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caspian weekly roundup

Caspian Weekly Roundup

Author:Caspian Policy Center

Nov 14, 2018

Energy

Turkmenistan in Talks with the European Commission on Gas Supply Possibility Turkmenistan is considering the possibility of supplying natural gas to the European market and is holding the relevant negotiations with the European Commission, said Yagshygeldy Kakayev, advisor to the Turkmen president, the Turkmengaz State Concern said in a message. He made the remarks at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) underway in Abu Dhabi. “We are considering an export route to Europe and are actively negotiating with the European Commission and other transit countries on this issue,” he said. Uzbekistan's 'University of Future' — Link to New Industrial Revolution The University of the Future in Uzbekistan will prepare specialists for qualifications that will emerge as a result of the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), CEO and founder of the University Bekzod Hamzaev told Trend. According to him, the 4IR will eventually end up with many jobs getting obsoleted. “We carried out an analysis of the labor market of the country for eight consecutive months to find out which qualifications will be in demand in Uzbekistan. The thing is that the majority of universities, not only in Uzbekistan but in the whole world, prepare students on qualifications that will not exist in the future. As a result of the 4IR, any job that can be replaced by a computer will indeed eventually be replaced. We will lose lots of jobs,” Hamzaev said, adding that expected changes in the labor market are the main reason why the University will focus on IT, programming, augmented reality and blockchain technologies. Around 82 Percent of TAP Project Completed Around 82 percent of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project has been completed, said a message from the TAP AG consortium, which is engaged in the construction of the pipeline that envisages transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe. “The TAP pipeline construction is well underway. About 82 percent of the project is completed and we are well on track and on time to start operations in 2020,” said the message. TAP worth 4.5 billion euros is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the EU countries. Uzbekistan Becomes Kazakhstan’s Largest Oil Importer in CIS In the first eight months of 2018, Kazakhstan exported 152,800 tons of oil and crude oil products to Uzbekistan amounting to $77 million, the Kazakh monitoring agency Energyprom.kz said in a report. Compared to the last year, when 99,400 tons worth $40.7 million were exported, the export figures grew by 53.68 percent in volume and 89.1 percent in monetary terms. Uzbekistan, thus, became the main importer of Kazakh oil and crude oil products in the CIS with a share of 56.95 percent of the volume of supplies to the countries of the region (268,300 tons). Uzbekistan Developing Own Space Program Uzbekistan has drafted its own space program and is actively developing international cooperation in this area, Uzbek Ambassador to Russia Botirjon Asadov said, Interfax reported. Uzbekistan is also developing joint research centers, he added. In April, it was reported that Russia’s state corporation Roscosmos is offering Uzbekistan cooperation in monitoring the space debris and remote sensing of the Earth, as well as joint projects in the development of satellites. Kazakhstan Plans to Launch Satellites Using Elon Musk’s SpaceX Platforms Kazakhstan plans to launch two small satellites into Earth’s orbit this month using the launch pad at the Vandenberg base located in Santa Barbara, California. For the first time, Kazakhstan will use an American-made rocket carrier for its satellites, forgoing Russia’s Proton launchers, which it had used in the past. “If everything goes as planned, we will launch two satellites on November 19, from the California-based Falcon-9 launch vehicle,” Marat Nurgozhin, Vice Minister of Kazakhstan’s Defense and Aerospace Industry said Monday, according to Kazinform. An American-made Falcon-9 two-stage launch vehicle, which was designed by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, will carry the satellites into space, where three other Kazakhstani satellites are currently in operation. The satellites are already in the United States and are ready for launching, according to a report issued by the country’s defense and aerospace industry agency.

