Media Highlights of the Week
Energy and Economy
Tajikistan Seeks $340 Million to Complete Construction on Rogun Plant
Tajikistan seeks to attract $500 million in external loans to finance national energy development projects, of which $340 million will be allocated towards completing the Rogun hydropower plant. Officials have encountered several obstacles over the past decades in completing construction on the plant. In 2016, Italian company Sailini Impregio accepted construction responsibilities. The estimated total cost of construction is $3.9 billion.
UzAuto Motors Receives $180 Million Loan
Uzbekistan’s state-owned automobile manufacturer UzAuto Motors and Credit Suisse AG London Branch inked an agreement on a $179.6 million loan. UzAuto Motors will use the funds to develop its production lines and increase its working capital. UzDaily currently manufactures 300,000 vehicles annually, and the company hopes to increase this output with the additional financing.
Kazakhstan Will Borrow $1.8 Billion to Fund COVID Relief
Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament, the Majlis, sealed an agreement to borrow $1 billion from the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank and $800 million from the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The terms stipulate that the debt must be repaid within 10 years. The government will use the funds from the loans to treat coronavirus patients, provide frontline workers with supplemental incomes, and support small and medium-sized enterprises.
The U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan and Chevron to Support STEAM Education in Kazakhstan
Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce and the Deputy Managing Director of Chevron’s Eurasia Business Unit Marc Payne have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education within the “Makerspace Expands!” initiative in 10 cities across Kazakhstan. The main purpose of the project is to raise awareness of STEAM activities and equip young people with the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue careers in the field.
Uzbekistan Mulls Implementation of Green “Sukuk”
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Uzbekistan and the Capital Market Development Agency are collaborating to implement green “sukuk” in Uzbekistan. Sukuk are a form of sharia-compliant financial instrument. The initiative would establish Islamic finance that prioritized environmentally sustainable projects, such as renewable energy and waste management projects. Similar green “sukuk” initiatives have been implemented in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Russia Extends Period of Stay for Foreign Workers
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs announced its intention to extend the period of stay for foreign workers in the country due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic. The ministry said that the period of stay would likely be extended until the summer of 2021. This extension would allow migrant workers from the Caspian region to remain in Russia to find work.
Kazakhstan and Singapore Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technological Cooperation
As Kazakhstan looks into expanding its digital trade and e-commerce, it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to use the latter’s best practices in technological development. The deal is part of Kazakhstan’s broader roadmap program on e-commerce development for 2019-2025.
Security and Politics
Russia and Turkey Discuss Technicalities of Joint Ceasefire Center
According to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, Russia and Turkey are holding discussions over the technical details of the joint ceasefire center to be established in Nagorno-Karabakh. The two countries agreed to establish this joint center through a memorandum signed by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Kazakhstan Plans to Expand Its Participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions
Kazakhstan plans to expand the participation of its armed forces in UN nations peacekeeping missions. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed the Defense Ministry to prepare a plan by August 2021. He also said the state will increase payments to military service by 30 percent in the next three years.
Uzbekistan to Repatriate Citizens from Syria
Uzbekistan plans to repatriate another group of its citizens, mostly women and children, from Syria where they are staying at camps with other families of Islamic State fighters. An Uzbek government delegation visited the Al-Hol and Roj camps in the Kurdish-controlled part of Syria and discussed the repatriation of over 100 Uzbek citizens.
U.S. Embassy Welcomes Delay on Referendum on Kyrgyz Constitutional Reform
On November 27, the U.S. The Embassy in Bishkek released a statement which welcomed the proposal by the Kyrgyz presidential candidates to delay a referendum on constitutional reform to the spring or later. This delay occurred following large protests against the reforms in Bishkek. The statement said that delaying the decisions on constitutional changes would allow the presidential candidates to focus on issues such as the pandemic and its repercussions and fighting organized crime. This comes after Sadyr Japarov, who suspended his duties as Kyrgyzstan’s acting President and Prime Minister in order to run for president, defended the proposed changes to the constitution granting greater powers to the President.
Tajik Minister of Foreign Affairs Meets with President of Korean Foundation
Tajikistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sirojiddin Muhriddin met with Gin Lee, the President of the Korean Foundation, on an official state visit to Seoul, South Korea, on November 26. The officials discussed the potential for increased engagement with the Korea Foundation by facilitating exchange programs between South Korea and Tajikistan. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Center for Advanced Studies and Retraining under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan and the National Diplomatic Academy of Korea with the intent of increasing the number and participation of Tajik diplomats.
(Sources: 24.kg, Agenda.ge, Asia-Plus, Astana Times, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Report News Agency, Reuters, RFE/RL, Times of Central Asia, U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan, U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, and UZ Daily.)