Media Highlights of the Week
Security & Politics
President of Uzbekistan to Visit Turkmenistan
On August 16, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov met in Ashgabat to discuss preparations for the visit of the head of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Turkmenistan, as well as the resumption of flights between the two countries.
Tajikistan, China Hold Counterterrorism Drills in Gorno-Badakhshan
The Tajik and Chinese militaries recently conducted counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan’s mountainous Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. Tajik Defense Ministry spokesman Orif Nozimzoda noted on August 13 that the goal of the joint drills was to better counter possible threats posed by terrorist and extremist groups. The exercises ran until August 16 and involved about 1,200 troops from both sides, according to the Chinese military’s official website.
Azerbaijani, Georgian Experts to Inspect Uncoordinated Sections of State Border
A working meeting of experts of state commissions on delimitation and demarcation of the state border of Azerbaijan and Georgia was held on August 19. The parties discussed the delimitation process and clarified the positions on the uncoordinated sections. The work is planned to be carried out on the territories, including the measurement work and inspection of uncoordinated sections. The experts will jointly inspect different sections on August 19-23.
Kyrgyz Former PM Hospitalized
Kyrgyz former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, who is accused of corruption and is serving the sentence in the pretrial detention center of the State Committee for National Security, has been hospitalized. “Isakov was taken to the hospital due to the deterioration of his health condition,” according to Rakhat Sulaymanov. “The doctors diagnosed him with vertebral artery syndrome.”
Kazakhstan Discusses Issues on Strengthening Strategic Cooperation with EU
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian recently discussed a wide range of issues on strengthening strategic cooperation between Kazakhstan and EU within the framework of Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and in the light of the new EU Strategy on Central Asia.
Energy & Economy
U.S. Company Completes Contract on Shah Deniz 2
The U.S. company Emerson has completed its $48 million contract for automation systems and cloud engineering software-as-a-service for the Shah Deniz 2 project in Azerbaijan, and is fulfilling an ongoing five-year services contract to help ensure reliable, safe operations. Emerson noted that the $28 billion project includes the first subsea development in the Caspian Sea.
Uzbek Ministry of Energy Talks on Joint Project with Gazprom
The joint venture Natural Gas-Stream, established by Uzbekneftegaz and the Gas Project Development Central Asia (a subsidiary of Gazprom International), is implementing an investment project in north-west of Uzbekistan. The project envisages exploration work on the investment blocks Sechankul, Akjar, and Chimbay, alongside development of the Urga field and the fields of Akchalak and Chandyr groups.
Petrofac and SOCAR JV Secure Engineering and Technical Contract in Azerbaijan
Petrofac, in a joint venture (JV) with the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), has secured an Engineering and Technical Services contract to support Total and SOCAR’s Exploration & Production activities in Azerbaijan. According to Petrofac, “The 12-month contract, with option to extend, will support activity in the Absheron natural gas field. SOCAR and Total each have a 50 percent interest in the field.”
Modifications Required for TAP to Reach 20 BCMY Capacity
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) has been designed to be expanded from 10 to 20 billion cubic meters per year capacity of gas delivery from Turkish/Greek border to Italy. According to TAP’s market test, the following modifications are required for the expansion to 20 BCMY: (1) additional compressors/coolers/filters/meters in GCS00, (2) a new compressor station to be installed in GCS01 (currently only pigging station), (3) a new compressor station to be installed in ACS02 (currently only pigging and metering station), (4) an additional compressors/coolers/filters/meters in ACS03, and (5) new filters/heaters/control valves/meters in PRT.
FDI Inflows Remain Key Source of Financing in Georgia
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows at 6.6 percent of GDP remained the key source of financing in Georgia in 2Q2019. TBC Bak of Georgia noted, “At the same time, over the first six months of 2019 the National Bank of Georgia bought $216 million or around 3 percent of the same period GDP, indicating that the inflows were sufficient even for higher growth.”
Europe to Boost Rural Development in Tajikistan
The European Commission has announced on August 16 a €59 million ($65 million) support program to boost rural development in Tajikistan. The newly approved program, Rural Development Program II, will enhance business competitiveness by supporting an equal number of female and male farmers in business management, strengthening the management of natural resources, and promoting sustainable and efficient use of water through the supply and installment of equipment.
Uzbek President Receives Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Delegation
On August 13, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev received a delegation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, led by its President Jin Liqun. An agreement was reached on development, and a roadmap for effective interaction was adopted for the medium term.
EBRD Finances Modernization of Air Navigation Service Infrastructure in Tajikistan
A 7-year EBRD loan of €6 million ($6.66 million) will fund major upgrades of the air navigation service infrastructure at the main airports in the country. The investment will promote quality, safety, and compliance of local air navigation services with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
Uzbekistan to Introduce Visa-Free Travel for Tourists of 20 More Countries
Starting from Jan. 1, 2020, Uzbekistan will introduce 30-day visa-free travel for tourists of another 20 countries, mostly Central American ones, in a bid to boost tourism, according to a presidential decree issued on August 13.
(Sources: AzerNews, Eurasianet, Just-food, New Europe, RFE/RL, Strategeast, The Azeri Times, The Times of Central Asia, Trend News Agency, UZDaily, and Xinhua News.)