Media Highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Sep 25, 2020
Energy and Economy
Uzbekneftegaz Reports New Figures After Well Overhaul
Uzbekneftegaz has continued to conduct updates on its natural gas wells in the Sharkiy-Berdak field. The field, located in the Republic of Karakalpakstan – an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan, – was commissioned in 2002, and with the modernization efforts, a daily flow rate of 160,000 cubic meters and one ton of gas condensate has been achieved.
World Bank Approves Solar Facility in Navoi Region
The World Bank and International Finance Corporation approved funding for a solar plant in the Navoi region of Uzbekistan. The project is targeted at attracting private sector investment in renewable energy, and tender selections are underway. $5.1 million will come from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the IFC will provide up to $41 million. The project also represents the first World Bank guarantee project in Uzbekistan.
Ministry of Energy Announces Baku International Energy Charter Forum
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy has announced the organization of the Baku International Energy Charter Forum in collaboration with the International Energy Charter. The forum is designed to address challenges and opportunities in the renewable energy sector and will involve international organizations and international experts. The forum will be held online on October 28.
SOCAR Proposes Corporate Development Strategy
The President of SOCAR announced that the company has completed the preparations for its development strategy until 2035 on September 19. The proposal includes suggestions for an improved management system, increases in social and environmental responsibility, and an analysis of the company’s profitability. The company announced that it will prioritize offshore production over on land production due to production costs.
UzAuto Plans IPO Launch
UzAuto Motors announced that it will issue equivalent to up to 10% of the value of the company. Potential investors may be investment intermediaries or commercial banks of Uzbekistan that hold the proper licenses, have the qualifications necessary for the implementation of contracts, and not in the process of liquidation or bankruptcy. Foreign consultants are allowed to participate in the IPO in partnership with licensed investment intermediaries.
Nazarbayev Reviews Plan to Transform Caspian Sea Coast into Tourism Hub
Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev reviewed a plan to transform the Mangistau region on the Caspian Sea coast into an international tourist hub. Developers hope that the project will generate 50,000 jobs and attract about $2 billion in investment.
Georgia and the United Kingdom Launching a New Trade Project
Georgia and the United Kingdom are launching the “UK-Georgia Trade Hub” project to increase trade between the two countries through simplified export policies. This initiative will help Georgian small and medium-sized businesses seeking to operate in the UK to handle logistical and administrative procedures more effectively.
Kazakhstan and Japan Signed $46 Million Worth Investment Deals
During an online meeting between the Kazakhstani and Japanese companies, the two sides have signed a series of deals worth $46 million. As part of the agreement, Japanese companies will share their experience and expertise in blockchain technologies, which will be implemented in manufacturing, agriculture, and infrastructure sectors. Japan will also assist Kazakhstan in establishing its cryptocurrency exchange system and advancing the country’s healthcare system.
Uzbekistan and the UAE Discuss Investment Opportunities
Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade met with the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure from the United Arab Emirates in a video conference on September 20. The two parties discussed investment cooperation, strategic partnerships, and joint project opportunities. As a result of the conference, a joint Uzbek-Emirati investment company with $1 billion in capital has been authorized to begin operations. Opportunities for further economic cooperation in energy, agriculture, infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism, and the financial sector were also discussed.
Korean-Uzbek Business Association Office Established in Ferghana
A delegation from South Korea held a ceremony for the official opening of a new office for the Korean-Uzbek Business Association in Ferghana. The establishment of the office is expected to further develop economic cooperation, attract and implement new investment projects, and develop communication between Korean and Uzbek entrepreneurs.
Uzbek and Tajik Industrial Delegations Discuss Cooperation
A delegation led by the Deputy Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan met with the Chairman of the Union of Craftsmen of Tajikistan on September 19. The Uzbek representatives provided information on ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan and how the development of the handicraft industry provides employment for young people, women, and low-income families. The Tajik delegation presented the successes of the International Festival of Craftsmen in preserving and reviving traditions in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the rest of Central Asia. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan agreed to further cooperation in this field.
Russia Resumes Flights with Kazakhstan and Lifts Restrictions on Kyrgyzstan
Russia resumed regular flight service with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on September 21. All foreign citizens entering Russia must present a negative coronavirus test result within 48 hours of arrival.
Security and Politics
Kazakhstan and the U.S. Sign Nuclear Nonproliferation Agreement
The Kazakh Energy Ministry and the U.S. Energy Department signed a joint statement on September 23 on the topic of reducing the production of enriched uranium. Kazakh Energy Minister Nurlan Nogayev announced that Kazakhstan is currently converting research reactors and disposing of highly enriched uranium as part of the Global Initiative to Reduce Nuclear Threats. Kazakhstan and the U.S. intend to continue their cooperation to ensure nuclear safety and strengthen their nuclear nonproliferation plan.
