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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 orders state companies to sell forex revenue

The collapsing value of the tenge was triggered after the National Bank of Kazakhstan said it would stick to a free float regime instead of supporting the currency with interventions as it promised when oil prices crashed in mid-March

Mar 23 — “State-owned companies in Kazakhstan were on March 23 ordered to start selling part of their foreign currency revenue on the domestic market to support the embattled national currency. The order came from the office of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, with the Kazakhstani tenge (KZT) having weakened within two weeks by around 17% to historic lows against the dollar since the collapse of the OPEC+ global oil producers’ pact.” READ MORE: https://www.intellinews.com/kazakhstan-orders-state-companies-to-sell-forex-revenue-179136/?source=kazakhstan

Kazakhstan: Diary of a city in quarantine

Since March 22, the whole city of Almaty has been in a state of lockdown

Mar 25 — “It was well after sundown on March 19 when phalanxes of police officers in Kazakhstan’s business capital, Almaty, encircled the upscale, 14-story Sunkar residential apartment block. This was the first of several buildings in the city to get the extreme two-week quarantine treatment after it was confirmed that one person inside had tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-diary-of-a-city-in-quarantine

Nazarbaev Comes Asking Beleaguered Kazakhs, Once Again, For Donations Amid Crisis

It seems Nazarbaev and some of those close to him might be the best-positioned people in Kazakhstan to set an example of the spirit of charity to their fellow citizens

Mar 26 — “A call went out to the people of Kazakhstan on March 20 urging them not to stand on the sidelines but to be active in helping the country's president and his government through a batch of pressing problems. Aydos Ukibay, press secretary for the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, announced that "Elbasy" (Leader of the Nation), who is also Nazarbaev, wanted "those who want and are able, to help the country" and donate to a special fund to help Kazakhstan in these difficult times.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/nazarbaev-comes-asking-beleaguered-kazakhs-once-again-for-donations-amid-crisis/30510729.html

Rather 'Undiplomatic': Chinese Envoy To Kazakhstan Courts Controversy With Anti-U.S. Posts

For many in Kazakhstan, China's treatment of its Muslim minorities is much more of an issue than anything to do with the United States

Mar 26 — “In thinly veiled criticism on social media, China's envoy in Kazakhstan recently seemed to ridicule the U.S. government's initial reaction to the coronavirus crisis and its "inability" to contain it. Ambassador Zhang Xiao hit out at an unnamed country on Facebook earlier this month for wasting "valuable time" in the early days of the crisis while "China was winning the battle" against the virus in an effort to save the world from the pandemic.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/chinese-envoy-to-kazakhstan-courts-controversy-with-anti-american-posts/30511314.html

KYRGYZSTAN

Oil, Coronavirus and Recession: What Awaits the National Currency of Kyrgyzstan?

The national currency of Kyrgyzstan has become cheaper in just two weeks of March for over 20 per cent against the American dollar. This is one of the worst indicators among Eurasian Economic Union countries

Mar 23 — “On March 6, the OPEC countries failed to reach a deal on the amounts of oil production. Despite the fact that the Kyrgyz som is not directly related to the oil market, it has sharply reacted to the decline in black gold quotes. The point is that the economy of Kyrgyzstan is deeply integrated into regional trade relations. Thus, the events in the main partner countries of EAEU (Russia, Kazakhstan) have a chain reaction on the Kyrgyz Republic.” READ MORE: https://cabar.asia/en/oil-coronavirus-and-recession-what-awaits-the-national-currency-of-kyrgyzstan/

Kyrgyzstan’s Coronavirus Response Should Let Activist Go Free

People in detention are particularly at risk from coronavirus because of poor access to health care and close proximity among inmates

Mar 23 — “Governments in Central Asia have in recent days stepped up measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. On March 22, Kyrgyzstan’s government declared a state of emergency and introduced restrictions on public life. Such measures are important and should aim in particular to protect the most vulnerable in society.” READ MORE: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/23/kyrgyzstans-coronavirus-response-should-let-activist-go-free

Addressing non-tariff barriers between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

The permanent tension between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan over border closure is deeply rooted and goes beyond the non-compliance of the EEU rules by each side

Mar 24 — “The world today is facing new economic shocks. The unwillingness of the world economy to respond to new challenges leads to the slowing growth of world GDP. The utmost coordination of economies would help to solve part of the problems and address the global risks of the impending crisis. According to the financier Nuriel Roubini, the situation is aggravated by tensions and trade disputes that enable the growth of interest rates[1]. Unprecedentedly large world debt of 253 trillion US dollars, or 322% of global GDP, symptomize an impending crisis, especially since GDP growth in 2019 was the lowest since 2008.” READ MORE: https://cabar.asia/en/addressing-non-tariff-barriers-between-kyrgyzstan-and-kazakhstan/

TAJIKISTAN

Germany allocates 1 million Euro to support Tajikistan’s efforts to prevent the spreading of coronavirus

Tajikistan has so far registered no coronavirus infections

Mar 20 — “The Federal Republic of Germany has allocated 1 million euros to the Republic of Tajikistan through the German Development Bank - KfW for the purchase of personal protective equipment, medical equipment and the financing of related training to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). During a meeting with the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mr. