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caspian weekly roundup

Caspian Weekly Roundup

Author:Caspian Policy Center

Aug 28, 2018

Energy

SOCAR and Germany’s Uniper to Cooperate on Energy Efficiency in Azerbaijan Azerbaijan’s SOCAR and Germany’s Uniper SE signed an agreement on Saturday to work together on projects to improve the energy efficiency of oil and gas production in Azerbaijan, thereby lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Uniper and SOCAR have been working closely together for the past five years. Joint projects have already been acknowledged and are going to be reviewed more thoroughly before proceeding. According to the feasibility study, there is room for large amounts of natural gas savings in the gas grid. Afghanistan and Turkey Buy Oil Products From Turkmenistan Twenty-seven deals were registered at the State Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange of Turkmenistan last week, the state-run exchange said in a message July 9. Entrepreneurs from the UAE, Turkey, and Afghanistan purchased gasoline, oil road bitumen and diesel fuel produced at the Turkmenbashi Complex of Oil Refineries, as well as gasoline and diesel fuel produced at the Seydi oil refinery. Besides, Portland cement and cotton yarn were sold. The buyer countries included Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. The total price of the deals exceeded $31.463 million. ENI to Build Wind Power Plant in Kazakhstan Representatives of ENI International B.V. paid a visit to Kargaly district of Kazakhstan’s Aktobe region, Kapital.kz reported citing Kazakh Invest national company. The construction of a 50 MW wind power plant will be launched in Badamsha village at the end of 2018. Kazakh Invest company renders consulting and organizational support for the implementation of the investment project. Italian investors reviewed a 400 hectare-land plot allocated for the construction of the wind power plant. According to the schedule, wind power plant is expected to be commissioned in December 2019. Presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan Discuss Water and Energy Problems in Central Asia Countries President Sooronbay Jeenbekov of Kyrgyzstan and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan discussed the water and energy problem faced by the Central Asian states at Turkmen-Kyrgyz summit talks in Ashgabat. President Berdimuhamedov emphasized Turkmenistan’s unchanged position that water and energy issues must be negotiated in accordance with international law, taking into consideration the interests of all countries in the region. He also advocated for the involvement of international organizations, such as the UN, during discussions. Russia Plans to Expand its Presence on Global Coal Market Russian President, Vladimir Putin, made an announcement in which he stated his intention to expand Russia’s presence on the world coal market. "Last year, domestic companies exported more than 190 mln tonnes of coal. According to this indicator, our country confidently ranks third in the world," the President said at a meeting of the commission on the strategy for the development of the fuel and energy complex and environmental safety. He also recalled the agreement with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to establish a Russian-Chinese energy business forum. The following is expected to be held in Beijing in November of this year. According to Putin, about 40 Russian companies have expressed their interest in participation and a representative delegation is expected from China.

Security

Central Asian Leaders Meet in Avaza The leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan met in Avaza on Friday along with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. The meeting was a Summit of the Founder-States of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), the last of which was held in 2009. Heads of state held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev sat down with Berdymukhammedov to reaffirm their close relationship, later saying “I closely monitor the development of fraternal Turkmenistan and wish all the best to the Turkmen people.” Kazakhstan to Host Non-Proliferation Conference Starting on Tuesday, Kazakhstan will host a five-day International Conference of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) titled “Remembering the Past, Looking to the Future." The conference will include members of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) and the Youth Group (CYG) and will adopt a Joint Declaration to commemorate the International Day against Nuclear Tests. German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits South Caucasus German Chancellor Angela Merkel spent three days in the South Caucasian countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. She arrived in Georgia on August 23, then moved on to Armenia and concluded her trip in Azerbaijan on August 25. High on Merkel’s agenda was discussing both geopolitical and economic issues with each country’s leaders. Merkel met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to discuss expanding cooperation in the energy sector. Merkel stated that Europe is committed to diversifying its energy market to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Russia and Kazakhstan Agree on Baiterek Launch Complex Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to create the Baiterek Launch Complex at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The complex will be used to launch a new Soyuz-5 medium-range missile, likely in 2022. Before then, Russia will modernize the complex, while Kazakhstan will maintain the infrastructure remaining from the Zenit rocket program previously housed at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The program launching Ukrainian-made Zenit rockets was discontinued in 2014 after Ukrainian-Russian relations destabilized. Russia Forms Naval Military Police The Russian Navy is creating a new arm of service: The Naval Military Police. The first unit will be established in Kaliningrad, under the Baltic Fleet by the end of 2018. More units will then be created for the Northern, Pacific, and Black Sea fleets and the Caspian Flotilla. The new arm will be responsible for securing maritime zones around naval bases, handling crime among naval personnel, and countering sabotage. Russian and Turkish Diplomats Meet in Moscow Russian President, Vladimir Putin said that Russia and Turkey relations are taking on an increasingly more profound and substantive character in the economy and in foreign policy likewise, as he received in the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Friday, August 24. "Our relations with Turkey are getting increasingly more profound and substantive," Putin mentioned, calling attention to his regular contacts with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. President Putin also added that “great progress” has been made towards a settlement of such an acute issue as Syrian crisis. The following has been done with the assistance of the countries concerned, he continued, such as Iran and the cooperation of the European countries, the United Nations and the United States. Afghan Ambassador Visits the Russian Foreign Ministry Ria Novosti Afghan Ambassador to Moscow, Abdul Kayum Kuchai, arrived at the Russian Foreign Ministry on August 27, where he is scheduled to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister, Igor Morgulov, RIA Novosti correspondent reports. Last week, official Kabul stated that it did not plan to participate in the so-called Moscow format on Afghanistan that is to be held in Russia on September 4, whereas a delegation of the Taliban could arrive at this conference. At the same time, Moscow and Kabul exchanged a series of tough statements on the subject of the Afghan settlement.

