Headlines from the Caspian: January 8, 2024
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jan 8, 2024
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan’s Sustainable Development Plan Approved
On January 5, Kazakhstan’s Coordination Council on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) approved an action plan for 2024 at the council’s 7th meeting. The discussion highlighted the need to revise national indicators for vaccinated populations, domestic violence, and carbon emissions. Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov, Chair of the meeting, emphasized that the goal of the meeting is to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Kazakhstan.
Source: Astana Times
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Sign a Protocol on Mutual Cooperation Expansion
On January 5, Kazakh Minister of Trade and Integration Arman Shakkaliyev and Uzbek Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade Laziz Kudratov met in Tashkent and signed a protocol on the expansion of mutual cooperation. The ministers discussed stages of implementation for projects and roadmaps signed after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s visit to Uzbekistan in December 2022. These included matters of transit and transport policy, border checkpoint infrastructure, cross-border cooperation, and increasing the bilateral trade turnover to $10 billion.
Source: Astana Times
Azerbaijan Unveils Baku 2040 Development Plan
The outline for the development of Baku until 2040 has been released. The current plan predicts the population of the city will reach 3.7 million in the next 17 years. It will introduce metrobuses, re-introduce trams, and increase the number of metro stations from 25 to 46. The plan will also relocate petrochemical enterprises from Baku to the cities of Sangachal and Alyat.
Source: JAM News
Turkmenistan Observes Unusually Warm and Dry Weather in Recent Months
During October, November, and December of 2023, Turkmenistan experienced an unusually high frequency of dust storms, haze, and drifting snow. Satellite images picked up on dust storms in the Mary region, as well as the central and southern districts of Lebap and southeast of Ahal. Average temperatures were higher than normal in November and December, and rainfalls were much lower than normal. If low precipitation rates and high temperatures continue, another significant drought is expected in the country.
Security and Politics
Kazakh Company Ends Broadcasts of Russian Channels
The Kazakh television company TVCOM has announced it will no longer broadcast several channels run by the Russian state-backed Channel One network. The company explained the decision stating that their viewers had become "more media literate, they get news from social networks." In recent years a number of Russian media channels have been blocked in Kazakhstan, including the Sputnik24 Internet Portal and the Russian website “Tsargrad.”
Armenian Church’s New Year’s Address Not Broadcast by Public TV
For the first time in Armenia’s post-independence history, the New Year’s midnight address by the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church was not broadcast on public television channels. The dispute, supposedly due to conflicts over scheduling, comes after an increasing split between the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Apostolic Church officials over the issue of the conflict in Karabakh. Relations between the church and Pashinyan deteriorated following the 2020 Karabakh war, and many have opposed Pashinyan’s policy of recognizing Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.
Icon Featuring Image of Stalin in Central Tbilisi Cathedral Sparks Anger
An icon featuring an image of Joseph Stalin in Tbilisi's Holy Trinity Cathedral has sparked anger, primarily expressed online. Church and political officials circulated footage of the icon and Stalin’s image online, initiating the controversy. Members of the opposition and academics have spoken out against the icon. The icon was donated to the church by the marginal and conservative Alliance of Patriots party.
Sources: AkiPress, Astana Times, EurasiaNet, JAM News, OC Media, RFE/RL