Media Highlights of the Week
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan Discovers Gas Condensate Reserves in the Caspian Sea
Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR announced that it discovered gas condensate reserves in the Shafag-Asiman fields in the Caspian Sea. The Shafag-Asiman block is located 78 miles southeast of the capital city of Baku and covers an area of approximately 425 square miles.
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Strike Electricity Swap Agreement
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan struck a deal to facilitate the delivery of 750 million kWh of electricity. The deal aims to allow Kyrgyzstan to refill the Toktugul Reservoir, which is used to generate electricity at its hydropower plant and is then used to irrigate Uzbek fields downstream. The deal comes as officials worry over diminishing water levels at the reservoir, which have hit their lowest point since the early last decade.
Armenia Secures Solar Power Agreement
Armenia secured a deal with the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Armeriabank to construct the 55 MW Masrik-1 Solar Farm. The solar panel plant will have the capacity to supply electricity to over 20,000 homes and reduce CO2 emissions by 40,000 tons annually.
Russia Resumes Regular Flight Service with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Russia is slated to resume regular flight service with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Flights between Russia and the two Central Asian countries have been suspended since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Although the flights are limited and the ticket prices remain steep, many seasonal workers who were trapped in Russia during the border closures are eager to return home.
EU Allocates $8.4 Million to Modernize Water Supply in Georgia
The European Union allocated $8.4 million to modernize the water supply and sanitation systems in Khashuri, a town in Central Georgia. Khashuri currently receives water from neighboring settlements, but wastewater is released into a river. The project is expected to be completed by 2026.
EBRD and Kazakhstan to Sign an Enhanced Partnership Framework Arrangement
During her virtual visit to Kazakhstan on March 29-31, Odile Renaud-Basso, the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), will take part in the signing of an Enhanced Partnership Framework Arrangement with Kazakhstan. She will also meet with Kazakhstan’s senior government officials and business representatives to discuss further cooperation and joint projects.
Georgia Opens New Terminal at Batumi Airport
Georgia officially opened a new terminal at Batumi Airport. Batumi International Airport is located in a Black Sea resort town that received over 600,000 visitors in 2019. The new terminal will increase the passenger capacity to 1.2 million visitors annually. This was the first renovation completed to the airport since it opened in 2007.
Security and Politics
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Sign Deal Ending Border Disputes
The Head of the Kyrgyz Security Services, Kamchybek Tashiyev, said that a border settlement was approved by the Uzbek and Kyrgyz prime ministers on March 25 and that there was “not a single patch of disputed territory left.” Earlier in March, it was reported that the negotiations could take as long as three months.
Turkic Council to Hold an Informal Summit
The Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, or Turkic Council, will hold an informal virtual meeting on March 31 to discuss cooperation among the Turkic Speaking States and explore ways to address regional and international challenges. “Turkistan – Spiritual Capital of the Turkic World” will be the theme of the summit.
Armenian Lawmakers Lift Martial Law Ahead of Elections
Armenian lawmakers have voted to lift martial law, imposed at the beginning of a 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, as it prepares for early parliamentary elections in June. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said his parliamentary bloc plans to pass amendments that would switch the electoral system to a fully proportional one before snap parliamentary elections scheduled for June.
Georgian Ruling and Opposition Parties Prepare for EU-Mediated Talks
Leading up to the EU-mediated talks between Georgian Dream and its rival political parties, Georgian Dream officials stated that the party is willing to continue talks with even the most ‘destructive’ parts of the opposition. A party representative stated that the Georgian Dream has already enacted compromising steps to help resolve the political crisis, and the party expects the opposition members to negotiate an agreement that benefits the entire country.
Azerbaijani, Armenian, Russian Foreign Ministers to Meet in Moscow
On March 26, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, stated that Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov will meet with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov is also scheduled to meet with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan. The parties will meet on April 2 as part of a CIS Council of Foreign Ministers meeting. A meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia has not yet been confirmed.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Astana Times, Azernews, Eurasianet, Report.az, RFE/RL, Trend News Agency, and UZ Daily.)