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caspian weekly roundup

Caspian Weekly Roundup

Author:Caspian Policy Center

Oct 10, 2018

Energy

Azerbaijan and Germany to Expand Energy Cooperation Azerbaijan and Germany are continuing to expand cooperation in the energy sector according to Deputy Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Natig Abbasov. Germany’s Uniper, one of the companies that buys Azerbaijani gas in the framework of the Shah Deniz-2 project, recently signed an agreement on energy efficiency, implementation of new technologies, and reduction of carbon emissions. "The SOCAR-Uniper joint venture operating from 2016 is conducting modernization based on German technologies at the Azerkimya Production Union’s enterprises. There are great opportunities for Uniper company to participate in the project of modernization and reconstruction of the gas distribution network in Baku city and Absheron peninsula, reduction of losses, use, optimization and management of power stations," Abbasov said. Uzbekistan Identifies Potential Site for Nuclear Power Plant Uzbekistan has decided on a potential site for the construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP). The location is Tudakul Lake, positioned on the border of the Navoi and Bukhara regions of Uzbekistan. There are four sites being studied at Tudakul Lake. Geographical characteristics, such as soil composition, will determine the precise placement of the NPP. Currently, more than 50 wells are being drilled, and at the end of the study, a location will be chosen. The NPP will consist of two modern units of the VVER-1200 model of the 3+ generation and is set to be commissioned in 2028. Azerbaijan Looks for Another Loan for Southern Gas Corridor Azerbaijan hopes to raise $1.5 billion for the Southern Gas Corridor project by the end of 2018, Deputy Vice President of SOCAR on investments and marketing Vitaly Beglyarbekov said at the German-Azerbaijani Business Forum on Energy and ICT on October 9. Azerbaijan is looking to German financial resources, along with other European banks, to raise $1.5 billion for 15 years for the project. The Southern Gas Corridor is a priority project for the EU. When completed, 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas will be delivered to Europe from the Caspian region via Turkey and Georgia. Gas Supplies from TurkStream Might Begin in 2020 Construction of the TurkStream gas pipeline is on schedule, and according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, gas supplies from the pipeline could begin on January 1, 2020. Russia and Turkey signed an agreement in 2016 on the construction of TurkStream, which will provide gas to Turkey via two strings of an offshore section that will cross the Black Sea, along with an onshore string for gas transit to Turkey’s border with neighboring countries. If the construction continues as scheduled, gas deliveries could start in 2020. Bulgaria and Austria are the priority directions for deliveries through TurkStream. "Continuing one line should ensure gas supplies to the south-eastern part of Europe, to those countries that need gas. There are different route options. There is an option for Greece and Italy, there are options for gas supplies through Turkey to Bulgaria, then Serbia, Hungary and Austria ... Currently the gas transportation infrastructure is expanding in these countries. Today, Bulgaria and Austria are surely priority directions for us," Novak added. Azerbaijan Playing Leading Role in Restoring, Expanding Silk Road Azerbaijan is playing a leading role in restoring and expanding the historic Silk Road, Chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament Ogtay Asadov said, the Azerbaijani parliament said in a message Oct. 9. Asadov made the remarks in Antalya at the meeting with Chairman of the National Assembly of South Korea Moon Hee-sang. Asadov expressed satisfaction with the dynamic development of relations between Azerbaijan and South Korea and noted that the activities of joint commissions between Azerbaijan and South Korea, the organization of joint business forums create great opportunities for expanding cooperation.

Security

Azerbaijan Air Defense Holds Drills Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry announced the completion of air defense military drills on Monday. Military personnel practiced discovering air targets and destroying them with Man-Portable Air Defense systems. Azerbaijani battalion commanders also completed training sessions last week. Commanders underwent classes on firearms training, tactical-special and physical training to evaluate their practical skills and theoretical knowledge. Zenit-M Launch Facility Handover Completed Kazakhstan and Russia completed the handover of the Zenit-M space launch facility at the Baikonur space center. The handover is part of an agreement the two countries reached in August to jointly construct the Baiterek launch facility. Kazakhstan is responsible for constructing the compound’s ground infrastructure, and this handover gave them control over the infrastructure to begin that work. Russia will lease the final facility from Kazakhstan. Launches are expected to start in late 2022. Russia Holds Drills in Southern Military District Russia held command and staff exercises last week from October 1st-8th in its Southern Military District. During the course of these drills, Caspian Flotilla missile ships Dagestan and Tatarstan carried out missile strikes against mock enemy facilities. Two Kalibr cruise missiles flew for approximately 180 km (100 miles) and accurately struck two buildings. Caspian Flotilla air defense systems were successfully able to repel missile attacks during the training. In addition to the Tatarstan and Dagestan, the exercises included the Astrakhan, Uglich, and Makhachkala corvettes, and the Volgodonsk gunnery ship as well as 7,000 servicemen, 20 planes, and 60 helicopters. U.S. State Department Delegation Arrives in Baku A cadre of State Department officials was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent. The group met with President Ilham Aliyev and discussed joint security issues such as Azerbaijan’s contribution to U.S. operations in Afghanistan and settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Other areas of bilateral cooperation like the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline, trade, IT, investment, and agriculture were also discussed. Russia and Turkey to Set Up Inter-Parliamentary Commission Representatives of Russian State Duma and Turkey’s Grand National Assembly signed a protocol of intent in order to set up a high-level inter-parliamentary commission on the sidelines of the Third Meeting of Speakers of Eurasian Countries in Turkey. Speakers Vyacheslav Volodin and Binali Yildirim signed the document that aims to build an advanced cooperation format and to “facilitate the implementation of the agreements between Russian and Turkish leaders”. The inter-parliamentary commission is scheduled to occur every six months, taking place in Russia and Turkey by turn. The further documents regarding the set-up of high-level commission are to be signed during Binali Yildirim’s visit to Russia, stated the agreement.

