Headlines from the Caspian: October, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Oct 3, 2023
Energy and Economy
C5+ Germany: Germany Discusses Cooperation with Central Asia
On September 29, a high-level German delegation met with the five leaders of the Central Asian countries to discuss strengthening regional and economic cooperation and the development of the Middle Corridor. All participants stressed the importance of maintaining sanctions on Russia. "The leaders confirmed their interest in developing the Middle Corridor and attracting financing for infrastructure projects under the Global Gateway initiative,” the Central Asian leaders announced in their joint statement.
Kazakhstan to Increase Exports to Germany to $850 Million
During the C5+Germany Summit on September 29 in Berlin, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed readiness to “increase exports to Germany by an additional 100 non-resource items totaling $850 million.” To support this mission, Tokayev proposed to establish the Regional Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Kazakhstan with the support of German partners. Tokayev also invited the German delegation to participate in the development of the Middle Corridor through a joint logistics center or a joint transport vessel production facility.
Source: Astana Times
Kazakhstan Inaugurates the Sarzha Marine Terminal
On September 29, Kazakhstan’s Sarzha multifunctional marine terminal received its first cargo shipment, which will be further transported to the port of Baku via the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR). This cargo shipment marked the inauguration of the new port terminal at the port of Kuryk. The Kazakh development company Semurg Invest funded this new terminal, and it has also constructed railway access tracks, two berths, and a general cargo terminal to help develop the Middle Corridor route.
Source: Astana Times
Middle Corridor Working Group met in Aktau
A working group on the development of the Middle Corridor and the general meeting of the Association of Legal Entities "International Association "Trans-Caspian International Transport Route" took place in Aktau on October 1. The meeting covered new areas of cooperation between Caspian Region countries. Several agreements were signed during this meeting, including one on the transportation of goods as part of container trains along the Middle Corridor using feeder vessels.
Turkmenistan and Germany Develop Bilateral Relations
During the C5+Germany Summit on September 29, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov met with the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, Matthias Luttenberg, in Berlin. The two parties suggested advancing the Joint Turkmen-German Group on economic cooperation, holding joint Economic Days and business forums, and strengthening cooperation with the Eastern Committee of the German Economy.
China Postpones the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway Construction
China has indefinitely postponed the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway line, which was planned to begin construction this autumn. The 282-mile railway was designed to connect the railway systems of China and Uzbekistan through Kyrgyzstan, allowing access to the European railway network via Turkmenistan, Iran, and Türkiye. Because the route was a potential alternative to another railway route moving through Kazakhstan to Russia, this has been seen as a gesture of goodwill from China to Kazakhstan.
Source: Silk Road Briefing
Security and Politics
While the Armenian Exodus from Karabakh Now Exceeds 100,000, Azerbaijan Launches Reintegration Process
On September 30, the office of Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan reported that 100,000 Armenians have now crossed the border from the Karabakh region into Armenia. According to the President’s office, the government has so far managed to register 81,827 new arrivals. Prior to Azerbaijan’s short counter-terrorism operation on September 19, reportedly 120,000 ethnic Armenians inhabited Karabakh. In response, Azerbaijan has unveiled its plan for the reintegration of the Armenian population of Karabakh, guaranteeing cultural preservation, freedom of religion, the use of the Armenian language, and access to social privileges based on the constitution and laws of Azerbaijan.
Tajikistan Orders Defense Ministry to Refurbish of Near-Border Airports
As per the terms of a September decree, President Rahmon has transferred control of 18 airports bordering Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to the country’s Defense Ministry. According to reports, Dushanbe has asked the Ministry to refurbish the Soviet-era facilities in a move that some speculate is a response to remarks by the Kyrgyz government.
Kazakhstan Reaffirmed Its Commitment to Follow Sanctions Against Russia
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed the country’s commitment to adhere to the Western sanctions against Russia during his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on September 28, “Kazakhstan has unequivocally stated that it will adhere to the sanctions regime”. President Tokayev further affirmed his commitment by confirming that Kazakhstan is not concerned about territorial threats from Russia.
Georgian Government Authorizes Compulsory Military Conscription Under New Defense Code
Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili announced that starting in 2025, the Defense Ministry will be fully authorized to facilitate obligatory military conscription. In his weekly government meeting, he stated that the newly adopted defense code is of “national importance” and would enact anti-conscription-evasion measures and allow students to apply for intensive military training.
Kyrgyz MPs Vote New Powers to President
On September 28, the Kyrgyzstan parliament voted by a large majority to expand the powers of the president, granting the ability to overturn decisions of the constitutional court deemed to contradict “moral values.” Supporters of the bill voiced their concerns relating to traditional social values. The decision came as the Kyrgyz parliament is increasingly dominated by political parties and actors allied with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov.
UN Mission Arrives in Karabakh
On October 1, a United Nations observer mission arrived in the Karabakh region. The purpose of the mission is to assess humanitarian needs in Karabakh following the lengthy blockade of the territory, a short bout of fighting between Azerbaijan and separatist forces, and the mass migration of most inhabitants. It is the first time in 30 years the United Nations has gained access to the region.
The Separatist Regime Dissolved in the Karabakh Region
The self-proclaimed President of the separatist regime in the Karabakh region, Samvel Shahramanyan, announced the self-dissolution of the regime on September 29. A decree was also signed by Shahramanyan which states “All institutions and organizations are to be dissolved by January 1, 2024, and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) ceases to exist”.
Source: Caspian News
Third Meeting Between Representatives of Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijani Government
On September 29, the third meeting between the representatives of Armenian population in Karabakh and Ramin Mammadov, a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament, took place in the city of Yevlakh. During the meeting, discussions focused on the issues of reintegration of the Armenian population of Karabakh and restoration of infrastructure.
Sources: Agenda.ge, Aki Press, Anadolu Agency, Apa.az, Astana Times, Caspian News, EurasiaNet, Euronews, RFE/RL, Silk Road Briefing, Trend