Headlines from the Caspian: May 15, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
May 15, 2023
Energy and Economy
Russia Restores Visa-Free Travel to Georgia
On May 10, Russia restored visa-free travel to Georgian citizens visiting Russia and lifted the ban on direct flights between the two countries imposed in 2019. According to Russia's Transport Ministry, Russian Airlines will operate seven weekly flights between Moscow and Tbilisi. The two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2008.
Project Office For the Construction of Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Railway Line Opens in Tashkent
On May 12, the project office for coordinating the construction of the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan railway line was inaugurated in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The office will aim to coordinate joint measures to develop a feasibility study for the railway and accelerate its implementation process. The project has been on the agenda since 2017.
Source: Aki Press, Eurasianet
OPEC Loans $15 Million to Upgrade Key Road in Kyrgyzstan
On May 12, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced that its Fund for International Development will allocate a $15 million loan for reconstructing the Suusamyr-Talas-Taraz road in Kyrgyzstan. The project is jointly funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Saudi Fund for Development and is expected to improve domestic and regional connectivity and integration.
Source: OPEC Fund
Security and Politics
Turkish Election Continues to Runoff
On May 14, Türkiye held its presidential election. With the results still indecisive, Türkiye's Supreme Election Council announced that a runoff will be held on May 28, following preliminary election results. The election saw an extremely high participation rate, with a voter turnout of 88.8%. So far, initial results reveal that incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is running for another five-year term following his 20 years in power, received 49.4% of the vote, and leading opposition candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, received 44.96% of the vote.
EU Hosts Talks Between Armenia and Azerbaijan
On May 14, European Council’s President Charles Michel hosted Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev for a fifth meeting in Brussels focusing on normalizing relations. Following the meeting, it was announced that both sides expressed their unequivocal commitment to the Almaty Declaration, recognizing each other’s territorial integrity. Following the positive talks held in the United States recently, the European Union (EU) aims to maintain momentum to “take decisive steps towards the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement.”
Source: European Council, Armenpress
Uzbekistan Announces Snap Presidential Elections
On May 8, during his speech to the heads of the two chambers of parliament, political party leaders, and ministers, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced that the country will hold snap presidential elections on July 9. The decision comes after Uzbekistan’s constitutional referendum, which changed approximately 65% of the constitution.
Turkmenistan and China Hold Meetings in Ashgabat
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev and First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Ma Zhaoxu met in Ashgabat on May 13 to discuss their developing trade and economic relations, specifically in the energy sector. This meeting was in preparation for the Central Asia-China Summit on May 18-19 in Xi'an City.
Source: Aki Press
Sources: Aki Press, Armenpress, Eurasianet, European Council, NY Times, OPEC Fund, Reuters