Headlines from the Caspian: January 24, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jan 24, 2023
Energy and Economy
Kyrgyzstan to Accept New Fleet of Buses from China to Aid in Transportation Improvement Efforts
China will become more involved in Bishkek's transportation sector in the near future as it plans to send 120 gas-powered buses to the capital. So far, Kyrgyzstan has already received a shipment of 20 buses that are intended to aid in the improvement of transportation in the country. China also donated buses in 2008 and 2009. The new shipment signifies continued commitment to bilateral relations in the economic sector.
Turkmenistan Resumes Its Gas Exports to Uzbekistan
On January 21, after nine days of suspending gas flows, Turkmenistan reopened its gas pipelines to Uzbekistan at its normal export rate. Starting on January 12, technical problems at the Galkynysh gas fields had prevented Turkmenistan’s deliveries, causing heat and power shortages across Uzbekistan during extreme cold weather. Now, the normal 16 million cubic meters per day of natural gas has resumed.
Source: Trend News Agency
China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway to Recontinue Construction
After several years of delay, on January 19, Uzbekistan’s Temir Yollari JSC participated in the joint opening of the project office to construct the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway. Once completed, this railway will travel along the the Torugart-Arpa-Makmal-Jalal-Abad corridor, opening the rail connection between the Kashgar Rail Terminus in Xinjiang and Uzbekistan’s rail network in Andijan. This project is estimated to cost $4.5 billion, evenly divided among the participating countries.
Source: Asia Times
Kazakhstan Extends Kazatomprom Uranium Mining Contract
On January 23, Kazakhstan’s national atomic company, Kazatomprom Joint Stock Company, the world's largest producer and seller of natural uranium, extended its mining contract for its subsidiaries mining in the Kanzhugan and Eastern Mynkuduk deposits. Subsoil rights were extended at the Kanzhugan deposit until 2047, and rights at the Eastern Mynkuduk deposit were extended until 2027. Additionally, an addendum for existing contracts at the Northern Karamurun and Southern Karamurun deposits were signed between RU-6 LLP and Kazakhstan's Ministry of Energy.
Source: Market Watch
Security and Politics
The EU to Deploy EU Observers in Armenia
The Council of the European Union (EU) will establish a civilian European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA) under the Common Security and Defense Policy for the next two years. According to the EU, the purpose of this mission is to contribute to the stability of Armenia’s border region, and to support de-escalation efforts. The EUMA will conduct regular patrolling along the border, and support mediation efforts from its operational headquarters in Armenia.
Source: Council of the European Union
Kyrgyzstan Purchases Additional Drones from Türkiye
On January 17, Kyrgyzstan announced the purchase of several Anka unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) from Türkiye's Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Kyrgyzstan had previously purchased Türkiye’s Bayraktar TB2, Akıncı UCAV, and the TAI-made Aksungur UCAV system, which are actively used by Kyrgyzstan’s military. This makes Kyrgyzstan the second country to purchase four different UCAV systems made by Türkiye.
Source: Daily Sabah
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov Declared as the National Leader of the Turkmen People
On January 23, former Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was named as the chairman of the country's People's Council (Halk Maslahaty). Although Serdar Berdymukhammedov was appointed president last year, a law signed on January 21 also designated his father, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, as "national leader of the Turkmen people." This move seems to reduce the power of the executive and moves final authority back into the hands of his father, the former president: an unprecedented move for the authoritarian country.
Kazakhstan Sets Stricter Visa Laws
On January 27, Kazakhstan will enforce new rules that will entail stricter regulations on foreign persons entering the country. Members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will be allowed to stay in the country for only 90 days within a 180-day period. Previously, members of the EEU (that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia) were able to remain in Kazakhstan for extended periods if they registered within 30 days of arrival. While individuals with temporary residence permits are exempt, the change is expected to make it more difficult for the thousands of Russians who continue to flee into neighboring Kazakhstan to seek refuge there.
Uzbekistan Announces Upcoming Central Asian-Persian Gulf Countries Summit
Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry announced on January 19 that there will be a strategic dialogue summit between heads of state from the countries of Central Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council. This announcement comes following a conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between heads of state of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar.
Source: Urdu Point
NATO's Special Representative Travels to South Caucasus
During the week of January 17, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Javier Colomina, traveled to Armenia and Azerbaijan. In Armenia, Colomina met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, and Defense Minister Suren Papikyan. In Armenia, Colomina held a meeting with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and other officials.
Sources: Asia Times, Caspian News, Council of the European Union, Daily Sabah, Eurasianet, Market Watch, NATO, Trend News Agency, RFE/RL, Urdu Point, The Washington Post