Headlines from the Caspian: March 27, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Mar 27, 2023
Energy and Economy
Uzbekistan to Coordinate with Taliban on Qosh Tepa Canal
On March 22, Taliban officials stated that their government is prepared to cooperate with Uzbekistan to complete the Qosh Tepa Canal project along the Amu Darya River in the Balkh and Jowzjan provinces. One Afghan media outlet reported that one-third of the 285-kilometer-long canal has already been dug, and 6,500 people and 4,100 units of machinery have been assembled to complete the project. This canal project will help Afghanistan with the irrigation of up to 550,000 hectares of land, helping to cultivate crops in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan Starts Shipping Oil Via Caspian Sea to BTC Pipeline
On March 23, Kazakhstan’s KazMunayGaz (KMG) started shipping oil from Aktau to the Sangachal terminal in Azerbaijan for onward distribution via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. KMG was initially expected to start shipping oil from Kazakhstan’s Tengiz field to BTC in February, but the plan was delayed due to an earthquake in Türkiye.
President Tokayev Meets with Gazprom’s Chairman Alexey Miller
On March 24, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held a meeting with Gazprom’s Chairman of the Board Alexey Miller. During the meeting, the two sides discussed the implementation of new joint projects in the natural gas sector.
Gardabani 500 Substation to Provide Electricity Exchange Between Georgia and Azerbaijan
On March 27, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Economy Romeo Mikautadze announced that the soon-to-be-completed Gardabani 500 substation will be able to provide exchange of 1,000 MW of power between Georgia and Azerbaijan. The construction of the substation was launched in April 2021 in the city of Gardabani, bordering with Azerbaijan. The related two-circuit transmission line will connect the energy systems of the two countries, which will “significantly increase electricity supply, especially during the winter months.”
Security and Policy
Turkmenistan Elects New Members of Parliament
On March 26, voters in Turkmenistan cast ballots for a new parliament, which is notably free of opposition members and filled with party loyalists. 125 new members were elected of the 258 candidates put forward by three political parties. In a television statement, former President, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, stated that most of the elected candidates represented the youth. However, all candidates strongly supported the current president, Serdar Berdimuhamedov.
Source: AP News
Armenia and Türkiye to Partially and Permanently Reopen of Land Border
On March 24, Armenian officials announced that the two countries’ intention to partially and permanently reopen the Armenia-Türkiye land border after 30 years. First this land border will only be open to diplomats and citizens of third countries, until the start of the tourism season. This is a groundbreaking step in the course of Armenia-Türkiye relations and follows the reinstatement of bilateral air traffic in January.
Azerbaijan Invites Armenian Karabakh Representatives to Meet in Baku
The Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan proposed to hold a meeting in Baku during the first week of April with representatives from the Armenian public of Karabakh to discuss potential infrastructure projects. This meeting is a follow-up to the meeting held in Khojaly on March 1.
The EU to Increase Military Aid to Georgia
During the week of March 20, the European External Action Service (EEAS) held a meeting to discuss how to bloc can assist Georgia and Moldova with Russia's destabilizing efforts. From these discussions, the European Union (EU) agreed to provide Georgia with 30 million euros of military trailers, trucks, heavy equipment transporters, a medical treatment facility, and equipment for Georgia's new Cyber Security Bureau. This aid serves to enhance Georgia’s "operational effectiveness, accelerate compliance with EU standards and interoperability, and thereby better protect civilians in crises and emergencies."
Secretary Blinken Emphasizes Azerbaijan’s Border Threat from Iran
On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for the review of U.S. State Department’s 2024 fiscal year budget request. When discussing the military education that the United States provides to Azerbaijani officers, Blinken stressed the importance of strengthening interoperability between the Azerbaijani and NATO forces. Secretary Blinken also emphasized that Azerbaijan shares a long border with Iran, “which needs defending” - further emphasizing Azerbaijan’s needs to raise its military preparedness.
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Eurasia Diary
Sources: AP News, Azertag, Eurasia Diary, Eurasianet, Kazinform, Reuters, RFE/RL, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations