Headlines from the Caspian: March 13, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Mar 13, 2023
Energy and Economy
Uzbekistan and Iran Agree to Boost Bilateral Transport Cooperation
On March 12, following an Uzbekistani governmental delegation's visit to Iran, the two countries agreed to implement legislation that would boost bilateral cooperation in the trade and transport sectors. During a meeting in Tehran, Uzbekistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Bakhtiyor Saidov and Uzbekistan’s Minister of Transport Ilhom Makhkamov, together with Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash, implemented agreements such as allowing Uzbekistan membership to the Chabahar Agreement that aims to establish an International Transport and Transit Corridor through Iran’s southern seaports.
Source: AKI Press
Chevron Seeks to Increase Oil Production in Kazakhstan
During the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas, on March 6, Chevron’s CEO Mike Wirth announced that the company plans to increase its oil production in Kazakhstan to one million barrels per day by 2025. Wirth noted that currently, Chevron is producing 700,000 barrels of oil per day in Kazakhstan.
Source: The Astana Times
EBRD Gives $19M toward Adjara Waste Management
On March 14, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) gave $19 million meant to facilitate better waste management in Georgia’s Black Sea region of Adjara. Not only will this address the waste-management problem in Adjara, but also in Batumi. Toward this end, the EBRD stated, “This includes stopping the disposal of waste at existing dumpsites in Kobuleti and Batumi .... These dumpsites are active sources of land, water, and air pollution, impacting the ecosystem of the region in particular and the Black Sea in general.” Georgian Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili explained that this endeavor will in turn boost tourism to Batumi.
Uzbekistan Doubles Trade Turnover with the UAE
During a telephone call on March 11 between the Presidents of Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, it was noted that the trade turnover between the two countries doubled in 2022, with more than 200 joint ventures operating in Uzbekistan with a portfolio worth over $3 billion.
Source: Vestnik Kavkaza
Security and Policy
Uzbekistan Sets Date for Constitutional Referendum
Lawmakers in Uzbekistan have set the preliminary date for a long-awaited constitutional referendum for April 30. The referendum reportedly will enable 65 percent of Uzbekistan’s Constitution to be rewritten and will also enable current President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to possibly extend his presidency. Through the referendum, the presidential term will be extended from five to seven years, and while Mirziyoyev is currently serving his second five-year term, this would allow him to run for two more seven-year terms.
Office of the President of Azerbaijan Invites Karabakh Armenians for a Meeting in Baku
On March 13, Azerbaijani media reported that the Presidential Office of Azerbaijan invited Karabakh Armenians for a second meeting in Baku. Baku recently appointed Ramin Mammadov as the Member of Parliament responsible for contacts with Armenian residents of the Karabakh region. Earlier on March 1, it was reported that the first meeting between the representatives of Karabakh Armenians and Mammadov was held in the town of Khojaly through the mediation of Russian peacekeepers.
Sources: Trend News Agency, Eurasianet
Georgian Lawmakers Scrap Foreign Agents Bill
After mass protests throughout Georgia, on March 10 lawmakers “unconditionally” withdrew the controversial bill. This law would have required all individuals, civil society organizations, and media outlets that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign sources to register as a “foreign agent.” Many compared this law to a similar law in Russia that aimed to oppress individuals and NGOs receiving international support. After confrontations between Georgian authorities and protestors last week, the government reversed course and withdrew the bill entirely.
Azerbaijan says Iran Violated its Airspace
On March 11, an Iranian military aircraft flew along the Azerbaijan-Iran border, near the Zangilan and Bilasuvar districts, only three to five kilometers away from Azerbaijan’s state border. This prompted a joint statement from Azerbaijan’s foreign and defense ministries. Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry summoned Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan to protest this incident, but Iran has yet to respond.
Source: Al Arabiya
Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Visits Armenia and Azerbaijan
On March 6-7, U.S. Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Louis Bono traveled to Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet with high-ranking government officials to discuss U.S. support for negotiations between the two countries. In Azerbaijan, Bono met with President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov to discuss the current regional situation, prospects for the delimitation process, and the reintegration of Karabakhi Armenians into Azerbaijan. In Armenia, Bono met with PM Pashinyan to talk about the current situation in the Lachin corridor and the recent deadly clashes in Karabakh.
Sources: Trend News Agency, Armenpress.am
Turkmenistan to Launch Direct Flights to Kazakhstan
On March 26, passenger flights between Ashgabat and Almaty will resume and are scheduled to continue twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These Boeing-737 flights will be operated by Turkmenistan Airlines. This development will help facilitate increased cultural, economic, and business ties between the two countries.
Source: The Astana Times
Azerbaijan President Aliyev Arrives in Germany for Working Trip
On March 13, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev arrived in Berlin to meet with German officials. The purpose of the visit has yet to be announced.
Source: Trend News Agency
Sources: Agende.ge, AKI Press, Al Arabiya, Armenpress.am, Astana Times, Eurasianet, NPR, Trend News Agency, Vestnik Kavkaza