Central Asia: Oct/Nov ‘10, Part II
The first subject-specific seminar for journalists reporting for IWPR’s news analysis and comment service, News Briefing Central Asia, NBCA, was held last November in Bishkek for a group of Uzbek and Turkmen contributors.
The workshop was organised to meet the needs of journalists reporting for NBCA and give them insight into geo-political, economic and business aspects of pipeline policy pursued by energy-rich countries in the region - Kazakstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Established in 2006, NBCA draws on the expertise of a broad range of political observers across the region to contribute to greater public awareness of issues affecting Central Asia. The service covers only Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - two countries in the region where foreign media organisations and NGOs are not allowed to operate. For reasons of personal security for contributors, NBCA reports do not carry by-lines.
The training session was conducted by Dr Rovshan Ibragimov, the director of the Energy Research Centre in the Azeri capital Baku, who is a specialist in pipeline policy analysis in the Caucasus and Central Asia region. Ibragimov regularly contributes his expert opinion to NBCA reports.
Ibragimov said that pipeline policy is an area of international politics that is rapidly changing, and that in order to cover it properly journalists have to be better informed on the subject.
Journalists attending the training session learned about a host of subjects and issues, including the influence of energy on world political history, energy supply security in the Eurasian area, transnational companies working in the region and major international players. A comparative analysis of energy factors in the foreign policies of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and other countries with energy resources was also covered.
Rovshanov also introduced reporters to the legal aspects of relations between governments and foreign investors, and to the economics of gas an oil production, the main sources of state budget revenues for energy exporting countries
One of the seminar participants, an economic journalist from Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, said he would use what he learnt in the seminar in future NBCA reports. “We were able to see pipeline policy within the wider regional context and through the prism of international relations,” the Uzbek journalist said.
According to participants, the training session gave them the confidence to write analytical reports on a wider range of issues related to government energy policy.
A journalist from the Turkmen capital Ashgabat who writes about Turkmenistan’s energy sector said that he was able to get an insight into the intricacies of his government’s policy on the issue.
“When you live inside Turkmenistan, you get an impression that pipeline [routes] declared by authorities, for example, to China and Afghanistan - a hotly debated subject currently - present a super-alternative,” the Turkmen reporter said, adding that the seminar showed him that this is far from the truth.
Participants said they particularly enjoyed a practical session, in which they were each asked to outline the energy policy of a Central Asian republic which was not their own.
“Journalists were able to understand well the position of other countries in energy issues which is important for them when they come to write their reports,“ Ibragimov explained.
Inga Sikorskaya is IWPR’s chief editor for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.