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Uzbekistan establishes cooperation with the State of Mississippi

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan’s delegation led by the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of the Uzbek parliament, Sodik Safoyev, visited the State of Mississippi (USA). The delegation included representatives of ministries of Innovative Development, Investments and Foreign Trade, and Agriculture, the Jahon information agency reported.

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EU and Tajikistan discuss additional trade preferences for Tajik exporters

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — The EU deployed a joint technical mission from the European Commission Directorate General for Trade and the European External Action Service in Brussels to Dushanbe to prepare Tajikistan’s possible accession to the GSP+, the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan said.

Read more: EU and Tajikistan discuss additional trade preferences for Tajik exporters

Uzbekistan asks bond-buyers to be its valentine with $1 billion sale

  • Written by Maximilian Hess

TASHKENT (TCA) — With the sale of $1 billion in dollar-denominated five- and 10-year bonds, Uzbekistan has showed its determination to open up its state-controlled economy and attract foreign borrowing. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Maximilian Hess*, originally published by Eurasianet:

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Weekly Digest of Central Asia

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The Publisher’s note: Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Central Asia was the scene of intense geopolitical struggle and the Great Game between the British and Russian Empires, and later between the Soviet Union and the West, over Afghanistan and neighboring territories. Into the 21st century, Central Asia has become the area of a renewed geopolitical interest, dubbed the New Great Game, largely based on the region’s hydrocarbon and mineral wealth. On top of that, the region now is perhaps the most important node in the implementation of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative through which Beijing aims to get direct access to Western markets. Every week thousands of news appears in the world’s printed and online media and many of them may escape the attention of busy readers. At The Times of Central Asia, we strongly believe that more information can better contribute to peaceful development and better knowledge of this unique region. So we are presenting this Weekly Digest which compiles what other media have reported on Central Asia over the past week.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan's new AIX exchange outflanked by resurgent rival

An agreement between the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange and the Moscow Exchange has led to renewed questions over the viability of the new Astana International Financial Centre

Feb 12 — “Six months on from the launch of the Astana International Financial Centre, Kazakhstan's attempts to open up its capital markets appear to be foundering, with just one listing to date and a resurgence of the existing bourse. Moreover, doubts over transparency in the country, which the new center was supposed to alleviate, persist as a barrier to foreign investment.” READ MORE: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/Kazakhstan-s-new-AIX-exchange-outflanked-by-resurgent-rival

Israel and Kazakhstan have close ties in education, medicine, agriculture and technology, says envoy

Kazakhstan and Israel cooperate in different areas and on different stages including government, ministry, spiritual organisations, educational institutions and the business community

Feb 12 — “Israel and Kazakhstan have been developing close ties in different spheres and on various levels, exchanging experience and knowledge in education, medicine, agriculture and technology, said Israeli Ambassador Liat Wexelman in an interview with The Astana Times. “We have very close relations between Israel and Kazakhstan. It can be seen from the active work of embassies in both Kazakhstan and Israel that indicate the importance of the relations between the countries,” Wexelman, who arrived to Astana last autumn, noted.” READ MORE: https://astanatimes.com/2019/02/israel-and-kazakhstan-have-close-ties-in-education-medicine-agriculture-and-technology-says-envoy/

Kazakhstan: Investor accuses telecoms giant of breaking buyback rules

A business dispute should alarm minority investors in state-controlled companies of Kazakhstan

Feb 12 — “A small-time brokerage with a stake in a state-controlled telecommunications company in Kazakhstan is embroiled in a dispute that it says should serve as a warning to aspiring investors. In one corner is Falconry Capital, an Almaty-based investment fund that has been around since 2003. Facing off is Kazakhtelecom — by far the largest player in the country’s telecommunications sector.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-investor-accuses-telecoms-giant-of-breaking-buyback-rules

Kazakh activists keep battling as Xinjiang crackdown evolves

Kazakhs in Kazakhstan say their relatives in China’s Xinjiang have been freed from reeducation camps, in some cases, only to be recaptured

