Headlines from the Caspian: January 2, 2024
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jan 2, 2024
Energy and Economy
Pashinyan to Hold Honorary Chairmanship of Eurasian Economic Union
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will chair the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in 2024, an honorary position that rotates among the leaders of member states. Pashinyan, who declined his turn to hold a similar position in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, explained that in 2024 he hopes to put aside contentious politics and focus on economic growth. The news came following the announcement that Iran had signed a permanent free-trade deal with EEU states on December 25.
Gazprom Plans to Expand Gas Deliveries to Central Asia with 15-Year Contracts
Russian energy company Gazprom plans to increase gas deliveries to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan by mid-2024. The 15-year contracts are set to be formalized at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The energy giant is already exceeding its current supply of gas to Uzbekistan and has already begun delivering gas through Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan under a temporary agreement to provide about 2.8 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
Source: Caspian News
Kazakhstan Halts Gas Well Fire that Has been Burning Since June
On December 25, Kazakhstan’s privately held Buzachi Neft announced that it had finally halted the fire burning at the special purpose exploration well 3Q3-ST at the onshore Karaturun East field in the Mangistau region. This well has been burning since June 9, 2023, after an onsite accident, causing dozens of tons of methane to be emitted each day, although Buzachi Neft disputes these claims. The successful halt of the fire comes after the operator began injecting heavy drilling mud into the wellbore.
Source: Upstream Online
Security and Politics
Uzbekistan Declares 2024 the Year of Youth and Business
In President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s New Year’s Greetings, he declared 2024 the year to support youth and business in Uzbekistan. This address sets the tone for the new year, focusing on the government’s social and economic policies. Uzbekistan has set plans to attract more Foreign Direct Investment, expand the field of information technology, science, and innovation, and create new jobs.
Pashinyan and Aliyev Hold Bilateral Meeting in St. Petersburg
On December 26, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of an informal meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The diplomatic effort to normalize relations between the two countries picked up steam in December when the two countries’ foreign ministries released a joint statement and agreed to prisoner swaps. Several peace agreements have been drafted, and both sides claim that the basic outlines of a deal are now agreed upon. According to Elchin Amirbayov, the special ambassador of the Azerbaijani president, the two sides are “not that much far away from the final agreement.”
Kazakhstan Removes Taliban from Terror List
On December 29, Kazakh Foreign Ministry Spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov announced that Kazakhstan’s State Security Council had removed the Taliban from its official list of terrorist organizations. While the spokesman confirmed that Kazakhstan would continue to adhere to United Nations decisions and resolutions about Afghanistan, economic relations between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan have grown in recent months. In September, for instance, about 300 Afghan businessmen and Taliban representatives attended a business forum in Astana.
Turkmenistan Looks to Expand Cooperation with China in Education Sector
On December 28, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Myahri Byashimova held a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China, Sun Yao, in Ashgabat. The leaders discussed their strengthening bilateral relationship and areas for further cooperation in the education sector including specialist and academic exchanges, joint cybersecurity events, and research cooperation spanning various sectors such as agriculture, medicine, and nanotechnology.
Source: AKI Press
Ivanishvili Formally Re-Enters Georgian Politics
Georgian billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili announced on December 30 that he would become the honorary chairman of the governing Georgian Dream party. Ivanishvili first entered politics in 2011, founding the Georgian Dream party in 2012 and going on to lead it as Prime Minister from 2011 to 2013 before handing off power to a successor. In 2018 he served as chairman of the party until supposedly retiring in 2021. He has long been rumored to hold significant informal political power.
Sources: AKI Press, Caspian News, Daryo, EurasiaNet, The Guardian, Reuters, RFE/RL, Upstream Online,