20 October 2019, Sunday, 5:00
We are in the same boat

Leanid Zaika: Who Can Ask Lukashenka Why He Took on the Project?

Leanid Zaika: Who Can Ask Lukashenka Why He Took on the Project?

Economist tells about the Belarusian-Turkmen potash "showdown".

Turkmenistan has filed a claim against the Belarusian side over misperformance of the contract for the construction of the Harlyk potash complex and is ready to hold a showdown in court in Sweden.

Belgorkhimprom says it has failed to meet part of its obligations due to failure of Turkmenhimia to pay more than $150 million for the work done. This amount is requested in response to the Stockholm Arbitration Institute.

- When our people decided to go there, I made it plain and wrote - it's a mistake, economist Leanid Zaika said in the commentary to Salidarnasts.

And his opinion is based on two reasons. The first concerns financial issues:

- First of all, it was necessary to find out how Turkmenistan pays for work and services to others. Colleagues working in Belarusian universities say that the money for education of Turkmen students should be wheedled out. They are horrified: sometimes, they are just not paid at all. The Turkmen side behaves differently when paying Western partners. But it can be explained by typical subservience in Eastern countries before the West.

The economist adds: "One should have kept away from them: if they can't pay two thousand dollars for a student, will they pay 150 million now? All the more, nothing has been produced or sold.

The second reason why the Belarusian side should not have cooperated with Turkmenistan is the project of the Garlyk mining and processing plant itself.

According to the information of the head of the Strategy analytical center, Western companies refused to undertake its construction on the terms proposed.

- Turkmens turned to large Western companies engaged in mining, but they refused the project because of the need to invest large amounts in the creation of ingress of ground water safety, etc. This is a very complex and very costly project. I would call our consent a spontaneous approach," Leanid Zaika.

According to the Salidarnasts interlocutor, it was initially possible to assume that the cost of the project would increase.

- But is it done here? Lukashenka agreed, the Prime Minister smiled and drank a glass of fermented mare's milk and only then specialists arrived and realised things they had to do. It's the reason for all problems," the economist says. - It's the risky campaign.

Leanid Zaika commented ironically on the information that Turkmenkhimiya intends to achieve the fulfillment of the contract through the court in Sweden:

- Let them go to Stockholm, and we will go to the fairest court in the world - Basman in Moscow. My Russian colleagues say that there is ordinary justice, and there is Basman one.

Why are the presidents of Belarus and Turkmenistan - two authoritarian leaders, at the initiative of whom the contract was signed - unable to agree and resolve the issue now?

- The East has a different set of mind, a different type of economic behavior," the expert explains. - The saddest thing is that no one will wonder: why you, Aliaksandr Ryhoravich, took on this project when others refused. What now? How will losses be compensated? With taxpayers' money?