Headlines from the Caspian: January 10, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jan 10, 2023
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan Sign Hydropower Plant Agreement
On January 6, the Ministers of Energy of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan signed an agreement on constructing the Kambar-Ata-1 hydropower plant in Kyrgyzstan. During a trilateral meeting in Bishkek, Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Bolat Aqsholaqov, Kyrgyzstan’s Energy Minister Taalaibek Ibraev, and Uzbekistan’s Energy Minister Jurabek Mirzamahmudov signed the agreement, which stipulated that construction would begin in 2024 and last four years. the Kambar-Ata-1 hydropower plant will be the biggest of its kind and will provide electricity to each of the three countries.
China Signs Oil Extraction Deal with the Taliban
On January 5, Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co signed a 25-year agreement with Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines and Petroleum Sheikh Shahabuddin Delawar on the extraction of oil in the Amu Darya basin in Northern Afghanistan near the Turkmenistan border. The Chinese company will invest $150 million per year under this contract to extract oil from the 1,737 square-mile region, giving the Taliban 20% partnership in the project. This is the first public commodities extraction deal the Taliban has signed since taking power in 2021.
Source: Al Jazeera
Türkiye Lifts Ban on Air Cargo Transport to Armenia
On January 6, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry stated that the ban on air cargo transport over the Armenian-Türkiye border would start, as agreed upon in the July 1 meeting of special representatives. Direct air cargo trade was reported to begin on January 1. Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vahan Hunanian added that Armenia may expand this agreement in the future to include land border crossings for citizens.
Source: TRT World
Uzbekistan Shares Study on Trans-Afghan Railway Project with Pakistan
Uzbekistan has shared its ‘feasibility study’ on the 783-kilometer Trans-Afghan railway project with Pakistan during a trilateral meeting in Islamabad. The study showed 783 kilometers of railway needs to be laid from Mazar-e-Sharif to Torkham, costing an estimated $8 billion, and 80 tunnels of 148 km, costing $4 million per km will need to be established. This railway will provide both passenger and freight services, and it will provide a direct link between Tashkent and Pakistan.
Source: The Express Tribune
Supply Shortages Lead to McDonald’s Closures Throughout Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan’s McDonald’s fast-food chain restaurants will close due to meat-supply shortages linked to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Reportedly, the company banned its local franchises from sourcing meat from Russian suppliers. Increased food prices made it difficult for local McDonald’s restaurants to purchase meat from other European or local suppliers.
Security and Policy
Presidents of Turkmenistan and China Meet to Discuss Bilateral Cooperation
Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdimuhamedov met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on January 6. The leaders were set to touch on topics such as gas imports, transportation, communications, and agriculture during their discussions. Though no specific details regarding the countries’ future cooperation have been released, President Xi has stated that he looks forwards to increased bilateral ties and says that natural gas is the “cornerstone” of their relationship.
U.S. Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Retires from Foreign Service
On January 5, U.S. State Department announced retirement of the U.S. Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Philip T. Reeker. “Ambassador Reeker’s departure in no way undermines the United States’ commitment to promoting a secure, stable, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful future for the South Caucasus region,” said Ned Price, the Department’s Spokesperson, during the press briefing on January 4. Price further added that the United States. will continue to bilaterally engage with likeminded partners such as the European Union, and through international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), to facilitate direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Sources: U.S. Department of State
Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, The Express Tribune, RFE/RL, Reuters, TRT World, U.S. Department of State