Headlines from the Caspian: June 13, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jun 13, 2023
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan Aims to Become a Digital Hub
On June 9, during the 35th plenary session of the Foreign Investors Council (FIC), Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev discussed Kazakhstan’s potential in the emerging digital market. He highlighted the UN’s decision to establish the United Nations Digital Solution Centre for Sustainable Development of Central Asia in Kazakhstan. The council focused on this emerging market and Kazakhstan’s capabilities in the spheres of artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, and other digital industries.
Source: Astana Times
Kazakhstan Declares a State of Emergency over the Caspian’s Declining Sea Levels
On June 8, the Ecology Ministry of Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency over the declining sea water levels of the Caspian Sea. Although authorities have long known of the slowly falling sea water levels, this is the first time Kazakhstan’s Ecology Ministry has officially recognized the crisis.
WTO Director General Addresses Global Trading System Challenges at the Astana International Forum
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala highlighted challenged and proposed solutions in her address at the Astana International Forum (AIF) on June 9. A particular challenge, according to Okonjo-Iweala, is geopolitical tensions that lead to fragmentation of global trade. If the world were to split into two trading blocs, the result would be a 5 percent loss in real GDP long-term, according to WTO calculations. “Let’s be cautious, because if the world trading system fragments, that could be very costly for the entire global economy,” Okonjo-Iweala cautioned.
Source: Astana Times
Security and Policy
Azerbaijan to Buy Italian Military Aircraft
On June 8, Leonardo, an Italian aerospace defense company, announced that it has reached an agreement with Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry for Baku to purchase C-27J military transport aircraft. “Initially linked to the energy sectors, the collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan is now also extended to defense industry products,” the partially state-owned company stated in its press release. Azerbaijan is most likely to use the purchased aircraft for military purposes - for transportation of materiel and ammunition.
Russian Imports of Key Electronics Are Back to Pre-Invasion Levels According to U.S. Department of State Sanctions Coordinator
According to U.S. Department of State sanctions coordinator Jim O’Brien, “By the start of this year, Russia was able to reimport key categories of electronics at about pre-war levels.” O’Brien said Russia has been able to circumvent sanctions on microchips and integrated circuits that are critical to weapons manufacturing by buying from other countries that import from Europe. O’Brien called out five countries in particular (Türkiye, Kazakhstan, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates, and Armenia) that have aided Russia in sanction circumvention.
Uzbekistan and Italy Sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement
On June 8, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, met in Rome to discuss agreements on economics, security, defense, and culture. As part of this meeting, Mirziyoyev and Meloni signed a strategic partnership agreement, aimed to “write a new chapter of friendship between our nations.”
Source: Decode 39
Erdogan to Visit Azerbaijan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to embark on his first foreign trip to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Azerbaijan on June 13, following his reelection in the May 28 runoff polls. While in Azerbaijan, Erdoğan is expected to hold talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, before addressing the public.
Source: Hürriyet Daily News
Sources: Astana Times, Decode 39, Eurasianet, Hürriyet Daily News, Politico