Feb 13 — ““They’ve taken him again,” said Munai Taskairat kyzy, sobbing over the phone. Last year had closed on such a hopeful note. It looked as though Chinese authorities might be gently easing their campaign of systematic repression of Muslim communities in their western Xinjiang region.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kazakh-activists-keep-battling-as-xinjiang-crackdown-evolves

KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan: Government proposes to corporatize the state railways enterprise

Kyrgyzstan’s underdeveloped railways transport system needs reorganization, investment, and modernization

Feb 10 — “The Kyrgyz Government proposed to corporatize the Kyrgyz Temir Jolu State Enterprise (Kyrgyz Railways). The issue was discussed on February 5 at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Communications, Architecture and Construction. “At the initial stage, we propose to create a joint venture with a potential investor in freight forwarding. We believe that this will allow us to attract additional financial resources for the development of the railway industry.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/20820-kyrgyzstan-government-proposes-to-corporatize-the-state-railways-enterprise

Young disabled people in Kyrgyzstan find new goals and opportunities

More than 5,000 people with vision impairment live in Kyrgyzstan, and they face plenty of hindrances to be treated as equal citizens

Feb 12 — “I first met Matluba Hakimova checking in for a flight at Manas Airport in Bishkek. Though blind, she proceeded to register for and board her flight effortlessly, without any assistance. Matluba is originally from Isfana, in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken region that borders Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. That day, she was flying home.” READ MORE: https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ainaz-sulaimanova/young-disabled-people-in-kyrgyzstan-find-new-goals-and-opportunities

January results. Kyrgyzstan's economy on a golden horse

Kyrgyzstan’s economy and state-budget revenues still remain dependent on gold production at the Kumtor mine

Feb 13 — “Due to an increase in gold production at Kumtor, the Kyrgyz economy showed a significant growth in the first month of 2019. At the same time, prices grew quite insignificantly, although cigarettes and fresh vegetables’ prices increased for 30 days.” READ MORE: https://24.kg/english/109106__January_results_Kyrgyzstans_economy_on_a_golden_horse/

Russia lifts restrictions on meat imports from Kyrgyzstan

The removal of temporary restrictions will allow the export of Kyrgyz meat products and raw meat from enterprises included in the Eurasian Economic Union register

Feb 15 — “Kyrgyzstan is a strategic partner and ally of Russia in Central Asia. Kyrgyz-Russian cooperation is multidimensional in nature, characterized by the proximity of approaches to international and regional affairs, focusing on the development of Eurasian integration processes. The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of Russia lifted restrictions on the meat import from Kyrgyzstan, introduced in 2007, the press service of the Kyrgyz State Inspectorate for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection reported.” READ MORE: https://www.azernews.az/region/145736.html

TAJIKISTAN

Report: Workers building Tajikistan’s mega-dam not getting paid

Roghun is a mammoth project that is said to employ around 20,000 workers, and Tajikistan needs $4 billion or so to finish the project

Feb 11 — “Construction laborers on Tajikistan’s giant Roghun hydroelectric dam project have reportedly complained that they have not been paid their salaries for several months. Moscow-based news website Ferghana reported on February 11 that a group of workers have submitted a petition to local prosecutors to resolve the situation.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/report-workers-building-tajikistans-mega-dam-not-getting-paid

Tajikistan plans to increase electricity exports to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan

After the long years of electricity shortages and power blackouts, Tajikistan has now turned into an electricity exporter

Feb 14 — “Tajikistan plans to increase electricity exports to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in 2019, said Chairman of the state energy holding ‘‘Barki Tochik’’ Mirzo Ismoilzoda at a meeting with journalists in Dushanbe on February 13. He added that negotiations were underway with the Afghan and Uzbek energy sector on the volumes and prices of supplies.” READ MORE: https://www.azernews.az/region/145655.html

After Tajikistan terror attack, is cycling the Pamir Highway safe?

