Media highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Oct 6, 2020
Energy and Economy
USAID To Establish New Missions in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
On September 30, Acting Administrator at U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) John Barsa announced plans to open two new USAID missions in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In addition to promoting economic freedom, prosperity and cooperation in Central Asia, the new missions will also aim to advance a stable political environment in the region.
USAID to Launch A New Program to Increase Water Cooperation in Central Asia
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is setting up a new $24.5 million Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment program to promote transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia. The five-year program will address a range of issues, including economic stability, water and energy security, and climate change.
Azerbaijan Announces New Leadership for State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Energy established the State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources through a presidential decree on September 22. Forty management positions were created for the agency. Zaur Mammadov, the Ministry of Energy Chief of Staff, has been named the temporary chairman, and Tabriz Ammayev has been appointed as the Deputy Chairman.
Kazakhstan and Eurasian Development Bank Look to Strengthen Eurasian Cooperation
Kazakhstani Prime Minister Askar Mamin and the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) Board Chair Nikolai Podguzov discussed Eurasian integration projects at a September 30 meeting. The two delegations voiced their support for collaboration on the development of the International Center for Trade and Economic Cooperation Central Asia with Uzbekistan. The two sides also spoke about holding the First Eurasian Congress in December.
EBRD to Provide $40 Million Support for SMEs in Uzbekistan
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is offering a $40 million package consisting of a $30 million loan to small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) and a $10 million loan as part of the Women in Business program to support female entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan. In addition to financing options, the program will provide entrepreneurs with professional training.
Azerbaijan Approves New Small and Medium Business Development Agency
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Economy launched a new initiative for funding small and medium size business initiatives. The financing will be carried out by KOBIA, Small and Medium Business Development Agency. Funding will be assigned through competitions, and each project will be provided with 20,000 Azeri Manats (11,765 U.S. dollars). The implementation of this project is designed to encourage startups, SME training, international exchange programs, and technological innovation.
Georgia and UN Sign Agreement on Sustainable Development and Inclusive Economy
UN Resident Coordinator Sabine Machl and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia signed a five-year cooperation plan for sustainable and inclusive economic development. The UN aims to assist the Georgian government in improving regional cooperation, developing gender equality, and promoting innovation. The UN and the Georgian government have agreed on a development plan for 2021-2025.
UNDP To Help Women and Youth in Uzbekistan Launch Businesses
The Ministry of Support of Mahalla and Family of Uzbekistan, together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has identified 300 women affected by the pandemic to help them launch garment businesses. As part of the program, UNDP will provide women with the necessary sewing equipment and offer an intensive course in garment design.
Kyrgyzstan Explores Winter Tourism Options
The press service of Kyrgyzstan’s Tourism Department reported that the country is under the threat of significant economic loss due to the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry. In order to soften the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector, the Kyrgyz government developed a plan for winter tourism development in 2020-2021. Efforts to raise funds for the project have begun.
Security and Politics
Kazakhstan Provides Aid to Afghanistan After Flood
Kazakhstani Ambassador to Afghanistan Alimkhan Yessengeldiyev took part in a ceremony to deliver aid to the people of Kabul after a flood. Boxes of food containing flour, pasta, sunflower oil and condensed milk will be delivered to 5,000 families.
Turkmenistan Holds Meeting of the Commission of Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea
The Interdepartmental Commission on the Caspian Sea held a meeting at Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting involved Vice-Premiers, ministry heads, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rashid Meredov. The focus of the meeting was on making preparations for the sixth Summit of Heads of the Caspian, which will be held in Turkmenistan. The Summit focuses on building upon the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, which was signed in Aktau, Kazakhstan in August 2018.
Kyrgyzstan and Hungary Sign Scientific Research Agreement
The press service of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan reported that a new agreement was signed with Hungary for cooperation in the fields of education and science. The agreement was established during President Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s official visit to Hungary on September 28-29. The countries will conduct joint research on genetics, history, archeology and art, and a Hungarian Research Institute will be opened in Kyrgyzstan.
Tajikistan’s President Meets with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation
Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon met with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, to discuss the Afghan peace process and the existing security situation. The U.S. and Tajikistan discussed their cooperation and how to contribute to Afghanistan’s socio-economic recovery following the meeting between the U.S., Afghanistan, and Taliban delegations in Doha, Qatar, earlier this year.
Thousands Protest Election Results in Bishkek
On October 5, thousands of people from at least 10 political parties gathered in Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square to protest the results of the parliamentary elections. They claimed that the votes were rigged and that vote-buying took place. The OSCE appeared to back opposition claims writing that “credible allegations of vote-buying remain a serious concern.”
Azerbaijani Electrical Infrastructure Targeted in Recent Attacks
Electrical infrastructure continues to be targeted by Armenian forces during the current conflict. Armenia fired missiles on energy infrastructure in several regions, including the Goranboy, Tartar, Agdam, Fizuli, and Agjabadi rayons. Many lines have been restored, and repair work continues. Electricity and gas infrastructure continue to be vulnerable to attack.
Armenia Targets Major Population Centers of Azerbaijan
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan expanded beyond Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied territories with Armenia launching a campaign of attacking major population centers in Azerbaijan. Shelling first began in the city of Ganja, the second most populous city in Azerbaijan. Armenian forces were also reported to target the city of Mingachevir, a city with a population of 100,000 and a center of critical infrastructure, including the largest reservoir in the South Caucasus, a hydroelectric facility, and a thermal power plant. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries’ ministers of foreign affairs in their October 5 statement condemned the escalation of violence and stated that “recent attacks targeting civilian centers… and their disproportionate nature constitute an unacceptable threat to the stability of the region.”
Georgia Prohibits Transit of Military Cargo
As the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia continues, Georgia has made an announcement suspending the transit of any military cargo through the country, both by land and by air. The announcement was made after the National Security Council of Georgia held a meeting on October 3. There are no restrictions for civilians or for other cargo.
NATO Secretary-General Calls for Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for an immediate ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during an official visit to Turkey. In the same meeting, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that NATO should call for Armenian forces to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. Stoltenberg declared that there is no military solution for the conflict.
(Sources: 24.kg, Astana Times, Agenda.ge, Azernews, Democracy & Freedom Watch, EBRD, Inform.kz, Khaama Press News Agency, Report News Agency, RFE/RL, Tajikistan News, Times of Central Asia, Turkmenistan Today, UNDP, USAID)