Trending Headlines from the Caspian October: 18, 2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Oct 18, 2021
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan and Turkey Reach Agreement on Provision of Gas Supplies
Azerbaijan and Turkey have reached an agreement on Azerbaijan providing Turkey additional gas. This is due to Turkey’s desire to avoid an energy crisis similar to the current situation in Europe and Central Asia. Azerbaijan has agreed to provide an additional 11 billion cubic meters of gas through 2024 to assist Turkey’s gas reserves.
Average Wages in Tajikistan Rise by Almost 20%
Economic activity in the region increased the Tajik average wage by almost 20% since this time last year according to a review by the Eurasian Development Bank. Additionally, an increase in remittances from Russia, puts Tajikistan in a strong position to recover economically from the impacts of COVID-19. The volume of remittances is also expected to rise by 13% by the end of the year.
Kazakhstan Official Visits Kabul to Discuss Trade and Economics
Kazakhstani presidential special envoy for international cooperation Yerzhan Kazykhan visited Kabul to discuss resuming trade and other economic activity. There was also discussion of humanitarian assistance, mainly focused on providing flour imports, essential goods as Afghanistan approaches economic collapse and food shortages.
Three Large Power Units Face Power Failures in Kazakhstan
Due to an existing power shortage throughout Kazakhstan and across Central Asia , three power plant units were shut down in order to prevent energy overloads and system failures. As a result energy companies have put a limit on available energy for consumers. This could prove devastating as winter approaches in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan Commits $120 Million for Covid-19 Aid
The Uzbek government has allocated $120 million (1.3 trillion soms) to combat COVID-19 infections and to purchase additional vaccines. The vaccine program in Uzbekistan aims to vaccinate 21 million people. Currently, there are roughly 3.3 million people vaccinated in Uzbekistan. The country has mainly utilized the ZF-UZ-VAC vaccine, followed by AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Moderna, and Pfizer.
With Winter Approaching, Central Asian States are Turning to Coal for Fuel
Central Asian states, including Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are facing electricity and fuel shortages. This has caused an increase in coal usage by governments to meet heating needs this winter. In Kyrgyzstan, hydropower is a critic source of electricity, and due to severe drought, its production has fallen, potentially leaving many people without electricity for the winter. While using coal is a necessary measure to provide energy during the winter, it will undermine the progress Central Asian states have made in producing green energy.
Security and Politics
Azerbaijani and Iranian Foreign Ministers Try to Ease Tensions
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov spoke with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian by phone on October 13 in an attempt to decrease the tensions between the two sides in recent weeks. The readouts referred to the heated accusations that Baku and Tehran have been hurling at each other and expressed a willingness to move beyond them. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said “concerns should be resolved through dialogue and cooperation.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Signs Cooperation Deal With Georgia
During a ceremony in Tbilisi on October 18, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Georgia Defense and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative, which the Pentagon chief said “marks a new phase of our bilateral security cooperation” and “demonstrates the U.S. commitment to supporting Georgia.”
Armenian Ruling Party Suffers Election Setback
After local elections on October 17, Armenia’s ruling party suffered significant losses. In Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri, the ruling Civil Contract party received 7,785 votes, after winning more than 28,000 votes in the city in June’s parliamentary elections. Incumbent mayor Samvel Balasanyan’s Balasanyan Alliance party won 9,637 votes, and under the city’s proportional system, the parties that made it over the threshold to enter city council will pick a mayor. The turnout for the elections was low at 33 percent.
Kazakhstan Elected as Member of the UN Human Rights Council
Kazakhstan was elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for the 2022-2024 period, following a vote during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. The UN council will also include the United States, Luxembourg, Finland, Lithuania, Montenegro, Argentina, Honduras, Paraguay, Benin, Cameroon, Eritrea, Gambia, Somalia, India, Malaysia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
NATO’s New Special Rep. for Caucasus, Central Asia to Visit South Caucasus Next Week
The NATO Secretary General’s new Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Javier Colomina will be visiting Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia next week. This will be Colomina’s first trip to the region after replacing James Appathurai as the special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia.
(Sources: Agenda.ge, Aki Press, Asia-Plus, Azernews, Eurasianet, Fergana News, RFE/RL)