Headlines from the Caspian: September 12, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Sep 12, 2023
Energy and Economy
KazTransOil Increases Oil Exports to Baku by Twelvefold
The volume of oil transported via the Middle Corridor, from Kazakhstan’s port of Aktau to Baku is expected to increase from 69,000 tons to 838,000 tons from January to August 2023- a twelvefold increase. During this period, the total volume of oil exported out of Kazakhstan’s port of Aktau amounted to 2.164 million tons, a 54% increase from the same period of 2022. In 2022, KazMunayGas and Azerbaijan's SOCAR signed an agreement to transport 1.5 million tons of oil from Kazakhstan to Baku, but because the deliveries began in April 2023, the total amount is estimated to be closer to 1.1 million tons by the end of this year.
Source: MENA FN
Kazakhstan and China to Boost Railway Cargo Transportation
On September 8, the 32nd meeting of the border railway commissions of Kazakhstan and China was held in Shymkent. The meeting reviewed the railway transportation between Kazakhstan and China and set new plans for the upcoming year. During the meeting, they agreed to raise the cargo transported via railway to 26.8 million tons. For 2024, they agreed to further expand the cargo volume to reach 27.8 million tons.
Ambassador of Turkmenistan and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Meet to Discuss Joint Energy Projects
The Turkmen Ambassador to Pakistan, Atajan Movlamov, and acting Pakistani Foreign Minister, Jalil Abbas Jilani, met in Islamabad on September 5 to discuss collaborative energy initiatives. In the meeting, the leaders underscored the importance of strengthening bilateral ties through joint ventures such as the revival of plans to build the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline.
Source: Caspian News
Kazakhstan Seeks to Develop “Roadmap” for Investment and Trade with Eastern Countries
On September 9, the Kazakhstan Prime Minister’s press service released a statement about establishing roadmaps and working groups to deepen ties with a series of “Eastern” countries. Discussions included the implementation of agreements signed as part of the Kazakh-Afghan business forum and an action plan to bring Kazakh-Iranian trade turnover to over $3 billion. Deputy Prime Minister Serik Zhumangarin, who recently returned from a business-focused trip to China, spoke about localized projects and the desire to build an “algorithm and create a roadmap of projects with all interested ministries and departments.”
Source: Astana Times
Hungary to Participate in the Reconstruction of Karabakh
Hungary announced it will participate in the reconstruction of Karabakh, starting next year, with a consortium of construction companies. Azerbaijan has approved their participation, and several Memorandum of Understanding’s have been signed. This was detailed in a press conference held by Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjártó, and Azerbaijan’s Economic Minister, Mikayıl Cabbarov.
Security and Politics
US Secretary of State Reaffirms Commitment to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Process
On September 10, the U.S. Secretary of State released a statement reaffirming U.S. commitment to a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The statement called for the “immediate and simultaneous opening of both corridors to allow passage of desperately needed humanitarian supplies” and the “normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Source: US Department of State
The Separatist Government in the Karabakh Region of Azerbaijan Holds “Elections”
On September 9, elections were held in the territories of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under the control of Armenian forces. Lawmakers in the Armenian-populated region of Karabakh elected a new head of the security council, Samvel Shahramanyan, by 22 votes to one. Since then, a number of countries have officially rejected the legality of the elections.
Source: The New Arab
Türkiye and the EU Reject Armenian-Held Elections in Karabakh
On September 9, Türkiye's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement rejecting the “so-called elections held in the territories of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under the control of illegal Armenian forces.” The same day, Nabila Massrali, the spokesperson for the European Union’s foreign affairs and security policy, also rejected “the constitutional and legal framework within which” the elections were held. Moldova, the Organization of Turkic States, Ukraine, Israel, Pakistan, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Uzbekistan, the United Kingdom, and Georgia have also rejected the elections.
Azerbaijan Reports Armenian Armed Forces Tying Bombs to Dogs in Karabakh
On September 11, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense reported dogs with Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices (RCIED) around their collars were found moving from Armenian-controlled regions of Karabakh towards the direction of the Khojavend district, where Azerbaijani armed forces are located. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense is declaring this as an attempted “terrorist act,” stating “the use of animals for conspiracy is an immoral act, and we consider it an act of terrorism.” De-facto Armenian armed groups have denied these reports, labeling them as “fabricated” and “beyond all logic.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Visits Kazakhstan
On September 10, Türkiye’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan started his two-day official visit to Kazakhstan. In Astana, Fidan met with his Kazakh counterpart, Murat Nurtileu, discussing bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade and anti-terrorism, as well as regional and global developments. In Astana, Fidan also held a meeting with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. "Türkiye supports the territorial integrity of brotherly Kazakhstan.... We follow President Tokayev's works and support them to the end,” Fidan said.
U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to End Cold War Trade Restrictions on Central Asia
On September 7, Senators Chris Murphy and Todd Young put forward a bipartisan bill in Congress to end Cold-War trade restrictions on Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The senators hope that passage of the bill, which would end the “outdated” Jackson-Vanik amendment of 1974, could lead to stronger economic and political ties with the region.
Georgia Wishes to Join the EU By the End of 2023
On September 8, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili met with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, to discuss Georgian candidacy to join the EU. Prime Minister Garibashvili stressed that his government has accomplished most of the 12 criteria given by the EU and expressed the hope to gain candidate status by the end of 2023. In response, Borrell maintained that Georgia should accomplish all 12 criteria to be eligible.
Source: Anadolu Agency
2023 G-20 Summit Takes Place in India
On September 9-10, the 2023 G-20 Summit was held in India. During the summit, Türkiye and Argentina expressed their concern over the current situation in Karabakh. Türkiye's foreign minister argued that the Armenian-held elections in Karabakh were “a new manifestation of efforts to unilaterally legitimize the current situation in the region.” Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernández, called out Azerbaijan for its “painful” blockade of the Lachin Corridor. President of the European Council Charles Michel also discussed EU-Türkiye relations, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations” with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Armenia and the United States to Hold Joint Military Exercises
According to the Armenian Ministry of Defense, on September 11, Armenia and the United States kickstarted joint military exercises as a part of the Eagle Partner 2023 Initiative. The drills will be held at the Zar and Armavir Training Areas near Yerevan and will end on September 20. Russia, which leads the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that includes Armenia, has expressed concern about the joint exercises.
Albanian President Pays First Official Visit to Kazakhstan
On September 7, Albanian President Bajram Begaj arrived in Astana for his first visit in Kazakhstan. He met with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to discuss bilateral cooperation in various sectors. During the meeting, a joint statement was signed with a goal to strengthen peace, security, and stability of the region. Both sides also expressed interest in boosting bilateral relations with a plan to implement a mutual visa-free regime and direct flights.
Source: Astana Times
Tajikistan Reports Three Militants Killed Crossing Afghan-Tajik Border
On September 6, Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security reported that it had killed three members of a “terrorist group" who had crossed the border with the intention of “committing a terrorist act.” The killing of the three reported militants, who were identified as natives of Tajikistan, is the second such incident this year, contributing to anxieties about what the return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan will mean for Central Asian states.
Sources: Anadolu Agency, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, EU Neighbours East, Hürriyet Daily News, Kazinform, Massis Post, RFE/RL, The Republic of Azerbaijan Defense Ministry, The New Arab, Twitter, US Department of State