Tajikistan is generally safe for Westerners, who are attracted by the country’s stunning beauty

Feb 15 — “On July 29, five terrorists in Tajikistan rammed a car into a group of seven Western cyclists, then set upon them with knives. Four of the cyclists were killed: two from the United States, one from Switzerland and one from the Netherlands. The Islamic State asserted responsibility for the attack, although Tajik authorities are pointing the finger at a banned political party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. Whoever is responsible, the attack was the first terrorist assault against Western tourists in Tajikistan.” READ MORE: https://glenwoodguardian.com/after-tajikistan-terror-attack-is-cycling-the-pamir-highway-safe/17275/

TURKMENISTAN

German Tech Firm's Turkmen Ties Trigger Surveillance Concerns

Rohde & Schwarz, a major global player in surveillance technology, has declined to disclose details about its dealings with the Turkmen government

Feb 8 — “One year ago this month, Turkmenistan's state news agency reported on a meeting between the country's authoritarian president and a visiting executive from a German electronics firm that supplies surveillance and encryption technology to governments and militaries. Hartmut Jaeschke of the Munich-based Rohde & Schwarz, according to the report, told President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov during the talks that the company sought "to gain a stronger foothold" in Turkmenistan, whose government is consistently ranked among the world's most repressive.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/german-tech-firm-s-turkmen-ties-trigger-surveillance-concerns/29759911.html

Turkmenistan: Sour cream of the crop

In its ‘Akhal-Teke: A Turkmenistan Bulletin’, Eurasianet reviews the main news and events in the Central Asian country for the previous week

Feb 12 — “How much agricultural product does Turkmenistan actually generate? The working assumption has long been that official data are drastically inflated, but Vienna-based news outlet Chronicles of Turkmenistan claimed this week to have got its hands on information showing the scale of the fakery.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-sour-cream-of-the-crop

As traders tussle over tankers, Turkmenistan slashes oil exports

The slowness of crude exports has forced Turkmen producers to stockpile oil throughout January and February

Feb 14 — “A clash between trading house Vitol and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR over Caspian Sea oil shipments is forcing Turkmenistan to slash exports of crude due to a lack of tankers. Turkmenistan typically exports about 200,000 tonnes of oil per year via the Caspian to world markets, mainly from fields operated by the UAE’s ENOC and Italy’s Eni, but flows have halved in recent weeks, six traders involved in operations said.” READ MORE: https://www.reuters.com/article/oil-caspian/as-traders-tussle-over-tankers-turkmenistan-slashes-oil-exports-idUSL5N2095ZD

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan: Head of security services gets chop amid talk of surveillance

The Uzbek president continues to purge the country’s security service of disloyal officials

Feb 12 — “The head of Uzbekistan’s revamped security services has been removed from his post — on health grounds, according to official sources. But RFE/RL’s Uzbek service, Ozodlik, has reported that Ikhtiyor Abdullayev, 53, was actually fired and has now been made object of a criminal investigation. The broadcaster has cited three anonymous sources close to the government as saying a dozen people working under Abdullayev have been arrested.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/uzbekistan-head-of-security-services-gets-chop-amid-talk-of-surveillance

Uzbek Foreign Minister on Reforms: ‘There Is No Way Back‘

After the years of stagnation, Uzbekistan has no other choice but political reform and economic modernization

Feb 13 — “The foreign minister was clear that Uzbekistan’s ongoing reforms are irreversible.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2019/02/uzbek-foreign-minister-on-reforms-there-is-no-way-back/

Moody’s assigns its first Uzbekistan long-term issuer rating at ‘B1’

Uzbekistan gets its first ever credit rating and launches its international borrowing programme

