Trending Headlines from the Caspian: August 2, 2021
Energy and Environment
Uzbekistan Receives 3 million Moderna Vaccines from the United States Through the COVAX Program
Amidst surging COVID-19 cases, the United States sent Uzbekistan 3 million Moderna Vaccines. This is roughly a week earlier than the first Moderna vaccines were expected to arrive, and will contribute to Uzbekistan’s vaccination effort.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan Enhance Cooperation on the Dostluq Offshore Field
Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister worked with the Turkmenistan’s Minister of State and the Chairman of Turkmengaz State Concerns to prepare an intergovernmental agreement draft document. The group then identified next steps to further develop the Dostluq Offshore Field that is split between the two countries in the Caspian Sea.
SOCAR Takes Over from BP as the Operator of the South Caucasus Pipeline
SOCAR is now the technical operator of the South Caucasus Pipeline, which comprises part of the Southern Gas Corridor, connecting natural gas from the Caucasus to Turkey and Europe. The transfer from BP to SOCAR was successfully completed after a yearlong transition period.
Report Shows That Central Asia’s Growing Season is Shrinking
A July 2021 study by Science of the Total Environment found that Central Asia’s growing season, or the period between crop’s springtime growth and wintertime decay, is decreasing as the region becomes drier. Each year, the growing season is shortened by 0.89 days. The Syr Darya basin, extending from southern Kazakhstan to eastern Uzbekistan, will be among the areas worst hit by the lack of precipitation.
Armenia and Georgia Discuss High Speed Train Between Capitals
Armenia’s acting Minister of the Economy discussed multiple projects with his Georgian counterpart, including the creation of a high-speed train that would reduce the travel time from Tbilisi to Yerevan to 2-3 hours.
Kazakhstan Bans Grain Exports as Drought Continues
On July 26, the Kazakh Agriculture Ministry enacted a six-month ban on the export of fodder and grain to increase the supply of local livestock feed during the current drought. The move was prompted by documentation of malnourished cattle on social media outlets.
Security and Politics
Armenia and Azerbaijan Trade Blame Over Recent Border Skirmish
Armenia reportedly fired on Azerbaijani forces in the country’s Kalbajar district twice on the morning of July 28, according to Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry. Tensions between the two countries have remained high since the ceasefire agreement was signed after the 44-day war in September 2020. Despite the ceasefire and return of Armenian-occupied territories to Azerbaijan, the two countries have yet to agree to and demarcate their shared international border.
Pashinyan Suggests Russian Border Posts Be Placed on Armenian-Azerbaijani Border
Newly appointed Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan suggested that Russia place border posts along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to safeguard demarcation efforts between the two South Caucasus countries. Pashinyan also called on the CSTO, of which Armenia is a member, and the OSCE Minsk Group to monitor the border situation. Pashinyan’s suggestion comes after the Armenian Defense Ministry reported that three Armenian servicemen had been killed after Azerbaijani armed forces violated the cease-fire agreement along the border.
Georgia, United States, and Others Hold NATO Exercises
The Agile Spirit Exercises held in the Vaziani Training Area in Georgia July 26-August 6 involve around 2,500 personnel from 15 NATO member countries and partners including Georgia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
The Ruling Georgian Dream Party Backs Out of EU-Mediated Agreement
Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream Party annulled its EU-mediated agreement, instituted to resolve a six-month political crisis following the 2020 parliamentary elections in the country. The agreement was formed after opposition parties protested over the 2020 elections claiming that the results were fabricated. The head of the ruling Georgian Dream party said that his party was ready to rule in good faith and that the EU-mediated agreement was no longer needed.
Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan Bolster Trilateral Engagement
Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan inked the tripartite Baku Declaration in Azerbaijan, paving the way for the establishment of new political cooperation among the three countries. Officials hope that the new trilateral format will facilitate strengthened regional and global security and present a united front against critical issues. Azerbaijan has developed close relations with both Turkey and Pakistan in recent decades.
Uzbekistan Joins Growing List of Countries Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines
Uzbekistan’s Senate approved an amendment that mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for employees in various sectors including government, education, military, law enforcement, and hospitality. The pressure to approve the law comes amidst a steady increase in COVID-19 infections in Uzbekistan, partially attributed to the more transmissible Delta variant. Uzbekistan joined a growing list of countries mandating COVID-19 vaccines for at least a subset of their populations, including Russia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.
Sources (Agenda.ge, Armenpress, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Fergana News Agency, RFE/RL, Report.AZ, UZ Daily)