Media Highlights of the Week
Energy and Economy
Uzbekistan Resumes Natural Gas Deliveries to Northern Tajikistan
Uzbekistan announced its intention to resume natural gas deliveries to Sughd province in Tajikistan following its suspension in 2012. In 2012, the Uzbek government canceled an agreement to supply Tajikistan with natural gas after Tashkent claimed that the country was experiencing domestic shortages, yet it is likely that the decision was prompted by tensions stemming from Tajikistan’s Roghun Dam.
U.S. COVID-19 Relief Assistance to Kazakhstan Exceeds $6 Million
The United States has delivered $6.2 million in financial assistance to Kazakhstan to mitigate the harmful social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial assistance was allocated for purchasing personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers and launching training programs to teach healthcare workers how to adapt their practices to meet COVID-specific needs
Azerbaijan Has Committed to Further Support Women’s Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
Small and Medium Business Development Agency that operates within the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani local NGO United Aid for Azerbaijan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance women’s entrepreneurship in the country and provide women with business training and workshops. The parties also discussed projects to increase cooperation between public and private sectors to empower women.
Azerbaijan To Attract $117.6 Million in a Deposit Auction
The Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) is planning to attract 200 million manat ($117.6 million) through the deposit auction that will be held on the Bloomberg trading platform. Earlier this month, the CBA also managed to raise 100 million ($58.8 million).
EIB Continues its Support for Georgian SMEs
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has committed to invest €35 million ($42.7 million) to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia. The initiative will extend credit lines at Georgia’s TBC Bank and ProCredit Bank to help SMEs recover from financial losses incurred by the pandemic and ensure a prosperous post-pandemic economic environment.
Security and Politics
Georgian Military Police Join NATO Multinational Military Police Battalion
The Georgian Ministry of Defense’s Military Police unit officially became a partner of the NATO Multinational Military Police Battalion, bringing Georgia closer to full membership in the alliance. The ceremony for confirming the partnership took place on December 28 and was attended by military police representatives of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. The partnership status will allow Georgian units to participate in future trainings, exercises, and operations before joining the force as a full member in 2022.
Georgia Discusses Joint Defense Production Plan
The Ministry of Defense of Georgia is currently negotiating with the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland about developing joint ventures in the field of national defense production. Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili made the announcement of the current discussions in a defense briefing on December 25. Garibashvili also established that the Georgian Defense Forces will be fully equipped with NATO-standard equipment by the end of 2021.
Uzbekistan Sets Fine for Disseminating False Information
The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev recently signed a law “On Amendments and Additions to the Criminal Procedure Codes of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Code of Administrative Responsibility of the Republic of Uzbekistan.” Fines would be imposed for those disseminating false information, including in the media, telecommunication networks, or on the Internet.
Five Russian Language Schools to be Constructed in Tajikistan
In a December 24 press conference, Igor Burulko, the First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Dushanbe, announced the intention to build five Russian language schools in Tajikistan during the summer of 2021. In the announcement, Burulko indicated that the Russian Federation has already allocated funds for the construction of the schools, and the results of a construction tender will be announced in February. The schools, which will be built in Bokhtar, Dushanbe, Khujand, Kulob, and Tursunzoda, are the result of an agreement signed between Russia and Tajikistan on April 17, 2019.
Protesters Lead Rally Outside Armenian Parliament
Protesters led a rally outside of Armenia’s parliament building in Yerevan on December 28. Demonstrators blame the ruling party for general inactivity and destroying the National Assembly. Other protesters called for the initiation of the process of declaring no confidence for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. After the signing of a trilateral peace agreement ending the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, protesters have consistently called for Pashinyan to leave the office.
Armenian Armed Group Attacks Azerbaijani Soldiers in Khojavend
A group of armed Armenians, including Armenian Armed Forces members, led an attack on Azerbaijani army officers on December 27. One Azerbaijani soldier was killed and another injured in the attack. All six members of the Armenian military group were killed. The Ministry of Defense has announced that it will take additional actions if a similar incident occurs.
Azerbaijan to Implement Compulsory Health Insurance Policy in 2021
Beginning in 2021, health insurance in Azerbaijan will become compulsory, and all citizens will have access to a family doctor or primary health care provider. Those in need of specialty medical care will later be referred to a qualified specialist. Citizens will register at their local state medical institution and will be free to choose and change their doctors without restrictions. Insured individuals cannot be registered at two medical institutions at the same time.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Azernews, Asia-Plus, Asia-Plus TJ, Caspian News, Report News Agency.)