Feb 14 — “Moody’s Investors Service assigned its first ever long-term issuer rating to the Uzbek government at B1 with a stable outlook on February 13 ahead of the Uzbek Eurobond debut on the same day. The agency also assigned a provisional rating of (P) B1 to the Uzbek government’s forthcoming medium-term note programme and a B1 rating to the planned drawdown from the programme.” READ MORE: http://www.intellinews.com/moody-s-assigns-its-first-uzbekistan-long-term-issuer-rating-at-b1-156406/

Uzbekistan’s eurobond debut proves smash hit

The debut had generated an air of optimism among investors who attended Uzbekistan’s New York, Boston and London roadshows. The issuance is set to pave way for regular debt sales

Feb 14 — “Uzbekistan’s $1bn sovereign bond debut has proved a smash hit with some initial reports indicating the demand was there for as much as $8.5bn, making the issue 8.5-times oversubscribed. The launch was made with yields of 4.75% on the 5-year note and 5.375% on the 10-year note, an anonymous source told Bloomberg on February 13.” READ MORE: http://www.intellinews.com/uzbekistan-s-eurobond-debut-proves-smash-hit-156401/

AFGHANISTAN

How a Forever War Ends

Trump might well wrap up the war in Afghanistan, but only by giving up on America’s original goals, the Deputy Director-General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies says

Feb 11 — “President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that “great nations do not fight endless wars.” It was a clear signal that his administration has scaled back its objectives for Afghanistan and is headed for the exit. The only question now is whether the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors will settle for a partial victory by participating in an Afghan government they do not wholly control, or whether they will bide their time until the occupation ends, then turn on those Afghans who have been fighting alongside U.S. forces and triumphantly return to power, governing as they did before the war.” READ MORE: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/how-end-war-afghanistan/582310/

The Soviet army was driven from Afghanistan 30 years ago. Putin’s Russia is repackaging that defeat as a patriotic victory

The Kremlin in 1989 called the Afghan war “a political mistake.” Now Russian lawmakers, urged on by President Vladimir Putin, are trying to make a 180-degree turn on that assessment

Feb 14 — “The Red Army veterans took to the stage and belted out songs from the Afghan battlefield: clashes with the enemy and a wartime thirst for Russian vodka. A crowd of the war elite finger-tapped along to the familiar beat. The rock concert was something like theme music for the Kremlin’s attempt at rewriting history, turning the defeat in Afghanistan into a patriotic victory for Mother Russia.” READ MORE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-soviet-army-was-driven-from-afghanistan-30-years-ago-putins-russia-is-repackaging-it-as-a-patriotic-victory/2019/02/13/3ff61302-1e6f-11e9-a759-2b8541bbbe20_story.html?utm_term=.02822d22376f

Peace prospects in Afghanistan: potentials for BRI and CPEC

For China, to successfully implement the BRI without security threats and with the possible CPEC extension to Afghanistan would further open the doors of prosperity to the region and beyond, analyst says

Feb 15 — “With the advent of multipolarity, states relations are perpetually evolving, and hence adding new connotations to its theories and application. The contemporary world order, though, renews our shades of analysis, especially when the states sharply shuffle priorities pertaining to their actions and aims.” READ MORE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1910665/6-peace-prospects-afghanistan-potentials-bri-cpec/

Russian warnings of Afghan threats bring decreasing dividends in Central Asia

Russia has for years been exaggerating the threat coming from Afghanistan to Central Asia in an effort to maintain, and increase, its influence on countries of this region

Feb 15 — “Over the last month, Russian officials have suggested that militant groups in Afghanistan so threaten the countries of Central Asia that the latter should cooperate more closely with Russia in order to defend themselves. But in contrast to such campaigns in the past, Moscow is facing difficulties in convincing anyone. Russian commentators are questioning whether Russia’s new military efforts in Central Asia will be worth the cost—be it a new base in Kyrgyzstan, the expansion of Russia’s military presence in Tajikistan, or a new level of cooperation with Turkmenistan.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/20840-russian-warnings-of-afghan-threats-bring-decreasing-dividends-in-central-asia

