Headlines from the Caspian: April 10, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Apr 10, 2023
Energy and Economy
BOTAŞ and SOCAR Create a New Joint Company
During an interview with CNN Türk, the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Fatih Dönmez announced that Türkiye’s BOTAŞ and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR are looking to become a “gas trading center” and that they will be creating a new joint company. Dönmez said the Turkish legislature has begun amending a bill necessary to start the work of the new company. “With the launch of the gas trade center, prices will also decrease, which is essential for Europe,” the Minister said.
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan Sign Contracts Worth $55 Million
On April 8, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan held the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation in Baku to discuss new cooperation opportunities. During this meeting, the Chairs of the Commission, Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov and Minister of Trade and Integration Serik Zhumangarin discussed ongoing trade activity and announced the Azerbaijani semi-submersible drilling rig, "Dada Gorgud," involved in the exploration of the Kazakh offshore structure, "Zhenis.” During this meeting, they signed eight documents, valued at $55 million.
Source: Trend News Agency
Microsoft to Open Multiregional Hub in Kazakhstan
On April 10, Bagdat Mussin, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Digital Development, Innovations, and Aerospace Industry, announced Microsoft’s plans to open a multi-regional hub headquartered in Kazakhstan. This hub will cover all Central Asian countries, in addition to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Mongolia, and Pakistan. The hub will become a center of production and non-resource technological industries.
UAE’s Masdar to Construct Three Solar Projects in Uzbekistan
United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) state-owned energy company Masdar announced that it will begin the construction of three solar projects at Sherabad, Samarkand, and Jizzakh in Uzbekistan this year. The solar plants have a combined capacity of about 900 megawatts, and are expected to provide electricity to 1 million houses, once fully operational. The funding for the projects will be provided by the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank.
Source: Energy Digital
Security and Politics
Azerbaijan Expels Four Iranian Diplomats Following Iranian Provocation
On April 6, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry announced it was expelling four Iranian diplomats due to “provocative actions” amidst the rising tensions between Baku and Tehran. Some have speculated that this move might be connected to the attempted assassination of an anti-Tehran lawmaker a week prior. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with Iran’s ambassador, and gave the four diplomats 48 hours to leave the country.
Azerbaijani and Iranian Foreign Ministers Hold Discussion over Tensions
On April 8, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, held a phone conversation, described by Bayramov as a “detailed discussion … regarding the existing dissatisfaction and misunderstandings between the two countries.” This discussion comes amid a period of rising tension between the two countries.
Source: Al Arabiya
President Aliyev Conducts Official Visits to Tajikistan and Kazakhstan
On April 6, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev conducted an official state visit to Dushanbe. In a joint press conference with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, Aliyev emphasized the importance of stability and peace on the basis of security and development in the region. On April 10, President Aliyev traveled to Astana, Kazakhstan, for another official visit. During his meeting with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Aliyev stressed the bilateral cooperation between two countries: “The fact that we meet so often during official visits speaks both of the nature of our relations and of the fact that there is a need to be in contact.”
U.S. Sanctions Four Georgian Judges
On April 5, the U.S. State Department implemented sanctions against four Georgian judges - Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia, and Valerian Tsertsvadze - for their involvement in “significant corruption.” The sanctions are intended to ban the judges and their immediate family members from entering the United States. The State Department’s Deputy Spokesman, Vedant Patel, stated that there was credible information, including from “open sources,” that the high-ranking judges in Georgia who had been sanctioned were involved in corruption.
Sources: Eurasianet, Jam News
U.S.-Kyrgyz Republic Annual Bilateral Consultations Held in Washington
On March 30, the fifth round of U.S.-Kyrgyz Republic Annual Bilateral Consultations were held in Washington, DC. The meetings were led by U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu and Kyrgyzstani Republic Deputy Foreign Minister Aibek Moldogaziev. They discussed areas of cooperation including security, economic diversification, sanctions coordination, media freedom, democracy, and rule of law.
Source: U.S. State Department
Prime Minister Garibashvili Travels to Azerbaijan for Official Visit
On April 7, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili conducted an official visit to Baku. Following his meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, Garibashvili highlighted the importance of implementing joint projects between the two countries. Garibashvili also stressed the importance of further development of the Middle Corridor, especially focusing on ports and railway infrastructure.
Sources: Agenda.ge, Al Arabiya, Azernews, Azertag, Energy Digital, Eurasianet, Jam News, News.az, Trend News Agency, U.S. State Department