Media Highlights of the Week – March 15, 2021
Energy and Economy
Turkmenistan Ratified Memorandum on Dostluq Field
Turkmenistan ratified the January 2021 memorandum with Azerbaijan on the Dostluq Field. According to the memorandum, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will conduct joint exploration operations in the Dostluq Field in the Caspian Sea. Experts estimate that the field contains 50 million tons of oil.
Italian Multinational Oil and Gas Company Eni Launches Construction of Solar Plant
Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni launched the construction of a solar plant in Kazakhstan. The 50 MW photovoltaic plant is projected to generate 90 million kWh of electricity annually, which will account for two percent of the Turkestan region’s electricity deficit. Officials hope that the plant will reduce greenhouse emissions in the country and help Kazakhstan reach its decarbonization goals.
Georgia Suspends Construction of Namakhvani Hydropower Plant
Georgia suspended the construction of its Namakhvani Hydropower Plant after concerns arose of the power plant’s safety located in an active seismic region. Once completed, the Namakhvani hydropower plant is projected to accommodate 12 percent of Georgia’s electricity needs.
Kazakhstan and UAE Sign Agreements Worth $2.2 billion
During a meeting between high-level representatives from Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi, the two discussed increasing their bilateral cooperation in trade, agriculture, energy, finance, and investment. The parties signed 17 agreements to implement new projects in Kazakhstan, including the construction of an industrial park, the development of a Katon-Karagai tourist facility, and the launch of new water projects.
EBRD, EU, and Switzerland Increase People’s Access to Medicine in Kyrgyzstan
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU), Switzerland, and Kyrgyzstan’s DemirBank have partnered to build an energy-efficient pharmacy warehouse equipped with modern thermal insulation, water supply, and ventilation systems. The project is part of the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses and DemirBank’s Small Business Impact Fund initiatives and aims to increase people’s access to high-quality and affordable medicine.
Uzbekistan and Italy to Strengthen Cooperation in Tech Industry
Uzbekistan’s Yashnabad Innovative Technopark and Italy’s InnovUp Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase bilateral cooperation and partnership in the development of technology parks, innovation centers, and science parks. Strategies to support promising start-up projects and facilitate exchange programs and public-private partnerships were also under discussion.
Georgia Gains Observer Status in European Migration Network
Georgia became an observer state of the European Migration Network, making it the first time that the network has accepted countries outside the European Economic Area. Moldova was also granted observer status. The European Commission hopes that Georgia’s participation in the network will bolster migration and asylum cooperation.
Security and Politics
Kyrgyz and Uzbek Presidents Agree to Solve Border Issue
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov met with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Tashkent on March 12. After their meeting, Mirziyoyev said that this was the first time their countries had “agreed who should do what and when at the border.” He added that “if everything goes according to the plan, [the issue will be solved in] three months.”
Kyrgyz Parliament Approves Law for Referendum on Constitutional Changes
Kyrgyz lawmakers approved the final reading of a law to hold a referendum on new constitutional amendments on April 11. The bill, which would increase the president’s powers, was approved by 94 lawmakers, while six voted against it. The proposed amendments would allow the president to be reelected for a second term, as current law allows presidents only one term in office. They would also create a People’s Assembly controlled by the president. A Constitutional Court will also be created, while the number of lawmakers will be cut to 90 from 120.
Tokayev Signs Law on National Priorities
Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a new law endorsing ten national priorities for Kazakhstan’s future development. The priorities include fair social policies, accessible healthcare, improving education, judiciary reforms, national security, building a diversified innovation-based economy, and developing economic and trade diplomacy. The priorities are also outlined in the recently adopted National Development Plan 2025.
U.S. Embassy Supports Investigation of Wiretapped Tape of Georgian PM
The U.S. Embassy in Georgia released a statement regarding the channel TV Pirveli, which has recently released an audio recording allegedly featuring a wiretap of a conversation between Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili and the son of the founder of the Georgian Dream ruling party Bidzina Ivanishvili. The statement said, “Both secret recordings and threats or intimidation are illegal, reprehensible, and should be investigated in accordance with the law.”
Armenian PM and President Hold Talks
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Armenian President Armen Sarkisian to discuss resolving the political crisis. The two discussed the possibility of holding early elections as a means to solve the crisis. The leaders of My Step and one of the two opposition groups, Bright Armenia, also attended the talks.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Azernews, Astana Times, Caspian News, Times of Central Asia, RFE/RL, and UZ Daily.)