WORLD

Harsh Turkish condemnation of Xinjiang cracks Muslim wall of silence

Turkey has called on Beijing to respect the rights of Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic minority living in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and to close the so-called re-education camps where up to a million Uyghurs are reportedly held

Feb 11 — “In perhaps the most significant condemnation to date of China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims in its north-western province of Xinjiang, Turkey’s foreign ministry demanded this weekend that Chinese authorities respect human rights of the Uighurs and close what it termed “concentration camps” in which up to one million people are believed to be imprisoned. Calling the crackdown an “embarrassment to humanity,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the death of detained Uighur poet and musician Abdurehim Heyit had prompted the ministry to issue its statement.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/20823-harsh-turkish-condemnation-of-xinjiang-cracks-muslim-wall-of-silence

Will China Replace The U.S. As The Middle East Hegemon?

If the U.S. is slowly disengaging from the Middle East, China is likely to fill the void

Feb 14 — “The U.S. is assembling its allies in Warsaw this week to coordinate Middle East policy– but with limited success. EU policy chief Federica Mogherini, joined by China, Russia, France, Germany, Turkey, and Qatar are boycottingthe gathering, opting to adopt a more diplomatic, business-focused, and ‘less confrontational’ track with the Islamic Republic.” READ MORE: https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielcohen/2019/02/14/will-china-replace-the-u-s-as-the-middle-east-hegemon/#c4d5e8d25cd1

Tajikistan: Authorities claim opposition leader 'voluntarily' returned from self-imposed exile

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan's Interior Ministry says prominent opposition figure Sharodiddin Gadoev has returned to the Central Asian country from abroad and "is sorry for his deeds," while a colleague claims that he was abducted in Russia, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

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Foreign rights observers deported from Kazakhstan without seeing fired judge

  • Written by TCA

ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakh authorities have deported two observers from the Italian Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) after not allowing them to meet a Kazakh judge who was fired following the acquittal by his court of an opposition activist earlier this month, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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EDB to finance construction of solar power plants in Kazakhstan

  • Written by TCA

ASTANA (TCA) — The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and Hevel Kazakhstan on February 14 said they have signed a EUR 56.2 million long-term multi-currency loan facility agreement to finance the construction of solar power plants with an installed capacity of up to 90 MW in Kazakhstan.

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Russian warnings of Afghan threats bring decreasing dividends in Central Asia

  • Written by Paul Goble

BISHKEK (TCA) — Russia has for years been exaggerating the threat coming from Afghanistan to Central Asia in an effort to maintain, and increase, its influence on countries of this region. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Paul Goble:

Over the last month, Russian officials have suggested that militant groups in Afghanistan so threaten the countries of Central Asia that the latter should cooperate more closely with Russia in order to defend themselves. But in contrast to such campaigns in the past, Moscow is facing difficulties in convincing anyone. Russian commentators are questioning whether Russia’s new military efforts in Central Asia will be worth the cost—be it a new base in Kyrgyzstan, the expansion of Russia’s military presence in Tajikistan, or a new level of cooperation with Turkmenistan. Whereas, officials and experts in the region are openly challenging Moscow’s premise that their countries are so threatened by Afghan militants that they have no choice but to accept an expanded Russian presence.

On February 5, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traveled to Tajikistan, where he offered additional “security assistance” to Dushanbe (TASS, News.tj, February 5). But several days prior to the top Russian diplomat’s visit, his deputy, Igor Zubov, warned, “ISIS [Islamic State—IS] militants [were] massing with helicopters” to advance to the border of Tajikistan, thus threatening that country, Central Asia as a whole and Russia itself (Sputnik News, January 28). Zubov and Lavrov’s apparently coordinated diplomacy was nothing new for Central Asians. Rather, it has been a longstanding element of Russian policy to seek to propagate local regional concerns about the ostensible threats coming out of neighboring Afghanistan (EurasiaNet, February 12).

