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Cablegate: Polimeks Executive Wants Collaboration with U.S.

VZCZCXRO4273
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLH RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #1064/01 2751111
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021111Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9475
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 2824
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0645
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0521
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1097
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1798
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0584

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASHGABAT 001064

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EEB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON EIND SOCI TU TX
SUBJECT: POLIMEKS EXECUTIVE WANTS COLLABORATION WITH U.S.
FIRMS, BUT DOWN ON TURKMENISTAN

REF: A. REF: A. ASHGABAT 968

B. B. ASHGABAT 970
C. C. ASHGABAT 1039

1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: On September 27, a senior Turkish
construction company official outlined the difficulties of
living and doing business in Turkmenistan, such as police
harassment and lack of Internet access, and how it makes
finding expatriate employees difficult. He explained ongoing
and new projects, and expressed interest in collaboration on
turnkey projects with U.S. firms. He claimed that
construction is not a profitable business for the many
Turkish companies that have been doing business here since
Turkmenistan's independence, but they come because it is the
right thing to do. In our view, however, the companies would
not have been here for over a decade simply to "do good."
END SUMMARY.

LIFE IN TURKMENISTAN: EVEN HARDER IF YOU'RE NOT A DIPLOMAT...

3. (SBU) Caner Demir, Architect and Deputy Planning Manager
of the Turkish construction firm Polimeks, noted his concerns
about inconveniences of life in Turkmenistan during a
September 27 introductory meeting with econoff. Stating that
it can be difficult to find Turks willing to live and work in
Turkmenistan, he said that U.S. private industry might also
have trouble convincing employees to come here. Noting
Polimeks' lack of Internet in the office and concerns about
education, Demir was somewhat discouraged about
Berdimukhamedov's presidency. He asked if the U.S. Embassy
heard about a new rule imposed on Polimeks employees
prohibiting single men from living alone, and an "unwritten
rule" that no one is allowed to be on the street after 11
p.m. (COMMENT: The 11:00pm curfew is widely known, but this
was the first time we had heard of the supposed ban on single
men living alone. END COMMENT.) Demir returned to the topic
of police harassment throughout the meeting, clearly an issue
of concern to him. (NOTE: Demir is married to a Turkish
Embassy employee and, therefore, is personally protected from
hassles. END NOTE.)

...BUT BUSINESS IS MOVING ALONG

4. (SBU) Demir noted that Polimeks is working on two new
projects: a cottonseed oil processing plant in Ashgabat, and
a water purification plant in Turkmenbashy. He declined to
provide details on two additional projects that he expected
Berdimukhamedov to approve after he returned from New York.
Demir does not want to participate in Avaza projects (reftels
A, B), because he does "not believe in it." He believed,
however, Polimeks management may want to submit bids for
building projects there, in spite of his views.

RUSSIA NOT A THREAT TO BUSINESS (YET)

5. (SBU) Demir highlighted two of Polimeks' 17 ongoing
projects, both located next to the Ministry of Healthcare: a
high-rise oncology center and a new medical university. He
said Polimeks wants to collaborate with U.S. firms on turnkey
projects in the healthcare industry, and asked for a list of
U.S. firms currently operating in Turkmenistan. He also said
that Russian and German companies recently participated in a
new tender for a turnkey hospital project. He did not feel
threatened by Russian construction firms at present because
of the low quality of their work, but worried they might soon
catch up as their workforce becomes more skilled. He
credited the increase in skills in the Russian construction
workforce to the influence and training of Turkish firms that
have been operating in Russia.

6. (SBU) Demir claimed his manager and other Turks involved

ASHGABAT 00001064 002 OF 002


in construction in Turkmenistan arrived with altruistic
ideals. Profit margins are not high compared to similar
projects in Turkey. "First you come to do some good, then
you can make some money," he added. Noting that
Berdimuhamedov and Turkey's President Gul have yet to
exchange visits, he said he did not feel that the close
business relations have fostered better political relations.

7. (SBU) Demir complained prominent French construction
company Bouygues doesn't "talk to anyone" and is a "black
box." Demir felt strongly that Bouygues was trading building
projects for oil and gas, and suggested the company was not a
private entity but somehow part of the French government.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: While Demir made some good points, it was
clear he held an over-inflated view of the role of Turkish
companies here and the benefits they bring to the country.
In this meeting, he also showed a side of the fierce
competition that exists between the few foreign construction
companies that operate here. His comments on Avaza, like
those of other international business entities, reinforce the
notion that few companies are interested in this pet project
before the investment climate warms and a clearer picture of
the project appears. END COMMENT.
HOAGLAND

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