Turkmenistan has expressed its interest in delivering gas to EU member countries as soon as possible, the Central Asian republic's leader has said during a visit to Berlin. But transit countries would have to agree.
Following rare talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov told reporters that his country was interested in delivering energy resources to the West.
The leader of one of the world's most closed nations indicated that it was not in Turkmenistan's interest to focus solely on gas deliveries to other Asian countries.
The Central Asian country has also been engaging in gas talks with China, India, and Afghanistan. Turkmenistan is among the nations with the biggest natural gas deposits globally.
Dependent on Moscow, Ankara
Berdymukhamedov said in Berlin that talks about potential deliveries to the EU had already commenced in Brussels. For her part, Chancellor Merkel said that she hoped "remaining obstacles" could be removed soon, without specifying the nature of existing roadblocks still in place.
One of the more obvious difficulties would be to ensure the consent of such deliveries from both Russia and Turkey as any gas coming from Turkmenistan would have to go through the Caspian Sea.
Merkel and Berdymukhamedov also touched on other aspects of expanding trade between the two countries. Germany is Turkmenistan's most important trading partner in the 28-member European Union, with bilateral trade worth more than $460 million (411 million euros).
German exports to the Central Asian republic include machinery and tools.
Merkel urged her guest to make sure foreign diplomats get access to prisons in Turkmenistan. Human Rights Watch has frequently criticized Turkmenistan for scores of people disappearing in the country, without relatives knowing anything about their fate. Berdymukhamedov promised that talks between the nations' foreign ministers on that issue would begin shortly.
hg/sri (Reuters, dpa)