But this time, Central Asian reaction to these attempts was hardly what Moscow expected and wanted. Following Zubov’s remarks, the Border Guards Service of Tajikistan took the unusual step of directly contradicting the Russian official, saying that it did not have any information about the presence on its borders of any IS militants, that the border region remained under control, and that there was no need for any outside assistance (Avesta.tj, January 29). While Tajikistani officials apparently were more polite in their meetings with Lavrov, they too appeared to be less-than-fully persuaded by Russian suggestions that their country faced such a great threat from the south that it had no choice but to expand Moscow’s involvement there.

Following the meeting, Komrod Khidoyatzoda, a Tajik who directs the Central Asian Experts Club, told Russia’s Regnum news agency that even in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, where there have been internal security problems (see EDM, October 18, 2018), it is long past time to blame everything on Afghanistan. “The situation in the oblast, as far as security is concerned, remains stable,” he said, adding “the Tajik-Afghan border remains under the full control of Tajikistan’s border guards” (Regnum, February 12, 2019).

Khidoyatzoda then suggested that Dushanbe was receiving all the international cooperation it needed […] from Uzbekistan, with which Tajikistan has conducted, “for the first time in many years,” joint military maneuvers (Regnum, February 12). It is safe to assume that this must have been perceived in Moscow as a slap in the face of Russia, which has a base in Tajikistan but was not asked to take part in this program designed to promote “regional security.”

He further pointed out that “there exist regional institutions which also are making a contribution to the struggle with terrorism, extremism, illegal drug flows and other challenges and threats arising as a result of the activity of transnational criminal groups.” As a result, Khidoyatzoda said, it is essential to reject “the stereotype” Lavrov and others have promoted that “Afghanistan is the source of all misfortunes in the region.” That does not benefit Tajikistan or anyone else in Central Asia: it only serves the purposes of outside powers (Regnum, February 12).

Other Central Asian commentators and experts are making similar arguments, albeit in a less dramatic way than the aforementioned Tajik author (Isca.kz, January 15). But what is most important is that the response of Tajikistan to Russia’s invocation of the Afghan threat is no longer working as effectively as it did in the recent past.

Kyrgyzstan, for example has said it would be willing to consider a second Russian base but only if Moscow provided massive new aid. Bishkek’s demand appears to have slowed down if not outright killed off that idea because of Moscow’s reluctance or inability to make such payments— something it could have avoided had Russia been able to scare Kyrgyzstan as in the past and if Russia did not find itself cash-strapped because of the economic crisis (TASS, February 1; Centrasia.org, Rambler.ru, February 4).

Turkmenistan, the other “frontline” state in Central Asia, appears committed—some shifts in official rhetoric notwithstanding—to maintaining its policy of neutrality and isolation, which necessarily precludes acceptance of any massive Russian assistance. Ashgabat is steadfastly holding to this posture despite Turkmenistan facing food shortages and reportedly having to declare partial mobilization to ensure border security (Ozodi.org, January 15).

Meanwhile, although Uzbekistan shares a short frontier with Afghanistan, neither it nor Kazakhstan has ever been as susceptible to Russian arguments about an Afghan threat. And both appear likely to remain that way.

None of this means that there is no threat to Central Asia from Afghanistan, whether in the form of the Islamic State, Taliban fighters or drug traffickers, for instance. Such threats do exist and are likely to persist for a long time. And Russia will almost certainly continue to insistently invoke this danger to the Central Asian states, especially in the event of a militant incursion into the region or some other provocation spilling out of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the regional situation has clearly changed to the point that Moscow’s scare-mongering does not easily overawe the Central Asians. These countries increasingly believe they can provide for their own border security—possibly with help from others who will not insist on the same forms of political compensation that Russia would.

