Media Highlights of the Week
Security & Politics
Georgia Switches to Proportionate Electoral System
Large demonstrations popped up in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi late last week after a Russian lawmaker was allowed to sit in the speaker of Georgia’s parliament’s seat. Protesters sought to remind the government that Russia is occupying part of Georgia’s territory and to disagree with efforts to develop closer relations. Russia responded by suspending flights to Georgia and ordering officials to work with Russian citizens in Georgia to return them home. Meanwhile, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili announced that the next parliamentary elections will be based on a proportionate system.
Opposition wins Istanbul elections
Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu defeated the AKP’s Binali Yildirim with approximately 54 percent of the vote. President Erdogan publicly congratulated the victor.
Tokayev Outlines a More Assertive Kazakhstan at the SCO Summit
President Tokayev outlined his views for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)’s priorities at the Bishkek summit — the first foreign trip of the newly elected Kazakh President. During his speech, he said that the SCO must fully implement the strengthening of mutual confidence, constructive dialogue, and interaction to provide for the security and cooperation in the SCO space. President Tokayev advocated for the Astana International Financial Center to support the financial systems of SCO member countries in order to help the organization’s members reach their true economic potential, as well as brought up the importance of Kazakhstan’s initiative to form a Global Antiterrorist Coalition under United Nations auspices.
Kazakh-Afghan Parties Hold Bilateral Meetings
Kazakh ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Farkhad Azimi discussed the importance of strengthening ties in security, business, and education between the two countries. From the meetings, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan promised to cooperate more in the security spheres to help build the stability of the region. Ambassador Azimi was also hopeful that the education initiative to bring Afghan students into Kazakhstan will continue, if not be strengthened.
Energy & Economy
EBRD Ponders Funding Kazakh Renewables with EUR 300 Million
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is considering extending up to EUR 300 million ($341.4 million) in debt for renewable energy and grid transmission projects in Kazakhstan. The so-called Kazakhstan Renewables Framework Phase II facility will help the country integrate more renewable energy capacity and support it in reaching its goal of producing 3% of its total power from renewables by 2020.
Kazakh Energy Minister Promises Public Consultation Before Construction of Nuclear Power Plant
Kanat Bozumbayev, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Energy, stated that the people of Kazakhstan would be consulted before any nuclear plants could start construction in the country. In these comments, made at a press conference on June 20th, the minister suggested that the consultation could take the form of an opinion poll or a referendum, but he emphasized that no nuclear power project would proceed without public support. However, Bozumbayev underscored the fact that there are currently no concrete plans to open a nuclear plant, through investigation of the matter by the government continues.
SOCAR Takes Delivery of Jack-Up Rig from KazMunayGas
A ceremony was held on June 24 celebrating the transfer of a jack-up rig from KazMunayGas to the Caspian Drilling Company (CDC), a subsidiary of Azerbaijan’s state-owned energy firm SOCAR. The rig, known as Satti, will be upgraded at CDC’s facility. After work on the rig is completed, it will likely be employed in drilling operations in the Shallow Water Absheron Peninsula (SWAP) area, which is jointly operated by SOCAR and BP.
Swiss to Return $133 million to Uzbekistan After Money Laundering Probe
The Swiss attorney general’s office on Monday announced it was returning 130 million Swiss francs ($133 million) to Uzbekistan which it seized during an investigation involving a relative of the daughter of the country’s former president Islam Karimov.
Kyrgyzstan Approves Financing Agreement with IDA for the Third Phase of Central Asia Regional Links Program Project
Kyrgyzstan’s Government approved a draft-financing agreement with the International Development Association for the Third Phase of the Central Asia Regional Links Program Project for the Kyrgyz Republic. The Third Phase covers the construction of the Tyup-Kegen road and the road leading to the Karkyra tourism base. The total sum of the project is $55 million, including $27.5 million grant and $27.5 million loans. The project is aimed to increase regional connectivity and support sustainable tourism development in Issyk‐Kul Oblast.
Uzbekistan, South Korea Expand Economic Cooperation
Seoul hosted the Korea-Uzbekistan First Working Group Meeting on monitoring the implementation of agreements reached during the previous bilateral summits last week. The parties discussed issues of accelerating the implementation of joint investment projects. Discussions were held on the effective functioning of research centers for the development of industry in Uzbekistan, the introduction of digital healthcare in the country, strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical field and implementation of projects in various areas. The next meeting of the working group will be held in September, in Tashkent.
Kazakhstan’s Digitization Generates $578 million for Economy in 2018
Kazakhstan’s digitization efforts generated $578 million for its economy in 2018, according to Kazakh Vice Minister of Digital Development, Defense, and Aerospace Industries Ablaikhan Ospanov at the June 12-14 International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Chief Information Officer Summit in Nur-Sultan. In response to the 2018-2022 Digital Kazakhstan state program, which aims to digitize parts of the economy, government, and human capital development and implement a Digital Silk Road and innovative ecosystem, last year, Kazakhstan’s trade volume in e-commerce also increased 1.5 times, exceeding $700 million.
(Sources: Akipress, Al-Masdar News, Arka News Agency, Astana Times, AzerNews, Defense Post, Centralasian.org, Eurasianet, Jam News, Mena FN, Miami Herald, Offshore Energy Today, Renewable Now, Reuters, RFE/RL, SOCAR, Times of Central Asia, Trend News Agency, Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, and Zakon.kz.)