Media Highlights of the Week- June 21, 2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Jun 21, 2021
Energy and Economy
Asian Development Bank to Allocate $80 Million for Development of SMEs in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament Committee on Budget and Finance approved draft loan and grant agreements between the Kyrgyz Republic and the Asian Development Bank under the bank’s Promoting Economic Diversification Program. The program seeks to expand small and medium business ownership.
Uzbekistan Exports Gold after 7-Month Break
Uzbekistan’s Statistics Committee reported that for the first time since last September, the country has started exporting gold. Uzbekistan exported nearly $1.2 billion worth of gold, with its international trade figure in January-May topping $14.5 billion – an increase of 13.2% as compared to the same period in 2020. Of the total international trade, exports accounted for US$ 5.7 billion (an increase by 14% to January-May 2020), and imports - US$ 8.8 billion (12.7% increase), with a trade deficit of US$ 3.1 billion.
EBRD Provides $60 Million to Kazakhstan’s Bank CenterCredit
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provided a loan package of $60 million to the largest lender in Kazakhstan, Bank CenterCredit. The goal of the loan is to support Kazakhstan's green financing, small and medium-sized enterprises, and women entrepreneurs in the country.
World Bank Supports Tajikistan’s Agriculture Sector
The World Bank approved $58 million in grant financing to support sustainable agriculture in Tajikistan. The project prioritizes micro, small, and medium sized private agricultural businesses in rural regions of Tajikistan and will be implemented over the next five years.
Kyrgyz Government Provides Little Comfort to Drought-Hit Farmers
Farmers are struggling and food prices are on the rise in Kyrgyzstan as a result of low river levels and a lack of rain in the region. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are also experiencing drought which has caused the price of hay to double due to a lack of regional production. The drought has also caused a strain to Kyrgyzstan’s hydropower energy system.
Remittances from Russia to Tajikistan Continue to Decline
Remittances from Russia to Tajikistan decreased by 9.2% for the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, the average amount sent per transfer also decreased from 2020 to 2021. This is the second year in a row that saw the volume of remittances decline relative to the previous year.
Security and Politics
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Claims Victory in Snap Parliamentary Election
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed victory in the country’s snap parliamentary election. Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party received 53.9 percent of the vote while his primary opponent, former President Robert Kocharyan’s Armenia Alliance only managed to collect 21 percent. The snap election ended weeks of political turmoil following Armenia’s defeat in the war against Azerbaijan last year.
Kazakhstani President-U.S. Representative Discuss Afghanistan Collaboration
On June 14, Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad discussed bilateral and C5+1 efforts for economic and social reconstruction in Afghanistan. President Tokayev said stability in Afghanistan is a central concern of the U.S.-Kazakhstan partnership. This summer, the first 20 Afghan women are expected to graduate from Kazakhstani universities as a part of a joint Kazakhstani, European Union, and United Nations Development Programme project on Afghan women’s education.
Tajikistan-Uzbekistan Hold Conference on Strategic Partnership
On June 17, delegations from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, comprised of government officials and academics, participated in an online conference entitled, “Mutual understanding, friendship and openness are the basis for further progress of Uzbek- Tajik cooperation.” The delegations discussed strengthening regional cooperation in transport, energy, education, science, water management, and agriculture sectors. The conference follows Uzbek President Mirziyoyev’s visit to Tajikistan in early June.
Turkey to Open Consulate in Azerbaijani City of Shusha
Turkey’s President Receyp Tayyip Erdogan announced his intention to open a Turkish embassy in the Azerbaijani city of Shusha. Shusha includes one of the more than 300 settlements liberated by Azerbaijan after the 44-day long war with Armenia in 2020. The opening of a Turkish embassy in Azerbaijan suggests that bilateral cooperation between the two countries is stable and both sides are interested in bolstering their relationship, according to analysts.
Uzbekistan-South Korea Sign Law Enforcement Agreements
On June 17, the Korean National Policy Agency signed bilateral and multilateral agreements with the Uzbek Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Guard of Uzbekistan. The Action Plan for 2021-22 between the two law enforcement agencies includes provisions on public security, counter-terrorism, cybercrime, human and drug trafficking, and personnel trainings.
Former Kyrgyz Deputy PM Arrested in Kumtor Mine Investigations
On June 17, the State Committee for National Security detained former Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Taiyrbek Sarpashev on charges of lobbying for legislation that permitted the Canadian firm Centerra Gold to dig at elevations higher than where the mine is located, which officials claim damaged two glaciers. Sarpashev’s detainment is the latest in a chain of official arrests related to the month-long legal battle between the Kyrgyz Government and Centerra Gold. On May 14, President Japarov signed a bill assuming governmental control of the mine’s operations.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Akipress, Asia Plus, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, RFE/RL, Tashkent Times, The Times of Central Asia, and UZ Daily.)