This article was originally published by The Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor

Turkmenistan and Germany hold business forum

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — The capital of Germany this week hosted a Turkmen–German business forum which gathered representatives of the Foreign Department of Germany, Federal Ministries of economics and energy, agriculture and food, German International Cooperation Society, East European Association of Entrepreneurship Support, Office of German economy in Central Asia, Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and around 70 big German companies, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

Turkmenistan was represented by the ministries of agriculture and natural protection, energy, finances and economics, textile industry, healthcare and medical industry, State Concerns Turkmengaz and Turkmenhimiya, State Bank of Foreign Economic Affairs, administration of Ahal province, Turkmen Agricultural University, International Oil and Gas University, Turkmenbashy International Seaport, and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

The agenda of the forum included new proposals for planning of further trade and economic cooperation. The sides discussed the opportunities of efficient use of mutual potential, especially taking into account the diversification of Turkmenistan economy, wide implementation of high technologies to production, industrial infrastructure and digitization processes in the country.

German companies — Siemens AG, Glass Global Sales GmbH, John Deere Walldorf GmbH & Co. KG, Umax Trade GmbH — are taking part in long-term projects in Turkmenistan. In addition to these companies, the forum presented other German companies which intend to improve their positions in the Turkmen market.

Great opportunities are opened for German companies producing equipment for petroleum industry for such major projects in Turkmenistan as construction of Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India gas pipeline, facilities for processing of natural gas and production of polyethylene, polypropylene, synthetic gasoline and other goods.

A number of agreements were signed between the members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and German companies.

An exhibition of goods made in Turkmenistan was organized as part of the business forum.

Tajikistan: Customs officials burn 5,000 Baptist calendars

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — A senior official in Tajikistan's Customs Service has confirmed that the authorities have confiscated and burned 5,000 evangelical Christian calendars ordered by a Baptist church in the Central Asian country, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

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Malaysian business explores Uzbekistan

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — On February 13, the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Malaysia held negotiations with the President of SME International Trade Association of Malaysia (SMITA) Megane Soo to discuss implementation of investment projects in Uzbekistan’s Namangan region, the Jahon information agency reported.

SMITA’s main task is to support members of the Association in finding new partners abroad for establishing business contacts and trade relations and implementing joint projects.

Megane Soo praised reforms implemented in Uzbekistan for liberalizing the economy and improving the business climate and expressed great interest in further strengthening and expanding cooperation with the country, including by organizing joint ventures in leading sectors of the economy and exports to Malaysia.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, following the negotiations, an agreement was reached on organizing a visit of the Association members to Namangan region by the end of February. It is planned to discuss issues of implementation of specific investment projects for construction of a hotel and creation of a livestock complex.

On February 7-10, a delegation of the Kelantan State Economic Development Corporation (Malaysia) visited Uzbekistan.

According to the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Malaysia, the corporation is a financial institution for provision of loans on the principles of Islamic banking, as well as providing consulting services in this sphere.

The state of Kelantan is considered the cradle of Malaysian culture with a predominantly Muslim population and a center of agriculture and fish farming in Malaysia.

According to the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the visit, the Malaysian delegation was received at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan. They discussed opening a representative office of the corporation in Tashkent for conducting trainings, courses and practical workshops on microcredit for medium and small business, as well as familiarization with basics of Islamic finance.

Uzbekistan seeks to obtain beneficiary status of EU's GSP+ system

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — The states of the European Union are important trade and economic partners of Uzbekistan, and year after year the number of industries created with the input of European companies in various sectors of the Uzbek economy is rapidly increasing, the Delegation of the European Union to Uzbekistan said.

