Media Highlights of the Week - May 17, 2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
May 17, 2021
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan Opens Coal Processing Plant in Karaganda Region
Kazakhstan’s Qaz Carbon company inaugurated a coal processing plant in the Karaganda region with the capacity to process 300 tons of coal per hour. About 100 jobs were created as a result of the project. The Karaganda region boasts numerous enrichment plants responsible for extracting and processing the region’s rich raw materials reserves.
Georgia to Launch a 50-megawatt Wind Power Plant in 2022
Georgia is planning to launch a 50-megawatt wind power plant near the village of Nigoza in 2022. The project is estimated at $70 million and will employ 200 people during its construction.
Azerbaijan Launched New Inland Railway
Azerbaijan launched a new 27.6-mile-long railway linking the country’s capital city Baku with the inland city of Gabala, a major tourist hub. The single-track Laki-Gabala railway is expected to facilitate inland travel and further develop the country’s tourism industry following the lifting of many COVID-19 related restrictions.
Azerbaijan Sets Up Programs to Support Women Entrepreneurship
Azerbaijan launched a FemTech platform to assist women with their start-up projects and equip them with tools to expand their businesses. The Female Founder Bootcamp is a part of the platform and is aimed at increasing gender equality in tech professions. In the long-term, the projects seek to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including in education, economic growth, innovation, and reduced inequalities.
USAID and Gazelle Finance to Support SMEs in Georgia
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Gazelle Finance, an international investment fund, have committed to help Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) expand their businesses and improve their performance through a new three-year project. The program aims to support more than 30 SMEs, create over 1677 jobs, and attract more than $15 million in FDI.
Kazakhstan Expands Atlas of Jobs to Raise Employment Rate
Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population unveiled an expanded “Atlas of New Professions” designed to tackle domestic unemployment rates and foster higher educational programs and professional development. The Atlas project was launched following President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s election and comprises strategies to develop programs of job market expansion based on algorithmic projections in nine priority sectors, including mining and metallurgical complex, oil and gas industry, agriculture, transport and logistics, mechanical engineering, ICT, energy, tourism, and construction.
Uzbekistan Plans to Launch Regular Flights to Saudi Arabia Amidst Improving Economic Relationship
Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia plan to launch regular flight service between Riyadh and Tashkent three times a week starting June 12, 2021. The announcement comes following the provisions of the memorandum of understanding between Uzbekistan Airways and Saudi Flynas on cooperation in tourism development signed in January 2021.
Security and Politics
Kyrgyz Officials Report Order After Minor Clashes Along Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border
Officials in Kyrgyzstan's southern region of Batken said on May 14 that residents of the Kyrgyz village of Sai and the Uzbek village of Chashma along the Kyrgyz border of the Sokh exclave engaged in minor clashes the previous day, which led to an escalation of tensions as many people on both sides gathered at the border. The regional administration’s press service reported that law enforcement agencies from both countries are working to investigate the clashes.
Russia to Lease Baikonur Until at Least 2050
The Kazakhstani parliament approved an extension on Russia’s lease on the Baikonur space launch facility through to 2050, but with added conditions to limit dangers to the environment. On May 12, Digital Development and Aerospace Industry Minister Bagdat Musin said that Russia has committed to cutting the number of launches of its heavy-lift Proton launcher and will cease using the craft by 2026.
Vaccine App Provides New Avenues for Reopening in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is looking for a Russian-developed phone app to reopen. On May 13, a health official said that anybody who has received two shots of the vaccine will be exempt from all kinds of restrictions if they can show evidence via the Ashyq (Open) app starting in July. This waiver, which will free users from needing to undergo routine tests, will be valid for at least one year.
Uzbekistan Pushes for Social Media Servers to be Transferred to Inside the Country
Uzbek authorities demanded that foreign internet companies and social media companies such as Facebook, Google, Yandex, and TikTok move their servers to Uzbekistan. Since April 15, social networks and internet companies have been required to process the personal data of Uzbek citizens on servers located inside the country and registered in accordance with the established procedure in the State Register of Personal Data Databases.
Armenia Appeals to CSTO Amid Border Issues with Azerbaijan
On May 14, Armenia formally appealed to the Russian-led CSTO to hold consultations on its border dispute with Azerbaijan. Armenia accused Azerbaijani troops of crossing into Armenian territory and attempting to claim it. Azerbaijan rejects the claim stating that its troops were on the Azerbaijani side and accused Armenia of trying to use the claim for political purposes ahead of its snap elections.
Armenia’s Parliament Dissolves Ahead of Snap Elections
On May 10, Armenia’s parliament failed to elect a prime minister for the second time, causing parliament to dissolve ahead of snap elections in June. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who resigned in order to run in the early election, failed to receive the nomination as only one lawmaker voted for his candidacy, one voted against, and 76 abstained.
Georgian Opposition Leader Nika Melia Released from Prison After EU Posts Bail
The leader of Georgia's opposition United National Movement (ENM), Nika Melia, was freed from prison on May 10 after the European Union posted his bail to help end the country's protracted political crisis. Upon his release, he thanked the ambassadors of the EU and the United States, as well as European Council President Charles Michel.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Fergana News, RFE/RL.)