Headlines from the Caspian: October 17, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Oct 17, 2023
Energy and Economy
Tokayev to Attend Third Belt and Road Conferences in Beijing
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has stated he will attend the October 17-18 Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. Tokayev plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as other high-ranking Chinese officials and several heads of large Chinese companies. More than a dozen other world leaders will attend the forum, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Kazakhstan Showed Ambitious Goals in AI Development During the Digital Bridge 2023 Forum
Between October 12 and October 13, over 20,000 representatives of more than 300 IT companies and delegations from over 30 countries participated in the annual Digital Bridge Forum organized in Astana. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev outlined development plans in artificial intelligence and announced the introduction of 5G by 2025 in Kazakhstan. The President of Draper University Tim Draper and the CEO of TikTok Shou Zi Chew delivered a speech on the digital potential of Kazakhstan and their support and confidence on Kazakhstan’s development plans.
Source: Astana Times
Turkmenistan Resumes Construction on 500KV Powerline to Afghanistan
On October 14, Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Energy and Water, Abdul Latif Mansour, signed an agreement to complete the 500KV powerline that begins in Turkmenistan. After a two-year suspension of this project, Acting Minister Mansour said this project will take another two years to complete after another contracted company was said to have invested another US$75 million. With the new investment, the 500KV line will transmit power 128 km from Dasht Alwan to Chowk Arghandi, and from Dasht Alwan to Shabarghan.
Source: Tolo News
Security and Politics
Turkish Anka Drones to be Produced in Kazakhstan
On October 15, an official within the Turkish Aerospace Industries defense company announced that it will soon begin the manufacture of Anka military drones within Kazakhstan. This follows a 2022 memorandum signed between defense contractors from the two countries laying the foundation for the most recent announcement. Kazakhstan also signed a deal last year enabling them to produce Turkish Bayraktar drones, which have been effectively used in conflicts in Ukraine and Nagorno Karabakh.
Azerbaijan Considers Reopening of Embassy in Iran
Following his visit to Azerbaijan on October 7, Iran’s Road and Urban Planning Minister, Mehrdad Bazrpash, said “The Iranian side has asked for the quick restoration of the activity of the Azerbaijani embassy and Azerbaijan has promised to take steps in this direction in the near future.” The Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran closed after a terror attack on the facility in January 2023.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Move Forward with Border Demarcation Deal
On October 13, the Presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan met in Bishkek to discuss the demarcation of their shared border. One-third of the 980 km border is still disputed, but the recent talks are said to have had “historic” results. Although details have not been released, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s office announced that “agreements were reached on this matter some time ago.”
CIS Summit Takes Place in Kyrgyzstan
On October 13, the summit of the Council of Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Presidents of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the summit, while the Prime Minister of Armenia was absent. The session involved both talks with a limited circle of delegates and meetings in the expanded format. This was Putin’s first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in March. Addressing the participants of the summit in Bishkek, Putin emphasized that “it is important to work together, together with like-minded people from other regions of the world — with the countries of the so-called world majority, the Global South, whose views are very close to us.”
Russia to Reinforce its Air Base in Kyrgyzstan
During Putin’s visit to Bishkek, and on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian joint military airbase in Kyrgyzstan’s city of Kant, Putin called the joint airbase an “important element of defense cooperation.” A day prior to this, on October 11, Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament ratified an agreement for a common air defense system with Russia. The agreement signed for a shared defense system would be in place for five years, similar to agreements Russia has with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.
Source: Moscow Times
Turkmenistan and Austria Discuss Cooperation
On October 16, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Myahri Byashimova, met with the delegation of Austria’s Vienna City Hall in Ashgabat. During their meeting, both parties expressed their interest in intensifying cooperation between Turkmenistan and Austria in the fields of business, culture, energy, and education.
Source: Mena FN
Armenia Ratifies ICC Membership
On October 13, Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturian signed into law the decision by the Armenian parliament to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Russia, traditionally an ally of Yerevan, had repeatedly warned Armenia that such a decision would worsen relations between the two countries. In the future, it may be difficult for President Vladimir Putin to visit Armenia due to it now being under the jurisdiction of the ICC, which has issued an arrest warrant for President Putin.
Ilham Aliyev Raises Azerbaijani Flag in Karabakh
On October 15, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev raised the nation’s flag in Khankendi weeks after the anti-terrorist operation that brought back remaining parts of Karabakh under Azerbaijani control. Aliyev said that he had achieved a decades-long “Azerbaijani dream” by reclaiming Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. He also mentioned that before the rise of separatism in Karabakh in the 1980s, Armenians and Azerbaijanis “lived together in friendship not only in Khankendi, but also in Karabakh, Baku, Ganja, Yerevan, Goycha, Zangezur, Daralayaz and Basarkechar.”
Sources: AP News, Associated Press, Astana Times, EurasiaNet, Mena FN, Moscow Times, Oilprice, Reuters, RFE/RL, Tolo News, Vestnik Kavkaza, WION