Media Highlights of the Week - February 9, 2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Feb 9, 2021
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan to Construct a Solar Plant on Boyukshor Lake
According to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy, the country is planning to construct a floating solar plant with a capacity of 100 kW on Boyukshor Lake. The Gamma Solutions, in coordination with local engineering entities, will implement the project and coordinate the construction, operation, and maintenance of the plant.
Uzbekistan Cancels Customs Duty on Imported Liquified Gas
Uzbekistan canceled the customs duty on imported liquified gas and related permits. Until July 2021, an electronic system will be utilized to automatically generate income and expenses of firms and deliver them to tax authorities. After July, the country will institute processes to remove customs duties on the imports of liquified gas.
Eurasian Economic Union Devises Simplified Labor Migration Application
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) developed a simplified application for labor migrants that is slated to be released at the beginning of 2022. The simplified and modernized digital “Work in EAEU” application was designed to make the process more convenient and accessible for applicants. Applicants will also be able to navigate the application to fill out required documents, search for employment, acquire insurance, attain loans, and rent homes.
Azerbaijan’s Flag Carrier AZAL Launches Special Flights to Moscow
Azerbaijan’s flag carrier Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) launched special round trip flights between Baku and Moscow. The flights will operate twice a week and carry passengers between the two capital cities. AZAL is projected to open special flights between Baku and Dubai later this month. In September, the airline launched special flights to the Turkish cities of Ankara and Antalya.
Uzbekistan and India Inch Closer to Bilateral Investment Treaty
Uzbekistan and India moved closer to securing a bilateral investment treaty that would promote investment and business between the two countries. Both delegations have agreed that bilateral trade should reach $1 billion annually. The value of bilateral trade is currently about $350 million. India has also offered $1 billion concessional lines of credit for various infrastructure projects in Uzbekistan. Officials hope that the new infrastructure will attract Indian companies to Uzbekistan and bolster the economic partnership.
Georgia and India Discuss Free Trade Agreement
During a meeting between Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and India’s ambassador to Georgia, Kishan Dan Dewal, the two sides reviewed the possibility of developing a free trade agreement to increase bilateral cooperation and partnership. The establishment of an Indian Embassy in Georgia was also under discussion.
Azerbaijan to Join FAO’s Food Security Project
Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan have joined Turkey to support the Turkish-funded project to advance food security control and risk communication programs in Eurasia. The project is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and is a part of the FAO-Turkey Partnership Program.
Kazakhstan Approves 40 Projects to Finance for the Almaty Business 2025 Program
Kazakhstan approved plans to finance 40 projects worth $19 million for the Almaty Business 2025 entrepreneurship development program. It is estimated that the development program will generate more than 100 jobs and help Almaty in becoming one of the top one hundred best global cities for living conditions and business opportunities.
Security and Politics
U.S. Naval Destroyer Docks at Georgian Black Sea Port
The USS Donald Cook, a destroyer from the U.S. Naval Forces, arrived in Georgia's Black Sea port in Batumi on February 5. After refueling, U.S. Naval Forces will engage in training with the Georgian Coast Guard to “improve readiness, strengthen maritime domain awareness, and refine bilateral interoperability,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Georgia.
Russia Donates Equipment to the Armed Forces of Tajikistan
Russia’s Ministry of Defense donated several dozen pieces of specialized equipment to the Armed Forces of Tajikistan. The delivery included reconnaissance vehicles, TMK-2 trench wheel vehicles, and a generator. Russia emphasized that it considers Tajikistan to be a reliable ally in the Central Asian region. The delivery was celebrated with a ceremony in Dushanbe.
Azerbaijan to Launch Regional Radio Service in Liberated Territories
The National Television and Radio Council of Azerbaijan convened for a videoconference on February 8 to discuss the organization of expanding radio broadcasting into the territories recently liberated in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. New broadcasting frequencies will be introduced in the areas returned to Azerbaijan, and national radio channels will be broadcasted through the Shusha Radio and Television Broadcasting Station to provide service to the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Kazakhstani and Russian PMs Meet
Kazakhstani Prime Minister Askar Mamin and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin met as part of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council and Digital Almaty Forum. They discussed bilateral cooperation on the economy, energy, transport, logistics, military, and protection of trans-boundary water resources.
Former President Jeenbekov Leaves Kyrgyzstan
Former president of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov left the country and failed to testify at a court case. There is also a criminal complaint filed against him for the police violence in October. Jeenbekov’s former press secretary claimed that his departure was because he and his wife were performing a pilgrimage to Mecca at the invitation of the king of Saudi Arabia.
Atambayev’s Pretrial Detention Extended
A Bishkek court extended the pretrial detention of former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev until April 7. Atambaev’s lawyer Zamir Jooshev said that on February 4, the Birinchi Mai district court rejected the defense team’s motion to transfer the 64-year-old politician to house arrest. Atambaev was sentenced to 11 years and two months in prison in June 2020 over his involvement in the release of a notorious crime boss.
Kazakhstani Police Report that Sergek Video Cameras Helped Solve 140 Crimes in 2020
Police in the Eastern Kazakhstan district reported that in 2020 Sergek, a video motoring system that relies on machine learning, has helped to solve more than 140 criminal cases, such as theft, robbery, violence, and murder. Additionally, the system has been credited for reducing traffic accidents by 31%.
New UNFPA Country Cooperation Program for Uzbekistan Approved
The Uzbek Ambassador to the UN Bakhtiyor Ibragimov took part in the session of the Executive Board of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on February 3. During the event, a new Country Cooperation Program for 2021-2025 for Uzbekistan was considered and approved. The program is reported to have been developed with consultative cooperation with representatives of government organizations, civil society, and the private sector.
Georgia Requests Support from EU, U.S. in Securing Release of Georgian Citizen
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia met with the Head of the EU Delegation Carl Hartzell and U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan to request support in securing the release of a Georgian citizen being held by authorities in the occupied South Ossetia region. Zaza Gakheladze was detained by South Ossetian forces in summer 2020, and he was charged with illegally crossing the border and attempted murder. Ossetian authorities sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
(Sources: 24.kg, Agenda.ge, Astana Times, Asia-Plus TJ, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Kazinform, Report.az, RFE/RL, Trend News Agency, and UZ Daily.)