Headlines from the Caspian: October 24, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Oct 24, 2023
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan and China Implement New Oil and Gas Projects
The Chairman of the Kazakh national gas and oil company, KazMunayGaz, Magzum Mirzagaliyev, met with the director for the ASEAN region of the Chinese national energy company, China National Chemical Engineering Group Corporation (CNCEC). The parties signed an agreement to build a gas turbine power plant (GTPP) at the Atyrau oil refinery with a power capacity of 154 megawatt hours. Prior to this, the Kazakh national gas company, Qazaqgas, also signed an agreement with Chinese oil company Geo-Jade Petroleum Corporation to develop the gas field in the Turkestan region starting in 2024.
Source: Astana Times
Kazakhstan and China Sign Agreements Worth $16 Billion
During Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s official visit to China on October 17, 30 commercial documents worth $16.54 billion were signed between major Kazakh and Chinese companies. The agreements involved projects in various fields, including transportation, energy, technology for production, e-commerce, and trade and investment.
Source: Astana Times
USAID Announces $14 Million Fund to Support Uzbekistan
USAID Administrator Samantha Power arrived in Uzbekistan as part of her two-day trip in Central Asia, October 23-24, to attend the first C5+1 Regional Connectivity Ministerial. During her visit to Tashkent, Power announced investments worth $14.2 million to support Uzbekistan. These funds will be allocated to combat Tuberculosis (TB) and other epidemic and pandemic risks, develop business and private sectors, and foster effective local governance.
Uzbekistan and China to Double Trade by 2028
On October 17, during a meeting between Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Uzbekistan and China agreed to increase trade turnover from $10 billion (as of 2022) to $20 billion within five years. The two countries have increased their trade turnover by 36% from January to October 2023 compared to the same period of 2022.
Source: Business Lend
China Says It Is Eager to Increase Trade with Turkmenistan
After last week’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Turkmenistan should increase the volume of bilateral trade with China during talks with the Chairman of the People's Council of Turkmenistan and former President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on October 19. Several bilateral cooperation documents were signed, but details on these agreements have yet to be released.
Source: Mena FN
China to Construct a Hybrid Power Plant in Uzbekistan
On October 20, China Energy Engineering Corporation announced it will participate in constructing a hybrid power plant in the Navoi region of Uzbekistan. This announcement followed a meeting between President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Chairman of China Energy Engineering Corporation Song Hailiang on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
Source: Mena FN
Security and Policy
The United States Welcomes Any Good Faith Engagements that Contribute to Peace in the South Caucasus
On October 23, during a briefing, US State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller explained that the United States welcomes “any good faith engagements that contribute to peace and stability for the people of the South Caucasus regardless of where those talks happen or who is hosting them." Although he added that Iran and Russia have not been found to be “reliable partners,” he emphasized that the United States overall supports steps toward peace in the region.
France and Armenia Expected to Sign a Military Agreement
France’s Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper on October 22 that “we will officially formalize Armenia’s acquisition of certain types of weapons from French manufacturers; in particular, we will sign an agreement that will allow Armenia to protect its skies.” Lecornu added that France will be selling only defensive weapons to Armenia.
Source: Massis Post
Kazakhstan Begins Restricting Exports to Russia
Kazakhstan will begin banning the export of goods to Russia that could have military purposes, reported the Deputy Trade Minister of Kazakhstan on October 19. Such goods include drone components, electronics, and foreign computer chips. Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states had been criticized by Western governments for allowing military supplies to cross into Russia and urged them to assist in the broader sanction regime against Moscow. In September, during a state visit to Germany, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pledged to follow the Western sanctions against Russia.
Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan Sign Joint Military Agreement
On October 19, Azerbaijan's Defense Minister, Zakir Hasanov, met with his Uzbekistani counterpart, Bakhodir Kurbanov, in the Uzbek city of Bukhara. The leaders discussed shared security concerns and opportunities for collaboration in military technology and education. After discussions, they announced that they had signed a military cooperation plan for 2024.
Source: Anadolu Agency
Newly Appointed U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Pledges to “Further Strengthen” Security Cooperation
Robin Dunnigan, confirmed as the new U.S. Ambassador to Georgia this month, met with Georgian Foreign Minister Juansher Burchuladze on October 23. During the meeting, Ambassador Dunnigan said the United States is Georgia’s “strongest supporter” of increasing the nation’s security and promised to work with Tbilisi and international partners toward this goal. Her statements followed Ambassador Dunnigan’s October 16 meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, wherein the leaders discussed other areas of mutual cooperation.
Armenian and Lithuanian Prime Minister’s Meet in Yerevan
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė met in Yerevan on October 19 with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The pair discussed deepening economic cooperation, the ongoing crisis relating to the Armenians fleeing Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, and Pashinyan’s hopes for future regional connectivity, something he terms the “Crossroads of Peace” project.
Sources: Agenda.ge, Anadolu Agency, Astana Times, Business Lend, Mena FN, RFE/RL, Trend, U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan