Media Highlights of the Week
Politics and Security
Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers to Meet
The Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia will meet in Washington D.C. on June 20. The meeting will be held under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. The Foreign Ministers had previously met in Paris and Moscow, the other two Minsk Group co-chair countries, so it was the United States’ turn to host.
OSCE Military Training Takes Place in Kazakhstan
Military and civilian experts from Belarus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre traveled to Nur-Sultan to train officers from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Mongolia from June 10-14. The seminar focused on the practical implementation of the Vienna Document 2011, including confidence and security-building measures and inspection procedures.
Armenian Ambassador to Turkmenistan Dies
Armenia’s Ambassador to Turkmenistan Garnik Badalyan died suddenly on June 12, according to a spokesperson from the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The cause of the 61-year-old diplomat’s death is not yet known. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Service to Homeland of First Degree.
U.S. Secretary of State Meets with Georgian Prime Minister
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze on June 11 in Washington. The two discussed Georgia’s partnership with NATO, security cooperation, and reforms necessary to ensure the rule of law and fair elections in Georgia. Secretary Pompeo reaffirmed the U.S.’ support for Georgia’s territorial integrity in remarks to the media.
Penal Reform International Group Seeks to Reform Kazakh Criminal Justice System
Penal Reform International (PRI) is working to help Kazakhstan reform its penal system by bolstering efforts to prevent torture and conforming prisons to international standards, according to PRI Central Asia Director Azamat Shambilov. Kazakhstan was the first post-Soviet state to let human rights workers go to prisons and examine them.
Energy & Economy
Hevel Begins Construction on 100 MW Solar Plant in Kazakhstan
The Hevel Group, a Russian firm specializing in solar energy, has started construction of the 100MW Nura solar power station in the Akmola region of Northern Kazakhstan. The plant, financed with funding from Hevel and the Eurasian Development Bank, is expected to enter service in 2020. Hevel is involved in numerous solar projects in Kazakhstan with a total capacity of 178 MW.
Natural Gas from Azerbaijan Reaches Greek Border via TANAP
According to a post on SOCAR’s Facebook page, gas traveling from Azerbaijan reached the Turkish-Greek border after traveling across Turkey through the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). The delivery of gas to the EU coincided with Azerbaijan’s National Salvation Day on June 15th. Work is still underway on the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will transport Azerbaijani gas from TANAP onward to Greece, Albania, and Italy.
Azerbaijan’s Umid Gas Field Expected to Produce 1 bcm in 2019.
According to the Trend news agency, an informed source in Azerbaijani state-owned energy company SOCAR has stated that the firm’s forecasts anticipate that the Umid gas field will produce around 1 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in 2019. SOCAR controls the rights to gas from Umid, though the field is being developed by a joint venture of SOCAR and Nobel Upstream under an RSA agreement.
Passport-Free Entry in Georgia Reaches Nine Million
Georgia’s Batumi province on the northeastern border of Turkey hosts popular touristic activity along the Black Sea coast. In June, the number of people entering through this border reached nine million annually, demonstrating the positive impact of the switch to passport-free entry for Turks. Batumi was rated one of Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destinations by the World Travel Awards for 2019.
First Armenia Airways Flight is to Iran
On June 15, Armenia Airways’ first commercial flight took off from Yerevan, Armenia to Tehran, Iran. The frequency will increase to one daily flight as of June 24. The flight will use the airline’s only BAe 146-300 – registration EK-14601, which is 28 years old and was previously in use by the Romanian charter carrier Aviro Air.
Georgia Signs Blockchain Deal
The government of Georgia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IOHK, developer of Cardano cryptocurrency. IOHK will work to establish blockchain technologies for several ministries within the governments, including the Ministry of Education. The deal represents closer ties between governments and the blockchain industry.
Afghan-Turkmen Railroad, Investment Partnerships Signed
Afghanistan and Turkmenistan on Sunday signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) to expanding rail network, increasing import of energy and attracting investment. The MoUs are aimed at attracting investment for the Torghondai-Heart and Aqena-Andkhoi rail networks and increasing 110 megawatts of electricity import from Turkmenistan to Farah province via Herat’s Shindand district.
(Sources: AKI Press, Anadolu Agency, Armenpress, Astana Times, AzerNews, Bloomberg, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Fox News, FXStreet, The Guardian, Hurriyet Daily News, Iranian Students’ News Agency, MENAFN, Mehr News, News.am, The New York Post, Nobel Upstream, PV Magazine, PV Tech, Reuters, RFE/RL, Simple flying, South China Morning Post, Tashkent Times, Tasnim News Agency, Trend, and Xinhuanet.)