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US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan won’t create power vacuum — Russian envoy

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Afghanistan envoy, told reporters in Moscow on February 12 that a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will not create a power vacuum in Afghanistan and the Taliban can be a potential ally in the fight against Daesh in the country, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

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Kazakhstan: Activist for ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang on trial in Almaty

  • Written by TCA

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — The leader of a group in Almaty that has raised concerns over problems faced by ethnic Kazakhs in China's Xinjiang region is on trial. Serikzhan Bilash, who is charged with illegally leading an unregistered organization, pleaded not guilty as his trial started in Almaty on February 12, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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Indian companies to build power plants in Kazakhstan

  • Written by TCA

ASTANA (TCA) — Indian companies will take part in construction of solar and coal power plants in Kazakhstan. NTPC Limited, India’s largest power conglomerate, has signed a Memorandum with Kazakh Invest national investment support and promotion company, during a Kazakhstan delegation visit to India. The delegation, headed by Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev, participated in the largest international conference PETROTECH-2019 dedicated to the renewable energy and the development of exploration and mining technologies, Kazakh Invest reported.

During the Ministerial Session on ‘Collaborating for a sustainable and secure energy access for all’, Kanat Bozumbayev spoke about Kazakhstan’s energy potential, the modernization initiative and investment opportunities in the energy industry in Kazakhstan.

Bozumbayev also had a meeting with Dharmendra Pradhan, the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas of India. The parties discussed potential collaboration in the O&G sector as well as prospects of cooperation between Kazakh and Indian companies for O&G exploration and development.

During the meeting with N. Sivasailam, the Department of Commerce Special Secretary, the Kazakhstan delegation discussed opportunities for trade, economic and investment cooperation, the advantages of logistics integration as well as economic benefits of exploring transit capabilities of both countries. The emphasis was made on the proposal of Kazakhstan to create a Consortium that would connect the railway networks of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran to the Chabahar port and thus enable transportation of goods from Central Asia to India.

Along with this, E. Kosherbayev, the Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and B. Sarsenbayev, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India, met with P. Saran, the Deputy National Security Adviser of India. The parties agreed to conduct the 3rd Meeting of the Security Council of Kazakhstan and India in March 2019.

Kazakhstan and Hungary to hold business forum in Budapest

  • Written by TCA

ASTANA (TCA) — A Kazakh-Hungarian business forum will be held on March 5-6 in Budapest to discuss the implementation of specific investment projects in Kazakhstan, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Hungary Nurbakh Rustemov said at a briefing in the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week.

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Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development to reconstruct road in Kyrgyzstan

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development’s (EFSD) delegation visited Bishkek with a monitoring mission to discuss progress of the EFSD-funded investment projects to reconstruct a section of the Bishkek–Osh motor road and commission Unit 2 at Kambarata hydropower plant 2, as well as preparations for the project to reconstruct the Aral–Suusamyr road, the press service of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) said on February 12.

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Kyrgyzstan: Two opposition politicians released from prison

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Two Kyrgyz opposition politicians who were jailed on charges of attempted power seizure have been released, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

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Tajikistan issues arrest warrant in absentia for prominent journalist

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajik authorities have issued an arrest warrant in absentia for prominent journalist Khairullo Mirsaidov, whose 12-year prison sentence was changed to a fine and community service in August 2018 in a case widely seen as politically motivated, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

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Russia takes temperature on its Central Asia ties

  • Written by EurasiaNet

BISHKEK (TCA) — Russia is trying to maintain its economic and military influence on Central Asia states but lacks financial resources to invest in the region it considers to be its backyard. We are republishing the following article on the issue, originally published by Eurasianet:

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Kyrgyzstan: Weak growth despite emerging regional opportunities — WB report

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Real GDP growth in Kyrgyzstan is forecast to accelerate slowly to 3.9 percent by 2020, supported by all the major sectors – industry, agriculture, construction and services, according to the latest issue of the World Bank’s Country Economic Update for Kyrgyzstan.

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Uzbekistan: Resigned security chief under criminal investigation, officials say

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — The former head of Uzbekistan's powerful security service is under criminal investigation, according to people familiar with the matter, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

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Kazakhstan: Judge fired after opposition activist's acquittal

  • Written by TCA

ASTANA (TCA) — The chief judge of the Aqtau City Court in Kazakhstan's western Manghystau region, Malik Kenzhaliev, has been fired after his court acquitted an opposition activist in a high-profile case, RFE/RL reported.

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