Nobel Partner 2020 Military Exercises Conclude in Georgia
The Nobel Partner 2020 military exercises, carried out over ten days, have concluded at the Vaziani military base outside of Tbilisi, Georgia. There were 2,800 participants, including military officers from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Poland. The purpose of the exercises is to ensure that training levels are adequate for NATO standards and compatibility. It was also announced that Georgia will host the NATO-Georgia Military Exercise in 2022.
CSTO Drills to Take Place in Belarus
CSTO exercises “Unbreakable Brotherhood” will take place in Belarus on October 12-16. Kazakhstan’s Defense Ministry said that these exercises were scheduled in November 2018 by the CSTO's Council of Defense Ministers and the Committee of Secretaries of the CSTO Security Councils; thus, the decision to hold the drills in Belarus have no connection to the current political situation there.
Azerbaijani Military Officer Killed in Tovuz Region
Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reported a provocation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in the Tovuz region on September 21. Sergeant Elshan Mammadov of the Azerbaijani Army was killed in the incident. Following this episode, the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription issued a statement calling for the initiation of military reserve trainings.
Uzbek President Delivers Speech at UN General Assembly
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev delivered a speech virtually at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. In his address, Mirziyoyev provided an update on the pandemic’s impact on Uzbekistan, and also discussed improvements in food security, gender equality, and human rights in Uzbekistan. The president also described a series of government reforms in process, including the establishment of the independent Anti-Corruption Agency.
Azerbaijani National Assembly Makes Official Visit to Moscow
A delegation from Azerbaijan’s National Assembly traveled to Moscow on September 21 for an official visit. The Azerbaijani delegation was led by Sahiba Gafarova and included members of the working group for interparliamentary relations with Russia, parliamentary administration, and other officials. The delegation arrived at Moscow Domodedovo Airport on September 21 and was welcomed by the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation as well as the Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia. Meetings will commence on September 22.
Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Moldova Discuss Cooperation
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov held a phone conversation with Moldovan Foreign Minister Oleg Tulea on September 21. Azerbaijan and Moldova discussed their bilateral cooperation agenda and plans for political, economic, and trade agreements. A video conference for further discussion of these issues is planned for the near future.
Germany Sends Observers to Monitor Georgian Parliamentary Elections
Germany is sending 37 observers for Georgia’s October 31 parliamentary elections in the coming days, and the rest, over 300 observers, will follow at the end of September. Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani stated on September 17 that OSCE/ODIHR will send 350 short-term and 28 long-term observers for Georgia’s October 31 parliamentary elections. The elections are being held differently than before, with 120 parliamentary seats to be based on votes received in proportional elections, while the remaining 30 seats will be decided by majoritarian elections. In addition, the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute will monitor the elections virtually (due to the pandemic), though they will be in close contact with local partner organizations.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan Meet for Political Consultations
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan and the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan met by video conference on September 21. The two parties discussed opportunities for bilateral cooperation in politics, trade, economy, water management, transport, and cultural spheres. Joint events, including the first meeting of the Uzbek-Turkmen Business Council, were also considered. Both parties emphasized the need to continue to monitor the developing situation in Afghanistan and its impacts on the region.
Azerbaijan Forms Council on Space Affairs
The Azerbaijani government has established a Council on Space Affairs in order to further develop scientific and technical practices for space activities. Azerbaijan entered the space industry through the establishment of Azercosmos OJSC. This new council will monitor existing programs, analyze the impacts of policy implementation, and make proposals and recommendations to relevant agencies.
Kazakhstan Reports Outbreak of Bird Flu
Kazakhstan’s Agriculture Ministry reported a bird flu outbreak in Kazakhstan’s Northern Region. Ten villages and towns were placed under quarantine after birds died en masse. The World Health Organization for Animal Health and the World Animal Protection was informed, and measures are being taken to prevent the spread of the flu.
Uzbek Deputy PM Dies from Covid-19
Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Uktam Barnoev has died from COVID-19 complications, nearly two months after testing positive for the coronavirus. He died on September 20, at a hospital in Germany after he had been transferred there after having a stroke while undergoing Covid-19 treatment in Uzbekistan. He had previously served as governor of the Bukhara Province.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Astana Times, AKI Press, Azernews, Armenpress, Caspian News, Report.az, Trend News Agency, and UZ Daily.)