CPC - Caspian Policy Center


headlines from the caspian: april 1, 2024

Headlines from the Caspian: April 1, 2024

Author: Caspian Policy Center

Apr 1, 2024

Image source: civilnet.am

Energy and Economy


Armenian Banks Will No Longer Process Russian Mir Card Transactions

On March 29, the Union of Banks of Armenia stated that starting on March 30 it would no longer process transactions made by Russian Mir payment cards. Mir is a Russian payment system established by law in 2017 and supervised by the Russian Central Bank. In its statement, the Union of Banks of Armenia said the decision had been made in order to avoid secondary sanctions from the United States, which has sanctioned the Mir system since September 2022. Earlier in March, major Kazakh financial firms announced they would also no longer accept payments processed by Mir.

Source: RFE/RL, Trend News Agency

Kazakhstan and the UAE to Participate in Digital Solutions and AI for the Finance Sector

Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will collaborate in establishing digital solutions and artificial intelligence (AI) for Kazakhstan’s financial sector, as reported on March 30. Agreements on collaboration were reached during meetings between delegations from Kazakhstan’s National Bank and the Agency for Regulation and Development of the Financial Market. 

Source: Astana Times

Azerbaijan and Romania Sign MoU

The 8th meeting of the Joint Commission on trade-economic relations and scientific-technical cooperation between Azerbaijan and Romania took place in Baku on April 1. During the meeting, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in the fields of veterinary and food safety. The topics discussed in the meeting included cooperation in energy, transportation, investment, agriculture, social, educational, humanitarian, infrastructure, construction, and other spheres. 

Source: Trend News Agency

Extreme Weather Causes Flooding and Evacuations in Central Asia

Storms and heavy winds moved across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan on the evening of March 28. Due to the severity of the storms, thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and some regions declared states of emergency. Aktobe’s airport stopped operation, dozens of trees fell onto roofs and into buildings, and strong winds tore roofs off of at least 15 residential buildings. At least 154 budlings were damaged by the storms. 

Source: Times of Central Asia

Security and Politics


Azerbaijan Warns of Armenian Troop Buildup on the Border 

On March 31, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense released an official statement with video evidence on the “recent concentration of units and combat vehicles of the Armenian armed forces in various directions of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conditional border.” According to the statement, artillery systems, assault weapons, as well as heavy firepower of the Armenian armed forces are being deployed in newly built fortifications. 

Source: Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan 

Central Asia-China Secretariat Opens in Xian 

On March 30, the Central Asia-China Secretariat was launched in Xian, China, the chosen location for its headquarters. The establishment of the secretariat was signed at the first Central Asia-China summit last year and will help coordinate regional policy and collaboration. The opening ceremony was attended by China’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sun Weidong, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alibek Bakaev, and ambassadors to China from five Central Asian countries.

Source: The Times of Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan Warns Citizens Against Unnecessary Travel to Russia

In the aftermath of the Crocus City ISIS-K attack that killed over 130, Kyrgyzstan has warned its citizens “who do not have compelling reasons to travel to the Russian Federation” to refrain from travel there. It further recommends that “citizens staying on the territory of the Russian Federation should refrain from visiting crowded places, and also always have with them documents proving their identity and the legality of their stay on the territory of Russia.” A group of 11 men, reportedly citizens of Tajikistan, were arrested for the Crocus City attack. There has been widespread reporting of racist incidents against Central Asian migrants since.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, RFE/RL

Deputy Prime Minister-Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu  Meets with Secretary Blinken in Washington

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Deputy Prime Minister-Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, Murat Nurtleu, on March 26 in Washington, DC. The leaders discussed their commitment to strengthening their bilateral relationship, investment, and Kazakhstan’s economic diversification. Some key issues discussed included the Global Methane Pledge, investment in critical minerals, and the importance of free media. 

Source: U.S. Department of State

Ursula Von Der Leyen to Hold Trilateral U.S.-EU-Armenia Talks

On April 5, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will host a trilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. According to a statement released by Secretary Blinken’s spokesperson, the meeting will focus on “U.S. and EU support for Armenia’s economic resilience as it works to diversify its trade partnerships and address humanitarian needs.” The meeting comes as Armenia increasingly seeks to distance itself from Russia’s geopolitical influence. 

Source: US Department of State

EU Retracts Reports of Alleged Azerbaijani Shootings on the Border with Armenia 

On March 29, in an interview with the Armenian News Network, the head of the European Union’s Mission in Armenia (EUMA), Markus Ritter, refuted earlier reports of Azerbaijani force's alleged attacks on EUMA patrol units. In August 2023, the Ministry of Defense of Armenia issued a statement claiming Azerbaijani attacks on EUMA patrols observing the areas close to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. In the interview, Ritter states that the EUMA "never have been targeted or attacked by Azerbaijan,” and that the video evidence provided by the Armenian Ministry of Defense was a “private, unofficial video taken by an EUMA staff member that was intended as a joke.” 

Source: YouTube, Twitter

Mass Graves Found in Karabakh 

The body of Vagif Maharramov is the latest to be identified during the excavations in the center of Khojaly city. Since the liberation of territories, the bodies of 18 people in the city of Khojaly alone have been identified during the major reconstruction work carried out by the officials. In total, the fate of approximately 3,890 individuals listed as missing during the First Karabakh War are yet to be identified. 

Source: News.Az ,Aze.media.

Sources: Astana Times, Aze.media, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, News.az, RFE/RL, The Times of Central Asia, Trend News Agency, Twitter, U.S. Department of State, YouTube.

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