Economy

USAID to Organize Central Asian Trade Forum in Uzbekistan The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) together with the Foreign Trade Ministry of Uzbekistan will hold the Eighth Central Asian Trade Forum (CATF) on Oct. 17-18, 2018 in Tashkent, the Foreign Trade Ministry of Uzbekistan announced. The CATF is an annual event that attracts representatives of business circles of Central Asian countries, international organizations, prominent political and public figures of the region and the world. Over 1,000 delegates are expected to attend the forum this year. The forum will be held in Uzbekistan for the first time. The theme of this year's CATF, “New horizons in development of trade and investment”, reflects the growth of Central Asia’s openness to regional and international trade, which is particularly consistent with Uzbekistan’s complex socio-economic reforms aimed at accelerating economic growth, from monetary liberalization to creating an attractive investment and business climate. IMF: Inflation in Azerbaijan to be One of Lowest in Region The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has significantly improved the forecast for inflation in Azerbaijan for the next three years, the updated World Economic Outlook report of the Fund reads. Thus, according to forecasts of the IMF analysts, the inflation in Azerbaijan for 2018 will be 3.5 percent, and then will fall to 3.3 percent in 2019, and to 3 percent - in 2023. Earlier, in April, the Fund expected that the inflation rate in the country would be 7 percent in 2018, 6 percent - in 2019 and 4 percent - in 2023. The inflation in Azerbaijan will be one of the lowest as compared to the CIS region and Georgia, the report reads. France, Uzbekistan Ink over $5.7B Worth of Agreements France and Uzbekistan signed investment agreements on projects totaling about 5 billion euros ($5.75 billion), the press service of the president of Uzbekistan announced, referring to the results of the meeting of Shavkat Mirziyoyev with management of the largest French companies during an official visit to France. The meeting was attended by the heads of such companies as Total, Total Eren, Orano, Fives Stein, Rungis Semmaris, Vinci, Suez, SAD, IDEMIA, Mercier, Thales Alenia Space, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Agency, French Development Agency and others. French businessmen highly appreciated the economic reforms carried out in Uzbekistan and stressed that liberalization of the monetary system and simplification of the procedure for obtaining visas created favorable opportunities for development of mutually beneficial cooperation and increased interest to the economy of Uzbekistan. Germany, Uzbekistan to Draw Investments to Infrastructure Projects in Afghanistan Germany and Uzbekistan will attract financial resources to accelerate the implementation of projects for construction of the Mazar-i-Sharif-Herat railway, the Surkhan-Pul-i-Khumri transmission lines, roads of various lengths and other infrastructure facilities in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan stated on Oct. 8. On Oct. 8, special representative of the president of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan, Ismatulla Irgashev, met with special representative of the German government for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel. The sides exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan and the prospects for the peace process in the country. Turkmen, Russian Presidents Mull Prospects of Trade, Economic Co-Op A telephone conversation took place between Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Turkmen government said in a message. The two presidents stated the friendly nature of the Turkmen-Russian relations being built on the principles of mutual respect, constructiveness and strategic partnership, the message said. The parties discussed priority issues of interstate cooperation in the context of agreements reached at the highest level, and the existing substantial potential for mutually beneficial efforts in various fields. In this regard, they noted the important role of the joint intergovernmental commission in the practical implementation of the outlined plans for bilateral cooperation and the development of its new promising directions. Kazakhstan’s Business Roadmap to be Extended for Another 5 Years The Business Roadmap 2020 program will be extended until 2025, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said in his annual message to the people of Kazakhstan, Kapital.kz reported. "In 2010, we launched the Business Roadmap 2020 program. Within my visits to the regions, I have been convinced that it is effective. The program must be extended until 2025," he said. The president noted that it is necessary to provide at least 30 billion tenge annually for the implementation of this program. "This will make it possible to create at least 22,000 new jobs in three years. Due to this, 224 billion tenge of taxes will be attracted to the budget, and products for 3 trillion tenge will be produced," Nazarbayev said. Baku to Host Meeting of Associate Members of European Banking Federation The 48th meeting of associate members of the European Banking Federation will be held in Baku, the Azerbaijan Banks Association (ABA) said in a statement October 9. The relevant decision was made at the 47th meeting of the European Banking Federation. Azerbaijan is represented at the event by ABA Chairman Zakir Nuriyev and ABA Executive Director Yunus Abdulov. ABA management also has taken part in the Digital Finance Europe-2018 conference and the 2018 European Banking Summit entitled as “Financing Growth”. The participants discussed the current state of the banking and financial sectors, the development prospects of the organization’s member countries, the situation in the European banking market, the Federation’s activity plans and other issues. (Sources: Azertag, Azernews, Duma, Mehr News Agency, TASS, and Trend.Az)

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