Turkmenistan Country Report
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's position is unlikely to be challenged. Lower gas prices have forced the government to undertake austerity measures, including currency devaluation, and the likelihood of state contract alteration is increasing as spending cuts are implemented. Corruption in state institutions is endemic and expropriation risks are very high, especially for companies without high-level government contacts. Declining living standards increase the risk of small-scale, sporadic, and isolated economically motivated protests. The dispute with Azerbaijan over maritime border delimitation in the Caspian Sea is likely to lead to harassment of exploration vessels operating in or near the contested Sardar/Kyapaz offshore oilfield. The security situation along the borderwith Afghanistan has been deteriorating, prompting the government to refocus on the inadequately equipped and poorly trained military.
Excessive bureaucracy, high-level corruption, and the need for "inside contacts" are day-to-day elements of business life. President Berdymukhammedov has emphasised the importance of attracting foreign investment, and in practice revisions to production-sharing agreements in the oil and gas sector have been rare. However, the personalised nature of power means that an investor who falls out of favour with the government has little recourse to defend against contract risks. Alleged non-payment of contracts with foreign companies has been an emerging trend during Berdymukhammedov's presidency.
The outflow of radicalised individuals to conflicts in Syria and Iraq mitigates terrorism risks in Turkmenistan but raises security concerns about their return. The rise in militant activities in Afghanistan's northern provinces bordering on Turkmenistan increases the likelihood of cross-border incursions accompanied by terrorist attacks targeting state institutions and armed forces. Firm state control of religious practices, widespread surveillance of population and general lack of susceptibility towards radicalisation among Turkmens make emergence of domestic terrorist groups unlikely. The existence of small fringe of underground Islamist groups poses no terrorism risks at present as they are not committed to violence.
Turkmenistan faces increased risk of armed cross-border incursions by the militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Afghanistan due to the deterioration of security situation in Afghanistan's northern provinces bordering Turkmenistan following the withdrawal of coalition forces in 2014. The likelihood of an interstate war with any of the neighbouring states is very low as Turkmenistan maintains friendly relations with them. Maritime border dispute with Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea is likely to be resolved through diplomatic means. Turkmenistan's armed forces are poorly trained and inadequately equipped. Turkmenistan's neutral status makes it difficult for other countries to render military assistance.
The oil price collapse led to a significant reduction in state revenues since Turkmenistan's long-term gas supply contracts with China are linked to oil price. Mass lay-offs and salary arrears across state institutions increase the likelihood of economically motivated protests. The absence of political opposition makes them likely to be both short-lived and peaceful. The 10% increase in pensions and wages of public sector employees starting from 1 January 2017 has been offset by inflation as manifested by soaring prices on all categories of consumer goods. Civil society is in its infancy with most dissidents in jail or abroad.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Regarding transportation, the conditions of Turkmenistan’s various modes of transport are less than ideal. Due to the poor state of roads, the absence of reliable road maps, poorly-marked streets, and changing weather conditions, travelers should be extremely prudent while driving in the country. Traveling by rail (slow, uncomfortable, and relatively unsafe) or by air is not particularly advisable.
Furthermore, access to certain areas is heavily restricted or outright forbidden (notably the regions bordering Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan). Even obtaining official authorization to leave the capital, Ashgabat, could prove difficult. It should also be noted that military reinforcements were deployed to the Turkmen side in mid-March 2014 following incidents that took place along the Afghan border (750 km [450 mi] land border).
Turkmenistan's climate is continental with low levels of precipitation throughout the year. Summer are scorching (40°C) and dry while winters are bitterly cold (-25°C). Spring and autumn are pleasant with mild temperatures. The air is dry in the center of the country but more humid along the Caspian Sea. Violent winds often blow across the Karakum Desert, sometimes triggering sandstorms.
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