearing neckties, he said) standing up
near the sharply-dressed Turkmen officials. He added that he
was shocked at seeing that the thousands of students brought
in for the event, wearing the customary white shirts and
ties, had no jackets or coats in the freezing weather in the
middle of the desert. They had to "stand there for hours."
He said the students all looked "cold and uncomfortable,"
huddling together for warmth as the guests waited for three
hours for the two presidents and their entourages to arrive.



4. (C) COMMENT: This was the first official Turkmen event we
had heard of with no women in attendance. It is unclear

ASHGABAT 00000040 002 OF 002


whether they were excluded for protocol purposes or for some
other reason. Particularly strange is the absence of the
female members of the government: Parliament Chair Akja
Nuberdiyeva (officially, the second ranking person in the
government, after the President) and Deputy Chairman for
Culture and Press Maysa Yazmuhamedova. Usually, all nine
Deputy Chairmen, plus Nurberdiyeva, accompany Berdimuhamedov
at these events. With the reported inclusion of a 15
thousand students, it would appear to be possibly one of the
largest such events ever organized for a visiting head of
state. This indicates the significance Turkmenistan attached
to the spectacle of launching this second Turkmenistan-Iran
pipeline. END COMMENT.
CURRAN