Economy

U.S. Sanctions Imposed on Russia Come into Effect The latest set of sanctions against Russia came into effect Monday, August 27, for its alleged involvement in the chemical weapon attack in an attempt to poison former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia in England earlier this year. The set of sanctions, in particular, includes denying the Russian state arms sales, exports of technology and sensitive goods. The US will also deny any credit or other financial assistance to Russia and will end all support to Moscow under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, except for any urgent humanitarian aid. British Prime Minister, Theresa May announced the British government’s own response to the chemical attack by withdrawing 23 Russian diplomats from Britain who had been identified as “undeclared” intelligence agents. Sanctions by Washington are imposed according to its observance of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Elimination Act of 1991. According to this law, the U.S. is obliged to impose sanctions against any state that used chemical or biological weapons in defiance of international law. Azerbaijan to Open Trade House in Dubai to Promote Products and Tourism Azerbaijan will open a trade house in Dubai by the end of 2018, the Trade Representative of Azerbaijan in Dubai Elnur Aliyev told Trend. He noted that at this stage a large-scale work is underway for a serious project to open a trade house of Azerbaijan in Dubai. "After opening the trade house, we plan to work in two directions: firstly, to promote goods at retail market and, secondly, to search for wholesale buyers of Azerbaijani products. Along with increasing the volume of products supplied to the UAE, we plan to ensure the stability of our supplies. This is very important, because the constant supply of our products to the UAE markets, and in particular to Dubai, will increase the confidence of importers and buyers in us. On the other hand, it will increase Azerbaijan's export revenues," he said. Afghanistan to Send First Cargo to Europe Through Lapis Lazuli Route Afghanistan is expected to send its first cargo to Europe through Lapis Lazuli route in the next six weeks, officials said Monday. The route begins in Aqina and Turghundi ports in the Afghan provinces of Faryab and Herat and crosses Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. It involves road, rail, and maritime transport. Afghan Foreign Ministry said that two experimental shipments would leave Aqina and Turghundi ports for Europe. Hasan Surosh, head of Department of Economic Cooperation at Foreign Ministry, said that execution plan for the Lapis Lazuli route would be finalized with the concerned countries in the next two weeks. Azerbaijani Government Improves Forecasts for Country’s Economic Growth The Azerbaijani government has significantly improved the forecasts for the country's economic growth for the next two years, follows from the "Medium- and Long-term Strategy for Managing Public Debt", approved by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. So, if before the government expected GDP growth in 2018 at 1.5 percent, now the forecast is increased to two percent. For 2019, the forecast was revised from 1.4 percent to 3.1 percent, Trend reports. The forecasts of the Azerbaijani government on GDP growth for 2018-2021: "In 2018 and the medium-term period, the positive dynamics of economic growth will be maintained. Along with local forecasts, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund predict economic growth in Azerbaijan," the document says. Kazakh and Turkmen Presidents Stress Need for New Co-Op Approaches Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, who arrived in Turkmenistan to participate in the summit of heads of the founding states of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), taking place in the Avaza tourism zone, the Turkmenistan State News Agency reported citing the Turkmen Foreign Ministry. “The two presidents stressed the need to develop and prepare new approaches for cooperation in the political, economic, environmental, energy, transport and other important spheres,” the report said. EBRD Financing Development of Public Transport in Tajik City Some 25 passenger buses of LIAZ brand have been received by the Tajik city of Khujand within the project titled "Development of Public Transport in Khujand”, Tajik news agency Avesta reported. Some $26 million have been allocated for implementation of this project, financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This is the second delivery of buses to the administrative center of the Sughd region within the project. New buses differ by their dimensions from the previous delivery. The length of each bus is 12 meters and the capacity is more than 100 passengers. In the second phase of the project, the total number of new buses in Khujand has reached 50. Another 50 buses will arrive in Khujand by the year-end. (Sources: A1Plus, Azer News, Azertag, CBS News, Georgia Today, Itar-Tass, Jane’s 360, Kabar, Kazinform, Prothom Alo, News.Az, Ria Novosti, RFE/RL, TASS, Times of Central Asia, and Trend Az.)

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