Media Highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Oct 20, 2020
Energy and Economy
BP Assures that Ongoing Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh Will Not Disrupt Plans to Deliver Natural Gas
Oil giant BP assured its shareholders that the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh will not hinder its plans to commission the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) this November. Officials noted that construction on TAP was almost completed and would be the first and only pipeline to transport natural gas from the South Caucasus to Europe via Turkey.
Azerbaijan Reports Attempted Attack on the Baku-Novorossiysk Oil Pipeline
The Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan’s office alleges that Armenian forces targeted export pipelines in the Khizi region of Azerbaijan. The Khizi region is more than 300 kilometers from the current conflict and is strategically important for Azerbaijan-Russia economic relations, as it is home to the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline. Azerbaijan accuses Armenian forces of numerous attacks on strategic infrastructure, a claim that Armenia denies.
Kazakhstan and the UAE Sign $6.1 Billion Deal
Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inked a $6.1 billion agreement last week that will precipitate 20 projects across various economic sectors. Most of the projects are focused on promoting agribusiness. Officials hope that the plan will facilitate improved cooperation and trade between the two countries and generate jobs.
Kazakhstan’s Kaspi to Conduct an IPO of Its Shares on London Stock Exchange and AIFC
Kazakhstan’s banking and fintech company Kaspi.kz has announced it would conduct the initial public offering of its shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) that is anticipated to be priced at $28.5-33.75, resulting in a company’s market value of $6.5 billion. Kaspi also plans to be listed on the Astana International Exchange (AIX) and the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE). Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, and Renaissance Capital will act as joint book-runners.
Georgian Startups Participate in Silicon Valley Program
500 Startups, a global business accelerator, has selected two Georgian startups for its Spring 2021 cohort. The first company is Cardeal, an auction portal for used vehicles, and the second is Cargon, an intelligent logistics platform. Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava attended the program ceremony and stated that innovation is the future of Georgia and the further development of this field is supported by the Georgian government.
Uzbekistan and Hungary to Increase Cooperation
During an online meeting between the First Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade Laziz Kudratov and the Deputy State Secretaries for Export Development and Eastern Relations of Hungary István Joó and A. Barany, the two sides discussed prospects for further cooperation and interregional partnership between Hungary’s Veszprem region and Uzbekistan’s Navoi region. They also talked about current preparations for Uzbekistan-Hungary Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation meeting that is to be held in November.
Air Georgia to Launch in 2021
Air Georgia, a new local airline in Georgia, is expected to launch operations in 2021. The airline plans to offer flights connecting Tbilisi International Airport with destinations in Europe and Central Asia. The company has applied for a flight permit from the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency, and once approved, will compete with Georgia’s two other airlines: Georgian Airways and Myway Airlines.
Kazakhstan’s Halyk Bank Establishes A New Lending Program to Boost Entrepreneurship
Halyk Bank, in partnership with the Pavlodar Region Akimat, will allocate 400 million tenge ($935,000) to establish a new lending program “Zhas-Halyk.Ertis” to promote the development of small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) in Pavlodar, which is a pilot region for the initiative. If approved by the program, young entrepreneurs can receive a loan of 15 million tenge ($35,000) at a 5 percent interest rate for up to seven years.
Security and Politics
Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers to Meet with U.S. Secretary of State
Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia are scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on October 23 over the current war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov will meet with Pompeo on Friday morning, and Armenia’s Zohrab Mnatsakanyan is scheduled to meet with Pompeo separately afterwards. It has been suggested that a trilateral meeting may take place following the U.S.-Azerbaijan and U.S.-Armenia talks.
Foreign Ministers of Russia, Central Asia Release Statement on Strategic Areas of Cooperation
On October 15, the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan released a statement on their strategic areas of cooperation. The spheres of cooperation include political and diplomatic, security, trade and economy, transportation, environmental protection and climate change, energy, sanitation and epidemiological safety, migration, and culture and education.
Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General Meets with Head of EU Delegation to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev met with Kestutis Jankauskas, the Head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, on October 19. The parties discussed legal system improvements in coordination with the best practices established by the European Union. Aliyev addressed the recent EU statement condemning Armenia’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Jankauskas stressed the European Union’s acknowledgment of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and he condemned the attacks carried out on the people of Ganja.
Kazakhstani President Tokayev Meets with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on October 16. Tokayev signed a new agreement on military cooperation, replacing an agreement from 1994. The new agreement covers military education and training, weapons and equipment supply, participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises, peacekeeping activities, and new challenges to regional security.
Japarov Serves as Acting Kyrgyz President, Indicates Desire to Run for President
Kyrgyzstan's acting President Sadyr Japarov says he will run for president in an upcoming election if lawmakers approve constitutional amendments to allow it. Currently, the constitution forbids one who is serving as acting or interim president to run in a presidential election. He became acting president after former President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned on October 15. The Central Elections Commission spokesperson said that parliamentary elections could take place on December 20, but a definitive decision would be made by next week.
ODIHR Release Interim Report on Georgian Elections
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights published a report stating that the pre-election environment in Georgia demonstrates political and social tensions as well as economic challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. The report was issued on October 16, and its contents contain an evaluation of Georgia’s election climate between September 25 and October 10. The report also notes that this year’s campaigning is taking place mostly online, as opposed to traditional methods.
OSCE and Tajikistan Cement 2021 Programming
The OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe met with Tajik officials to discuss programming for 2021, including existing mandates and priorities. Tuula Yrjölä, the OSCE’s Officer in Charge in the absence of the Secretary-General, commended Tajikistan for its efforts in improving cooperation and stability in the region. The parties also discussed current affairs, including Tajikistan’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Astana Times, Caspian News, Eurasianet, European Union External Action Service, Report News Agency, Reuters, RFE/RL, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Politico.)