Headlines from the Caspian: November 13, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Nov 13, 2023
Energy and Economy
Turkmenistan to Supply Iraq with 9 bcm of Gas Per Year
On November 8, an Iraqi delegation led by Electricity Minister Ziad Ali Fadel met with Turkmenistan’s state gas company, Turkmengaz, in Ashgabat. During the meeting, the two parties signed a protocol that will transport 9 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year from Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Iraq through Iranian infrastructure for five years. This comes after the two sides had signed a preliminary gas deal in August.
The European Investment Bank is Ready to Support Kazakhstan
On November 11, Ardak Zebeshev, Chairman of the Investment Committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, met with Edvardas Bumsteinas, Head of the Asia and Pacific Department at the European Investment Bank (EIB), to discuss cooperation in the fields of transport and logistics. The EIB emphasized its readiness to support projects for the development of transport infrastructure and renewable energy infrastructure in Kazakhstan.
Source: Kazakh Invest
Kazakhstan Interested in Increasing Russian Energy Transit
On November 8, on the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Astana, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated, in a Moscow-based newspaper, that Kazakhstan is “ready to further increase the volume of Russian gas transportation.” And according to Gazprom executive chairman Alexei Miller, Russia has plans to engage in a large-scale upgrade to the Central Asia-Center pipeline, which is used to move Russian gas into Central Asia.
Source: Upstream Online
Kazakh Businesses Signed Agreements Worth $74 million at China International Import Expo
During the China International Import Expo (CIIE) that took place November 5-10 in Shanghai, Kazakh companies signed 15 export agreements and three memorandums of cooperation worth $74 million. The agreements involve products such as milk powder, honey, fat and oil products, and feed meal for export.
Source: Astana Times
Security and Politics
Georgia Recommended for EU Candidate Status
On November 8, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen released a statement recommending that Georgia be granted European Union membership candidate status. The endorsement was greeted with widespread approval throughout Georgia, which last year had not received candidate status alongside fellow EU hopefuls, Ukraine and Moldova. A formal decision on Georgian candidate status will be made this coming December. The European Commission also noted several points that Georgia will have to make changes on to be granted full membership, such as foreign policy, rule of law, and independence of the judiciary.
Armenia Receives French Weaponry
On November 13, France delivered Bastion armored vehicles to the Georgian port of Poti, en route to Armenia. The French defense company Arquus has provided these armored vehicles to Armenia to help bolster the country’s defense capabilities. With this delivery, it is worth noting that a major NATO country is providing weaponry to a current Russia-led CSTO member-state.
Source: Defence Blog
Russian President Putin Visits Kazakhstan
On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Kazakhstan. This visit marks his first visit to Kazakhstan after the issuing of his arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia has turned its attention to post-Soviet countries and Asia to find alternatives as it experiences heavy sanctions from the West. After reviewing positive trends of bilateral trade that reached $27 billion in 2022, the meeting resulted in the signing of agreements in the fields of energy, labor, and customs to strengthen bilateral relations. Putin said that the production of wheat and cargo transportation were the main priorities of cooperation.
Azerbaijani President Aliyev Visits Uzbekistan
On November 8-9, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev conducted an official visit to Uzbekistan. In Tashkent, Aliyev held meetings with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, and the caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar. Aliyev also attended the 16th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization.
Russian Foreign Minister Claims EU Attempting to “Push Out” Russia from Central Asia
On the sidelines of a Russian state visit to Kazakhstan, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov gave an interview in which he accused the European Union of attempting to “restrain [Russia] in every possible way and push it out of Central Asia and the South Caucasus." Lavrov went on to remark that such efforts were "futile," given Russia’s ongoing presence and historical role in the region. The statement came after French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Central Asia in October, as well as the recent announcement by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Germany that Kazakhstan would come into compliance with European Union sanctions against Russia.
Kazakhstan and Türkiye Sign Military Cooperation Plan
The Defense Ministry of Kazakhstan announced that they have signed a comprehensive military cooperation plan with Türkiye for 2024. The agreement includes plans for bilateral cooperation in the fields of science, education, and combat training. The meeting between respective defense ministers and the formal coordination agreement came after a broader joint memorandum signed between Türkiye and Kazakhstan in May 2022 that covered commitments to increase defense, military intelligence, and agriculture partnerships.
Source: Caspian News
Iranian President Visits Tajikistan
On November 8-9, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi paid an official visit to Tajikistan, the latest in several high-level visits between the two countries in the past year. While there, Raisi and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon announced a visa-free regime between the two countries in addition to a series of other deals relating to transportation, trade, and culture. After years of tension between the two countries, Tajikistan and Iran have attempted to improve relations in recent years, tightening economic, political, and military cooperation.
Sources: Al-Monitor, AP News, Astana Times, Caspian News, Defence Blog, Eurasianet, Kazakh Invest, Reuters, RFE/RL, South China Morning Post, Upstream Online, News.az