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headlines from the caspian: march 18, 2024

Headlines from the Caspian: March 18, 2024

Author: Caspian Policy Center

Mar 18, 2024

Image source: eurasianet

Energy and Economy

The United States Launches the B5+1 Initiative in Central Asia

The governments of the United States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan brought together both government and private-sector representatives for the first B5+1 Forum in Almaty, the private sector-oriented counterpart to the C5+1. The United State’s delegation was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asian Affairs John Mark Pommersheim and National Security Council Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia Nicholas Berliner. This forum offered recommendations for improving the business operation environment in Central Asia and advancing regional economic integration, competitive markets, and foreign investments to the region.

Source: U.S. Department of State

In a First, Cargo Containers from China Reach Azerbaijan via Kazakhstan

On March 11, 61 freight-train containers arrived in Azerbaijan after originating in China and transversing Kazakhstan before crossing the Caspian Sea and arriving in Baku, Azerbaijan. The overall trip took 11 days. Azerbaijani authorities now expect 10 such trains to arrive in Azerbaijan from Kazakhstan every month. To commemorate the milestone in the development of trans-Caspian transit, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev visited Baku and signed several commercial agreements with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Source: RFE/RL

Kazakhstan to Expand Exports to Uzbekistan

At a March 15 meeting between Kazakhstan Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov and Uzbekistan Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov in Tashkent, Bektenov indicated that Kazakhstan was prepared to increase exports to its neighbor by nearly $500 million. Trade between the two countries has grown rapidly in recent years, evidence of a trend towards broader regional economic cooperation across Central Asia. At the meeting, the leaders discussed new investment and industrial projects to further increase the countries’ economic partnership.

Source: The Astana Times

Uzbekistan Connects Phase 1 of 511MW Solar Energy Project to the Grid

The first phases of two solar power plants in Uzbekistan, one in Samarkand and another in Jizzakh, with a combined capacity of 511MW, have been connected to the electricity grid for power generation and transmission. Both power plants were developed and built by UAE’s Masdar and contracted by International Cooperation Co Ltd., a subsidiary of Dongfang Electric Corp. Once fully connected to the grid, the plant will generate 1.12 billion kWh a year, powering 240,000 households and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1 million tons a year.

Source: PV Magazine

Georgia Aims to Start Construction of Anaklia Port by June 2024

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze announced that the construction of the country’s first deep-water port in Anaklia is planned to commence in June. The Anaklia port is expected to be constructed with state participation and investor companies, with the state owning 51 percent of the port’s shares. 

Source: JAMnews

 

Security and Politics

NATO Secretary General Begins Tour of South Caucasus

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, began three days of visits to South Caucasus capitals on March 17 with a stop in Baku, Azerbaijan. There he met with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, where discussions reportedly focused on Azerbaijan-Armenia peace building and energy ties between Europe and Azerbaijan. On March 18 Stoltenberg visited Tbilisi, Georgia, where he held meetings with President Salome Zourabichvili and Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze. On March 19, Stoltenberg is slated to visit Yerevan, Armenia.

Sources: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, JAM News

The European Union Calls Azerbaijan a Reliable Partner

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said that being called a reliable partner by the European Union is a “big advantage” and a “big responsibility” while he held talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "The European Commission calls Azerbaijan a reliable partner and a pan-European gas supplier. This is, of course, a big advantage and also a big responsibility," Aliyev said during a press conference with Stoltenberg. The two discussed energy security during their meeting, and Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan is currently exporting natural gas to eight countries, six of which are NATO members. 

Source: Anadolu Agency 

So-Called South Ossetia Considers Joining Russia

Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia is considering holding a referendum on joining Russia, a self-declared official told Russian media on March 15. “When we, together with Russia, come to this idea (about joining the Russian Federation), we will do it,” said Alan Alborov, the head of the breakaway region’s parliament, in response to a question on the potential referendum.

Source: Anadolu Agency 

Increased Discussion of Armenia-EU Ties, Possibly of Membership Application

On March 13 the European Union Parliament voted nearly unanimously to foster closer ties with Armenia. A portion of the resolution references the possibility of Armenia one day applying to EU membership, reading “Should Armenia be interested in applying for candidate status and continuing on its path of sustained reforms consolidating its democracy, this could set the stage for a transformative phase in EU-Armenia relations.” This came not long after Armenia’s foreign minister confirmed that the possibility of applying for EU candidacy was under discussion in Yerevan.

Source: Asbarez, RFE/RL 

The European Court of Human Rights Announces Rulings from Azerbaijan

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) announced six rulings regarding 10 human rights-related applications from Azerbaijan on March 14. The court deemed the convictions and defamation of Eldaniz Guliyev, Elnur Magerramli, Nazim Mamedov, and others, unlawful and ordered compensation. 

Source: JAM News

The United States Helps Kyrgyzstan Prepare for Future Pandemics

On March 13, the United States launched a joint initiative, including Kyrgyzstan, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, and a consortium of other organizations, to help Kyrgyzstan prepare for future health emergencies and coordinate with the United Nation’s ‘One Health’ policy. This initiative, titled “A Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness Program,” will target seven key areas, including tracking and reducing antimicrobial resistance, monitoring zoonotic diseases, strengthening national laboratory systems, and bolstering health emergency management. 

Source: U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan

 

Sources: Anadolu Agency, Asbarez, Astana Times, JAM News, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, PV Magazine, RFE/RL, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan


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