Media Highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Jun 10, 2020
Energy and Economy
Construction for a New Gas Pipeline is Underway in the Sirdaryo Region
Construction for a new gas distribution station and an 8.8-mile main gas pipeline is underway in the Sirdaryo region of Uzbekistan. The government's decision to construct a gas distribution system and gas pipeline in this region was spurred by the Sardoba reservoir emergency situation caused in May 2020 that destroyed thousands of surrounding structures.
“Waste-to-Energy” Project Initiated in Kazakhstan
As the chair of Kazakhstan-based International Green Technologies and Investment Projects Center (IGTIPC) Ramazan Zhampiissov stated, since almost 85 percent of solid waste in Kazakhstan is not being recycled, it has been decided to launch the “Waste-to-Energy” project that would simultaneously allow to generate electric and thermal energy and alleviate the ecological situation in the country. For the waste management system to work efficiently, it is also necessary to attract foreign investors and draw on expertise from the European countries that have more experience in this regard.
Azerbaijan Supports New OPEC+ Decision
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies agreed to extend the previous decision to cut oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day until July 31. Countries that have not fulfilled this obligation so far will be required to compensate for this in July, August, and September. Azerbaijan announced its support for the new OPEC+ decision.
Mining Sites and Oil Fields Hit by Coronavirus Infections in Kazakhstan
Mining sites and oil fields across Kazakhstan experienced coronavirus outbreaks on their facilities. The Tengiz oilfield project, Kazakhstan’s biggest onshore oil field, is the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The main stakeholder Chevron sent two-thirds of its workers at the field home after more than 900 employees tested positive for the virus. Moreover, Kazakhstan’s largest copper producer, Kazakhmys, also experienced a coronavirus outbreak. Officials fear that these outbreaks will result in lower oil and copper outputs due to a smaller workforce.
Siemens Signs an Agreement with Kazakhstan for Gas Turbine Service and Upgrade
The newly signed long-term agreement between the German multinational conglomerate company Siemens and Kazakhstan’s MangystauMunayGas (MMG) will allow Siemens to perform updates and maintenance at a two SGT-800 gas turbine power plant situated at the Kalamkas oilfield. It is believed that remote monitoring and diagnostic services carried out by Siemens will ensure smooth and reliable operation of the power plant.
Azerbaijan Recorded Increase in Digital Transactions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Azerbaijan recorded an increase in digital transactions and purchases using electronic platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Manager of the Azexport portal Aykhan Gadashov stressed the importance of digital platforms and the need to address issues with these platforms to ensure improved efficiency.
ADB Expects to Sign a Road Reconstruction Agreement in Kazakhstan
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expecting to sign a road reconstruction agreement in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstani government has announced that reconstruction on the Aktobe-Kandyagash road will be financed by public sector loans provided by ADB to Kazakhstan’s state-owned road operator company, Kazavtozhol.
Eurasian Development Bank to Support Joint Import Substitution Projects in EAEU
The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) announced that it was ready to consider financing joint import substitution projects in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). EDB was founded in 2006 by Russia and Kazakhstan in order to facilitate the development of market economies, promote sustainable economic growth, and help expand mutual trade among its member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
United States Allocates Additional $1 Million to Support Georgia’s COVID-19 Efforts
The United States allocated an additional $1 million in funds to support coronavirus efforts in Georgia. The additional funds will be used to provide personal protective equipment and other hygienic supplies to medical facilities and bolster the country’s rapid response teams and public health communications.
Georgia Will Support New and Developing Businesses with New Initiatives
The Georgian government will support new and developing businesses with a credit guarantee program. The program provides for a 90-percent bank loan guarantee for new companies and a 30-percent loan guarantee for companies that already use bank loans. The government also increased the capabilities to provide micro-grants to small enterprises to $13.5 million and raised the minimum grant amount from $6.7 million to $10 million.
Georgia’s Post-Crisis Economic Plan Will Be Designed Under the Guidance of International Policy Experts
Georgia is seeking advice from the leading experts at the University of Cambridge, the University of London, and Deloitte as well as local analysts to craft a post-lockdown strategy to put the socio-economic situation in the country back on its feet. Ways to overcome current account deficit, induce economic growth, and boost the competitiveness of the Georgian economy in the international arena were major topics of discussions between Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and international experts.
AIIB Looks to Co-Finance Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 Response
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) considers the possibility to co-sponsor the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program in Kazakhstan that will cover cash payments to the unemployed, social protection, new tax incentives, and recovery measures for affected businesses. The overall funding might amount to $750 million.
Politics and Security
Georgian Defense Ministry to Buy NATO-standard Hardware
The Ministry of Defense of Georgia will obtain NATO-standard hardware to replace some of the current equipment used by the Georgian Defense Forces. The decision comes amid the growing need for well-performing equipment to ensure the effectiveness of the armed forces in implementing the COVID-19 quarantine measures.
Uzbekistan’s President Visits Fergana Valley after Ethnic Unrest
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev visited the eastern region of the Fergana Valley on June 5, after ethnic unrest. The unrest over territorial disputes occurred in the Sokh region on May 31. Kyrgyz and Uzbek residents disputed the ownership of a nearby spring.
Uzbekistan and China Strengthen Local Government Ties
Officials from the city of Chongqing in China and the Tashkent region in Uzbekistan officially established friendly relations. The local officials are hopeful that improved relations between the two cities will foster the further development of trade and cultural exchange opportunities.
U.S. Department of Justice Praises Georgia's Contribution in Revealing Money Laundering Scheme
The U.S. Department of Justice has praised the 'significant assistance' provided by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia in seeking forfeiture of more than $20 million in assets relating to unlawful use of the U.S. financial system to evade and violate Iranian sanctions.
Kazakhstan’s Capital Changes Airport Code from TSE to NQZ
Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development confirmed that the Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport has officially changed its three-letter code from TSE to NQZ. The new code will be changed on all tickets and information boards starting June 8.
Polish Doctors Arrive in Dushanbe to Aid Tajikistan's Fight Against COVID-19
Sixteen Polish doctors arrived in Dushanbe on June 6 to help Tajik health workers in the COVID-19 fight. Polish doctors will visit Tajikistan’s regions to share their experience in the treatment of COVID-19 patients with local doctors. Three experts from WHO escorted the Polish medical professionals. They intend to stay in Tajikistan for one month.
Kazakhstan Develops an App to Track COVID-19 Patients
Chief Sanitary Inspector of Kazakhstan Aizhan Yesmagambetova ordered private laboratories to merge their findings with the National Examination Center’s laboratory information system. These findings have been used to create an app that tracks Kazakhstanis in quarantine – those infected with coronavirus, and those with asymptomatic cases.
Tajik City Mayor Arrested on Corruption Charges
Bahrom Inoyatzoda, the Mayor of Tajikistan’s southern city of Kulob, was arrested on corruption charges on June 8. His personal driver, Khursandali Khurramov, and the head of his reception office, Firuz Qurbonov, were arrested days earlier. Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security said that preliminary investigations showed Kurramov and Qurbonov committed crimes of corruption on the mayor’s orders.
Several Restaurant Owners Protest Quarantine Restrictions in Nur-Sultan
Several restaurant owners protested coronavirus restrictions in Nur-Sultan last week that prevented them from serving over 30 patrons at a time. Dozens of restaurant owners and employees claimed that the restrictions are damaging their post-coronavirus recovery efforts.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, AKI Press, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Eurasian Development Bank, Kazakh TV, Trend News Agency, RFL/RL, and UZ Daily.)