Headlines from the Caspian: October 10, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Oct 10, 2023
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan and Iran begin Construction of the Corridor to Nakhchivan
On October 6, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime, Minister Shahin Mustafayev, and Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mehrdad Bazrpash, took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a bridge that will connect Azerbaijan to Iran over the Aras River. This bridge is part of the larger construction of the corridor that will connect Azerbaijan’s mainland to its Nakhchivan region with a motorway and a railway.
Source: OC Media
Russia Starts Exporting Gas to Uzbekistan
On October 7, Russia began exporting natural gas to Uzbekistan via the Central Asia-Center pipeline. This follows an agreement signed by Gazprom and Uzgastrade earlier this year to reverse the flows of this pipeline to help Uzbekistan with its ongoing energy shortages. Initial discussions included delivering gas to Kazakhstan as well as forming a trilateral gas union, however, after some pushback from some Central Asian states, the deal is set to only export gas from Russia to Uzbekistan, using Kazakhstan as a transit state. Russia has agreed to deliver 9 million cubic meters of gas per day to Uzbekistan through this deal, resulting in a total of 2.8 billion cubic meters per year that Russia will supply.
Uzbekistan and China Move Forward with Electric Vehicle Joint Venture
China’s BYD Auto, a Chinese entity that surpassed Tesla in 2022 as the leading seller of electric vehicles, announced that production at Uzbekistan’s Jizzakh facility will begin in 2024. The joint venture between BYD Auto and Uzbekistan’s Uzavtosanoat JSC was signed in 2022, and its initial annual production target is set at 50,000 electric vehicles per year, increasing to 300,000 by the conclusion of the venture’s start-up phase.
Turkmenistan and Iraq Sign Preliminary Gas Deals
Iraq has signed a preliminary agreement with Turkmenistan to diversify its gas resources and meet domestic energy needs. The agreement involves the import of 25 million cubic meters of Turkmen gas per day to Iraq. The two countries are still discussing the transportation routes of the gas that will be delivered mainly through Iranian pipelines.
Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic Advancing Cooperation in the Agro-Industrial Sector
On October 9, during the Kazakhstan Czech Republic Business Forum, Minister of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, Marek Výborný, Kazakh Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Yerbol Taszhurekov, and representatives from the public and private sectors of both countries jointly discussed investment opportunities in Kazakhstan. Both sides expressed great interest in expanding cooperation in the agricultural sector, a sector which has already grown by over 40% this year, reaching $12 million.
Source: Astana Times
Saudi Development Fund Agrees to $20 Million Investment in Tajik Schools
On October 9, the head of The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) signed a development loan worth $20 million USD in Dushanbe to build and equip new secondary schools. This latest deal brings the overall Saudi investment in Tajikistan’s educational sector to over $95 million. SFD has also made investments in a variety of areas, having launched 12 other development projects worth a collective $190 million.
Source: Yahoo Finance
Security and Politics
Armenia Signed Declarations to Recognize the Borders of Azerbaijan
On October 5, Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, met with representatives of the EU, Germany, and France on the sidelines of the annual summit of the European Political Community in Granada. Despite the invitation, Azerbaijan President Ilhan Aliyev did not show up at the meeting due to an anti-Azerbaijan atmosphere and their refusal to invite Türkiye. During the meeting, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan signed a declaration to recognize the 86,600 square kilometers of Azerbaijan’s territory including the Karabakh region.
Source: Azer News
NATO Condemns Russia’s Intent to Build a Naval Base in Abkhazia
On October 5, the de facto President of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, announced that during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, they had signed an agreement to establish a naval base on the coast of Georgia’s Russian-occupied separatist region, Abkhazia. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry called this a “flagrant violation of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.” In response, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on October 9, “Strengthening Stability and Security in the Black Sea Region Following Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine,” condemning Russia’s plan to construct the naval base, and reiterating NATO’s support for Georgia’s potential NATO membership.
Georgia Offers to Mediate Between Azerbaijan and Armenia
During a surprise visit to Tbilisi on October 8 by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili offered the idea of Georgia as a regional mediator between Baku and Yerevan. The statement came after last week’s decision by Azerbaijan to withdraw from European-driven talks in Grenada, Spain, due to France’s support of Armenia. Garibashvili and Aliyev spoke in support of greater regional involvement, with Garibashvili stating “all three countries of the South Caucasus should address regional issues themselves." Aliyev went on to say he would agree to “instantly” begin talks in Tbilisi.
Kazakhstan Moves to Extradite Two Russian Activists
In the past week, it has been reported that Kazakhstan will extradite two Russian citizens back to Russia who will face charges in relation to political activism. The first of these activists, Natalya Narskaya, was arrested in July at the Kremlin’s request due to speaking out on YouTube against Russian aggression in Ukraine. The second, Aikhal Ammosov, is a known activist within the Soprotivlenie (Resistance), a Siberian independence movement. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, as many as 900,000 Russians have entered Kazakhstan, including opposition activists.
Russia Plans to Foster Discussions Between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Kyrgyzstan
On October 12, the Annual Summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will be held in Kyrgyzstan with the participation of Foreign Ministers of the CIS countries. On the sideline of the summit, Russia plans to hold talks with Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s foreign ministers. The summit is expected to strengthen cooperation among the CIS countries in the fields of trade and humanitarian affairs.
Sources: Azer News, Businesslend, Civil.ge, Caspian Policy Center, Eurasianet, IranOilGas, OC Media, RFE/RL, Upstream Online, Yahoo Finance,