Media Highlights of the Week
Energy and Economy
With TAP Completed, Azerbaijan to Deliver Gas Supplies to Europe By the End of 2020
According to the Deputy Head of the Public Relations and Event Management at the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) Ibrahim Ahmadov, full completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will allow Azerbaijan to deliver its first gas supplies to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor by the end of 2020. This project will bring additional revenues to Azerbaijan and support energy security in Europe.
New Wind Farm Deal in Kazakhstan Underscores its Commitment to Renewable Energy
Kazakhstan recently inked a $95.3 million deal to construct the 100 MW Zhanatas Wind Farm in southern Kazakhstan. The Zhanatas wind farm will be one of the largest in the region and the first renewable energy project co-financed by a commercial bank in Kazakhstan. The new wind farm is projected to reduce carbon emissions by about 262,000 tons and provide new job opportunities in the region.
Uzbekistan Reports Widespread Overconsumption of Natural Gas
Tokhir Turdiev, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Khududgaztaminot, expressed concern over the recent overconsumption of natural gas. According to Turdiev, some consumers are using 7,000 cubic meters of gas per month, while the average consumption is expected to be 1,000 cubic meters per month. Overconsumption in the Tashkent, Kibray, Zangiotinsky, Pskent, and Parkent districts has led to localized shortages.
Asia Development Bank Approves Grant for Tajik Road Improvements
The Asia Development Bank approved a $67.5 million grant to improve safety and reliability of the road networks in southern Tajikistan. The grant will be used to repair two existing national road sections in the Khatlon province. The sections currently support approximately 5,500 vehicles per day. The national roadways also connect to Asian Highway 66. This highway is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program that links Asian and European countries.
Kyrgyzstan Imposes Livestock and Food Export Limits to Prevent Food Shortage
The Kyrgyz Ministry of Agriculture imposed a temporary ban on livestock exports to curb concerns of a possible food shortage. Beef prices have increased by 25 percent during a period of increased exports. The ban also includes various agricultural products, such as wheat, eggs, and rice. Critics argue that the ban will only hurt agricultural producers still reeling from the economic effects of COVID-19.
A New State Program Opens in Georgia to Attract Foreign Direct Investment
Georgia has set up FDI Grant, a new state program to attract foreign direct investment in the country’s key sectors, including electronics and aircraft. For international companies to be eligible to apply, they must meet certain requirements, invest at least 10 million GEL (around $3 million), and generate at least 150 jobs. Companies working in the field of business process outsourcing need to invest at least 5 million GEL (approximately $1.5 million) and generate 200 jobs.
Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency to Support Local Businesses Through a New Grant
Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency has committed to co-finance a grant competition and allocate 100,000 GEL ($30,200) to support new business and startup ideas and projects. The World Bank’s National Innovation Ecosystem for Georgia is also assisting the execution of the initiative to further promote innovative solutions and support local businesses.
Security and Politics
CIS Emergency Response Corps Exercise Scheduled for May 2021
The second meeting to discuss preparations for an exercise of the CIS emergency response corps was held via videoconference on November 19. The Russian Emergencies Ministry presented the plan and stages of the exercise. They also discussed the participation of experts in international science and psychological support during emergencies.
Armenia and Azerbaijan Receive Russian Delegation
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Armenia and Azerbaijan to complete talks on the implementation of the recent ceasefire for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During the visit, Lavrov met with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in Baku, as well as with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Armen Sargsyan in Yerevan, who reaffirmed their full commitment to the implementation of the ceasefire. Armenia returned the occupied Azerbaijani territory of Aghdam to Azerbaijan on November 20, in accordance with the Russian-mediated ceasefire. Armenia is scheduled to return the territories of Lachin and Kalbejar to Azerbaijan on December 1.
Russia Provides Humanitarian Assistance to Armenian-populated Parts of Nagorno-Karabakh
The Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation sent 27 cargo trucks to Nagorno-Karabakh to provide humanitarian assistance and supplies. The Russian delegation was met at the Samur border checkpoint by officials of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Azerbaijan. Supplies for humanitarian assistance, including construction materials, will be provided to the cities of Shusha and Khankendi (Stepanakert).
Foreign Ministry of Georgia Prepares for Geneva Discussions
The Georgian Foreign Ministry announced an increase in provocative actions by Russia at Georgia’s borders with its occupied territories. The Georgian government indicated a deteriorating humanitarian situation and noted that there has been an increase in the number of illegal detentions of Georgian citizens at the border. As a result, the Foreign Ministry initiated preparations for the 51st round of the Geneva International Discussions, an international dialogue involving Georgia’s representatives in the EU, the UN, and the OSCE Co-chairs.
Hundreds Rally Against Constitutional Changes in Bishkek
Hundreds of people rallied against constitutional changes in Bishkek on November 22. The constitutional changes they were protesting would allow the president to have more control over the executive branch. The proposed constitution, nicknamed the ‘Khanstitution’ by critics, would give the president the authority to appoint chairs to all the courts, up to and including the Supreme Court, and would be able to initiate legislation.
Opening of a Russian Migration Center Representative Office in Tashkent Discussed
A delegation from the Moscow multifunctional migration center held talks with the leadership of the Agency for External Labor Migration on the opening of a representative office of a multifunctional migration center in Tashkent. The center would provide services for Uzbek citizens to prepare the necessary documents to work in Russia and serve as an operator to establish cooperation between employers from Russia and the Agency for External Labor Migration.
Tajik and Kyrgyz Officials Meet to Discuss Border Issues
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbayev traveled to Dushanbe to meet with Tajikistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Davlatsho Gulmahmadzoda. Gulmahmadzoda also serves as the co-chair of the Kyrgyz-Tajik International Commission for Delimitation and Demarcation. One of the points discussed in the meeting was the need to come to a mutual agreement on border demarcation in order to implement measures for maintaining peace and stability in border areas. The two parties anticipate holding a 17th session of the Intergovernmental Commission in Bishkek in early 2021 to continue to address these issues.
Sources: (Agenda.ge, Asia-Plus TJ, Azernews, Eurasianet, Kazinform, Report News Agency, Times of Central Asia, UZDaily)