Headlines from the Caspian, December 20, 2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Dec 21, 2021
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan and Armenia Agree to Build Railway Along Zangezur Corridor
Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to build a railway connection through Armenia’s territory, restoring direct connection between Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and the mainland of the country. The corridor would also allow Armenia access to Iran as well connect Armenia with Russia via Azerbaijan’s territory. Such connections with Iran and Russia could assist Yerevan’s economic situation by enabling access to the Iranian market and the markets in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Source: Caspian News
Iranian and Turkmen Presidents Call for Transit Ties
The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov and President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi have called for cooperation on transportation and the transit of goods between the two countries. In a December 13 phone they emphasized the strengthening of border cooperation and facilitating trade, and noted the need to promote economic and trade cooperation to improve relations.
Source: Caspian News
New Baikonur Rocket Launch Facility To Be Named after Nazarbayev
Kazakhstan and Russia will begin the construction of a new rocket launch next year named after the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev. On December 14, Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Minister Bagdat Musin stated that a definitive decision on whether the facility will retain Nazarbayev’s name will be made after the initial construction work. The purpose of the new platform is to launch Soyuz-5 vehicles, which will run on the relatively clean naphthyl fuel, instead of the toxic heptyl currently used to launch the heavy-lift Proton rocket.
Turkmenistan Receives $45 Million Dollar Loan from OPEC for Marine Merchant Fleet
Turkmenistan will receive a $45 million dollar loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development in order to construct a Marine Merchant Fleet. This project is focused on increasing cargo traffic through the Turkmenbashi seaport. This strategic port on the Caspian Sea plays an important role in connecting the Europe-Caucasus-Asia shipping and transport corridor. The fleet will gain three new ships that will be utilized for transport of rail, dry cargo, and passengers.
Security and Politics
Leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and European Council Hold Trilateral Meeting
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinian, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, and President of the European Council Charles Michel met to discuss steps that can be taken to mitigate tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia that escalated into border clashes in the past weeks. The highlight of the meeting was the agreement to consider restoring communication infrastructure between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as transportation infrastructure including trains and border installations.
Following Meeting with EU, Azerbaijan Releases Military Detainees
Following Aliyev and Pashinyan’s meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel, Azerbaijan released 10 Armenian military detainees. Michel tweeted that it was “an important humanitarian gesture demonstrating the mutual will to strengthen confidence as discussed in Brussels.”
Turkey and Armenia Appoint Special Envoys for Normalization of Relations
Turkey appointed Serdar Kılıç, former ambassador to the United States, as a special envoy to discuss steps for the normalization of ties with Armenia. On the Armenian side, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Ruben Rubinyan was named as the special envoy for the normalization of relations with Turkey.
Source: The Daily Sabah
UNHCR Determines Termez to be Key in Delivering Aid to Afghanistan
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has emphasized the severity of the humanitarian crisis, saying that half of Afghanistan’s population is currently facing a food shortage, with 3.5 million internally displaced persons being the most vulnerable. He stated the importance of the strategic role that the humanitarian aid distribution center in Termez, Uzbekistan will play in UNHCR’s efforts to distribute aid prior to winter and the limits severe weather will put on operations.
Uzbekistan and South Korea to Strengthen Partnership
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan made a state visit to the Republic of Korea to meet with President Moon Jae-in in order to strengthen the partnership between the two states. They adopted a Joint Statement on Deepening the Special Strategic Partnership. This meeting to elevate the strategic partnership comes on the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with a focus on green economies and energy, technology as well as economic development.
Sources: (AkiPress, Eurasianet, Caspian News, The Daily Sabah, Fergana News, Politico, RFE/RL, UzDaily)