Trending Headlines from the Caspian: September 9-20,2021
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Sep 21, 2021
Energy and Economy
Georgian Central Bank Leaves Monetary Policy Rate Unchanged at 10%
The Georgian central bank is leaving the refinancing rate unchanged at 10%. The decision follows a meeting of the monetary policy committee, whose decisions on changing the monastery policy rate depend on current and expected developments in the economy and financial markets. The next meeting of the monetary policy committee will be held on October 27, 2021.
Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and China Georgia’s Top Trading Partners in January-August 2021
Turkey ($1.28 billion), Russia ($1.01 billion), and China ($941.3 million) are Georgia’s top trading partners in total external trade turnover in January-August 2021, according to preliminary data from the National Statistics Office of Georgia. Georgia’s top trading partners by exports were China ($421.8 million), Russia ($377.1 million) and Azerbaijan ($347 million), while top trading partners by imports were Turkey ($1.07 billion), Russia ($634.8 million) and China ($519.5 million).
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to Improve Financial Sustainability of Kazakhstan’s Power Utility
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced on September 8 that it is pledging new funds to improve the financial sustainability of Mangistau Regional Distribution Company (MREK), a major electricity distributor in western Kazakhstan. The EBRD loan is for 4.9 billion Tenge (over $11 million).
Source: The Times of Central Asia
Kyrgyzstan Investigates Canada-Based Centerra Gold Over Alleged $200M Embezzlement
Kyrgyzstan’s security services have initiated a criminal investigation against top executives at the Toronto-listed Centerra Gold company, which was until recently developing the country’s largest gold mine.
Tajikistan’s Economy Grows Due to Sale of Precious Metals, Investment, and Consumption
The economy of Tajikistan grew by 8.7% in the first half of this year, according to the World Bank’s “Economy of Tajikistan – Summer 2021” report. The improvement in the economic growth was mainly attributed to the increase in precious metals exports as well as a growth in private investment and consumption.
New Complex for Extraction and Processing of Gold Ore to Be Built in Uzbekistan
A gold ore extraction and processing complex will be built at Uzbekistan’s Pistali gold deposit, with construction estimated to cost around $275 million. The government approved a feasibility study for the investment project. Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Plant will provide $29.6 million of its own funds for the project, whereas another $245.07 million is planned to be attracted by foreign loans. The complex is expected to be commissioned in December 2024.
Security and Politics
Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry Issues Verbal Protest Over Recent Remarks by President Biden
After President Biden made remarks widely perceived as disparaging towards Tajikistan at a public event, the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan John Pommersheim was summoned to Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry and issued a verbal protest was by the Ministry.
Azerbaijan hosts military exercise with Turkey and Pakistan
Baku hosted a trilateral military exercise between the special forces of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan. This is meant to facilitate and exchange training and strengthen overall security in these countries. This comes after the signing of the Baku Declaration, which called for tripartite cooperation between the three nations.
Source: Caspian News
Iran Conducts Large Military Exercises on Azerbaijani Border
Days after becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Iran has transported significant numbers of troops and military equipment near its border with Azerbaijan and is now conducting military exercises in the area.
Uzbekistan joining SCO military exercises
Uzbekistan joins China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Belarus in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Peace Mission 2021 military exercises. The military exercises are focused on improving tactics to counter international terrorist groups, combat drones, and prevent chemical and biological warfare. They are set to run September 20-24.
Source: Fergana News Agency
Armenian PM and Iranian President Meet to Discuss Cargo Transportation
Iran’s President Raisi and Armenia’s Prime Minister Pashinyan met to discuss increasing bilateral trade between the two countries, specifically in regards to unlimited cargo transportation, which signals an increased political and diplomatic relationship. The Armenian PM has made it clear that relations with regional countries is a top priority.
Kazakh president puts forward fourth package of political reforms
President Tokayev of Kazakhstan has released his fourth set of political reforms at his State of the Union address. They are aimed at increasing the competitiveness and transparency of the economy and political process. The reforms focus on peaceful assemblies, improving laws in criminal investigations, and improving representation of women in economics.
Source: Astana Times
SCO Adopts a Three-Year Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Program
The Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have adopted a plan to increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism, and extremism in Central Asia by members of these organizations. This plan is projected for a three-year term. The delegation from Tajikistan emphasized the anti-drug strategy to combat drug trafficking operations run by terrorist and organized crime networks in Central Asia.
CSTO and SCO Leaders Call for Afghanistan Aid
During the recent SCO and CSTO summits, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders called for aid to be resumed to Afghanistan to prevent a further humanitarian disaster. International financial institutions and foreign governments have suspended payments to Afghanistan, resulting in cash shortages and skyrocketing inflation. While several heads of states called for payments to be unfrozen, Tajikistan’s President Rahmon highlighted the continued threats of the Taliban to the region and Afghanistan itself, and their blockade of the Panjshir Valley, the last pocket of resistance in the country.
(Source: Agenda.ge, Armenpress, Asia-Plus, Astana Times, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Fergana News Agency, News.am, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, The Times of Central Asia, Trend.az, UzDaily)