Weekly News Roundup: the Caspian Region News as It Happens
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Reach Historic Agreements
Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev traveled to Dushanbe, Tajikistan from March 9-10 to meet with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. A significant outcome was the declaration of Uzbekistan’s full support of Tajikistan’s Roghun Dam project, which has been a thorny issue between Tajikistan and downstream Uzbekistan.
Turkish Forces Advance Towards Afrin
Turkey’s military released a statement last week claiming that they had seized control of Jandaris, which lies only 20 kilometers from Afrin, Syria. However, a reporter for Al Jazeera in the area warned that the final battle for Afrin may not be so simple because an additional 1,700 Kurdish fighters are being relocated from the front against the Islamic State to Afrin.
Azerbaijan’s Military Begins Week-long Combat Exercises
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry confirmed that up to 25,000 troops, 250 vehicles, and 1,000 missile systems will be involved in this week’s military training. The exercises are meant to prepare troops for defensive and counteroffensive operations. Armenia raised an objection to the exercises, but Azerbaijan replied that the exercises are taking place wholly within Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory.
Azerbaijan and Georgia Have High-Level Meetings
On March 9, the Defense Ministers of Azerbaijan and Georgia, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov and Levan Izoria respectively, met in Baku. Hasanov emphasized the importance of cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan in regional economic projects, NATO, and the format of the Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia military structure. Then, Hasanov and Izoria signed a plan for bilateral cooperation in 2018 between their respective Defense Ministries. Three days later, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Georgia also met to highlight their improving economic interconnectedness and to express support for each other in regional and global fora.
Uzbekistan Will Hold Global Conference on Afghanistan
In an effort to improve regional stability and cooperation, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has organized a global conference on Afghanistan with the themes of “Peace Process, Security Cooperation, and Regional Connectivity.” The conference is to be held from March 26-27 in Tashkent. The main takeaway for Afghanistan from the conference is expected to be the requirement that they convene direct talks with the Taliban.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Will Visit Moscow
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, will visit Moscow from March 12-14. While there, he will join the sixth meeting of the Joint Strategic Planning Group of Russia and Turkey along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This forum addresses bilateral issues as well as joint projects, such as the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and the Turkish Stream pipeline.
Central Asian Summit of Heads of States Will Take Place in Astana from March 15-16
The five Central Asian states will meet in Astana, Kazakhstan from March 15-16 during the Central Asian Summit. This is a forum that has been rekindled since Shavkat Mirziyoyev became president of Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan announced last week, however, that President Berdymukhamedov has bowed out of the summit and will be replaced by Speaker of the Parliament Akja Nurberdiyewa.
Source: Eurasianet, Al Jazeera, Caspian News and APA, News.Az and Azer News, ANI News, Anadolu News Agency, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty