Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry Expects Major Reshuffle

    Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing for changes in senior personnel. It’s likely that the ministry’s current deputy head, Vepa Hajiyev, will be sent to Switzerland as Turkmenistan’s permanent representative to the UN bodies there, while Batyr Niyazlyev, who until recently was ambassador to Russia, will take his place. Reports of the impending reshuffle come from a turkmen.news source in the Foreign Ministry.

    Vepa Hajiyev (left), Batyr Niyazlyev and Rashid Meredov

    The fate of the current foreign minister, Rashid Meredov, is not yet known. He is one of the éminences grises of Turkmen politics, having been in post since July 2001. As foreign minister, Meredov has witnessed the most notable events in modern Turkmen history: the alleged assassination attempt on President Saparmurat Niyazov in November 2002; then his death at the end of 2006; the accession to the top job of the little known Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov; and in March 2022 the handover of the presidential post to his son Serdar Berdimuhamedov.

    “Rashid Meredov is the most influential Turkmen politician today,” the turkmen.news source said. “After the death of Aleksandr Zhadan on March 22, 2023 and especially after the retirement of Viktor Hramov this summer, it’s Meredov who has had the final say in both domestic and foreign policy decision-making.”

    The source believes that Meredov will not keep his post for long, as Serdar Berdimuhamedov is actively clearing out his father’s appointees. The 63-year-old Meredov might be sent to New York as ambassador to the UN or to Turkmenistan’s embassy in Washington, replacing the relative veterans Aksoltan Atayeva and Meret Orazov. Or, and this is more likely, Turkmenistan’s current foreign minister will receive a more modest sinecure alongside Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov who now heads the Halk Maslahaty – the upper house of parliament.

    “This politician knows too much for him to be allowed to cross the ocean, while a club of pensioner officials has already formed around Berdimuhamedov where Meredov can live out his last years.”

    Moreover, according to some reports, Rashid Meredov is not in the best of health.

    As for Vepa Hajiyev, he regularly presents Turkmenistan at the UN events. The diplomat comments on sensitive issues concerning human rights, having practically become the Foreign Ministry’s main representative. The position of permanent representative to the UN would, therefore, be appropriate for him.

    Batyr Niyazlyev, meanwhile, was removed from his post in Russia on November 10. Esen Aydogdyev, the former rector of the International University of the Humanities and Development, was appointed in his place. Batyr’s name has often cropped up in turkmen.news publications about his cousin, the former head of the Turkmenhimiya state concern Niyazly Niyazlyev. The latter is now the focus of attention of the investigative bodies and is trying to avoid criminal charges.