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headlines from the caspian: may 13, 2024

Headlines from the Caspian: May 13, 2024

Author: Caspian Policy Center

May 13, 2024

Image source: Caspian News

Energy and Economy


Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Expansion Completed

Rovshan Rustamov, Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways (ADY), has announced that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will resume cargo transport operation on May 20. Refurbishments to the Georgian section of the railway have been underway since 2022. With this recent expansion completed, the BTK railway’s annual capacity is expected to increase from one million tons to five million tons. The BTK railway transports goods from Azerbaijan, through Georgia, and into Türkiye.

Source: Caspian News

Uzbekistan and Hungary to Cooperate on Nuclear Energy Projects

Hungary will train nuclear engineers from Uzbekistan in Hungary, said Hungarian Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto. “Since we have several decades of experience in the field of nuclear power, we have already started training future Uzbek nuclear power specialists in Hungary,” Szijarto said on social media. He also noted that if Uzbekistan signs a contract with Russia’s Rosatom for a nuclear power plant, it will use Hungarian technology for the cooling tower. 

Source: Times of Central Asia

Turkish Company to Manufacture Agricultural Products in Kyrgyzstan 

Turkish company Akplas signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kyrgyzstan’s Minister of Water Resources and Agriculture and Processing Industry, Bakyt Torobaev, to manufacture equipment for drip and sprinkler irrigation. The MoU, signed on May 13, determined that the Turkish company will invest $10 million into the project, which will be fully operational within eight months. 

Source: Times of Central Asia

Afghanistan and Turkmenistan Sign $200 Million Trade Agreements

On May 7, Afghan and Turkmen companies signed 10 contracts and two memorandums of understanding, totaling over $200 million, to expand trade, primarily focusing on the construction sector. The agreements were reached during a visit by a Turkmen business delegation to western Herat province, highlighting the potential for increased economic cooperation between the two nations. Additionally, plans for a joint logistics center in Torghundi city and a trilateral transit agreement involving Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan aim to bolster Afghanistan's role as a regional logistics point despite economic challenges under Taliban governance.

Source: Caspian News

Security and Politics


Latest Round of Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Talks in Almaty

Talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Almaty, Kazakhstan, have now concluded. Following the May 11 meeting, both countries’ foreign ministries released near-identical statements in which they said, “The parties agreed to continue negotiations on open issues where there are still differences.” The statement did not outline specific disagreements or results of the peace talks. Yerevan and Baku on April 19 agreed to delineate their borders using the  Soviet-era borderline as their standard. 

Source: RFE/RL

Largest Protests Against Pashinyan Take Place in Yerevan

On May 9, tens of thousands rallied in Yerevan, Armenia, to protest the decision by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to surrender four villages in the Tavush region to Azerbaijan as part of a peace agreement re-establishing Soviet-era borders between the two countries. Under the banner of “Tavush for the Homeland,” the rally was led by the Archbishop of the Diocese of Tavush, Bagrat Galstanian, who has risen to prominence in recent weeks. The protesters demanded the resignation of Pashinyan.

Source: Jam News, RFE/RL

Russia Withdrawing Some Troops from Armenia

Following a May 9 meeting between Russian President Vladamir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s Parliamentary Majority leader announced the withdrawal of hundreds of Russian border troops stationed in Armenia. The withdrawal was later confirmed by Kremlin Spokesman Dimitry Peskov. Russian troops will remain on the borders with Iran and Türkiye, however. The decision comes amidst shifting geopolitics in the region. Armenia is working to normalize relations with Azerbaijan, and it's shifting its affiliation from Russia towards Europe and the West.

Source: Politico, RFE/RL

Georgia’s Parliament Pushes Forward Foreign Agents Bill, Protests Continue

On May 13, the Georgian Dream-controlled parliamentary Legal Committee endorsed the controversial foreign agents bill that has stoked mass protest in recent weeks. The foreign agents bill will receive its third and final reading in Parliament on May 14. The bill will then proceed to the Georgian President, who has pledged to veto the legislation, and will then likely return to parliament, where it will most likely be passed. On May 11, 50,000 Georgians protested the legislation in Tbilisi, arguing that the bill will threaten civil society in Georgia and put Georgia’s European Union trajectory at risk.

Source: Jam News, Reuters

Tajikistan and the United States Ink Cooperation Agreement on Combatting Terrorism

Following a meeting between the Prosecutor General of Tajikistan and the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan on May 8, it was announced that Tajikistan and the United States have signed a memorandum of intent agreement for cooperation on the implementation of the Personal Information Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). The PISCES system assists law enforcement agencies in the capture and detention of suspected terrorists by using technological surveillance.

Source: Daryo.uz

Sources: Caspian News, Daryo.uz, JAM News, Politico, Reuters, RFE/RL, Times of Central Asia

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