Posted on the blog Moon of Alabama:
Shortly after Columbia University’s president insulted the invited guest Ahmedinejad by repeating lies of the Bush government, there was this event.
Columbia University World Leaders Forum, CMU
Monday, September 24, 2007, 9:00–10:00 a.m.
The Italian Academy, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue at 117th Street
Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, President of Turkmenistan
Co-sponsored by the Harriman Institute
A keynote address followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
So what welcome did Berdymukhammedov receive?
The University director, Lee Bollinjer, a prominent scholar and author of a number of scientific treatises, books, textbooks, welcomed the Turkmen leader at the University.
Introducing the high guest to the teaching staff of the University, Lee Bollinjer noted that in seven months that Gurbnaguly Berdimuhamedov has been was leading the state, large-scale reforms, particularly, in education, science and culture were started in Turkmenistan.
Turkmen President speaks at Columbia University, Sept. 25, 2007
At least the guest was ‘academic’ enough to suffice Bollinger’s standards:
Berdymukhammedov led an interactive presentation where pupils in supposedly regular middle schools in Turkmenistan were shown typing on sleek, late-model computer laptops, girls dressed in traditional costumes were dancing in a sparkling city park, and a provincial bazaar abounded in fruits and vegetables.
They were scenes of a Turkmenistan, where, as the president said, not natural gas, but people, are its “greatest asset.”
Turkmenistan is not known for its respect for its people or for human rights. Hundreds of people are imprisoned in Turkmenistan for their political beliefs.
At the conclusion of his presentation at Columbia, Berdymukhammedov urged all who are interested to know more about Turkmenistan, its economy, and other issues to approach and talk to the members of his delegation, which included several ministers and two deputy prime ministers.
Efforts by RFE/RL to speak with delegation members were unsuccessful.
Turkmenistan: President Says Press, NGOs Operate Freely, Radio Free Europe, Sep. 25, 2007
So why might Bollinger have used a different tone in this event? Could that be because Columbia has a 3 million investment in Chevron and other relations with the oil industry?
Berdymukhammedov – a former minister of health and the dentist of the country’s previous ruler, Saparmurat Niyazov – was an unexpected choice to lead the impoverished country of five million people after Niyazov died last year.
ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP are among companies that have courted Turkmenistan recently, hoping to bolster their own reserves and tap non-OPEC sources.
U.S. officials woo Turkmenistan’s president, IHT, Sept. 25, 2007
Just asking …