Headlines from the Caspian: November 7, 2022
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Nov 7, 2022
Security and Policy
Tokayev Signs Constitutional Amendments to Reduce the Power of the Executive
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed several constitutional amendments on November 5 that include regulations on the transition to a mixed electoral system, a reduction to the presidential quota in the Senate, a reduction of the threshold for registration of political parties from 20,000 members to 5,000 members, and restrictions to the President’s membership in political parties. Tokayev stated that the six amendments passed will lead to the distribution of power from the executive into the government institutions, thereby enhancing electoral transparency and modernizing the electoral system.
Source: Astana Times
Armenian and Azerbaijani Top Diplomats Meet in Washington
November 7, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs are meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinked in Washington. This meeting is occurring following an October 4 telephone conversation between the three counterparts in which they discussed the ongoing peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan Sign Joint Border and Water Reservoir Management Agreements
Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov met with Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev in Bishkek on November 3. The leaders signed a number of agreements regarding joint management of the contested Kempir-Abad, or Andijan, reservoir and border-demarcation. Kyrgyzstan will exchange 4,485 hectares of reservoir territory with Uzbekistan for 19,000 hectares of land on the border in the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions. Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is expected to visit Kyrgyzstan to finalize approval of the agreements. No official date for his visit has been set.
Source: The Diplomat & RFE/RL
Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu Visits Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan
On November 6-11, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu is traveling to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to “reinforce the United States’ commitment to each country’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and our shared goal of a prosperous, secure, and democratic Central Asia.” During his press conference in Turkmenistan, Lu reassured that the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia are not directed at the Central Asian nations, and that there is no political or military pressure from the United States on Turkmenistan.
Sources: U.S. Department of State, Interfax.az
Energy and Economy
Iran Agrees to Set Aside Land for New Kazakh Terminal
Tehran has agreed to make room for a new Kazakh terminal in the Bandar Abbas port for the transport and trade of grain. Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi and Minister of Trade and Integration Serik Zhumangarin visited the port and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari this month. The leaders agreed to increase Kazakhstan’s grain shipment volumes as part of this initiative. According to Zhumangarin, they are "interested in increasing the volume of mutual trade in agro-industrial products with Iran up to $1 billion, as well as deliveries to the markets of Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, and East Africa, which are new to Kazakhstan." In addition to the building of a grain terminal, the agreement includes efforts to build other structures and equipment for storage.
Source: Caspian News
IMF and Georgia Establish Preliminary Agreement over $30 Million
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on November 7, announced that once it is approved by the global lender’s executive board, $30 million will be given to Georgia. This monetary allotment will be the first installment of Georgia’s three-year $289 million stand-by arrangement with the IMF. The IMF’s Mission Chief, James John, further remarked that Georgia’s economy performed strongly in 2022.
Tokayev Asks for Increased Use of Aktau and Kuryk Ports to Bypass Russia
While addressing the public in the Mangistau region of Kazakhstan, President Tokayev called for the increased volume of oil transportation through the Aktau and Kuryk ports in the Caspian Sea to bypass Russian pipelines. "We need to activate all the existing capacities of the ports of Aktau and Kuryk in order to increase the capacity and bring the volume of oil transportation up to 20 million tons per year," the President urged. He also announced several projects aimed at attracting infrastructure investment in the region to increase the geopolitical importance of the ports.
Source: Kaz Inform
Japan Allocates $1 Million to Kyrgyz Republic
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in the Kyrgyz Republic is to receive $1 million from Japan’s government. These funds are meant to help the thousands of people who have recently been affected by the Kyrgyz-Tajik border clashes. The Japanese Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, Hideki Goda, explained, “emergency Grant Aid will allow the UN agencies to provide humanitarian assistance, such as food, shelter, protection, and non-food items.”
Source: Mirage News
Sources: Astana Times, Caspian News, The Diplomat, Interfax.az, Kaz Inform, Mirage News, News.am, Radar.am, Reuters, RFE/RL, U.S. Department of State