Media Highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
May 4, 2021
Energy and Economy
Georgia’s Enguri HPP Resumes Power Generation
Georgia’s Enguri hydro power plant (HPP), which was shut down in January for renovation, has resumed power generation, noted Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava. She also mentioned that the renovation works would decrease water losses by 20-30 percent and result in additional 90 million kWh of electricity generation annually.
Azerbaijan Prioritizes Restoring Railway Line in Reclaimed Territories
Azerbaijan is prioritizing restoring essential railway lines running through the territories it reclaimed in 2020’s Karabakh War. The Horadiz-Aghband Railway linked Baku with the southwestern Zangilan district but ended operations after the district was occupied by Armenia in October 1993. Officials hope that the 62-mile-long railway line will further connect the liberated regions with the rest of the country and provide an important transit link between the capital city and the western districts.
Digital Ashyq App Allows Businesses to Operate in Kazakhstan Amidst COVID-19 Restrictions
Businesses around Kazakhstan have installed QR codes to allow patrons to enter their stores amidst COVID-19 restrictions. Users must input their national identification number to launch the app and then the app displays a person’s status when attempting to enter a business. The program was implemented in major cities in January and was expanded nationwide on April 26. Officials say that the app has allowed businesses that were previously shuttered to safely reopen.
ADB Predicts Kazakhstani Economy Will Rebound to 3.2 Percent Growth This Year
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasted that Kazakhstan’s economy will rebound by 3.2 percent growth by the end of 2021. The international development bank projects that investment, hydrocarbon production, and manufacturing growth will contribute to the country’s steady economic progression.
Kazakhstani Prime Minister Visits the Mangistau Region
Kazakhstani Prime Minister Askar Mamin visited the Mangistau region of western Kazakhstan to oversee progress on several key projects. The Prime Minister observed the launch of a poultry farm, which attracted $13 million in investment and generated 90 jobs. He also visited several construction sites of large tourism projects, including a golf club, apartment buildings, and hotels.
Uzbekistan Airways Cuts Flights to Turkey Amidst COVID-19 Concerns
Uzbekistan Airways canceled several flights to Turkey amidst the worsening COVID-19 situation there. A full lockdown was imposed on Turkey from April 29 to May 17 with a 24-hour curfew being observed.
Security and Politics
Clashes Break Out Along the Kyrgyz-Tajik Border
On April 28-29, confrontations between Kyrgyz and Tajik villagers lead to a military clash along a segment of disputed border. The Tajik Border Guard Service claimed that Kyrgyz military personnel were the first to open fire on Tajik border units near the Golovnoi water distribution center, while the Kyrgyz police claim that Tajik citizens escalated the situation by shooting at a Kyrgyz military unit in Kok-Tash. The confrontation left over 40 dead and resulted in significant destruction of property.
Ceasefire Stable at the Kyrgyz-Tajik Border as Troops Withdraw
On May 3, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan agreed to withdraw their troops from the border after agreeing to a ceasefire days earlier. Violent clashes took place on April 28-29 and were reportedly sparked due to a dispute over surveillance cameras at a water-distribution point near the Vorukh exclave. The clashes left over 40 people dead and about 183 people injured. Nearly 30,000 Kyrgyz villagers were evacuated from their homes.
Kazakhstan’s Consulate Opens in Samarkand
Kazakhstan’s new Consulate General in Samarkand held its opening ceremony. The governor of the Samarkand Oblast said that Erkinzhon Turdimov said that the Consulate General of Kazakhstan will become “an additional link that binds the fraternal ties of the two peoples.” The Kazakhstani Ambassador to Uzbekistan Darkhan Satybalda said that this will deepen the Kazakhstani-Uzbek strategic partnership.
Uzbekistan and Russia Agree on a Strategic Military Partnership
The Ministries of Defense of Uzbekistan and Russia have developed a program for a strategic military partnership for 2021-2025. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the agreement would cover cooperation on a range of security related issues, but especially countering the threat of international terror.
Uzbekistan Repatriates Citizens from Syria
On April 30, 93 citizens of Uzbekistan were brought from Syria to Tashkent as part of the humanitarian operation "Mehr-5" ("Kindness-5"). Twenty-four women and 69 children arrived in Tashkent from the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria. Upon arrival in Uzbekistan, they were provided with medical, psychological, and material assistance.
Russian Foreign Minister to Visit Yerevan and Baku
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Yerevan on May 5-6 and Baku on May 10-11. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that they will discuss bilateral and multilateral relations particularly with regard to regional cooperation and the implementation of the November 2020 peace agreement.
OSCE/ODIHR, Venice Commission Issue Joint Opinion on Draft Amendments to Georgian Electoral Code
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Venice Commission have issued a joint opinion on draft amendments to the Election Code of Georgia. The opinion raises concerns about the composition of election commissions and express their readiness to assist Georgian authorities in reviewing the election code in order to “bring it closer in line with international standards and good practice.”
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Astana Times, Caspian News, Fergana News Agency, New York Times, RFE/RL, TASS, UZ Daily.)