Media Highlights of the Week- July 19, 2021
Energy and Economy
Turkmenistan, China Seek to Increase Trade in Energy Sector
After a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of China and Turkmenistan, both countries have signaled a willingness to expand trade ties beyond hydrocarbons to nuclear and green energy as well. China is already Turkmenistan’s primary importer of hydrocarbons following development projects under the BRI.
Azerbaijan Seeks to Develop Sustainable Offshore Energy
Representatives from SOCAR and Technip Energies met this week to discuss launching a sustainable energy project off the coast of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has yet to develop offshore wind energy projects, but this project could signal Baku’s intentions of reaching its goal to increase sustainable energy production across the country.
Uzbekistan Hosts Conference on Central and South Asian Cooperation
Uzbekistan hosted a conference on cooperation between Central and South Asia in Tashkent on July 15 and 16. The conference, which was attended by the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, emphasized the need for enhanced infrastructure to boost economic integration but also focused on diplomatic and cultural aspects of the relationship between the two regions.
Dushanbe States That the Taliban Does Not Pose Any Obstacles to Trade with Afghanistan
Tajikistan’s Minister of Transportation, Azim Ibrahim, reported that despite the ongoing conflict in Northern Afghanistan and the Taliban seizing numerous border crossings, cross border trade continues. Reportedly, the Taliban cancelled visa requirements for drivers, however Ibrahim did not confirm this.
Armenia to Launch New National Airline
Armenian president, Armen Sarkissian, signed an agreement with United Arab Emirates-based airline, Air Arabia to launch a new national Armenian airline. The contract between Air Arabia and the Armenian National Interest Fund will establish a joint-venture. The currently unnamed airline will be based out of Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport and hopes to have the first flights take off in 2022.
Armenia Gets an Aid Boost from the EU
The European Union has offered Armenia an aid package with one billion additional euros ($1.18 billion) in funding than previous drafts. This 3.1 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in aid will be used to support small and medium sized businesses and infrastructure projects through the country.
CIS Discussing Vaccination Passports, Creating New Body
The Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States met this week to discuss introducing a vaccine passport that would allow tourism and trade to increase among member states. In addition to starting this process, the Executive Committee expressed interest in establishing a body that composed of the health ministers from the CIS member states.
Moscow Police Detain More than 100 Central Asian Migrants After Clashes
A brawl between Kyrgyz and Tajik migrant workers in Moscow resulted in over 100 arrests. The clash allegedly stemmed from an earlier dispute between Kyrgyz and Tajik workers which left one person hospitalized. Tensions between Kyrgyz and Tajik migrant workers have been high since the border clashes between Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan began in April.
Security and Politics
Shoot-out on Nakhchivan Border Leaves One Dead and Some Injured
On July 14, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry claimed that Armenian armed forces opened fire at Azerbaijani positions in the Sadarak district of the Nakhchivan region, wounding one Azerbaijani soldier. The Armenian Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani forces “provoked” the Armenians when they tried to advance their positions inside Armenian territory at the Yeraskh section of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan exclave. The ministry reported that one Armenian soldier died in the encounter.
Azerbaijani President Aliyev Declares He is Ready to Sign Peace Agreement with Armenia
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared that Azerbaijan is prepared to sign a peace agreement with Armenia that will stipulate borders and territorial integrity between the two nations. There has been no official response from Armenia on Azerbaijan’s statement.
European Council President Visits South Caucasus
President Charles Michel of the European Council made a three-day trip to Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia from July 17 to July 19. On the trip he affirmed the European Union’s commitment to enhancing the security, stability, and prosperity of the region.
Afghan Government and Taliban Agree to Reopen Peace Discussions
Representatives of the Afghan government in Kabul and the Taliban agreed to reopen peace discussions next week. Previous attempts to broker a peace agreement in Doha have stalled but the Taliban’s recent gains are pressuring Kabul to reinitiate peace discussions with the group.
SCO Discusses Situation in Afghanistan and COVID Response
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Foreign Ministers Council met on July 13-14 in Dushanbe. The Council discussed the deterioration of the regional security situation following the withdrawal of international coalition forces from Afghanistan. The Foreign Ministers also endorsed a multilateral plan to address negative socio-economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in member states.
EU Commission Ties Appointment of Supreme Court Judges in Georgia to Financial Aid
The EU Commission has announced that failure to pause the appointment of judges to Georgia’s Supreme Court, as provided for in a recent agreement mediated by the EU, could negatively affect the release of the second tranche of EU financial assistance to the country. Six judges were nominated to the Supreme Court by the Georgian parliament on July 12.
Russia Advises Against Deploying U.S. Troops in Central Asia
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Washington not to send U.S. troops to Central Asia following its withdrawal from Afghanistan, commenting that it would change Russia’s relations with the United States. Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) members, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan require organizational approval for foreign troops to be stationed on their territory.
Bishkek Requests Assistance with Repatriation of Ethnic Kyrgyz from Afghanistan
The Kyrgyz Foreign Minister asked Tajik authorities to permit over 345 ethnic Kyrgyz fleeing from Afghanistan’s Basakhshan region to cross the Tajik-Kyrgyz border. On July 15, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the United Nations to assist with the repatriation process in Tajikistan.
Turkmenistan Sends Weapons and Soldiers to Afghan Border
Turkmenistan has started to send heavy weaponry, aircrafts, and troops towards its 800-kilometer border with Afghanistan. Residents of Serhetabat reported being able to hear gunfire across the border as the Taliban continue to gain territory in northern Afghanistan.
Georgian TV Stations Pay Tribute to Deceased Cameraman
Four TV stations – TV Pirveli, Mtavari Arkhi, Formula and Kavkasia – stopped broadcasting for 24 hours in honor of Lekso Lashkarava, a TV Pirveli cameraman who lost his life during violent attacks on the July 5 Tbilisi Pride counter-rally.
Uzbekistan Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines for Certain Groups
Uzbekistan is mandating that certain populations be vaccinated against COVID-19. Citizens employed in the public sector and industries requiring employees to interact with the general public will need to have received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 1. Uzbekistan is the third Central Asian country to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, following Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Warnings of More Deadly Mudslides in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
On the border of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan mudslides have killed at least seven people in Kyrgyzstan’s Jalal-abad and eight in Uzbekistan’s neighboring province, Namangan. Officials in the region warn of more mudslides, and both countries sent rescue teams out to search for survivors and missing people.
(Source: 24.kg, Agenda.ge, AKIpress, AP, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, European Council, Fergana News Agency, Korea Times Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, RFE/RL, Times of Central Asia, and UZ Daily.)