Media Highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Jan 26, 2021
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan Sign Memorandum on Joint Oil Field Development
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on hydrocarbon field exploration and development efforts in the Caspian Sea. The two countries will jointly develop the previously disputed Dostluq field, which is estimated to contain 60-70 million tons of oil and substantial natural gas reserves.
ADB Allocates $30 Million to Support Skill-Building and Employability in Tajikistan
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) awarded Tajikistan a $30 million grant to support skill-building and employability among Tajik citizens. The grant is funding a tourism job center in Dushanbe, an energy job center in Roghun, and an agricultural job center in Danghara. Tajikistan’s Ministry of Labor, Migration, and Employment of the Population will be responsible for overseeing the project until the funding period has elapsed in 2026.
Abkhazia to Import Electricity from Russia Due to Ongoing Repairs at Enguri HPP
According to the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Natia Turnava, due to the repair works at Georgia’s largest electricity producer, Enguri hydropower plant, the Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia will receive electricity from Russia during January, February, and March.
Russia Implements New Procedures for Attracting Migrant Workers
Russia passed new regulations that allow representatives of large construction companies to apply to the Ministry of Construction to request migrant workers to meet labor demand. The new mechanism will be applied to citizens of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan and was designed to increase the flow of migrant workers to Russia.
Iran Willing to Support Economic Projects in Armenia
During a meeting between the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Seyed Rasool Mojaher, and the Armenian Ambassador to Iran, Artashes Toumanian, the two sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation and the implementation of joint economic projects. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran expressed its willingness to support infrastructure, trade, and investment initiatives in Armenia.
Security and Politics
U.S. Secretary of State Nominee Blinken Voices Support for Georgia’s NATO Ambitions
In a recent Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated that if Georgia meets the criteria for NATO membership, then the alliance should remain open to Georgia’s aspirations for membership. Blinken added that Russia is aggressive to countries that are not members of NATO and that do not benefit from the protection of the alliance.
Turkey, Azerbaijan to Hold Joint Military Exercises in Kars
The Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced preparations for a winter training session to be held in the Kars region of Eastern Turkey. Members of the Special General Army of Azerbaijan will participate in the exercises alongside their Turkish counterparts. Armored vehicles, tanks, and self-propelled artillery are being transported to the region, and the training is expected to commence next month.
President Biden Removes Restrictions on Kyrgyz Immigrants to United States
The U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan announced on January 20 that President Biden signed an executive order to remove restrictions that had suspended the entry of Kyrgyz immigrants under specific visa categories. The Embassy also commended the security improvements Kyrgyzstan has made to its passports, including adding biometric chips and improving coordination with INTERPOL.
Eurasian Intergovernmental Council to Meet In-person in Kazakhstan on February 5
A meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council with the participation of the prime ministers of the Eurasian Economic Union is scheduled for February 5. The meeting will take place in person in Almaty. The Digital Almaty Forum will also occur at the same time.
Iranian Foreign Minister to Visit Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia
Foreign Minister of Iran Javad Zarif will visit Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi, and Moscow this week. The announcement comes after a series of negotiations between Iran and Turkey. According to the foreign minister, he plans to visit the countries to encourage cooperation, help overcome the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and assist in establishing peace and stability in the region.
Armenian, Russian Defense Ministers Hold Phone Meeting
On January 20, Armenian Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan held a phone meeting with the Russian Defense Minister, Army General Sergei Shoigu. The two ministers discussed their bilateral cooperation in the defense sector, the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the return of prisoners of war. Harutyunyan noted his appreciation for Russian peacekeepers’ involvement in the Syunik province of Armenia, the epicenter of border clashes following the signing of the trilateral peace agreement in November 2020.
ECHR Rules in Favor of Georgia in 2008 Russo-Georgian War
On January 21, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Georgia in a case against Russia for its involvement in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. The Court determined that Russia violated several articles of the Convention on Human Rights during the war and was also responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Georgians. Russia was previously fined by the European Court of Human Rights for 10 million euros over the arrest, detention, and expulsion of Georgian nationals in fall of 2006; however, compensation has not been paid so far. In the most recent ruling, the ECHR affirmed that Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are parts of Georgia under the control of the Russian Federation.
President Japarov Chooses Russia for First Foreign Visit
Acting Deputy Prime Minister Ravshan Sabirov said that Sadyr Japarov will make his first foreign visit as the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to Russia, where he will discuss lowering natural gas prices. Sabirov did not specify the date of the visit.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Asia-Plus, Caspian News, Fergana News, KazInform, Report News Agency, U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, and UZ Daily.)