It is a topic we’ve discussed before on the Majlis, more than once, but this time we wanted to consider the revelations contained in a recent report by The Economist, which found some $23 billion in German banks that belongs to someone in Turkmenistan, the same country where bread and cooking oil are being rationed.
RFE/RL’s media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on the dire economic straits that Turkmenistan finds itself in and the apparent reluctance of someone, or some group, in Turkmenistan to tap into these funds in foreign banks, which likely belong to the country and people of Turkmenistan anyway.
The author of the report, Max Lambertson from The Economist Intelligence Unit, joined the discussion from France (where he was on vacation). Our good friend Luca Anceschi, author of many works on Central Asia and professor of Central Asian Studies at Glasgow University in Scotland, sat in on the talk also. And Farruh Yusufy, the director of RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk, participated from somewhere in the United States where he was on holiday (Thank you Farruh!).
I had heard about the billions of dollars kept abroad but the findings in Max’s article amazed me, since Turkmenistan’s people could really use that money. So, I had something to say also.
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