Media Highlights of the Week- March 8, 2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Mar 9, 2021
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan Clinch 34th and 38th Places on Economic Freedom Index
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan took 34th and 38th places, respectively, out of 180 on the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom 2021 Index. The Heritage Foundation also noted that Kazakhstan’s ranking boost has been primarily driven by improvement in fiscal health, whereas Azerbaijan’s climb in the ranks is associated with the improvement in government integrity. Both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan jumped more than 20 positions since 2019 when they were ranked 59th and 60th, respectively, bringing them up from the “moderately free” to the “mostly free” category.
Azerbaijan Agrees to Limit Daily Oil Output
Azerbaijan agreed to sustain its 123,000 barrels per day commitment to the global oil production cut through the month of April. Azerbaijan agreed to the initial decision in response to rapidly declining oil prices in March 2020. Meanwhile, Russia will increase its daily output by 130,000 barrels per day and Kazakhstan by 20,000 barrels per day. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia are all members of the 13-major oil-producing country alliance, OPEC+.
Kazakhstan Foreign Investors’ Council Discuss Investment Attractiveness in Hydrocarbon Industry
Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with the Foreign Investors’ Council on March 3 to discuss initiatives to improve the investment attractiveness of the country’s hydrocarbon sector. President Tokayev noted the diminishing demand for oil and gas worldwide and stressed the importance of adopting innovative solutions to sustain the long-term investment attractiveness of the country’s lucrative hydrocarbon industry.
Uzbekistan Establishes Measures to Improve Status of Women in Entrepreneurship Development
Uzbekistan passed a measure by presidential decree to establish the Republican Public Women’s Council to improve medical and social services for women in rural regions. Furthermore, the measure requires that $28.6 million be allocated towards facilitating entrepreneurial activity for women and subsidizing housing costs for women.
Germany to Support Azerbaijan’s Business Community
During a meeting between Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Economy Sahib Alakbarov and German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wolfgang Manig, the two sides signed a Joint Declaration of Intent on cooperation in professional development in Azerbaijan’s business community. The document aims to improve state support for SMEs in Azerbaijan and facilitate the exchange of experience between German and Azerbaijani enterprises.
Azerbaijan and Qatar Discuss Increasing Economic Cooperation
During a virtual meeting between Qatar’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Azerbaijan’s Export and Investment Promotion Foundation, the two sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation and deepening economic partnership. Expanding cooperation between the two countries’ business communities as well as increasing mutual investments were also topics of discussion.
Kazakhstan Plans to Attract $9.5 Billion in Investment to Bolster Agriculture Sector
Kazakhstani Prime Minister Askar Mamin announced his government’s intention to attract $9.5 billion in investment to bolster the agricultural sector by 2025. Initiatives to achieve this goal include implementing 380 investment projects. The investment projects are expected to raise incomes of rural residents and increase the self-sufficiency of the domestic market. Officials project the program will generate 500,000 additional jobs.
Security and Politics
Uzbekistan Approves Agreement with Kazakhstan on Protection of Migrant Worker Rights
Uzbekistan approved of an agreement with Kazakhstan on the protection of the rights of migrants. The document intends to regulate migration flows and prevent illegal migrant labor. The agreement also states that migrant workers have the right to a guaranteed amount of medical assistance from the host country.
Armenian Opposition Announces New Meetings with President
Representatives an alliance of Armenian opposition groups continue to demand early parliamentary elections and the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. They announced that they would meet on March 7 with President Armen Sarkisian to discuss the ongoing political crisis and call on him to send Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's decision to dismiss the Chief of the General Staff to the Constitutional Court for review.
OSCE/ODIHR Releases Final Report on Georgian Parliamentary Elections
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published its report on Georgia’s parliamentary elections last year. It stated that despite challenges due to the pandemic, the elections were “competitive and administered efficiently,” adding that the electoral legal framework “overall provides a sound basis for holding democratic elections.” It also states that “gaps and ambiguities in the election legislation persist which, in some instances, led to an inconsistent application of the law by the election administration, courts, and other relevant actors.”
Ex-President Saakashvili Says Georgian Opposition Should Not Accept Referendum
Ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili said that the Georgian opposition parties should not accept a referendum instead of repeat parliamentary elections. Five of eight opposition parties that have won parliamentary seats in the October 2020 elections have demanded new elections. They accused the ruling Georgian Dream party of fabricating the election results and took to the street again last week shortly after the arrest of Nika Melia, the head of the United National Movement opposition party.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Fergana News, RFE/RL, UZ Daily)