France and Turkmenistan

Political relations

The French representation in Turkmenistan, the opening of which was decided during President Mitterrand’s visit to Ashgabat in April 2014, was upgraded to an Embassy in 1999. After a buoyant early phase (conclusion of several agreements, co-sponsorship in 1995 of the UN resolution recognizing Turkmenistan’s neutrality, visit to Paris by Turkmenistan’s President in 1996), contacts have become scarcer. The change of leader in Ashgabat led to greater bilateral relations, marked by the new President’s official visit to Paris at the invitation of his French counterpart, on 1 and 2 February 2010.

Visits

  • The Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, was received by Turkmenistan’s President during her visit to Ashgabat on 30 June 2010 for the first meeting of the Joint Economic Commission, as was her successor, Mr Pierre Lellouche, who visited on 6 March 2012.
  • The Joint Economic Commission held its second session in Paris in November 2012.
  • The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Laurent Fabius, met with his counterpart and President Berdimuhamedow in Ashgabat on 2 March 2013.
  • The Turkmen Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations, Mr Abaev, was received in Paris by the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Ms Pellerin, on 10 July 2014.
  • French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius met with his counterpart, Mr Raşit Meredow, on 17 July 2015.
  • Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, met in Paris with Vepa Hajiev, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, for the celebration on 29 March 2017 of the 25ᵗʰ anniversary of France’s diplomatic relations with Central Asian States.

Economic relations

Our trade relations with Turkmenistan are dominated by major contracts (such as the order in 2009 for a telecommunications satellite from ThalesAleniaSpace), meaning they fluctuate. In 2016, French exports to Turkmenistan totalled €99 million (€89 million in 2015), while our imports from the country stood at €31.8 million (€2.9 million in 2015).

The French presence remains limited, with a market share of 3%, but is gradually growing: 14 French companies are now present, including Airbus Helicopters, Bouygues, CIFAL, CIS, DGT Logistics, Schlumberger, Schneider Electric, Technip, Thales, Total and Vinci. Bouygues’ activities since 1992 have greatly contributed to France’s visibility in the country (such as the school in Ashgabat, which is managed by Mission Laïque Française).

The France-Turkmenistan Joint Economic Commission was established in February 2010 and seeks to stimulate bilateral economic relations. The latest meeting was held in Paris in 2013. The France-Turkmenistan Chamber of Commerce was created in Paris in 2012. The first “Turkmenistan Economic Day” in France was held in Paris on 11 July 2014.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The Turkmenistan Institut Français, the status of which is determined by the intergovernmental agreement signed by the two countries’ Foreign Ministers on 17 July 2015, is the capital’s only Western cultural centre. If offers French classes and organizes cultural events (cinema, circus, dance and music), with a budget of €56,556 in 2016 and 2017. It has a library, a forum for meeting and debate. It also contributes to linguistic and educational cooperation (training of Turkmen teachers). The Embassy allocates study grants to Turkmen students each year, in the fields of humanities (Bourdieu programme), economics and management. The Total group, meanwhile, offers a number of bursaries for students from the Turkmen International Oil and Gas University. The French archaeological mission in Turkmenistan has also cooperated for some 20 years with the country’s scientific institutions, such as for excavation and restoration campaigns at the Ulug Depe site.

Updated: 30 May 2017

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