Security

Kazakh Foreign Minister Meets New Chinese Ambassador Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov met with the newly appointed Ambassador of China to Kazakhstan Zhang Xiao. The two discussed how best to implement the bilateral agreements reached at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in June as well as upcoming high level meetings between their two governments. The Minister and Ambassador referred to the Kazakh diaspora community living in China as a living “bridge of friendship” between the two countries, while also noting that problems related to the human rights of ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang province need to be “solved based on the principles of mutual trust, good neighborliness, respect and in the spirit of a high level of strategic partnership.” Russia & China Expand Military Ties Amid Heightened Tensions With Washington Moscow and Beijing are building up their military partnership amid heightened pressure coming from Washington via economic sanctions. Russia will deliver more weapons to China within a contract that was signed during the 2018 China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, which ran in Zhuhai city from November 6-11. “We are actively cooperating with China in all environments of military-technical cooperation - land, air, and water,” RIA Novosti quoted the head of Russia’s Rostec delegation, Viktor Kladov, as saying on Tuesday. “In addition to the successful implementation of the two contracts for the S-400 and Su-35, we have a lot of other projects. I would not want to go into details, but I’ll say that we literally recently signed three more (armament) contracts with the Chinese side,” Kladov added. Iran’s Chabahar Port Exempted from Sanctions The State Department announced last Tuesday that the U.S. had approved a sanctions exemption for Iran’s Chabahar port. The port is critical to India since it allows them to access Central Asian markets without going through Pakistan. It is also an important economic hub for Afghanistan. The U.S. is exempting China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey from sanctions in general, but has insisted that these exemptions are only temporary. Slovakia Keen to Open Embassy in Azerbaijan Slovakia intends to open an embassy in Azerbaijan, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, who is on a visit to Baku, said on Nov. 13. The prime minister stressed that the country intends to open an embassy soon. This decision is correct as the embassy will facilitate cultural and economic exchange between the two countries, he said. Pellegrini said he is pleased that minister of economy of Slovakia informed the minister of economy of Azerbaijan that an agreement on the establishment of an intergovernmental commission between the two countries will be signed soon. Afghan Peace Summit Held in Moscow Russia’s attempt to broker peace in Afghanistan culminated in an international summit on Friday. Taliban representatives attended, and Russia says it is the first time a delegation from that group has participated in a high-level international meeting. The Kabul government did not send a delegation but instead sent members of the High Peace Council (HPC) a government-appointed body overseeing reconciliation efforts. Meanwhile, the Taliban reaffirmed their refusal to recognize the current Afghan government as a legitimate and said they will not hold direct talks with Kabul. Both the Taliban and the HPC said that the talks ended without a plan for direct dialogue. Turkmenistan Explores Anti-Extremism Cooperation Turkmenistan’s State Migration Services met with representatives from the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). UNDP representatives in Turkmenistan also attended the meeting. Presidents Putin and Trump Plan to Discuss INF Treaty During G-20 Summit in Argentina Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reported that presidents Putin and Trump had “a quick word” during the Paris ceremony of the celebration of the Armistice Day. The presidents exchanged pleasantries during working lunch, however, no specific issues were discussed. As Vladimir Putin commented later, the leaders agreed not to “organize any meetings” in Paris due to French request. In turn, presidents Putin and Trump intend to meet on the sidelines of the Group 20 summit in Argentina at the end of November. The U.S. decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty is among many other issues to be discussed during the meeting.

Economy

Slovak PM Discloses Priority Areas for Co-Op with Azerbaijan Azerbaijan and Slovakia have big opportunities for trade and human potential, which creates a reliable basis for cooperation, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini told reporters in Baku on Nov. 13. He said that the priority and promising areas for cooperation are alternative energy, the automotive, chemical and mining industries. But economic cooperation cannot be limited only to these spheres, he added. Pellegrini said that he is very glad that among the Slovak companies which present here there are also the companies which work in the field of innovative technologies and other spheres. Ashgabat, Ankara Discuss Lapis Lazuli Transit Project Passing through the Caspian Sea During a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ashgabat, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov discussed the prospects for creating the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey (Lapis Lazuli) international transit transport corridor, Turkmen Dovlet Habarlary reported. Among the priority areas of cooperation were the trade and economic sphere, energy, transport, and communications sector. The interlocutors expressed confidence that the long-standing interstate partnership will continue to develop dynamically. The first meeting of experts on the implementation of the "Agreement on Transit and Transport Cooperation" (Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement) took place in Ashgabat in April. Alstom Announces 1st Cargo Locomotive Shipment To Azerbaijan France’s transportation engineering company Alstom announced that it is almost ready to ship the first in an order of modern locomotives to Azerbaijan. The AZ8A model of the Prima T8 brand heavy freight locomotive will be received by Azerbaijan Railways’ rail depot sometime in late December. “After the test phase in Kazakhstan, the first cargo locomotive AZ8A Prima T8 will arrive in Azerbaijan in the second half of December,” an unnamed official told Trend news agency. "From February 2019, the first locomotive AZ8A will be launched in test mode between the stations of Ganja and Boyuk-Kesik.” Alstom and Azerbaijan Railways will conduct pre-tests on the railway in January. The route is an integral part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway that passes from Azerbaijan through neighboring Georgia and ends in far eastern Turkey. Tashkent-2025: Transformation” — What’s In Store for the City? On November 8, the “Tashkent-2025: Transformation” project proposed by an initiative group of the Public Council under the city administration and supported by the administration, was presented to the Tashkent administration, Gazeta.uz reported. This is a vision of the six main areas for which the improvements will be planned. These areas include administrative reform, economic development strategy, urban planning, utilities, the social sphere, inclusive development, and the environment. Baku to Host Azerbaijan-South Korea Business Meeting An Azerbaijani-South Korean business meeting will be held in Baku on November 20, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) said in a message. Representatives of three Korean companies, namely, GS Global Corporation, BHI LTD and GV International, operating in the energy sector, construction sector, engaged in the production of oil and gas boilers, heating systems, construction of thermal power plants, will attend the meeting. Source: Al Jazeera, Asbarez, Azernews, Azertag, Caspian News, Kazinform, PressTV, Tass, The Diplomat, and Trend News Agency.

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