Caspian Weekly Roundup
Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister to Visit Turkish Counterpart
Zakir Hasanov, Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister, will travel to Ankara on March 28 at the invitation of Turkey’s Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli. While there, Hasanov will conduct meetings with Turkish military and political officials. Later in the week, Hasanov is also scheduled to attend a trilateral meeting with Canikli and Georgia’s Minister of Defense Levan Izoria in Giresun, Turkey.
Conference on Peace in Afghanistan Kicks Off in Tashkent
From March 25-27, Tashkent, Uzbekistan is hosting an international conference focused on peace in Afghanistan. Representatives from Central Asian nations, Europe, the Middle East, China, and the US will attend. It is expected that a declaration will be produced that calls for direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and that allows the Taliban to legally exercise influence in Afghan politics in exchange for a pledge of respect to Afghanistan’s constitution. Other important discussions will focus on renouncing violence, counterterrorism efforts, and improving regional economic cooperation.
Bus Service Between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan To Commence In April
According to the deputy head of Uzbekistan’s Motor Transport Agency, four bus routes connecting cities in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, including routes to the capitals, will be inaugurated this year. This development was apparently made possible by a recent deal struck during Mirziyoyev’s visit to Dushanbe earlier this month.
Armenia’s President May Extend Reign
In two weeks, Armenia will transition to a parliamentary system of government with a prime minister instead of a president. Armenia’s current president, Serzh Sargsyan, gave an interview last week in which he implied that he would assume the role of Prime Minister, despite stating in 2014 that he did not “aspire to the post of prime minister.” When this quote was raised, Sargsyan claimed he still did not want to be prime minister, but that he felt he had some responsibility for the future of Armenia. He also noted ongoing discussions he had been having with his own party and with potential future political leaders. If true, it may be a sign that Sargsyan does indeed intend to step down, but some have criticized Sargsyan for simply indoctrinating a new leader through whom he can continue to manipulate Armenian politics.
Russia Carries Out Military Exercises in Disputed Territory
Just one day after Russia’s presidential elections, the Russian military began large-scale military exercises in Crimea, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Russian news sources reported that approximately 8,000 troops participated in the drills, which also involved rocket launchers and artillery systems. Despite criticism from the international community, Russia continues to support Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s declarations of independence from Georgia and has concluded military agreements with them.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan Interested in Kazakh Military Vehicles
According to the general director of Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE), a contractor who manufactures equipment for Kazakhstan’s military, his company is looking to export their military vehicles to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan has already seen testing of one of KPE’s military vehicles and has reportedly expressed interested in buying it. KPE will send vehicles to Turkmenistan this year for testing and if Turkmenistan is satisfied, they may shift their military vehicle imports from the UAE and Turkey to Kazakhstan.
Sources: Azertac, The Diplomat, Asia-Plus Media Group. Eurasia Net, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Army Recognition