Media Highlights of the Week – June 14, 2021
Energy and Economy
Biden Administration Introduces New Tariffs on Armenian Aluminum Foil Exports
The Biden administration introduced new tariffs on Armenian foil exporters after the U.S. Department of Commerce concluded that aluminum foil manufacturers in Armenia and four other countries “injured U.S. producers.” Armenian foil exporters will now be subject to cash deposits worth 188.84 percent of the product value. Aluminum foil accounted for nearly half of all Armenian exports to the United States, making it a $33 million industry in Armenia in 2020.
Azerbaijan, Israel, and Italy Aim to Turn Zangilan Region into Smart City
Azerbaijan, Israel, and Italy issued their intention to jointly transform the liberated Zangilan region in Azerbaijan into a smart city. An Israeli company will utilize its technology to produce dairy products, after which an Italian factory will make it into finished goods, such as cheese. The farm is projected to have a capacity of 1,000 cattle heads.
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Sign an Agreement on the Construction of Two Hydroelectric Power Plants
President Rahmon and President Mirziyoyev signed an agreement to create a joint-stock company for the construction of two hydroelectric dams along the Zarafshan River. In total, the estimated cost of both dams is about $552 million, and they are expected to produce 1.4 megawatts of energy.
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan score $1 Billion in Deals, Eye Trade Bonanza
While visiting Tajikistan, President Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan and President Rahmon of Tajikistan agreed to increase trade and establish joint ventures for agriculture, energy, and infrastructure. This presidential meeting finished off the first-ever Tajikistan-Uzbekistan Investment Forum, where Tajik and Uzbek investors made an estimated $1 billion worth of trade deals.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Discharge an Additional 645 million Cubic Meters of Water to Kazakhstan
To help alleviate the water shortage in southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are releasing an additional 645 million cubic meters of water to support Southern Kazakhstani agriculture efforts. This comes as the volume of water in the Shardara Reservoir in Kazakhstan is substantially lower than it was last year.
Remittances to Uzbekistan From Abroad Increase by 40% in 2021
The volume of remittances to Kazakhstan for the first five months of 2021 increased over 40 percent from the volume during the same period in 2020, and it was a 30 percent increase compared to the volume of remittances in 2019. This signals an increase in economic activity and indicates that more Uzbeks are working abroad in 2021 than 2020, although no official numbers are available yet.
Cities in Southern Uzbekistan to Improve Urban Infrastructure and Municipal Services, with World Bank Support
The World Bank has approved a $100 million concessional credit to improve the infrastructure and services for medium-sized cities in the Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions. This loan is a part of Uzbekistan’s ongoing work to use urbanization to foster development. This investment is expected to benefit roughly 4 million people.
World Bank Warns of Uncertain Economic Outlook in Eurasia Region
The World Bank warned that the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and stalled economic recovery programs are causing an uncertain economic outlook for Europe and Central Asia. The forecast, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, suggests that inflationary pressures, currency depreciation, and resurgences in COVID-19 cases will result from bleak economic growth projections.
Security and Politics
Armenia and Azerbaijan Exchange Detainees for Mine Maps
Azerbaijan has released 15 Armenian detainees in exchange for maps of 97,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel land mines that Armenian forces laid in the Aghdam region, which was reclaimed by Azerbaijan during 2020 war. The exchange, brokered by Georgia and the United States, marks the first diplomatic breakthrough following a long period of escalations.
EU calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to Reengage in Substantive Negotiations through OSCE Minks Group Co-Chairs
In his June 13 statement, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell commended the exchange of detainees by Azerbaijan and the handing over by Armenia of land-mine maps, calling it an important humanitarian and confidence-building gesture. “We will continue to promote a durable and comprehensive settlement of the conflict, including where possible through support for stabilization, post-conflict rehabilitation, and confidence-building measures and reiterate our call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to reengage in substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” the statement reads.
Russia and Uzbekistan Host Joint Military Exercises
Special Forces from the Russian Central Military District joined with Uzbek forces to train survival and strategic approaches to setting up bases in mountainous Northern Russia. The routine drills signaled a continued military partnership between both nations and lasted from June 8-11.
Presidents of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Meet
On June 10, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon hosted Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to discuss relations between both nations. While Uzbek-Tajik relations were tense under former Uzbek President Islam Karimov, the two countries have become closer since Mirziyoyev took office in 2016. These talks yielded 36 bilateral cooperation agreements in areas of investment, visas, foreign affairs, agriculture, and trade.
Kazakhstan to Serve on UN Economic and Social Council
This will be Kazakhstan’s third term on the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since it became an independent nation in 1991. It is seeking to push issues of social change and migration while representing Central Asia as Turkmenistan’s term is up at the end of 2021. Kazakhstan plans on taking an active role and has additionally submitted its petition to serve as one of the body’s vice presidents as well.
Azerbaijan Receives Second Batch of Russian Sputnik V Vaccine
Russia delivered 40,000 doses of Sputnik V to Azerbaijan as part of the purchase agreement signed in March. The country now has 80,000 doses of the Russian immunizer after the first delivery in May. Based on the agreement, Azerbaijan will receive a total of 300,000 Sputnik V vaccines.
No Exact Dates for Georgia’s Membership, NATO SecGen Says
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO Allies are not planning to provide any dates for Georgia’s membership at today’s Summit. In his opening speech delivered to the Forum, Secretary-General Stoltenberg said he expects the NATO leaders to confirm their previous decisions, including the 2008 Bucharest Summit “where we stated clearly that Georgia will become a member.”
EU Special Representative Klaar Visits Tbilisi, Occupied Regions
Toivo Klaar, the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia (EUSR), visited Tbilisi, Tskhinvali, and Sokhumi on June 6-10, where he met Georgian officials and the Kremlin-backed authorities of occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. In official meetings held in Tbilisi, the parties discussed humanitarian and security issues in the occupied regions, as well as recent developments along the occupation line.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Asia-Plus Tajikistan, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Civil.ge, Eurasianet, Fergana News, Kloop, RFE/RL, Trend News Agency, and UZDaily)