Media Highlights of the Week
Energy and Economy
Armenia to Receive Gas via Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR announced its intention to assist Gazprom Export in transporting natural gas to Armenia. According to the agreement, Russia will deliver gas to Azerbaijan on the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, and SOCAR will then transport the gas through its territory to Armenia along the North Caucasus-Transcaucasia Pipeline, which spans 168.3 miles from Mozdok, Russia to Armenia via Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan Begins Highway Projects in Liberated Territories
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev launched two new highway projects in the liberated territories of Karabakh. The Fuzuli-Hadrut highway will span eight miles and consist of four lanes. In addition, the Hadrut-Jabrayil-Shukurbayli highway will extend for about 26 miles and facilitate uninterrupted traffic within the corridor. Officials hope that the highway projects will better connect the liberated territories with the rest of Azerbaijan.
Uzbekistan and EBRD Establish $25 Million Credit Line
Uzpromstroybank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed an agreement to establish a $25 million credit line. The funds will be allocated towards business initiatives to support small- and medium-sized enterprises and finance sustainable growth projects.
Kazakhstan and Turkey to Strengthen Partnership
During Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi’s official visit to Turkey, the two sides highlighted the need to strengthen bilateral and multilateral partnerships and bolster economic ties. Increased cooperation in energy, trade, transport, logistics, and culture were also under discussion.
Kazakhstan and Ukraine Hold the first Business Council
Senior officials and business representatives from Kazakhstan and Ukraine held the first Kazakh-Ukrainian Business Council to discuss cooperation in trade, economy, and investment. The parties stressed the importance of sharing experience and expanding ties in a number of fields, including manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and food industries.
Kazakhstan’s Balkhash Lake in Danger due to Expanding Agriculture and Climate Change
Lake Balkhash in eastern Kazakhstan is facing severe threats due to expanding agriculture upstream on the Ili River in China and the increasing effects of climate change. Sustainable agricultural practices, along with increased cooperation on water management between Kazakhstan and China, could considerably alleviate the situation.
Kyrgyz President Signs Environmental Safety Decree
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov signed an environmental safety and climate resilience decree. The decree contains clauses to promote pollution mitigation efforts, waste management efficiency projects, glacier protection, chemical and radiation safety, and land fertility improvement.
Security and Politics
Uzbekistan and Turkey Agree on Military and Financial Aid
On March 17, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a resolution regarding military-financial cooperation with Turkey. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan has been instructed to send a corresponding notification to the Turkish side on the implementation of the internal procedures necessary for this agreement to enter into force. In October 2020, Mirziyoyev met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and discussed military cooperation.
Kyrgyzstan Repatriates Citizens from Iraq
On March 16, a special plane carrying 79 children born to Kyrgyz parents in Iraq and Syria landed at Bishkek’s Manas Airport on March 16 as part of a humanitarian mission. Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Ministry reported the repatriation was carried out with the consent of the children’s imprisoned mothers in Iraq and on the commitment of relatives in Kyrgyzstan to accept the children into new families. It also said the government would support the children’s rehabilitation and reintegration.
Armenia Appoints New Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces
On March 22, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited Armenia’s Defense Ministry to introduce the country’s newly appointed Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, Artak Davtyan. In his remarks, Pashinyan expressed hope that Davtyan would be able to carry out reforms to strengthen the Armed Forces and improve external security defense. Pashinyan also urged Davtyan to keep the Armed Forces apolitical.
ODIHR OSCE Publishes Statement on the New Kyrgyz Constitution
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR OSCE) has issued a Joint Legal Opinion on the draft new Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic. It concludes that some provisions threaten the necessary balance of power and the protection of individual freedoms, essential to democracy and the rule of law. It also highlights serious shortcomings regarding the procedure leading to the adoption of the draft proposed for a referendum on April 11, 2021, including the lack of an informed and inclusive consultation process.
Georgian Coast Guard Joins NATO Drills
On March 19, Georgia’s Interior Ministry reported that the Georgian Coast Guard joined a group of NATO vessels for joint drills in the Black Sea. Two of Georgia’s Island-class patrol boats joined the exercises, which consisted of four NATO vessels. The exercises were conducted with NATO members Romania, Turkey, and Bulgaria.
(Sources: 24.kg, Agenda.ge, AKI Press, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Fergana News, Kazakh Invest, RFE/RL, Trend News Agency, and UZ Daily.)