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headlines from the caspian: april 15, 2024

Headlines from the Caspian: April 15, 2024

Author: Caspian Policy Center

Apr 15, 2024

Image source: Getty Images

Energy and Economy


World Bank Predicts High Growth for Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in 2024

The World Bank’s 2024 GDP growth predictions rank Uzbekistan (5.3%), Armenia (5.5%), Georgia (5.2%), Kyrgyzstan (4.5%), and Tajikistan (6.5%) as the five fasting growing countries out of 20 developing economies in Central and Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus. The report also notes generally high growth across Central Asia at 5.5% in 2024, compared to 4.2% in 2022. Fueling much of this growth across the Caspian region appears to be high oil prices, reductions in inflation, strong currencies, and growth in trade. 

Source: World Bank

President Tokayev Cancels Astana International Forum Amidst Massive Floods

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the cancellation of the Astana International Forum (AIF) scheduled for June 13-14. Tokayev cited the need to “allocate financial resources for relief efforts and aid,” given the severe flooding in northwestern Kazakhstan. Historically, the AIF has served as a venue for multilateral discussions on a broad range of topics, including climate, food and energy security, and trade. Each year, its recommendations are presented to the G20 Summit. Tokayev expressed regret about this year’s cancellation and invited political and business leaders to come back in 2025. 

Source: Astana Times

Representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan to Participate in the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings this week

Representatives from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have confirmed they will be in Washington this week for the annual Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank. The Kazakh delegation will be led by Timur Suleimenov, Chairman of the National Bank, and Madina Abylkassymova, Chairman of the Agency for Regulation and Development of Financial Markets. The Kyrgyz delegation will be led by Chairman of the Cabinet Akylbek Japarov. Main topics for this year’s meetings include the return of industrial policy, developing countries’ debt vulnerability, and climate finance. The Kyrgyz team has expressed an interest in discussing progress on the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant, one of Central Asia's largest hydropower ventures, that has received technical assistance from the World Bank. 

Sources: Trend News Agency, Trend News Agency

Turkmenistan, EU Discuss Energy Cooperation

On April 15, a delegation from Turkmenistan led by Murad Archaev, Deputy Chairman of the state-owned Turkmengaz, held a meeting in Brussels with Stefano Grassi, Head of Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Energy, and Tibor Stelbatsky, Senior Advisor for Energy Diplomacy at the European External Action Service. The meeting focused on cooperation in the field of renewable energy sources, reducing methane emissions, and diversifying Turkmenistan’s natural gas supply routes. 

Source: Daryo 

Kazakhstan to Increase Exports to Armenia to $350 Million

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told reporters during a media briefing that Kazakhstan is ready to increase its exports to Armenia to US$350 million. This announcement came during Tokayev’s official visit to Yerevan on April 15. “We are interested in further developing a comprehensive partnership with Armenia,” President Tokayev said during his joint media briefing with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Source: Astana Times 

Security and Politics


Tajik Foreign Minister Criticizes Russia’s Response to Crocus City Attacks

At an April 12 meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin spoke out against Russia’s treatment of the Crocus City attack suspects, 10 out of 11 of whom are Tajik citizens. Muhriddin cast doubt over the veracity of their confessions, saying, "The value of confessing guilt under torture is known to everyone." Furthermore, he commented on an increasingly hostile atmosphere for Tajiks in Russia, saying, "As a result of a campaign launched in the media, a negative impression is created against the citizens of Tajikistan and Tajiks, which is unacceptable."

Source: RFE/RL

Georgia Prepares for Foreign Agents Law Vote Amid Heated Opposition 

The Georgian parliament is currently discussing and preparing to vote on a revised version of the Foreign Agents law it attempted to pass in March 2023. The bill, which would apply the label of “Organization Pursuing the Interests of a Foreign Power” to non-governmental organizations receiving upwards of 20% funding from abroad, has been intensely criticized by domestic opposition figures and European officials as mirroring Russian legislation used to suppress civil society. Protests are currently taking place and journalists have been barred access to the parliament. A notable incident occurred the morning of April 15, when an opposition Member of Parliament punched parliamentary Majority Leader Mamuka Mdinaradze as he was delivering remarks relating to the bill.

Source: Jam-News, RFE/RL

South and Central Asian Countries Conduct Mine-Clearing and Secure Weapons with U.S. Support

The U.S. Department of State announced that it continues to conduct humanitarian mine action programs in collaboration with Central Asian countries near Afghanistan. They noted that Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan face substantial risk of unsecured and deteriorating weapons through stockpile reduction and disposal. Tajikistan has played a leading role in clearing dangerous and aging explosives. 

Source: U.S. Department of State 

Occupation Forces Detain Three Georgian Citizens Near South Ossetia 

On April 15, Georgia’s state security service stated that three Georgian citizens had been illegally detained by what it described as “Representatives of Russian occupation forces.” The statement also relayed that Georgian security, in collaboration with the European Union observer mission, is utilizing all existing mechanisms to secure the release of the three Georgians. The statement condemned the action.

Source: State Security Service of Georgia

Ministerial Meeting for the “Central Asia – Gulf Cooperation Council” Strategic Dialogue Takes Place in Uzbekistan

On April 15, the Ministerial Meeting for the “Central Asia – Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)” Strategic Dialogue took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Delegations from the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), as well as from the GCC (Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia) attended the meetings. For the first time ever, Azerbaijan was represented in the strategic dialogue, with its foreign minister attending as an honored guest. The next Central Asia-GCC Summit is expected to take place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in 2025.

Source: Kun.uz

Sources: Astana Times, Daryo, JAM News, Kun.uz, RFE/RL, State Security Service of Georgia, Trend News Agency, U.S. Department of State, World Bank

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