Headlines from the Caspian: March 6, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Mar 7, 2023
Energy and Economy
ACWA Power to Build Two Solar Plants in Uzbekistan
On March 4, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Energy announced that Saudi Arabian renewable energy company, ACWA Power, will build two solar power plants with a combined capacity of 1.4 gigawatts. Furthermore, ACWA Power will construct three storage systems in Uzbekistan with a total of 1.2 gigawatts.
Türkiye and UAE Sign Major Trade Agreement
On March 3, Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). This trade agreement is set to increase non-oil trade between the two countries by between $40B and $45B in the next five years.
World Bank Announces Central Asia Will Need $20B for Green Energy by 2030
At the Central Asia Energy Trade Forum in London on March 2-3, it was announced that Central Asia will need an estimated $20 billion in investments to meet green energy goals and improve interconnectivity by 2030. The forum touched on how the region might go about attracting more investment and mobilizing efforts to make the region a “green growth engine.” Participants also discussed the roles of governments in boosting regional connectivity and ensuring transparency to improve trust in their markets.
Source: Astana Times
Saudi Arabia to Deposit $5 Billion to Türkiye’s Central Bank
Saudi Arabia announced that it has signed an agreement to give Türkiye $5 billion in December 2023. The money will likely be used to aid in earthquake relief and to boost currency because Turkish Central Bank reserves fell last month. However, Türkiye has not yet released official information about how the money will be used or if the money will need to be repaid.
Kazakhstan Announces Reduction of Freight Transit Time to Promote Trans-Caspian Trade Route
Kazakhstan announced that it will reduce transit times for freight shipments through the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) by half. This will enable a cut in transport time to six days. By the end of the year, plans are in place to decrease transport times to only five days.
Source: Astana Times
Security and Politics
U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Travels to Tbilisi
March 6, U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Todd D. Robinson embarked on a two-day trip to Tbilisi before continuing on to Rome, Vatican City, and Vienna. While in Georgia, Robinson planned to attend the Women in Policing Conference as well as meet with members of the Georgian justice and law enforcement fields.
Source: U.S. Department of State
Presidents of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan Meet in Baku
President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on March 6. The two Presidents discussed “…the preservation and maintenance of global peace and stability, countering the threats of international terrorism, ensuring sustainable energy and transport, water security, environmental protection, and climate change.”
Source: AKI Press
Five Killed in Clashes Near the Armenia-Azerbaijan Border
On March 5, a shootout in Nagorno-Karabakh left three Armenian officers and two Azerbaijani soldiers dead. The casualties come after both countries’ leaders met at the Munich Security Conference and have committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the contested border regions.
Georgian Parliamentary Committee Holds Heated Debate Over Foreign Agent Bill
Georgian lawmakers engaged in heated debates over the controversial “foreign agents” bill at parliament on March 6. If the bill is passed, it will require entities receiving more than 20 percent of overseas funding to register as “foreign agents.” This would also require these entities to be subject to monitoring by the Justice Ministry. The bill would still need to pass through additional approval stages in order to be enacted as law. Critics of the bill argue that the move is similar to authoritarian-like censoring, while supporters believe such a law would lead to greater transparency.
Armenia Announces Record Increase in Defense Spending for 2023
Armenia’s recently released draft budget for 2023 reports a 46 percent increase in defense expenditure. Spending toward military expenses, according to the budget, will increase by 506 billion drams ($1.28B). Overall, Armenia’s total budget is set to rise by 18 percent, to nearly 2.6 trillion drams ($6.5B)
Russian Prime Minister Visits Tajikistan
On a March 2 visit to Tajikistan, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin met with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. The following day, Mishustin discussed the possibility of boosting bilateral Tajikistan-Russia economic cooperation with Tajikistan's Prime Minister Kohir Rasulzoda.
Source: Anadolu Agency
Baku Hosts Summit Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) for COVID-19
On March 2, the final session of the Summit-level Meeting of the NAM Contract Group in response to COVID–19 was held in Baku. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev welcomed presidents and leaders from about 70 countries around the world who attended. This is Azerbaijan’s third year in its chairmanship of NAM, a group that works to mobilize global efforts to combat the pandemic and boost post-pandemic recovery.
Source: Trend.az, AZTV
Sources: AKI Press, Anadolu Agency, AP News, Asbarez, Astana Times, AZTV, Eurasianet, Gulf News, Reuters, Trend.az, U.S. Department of State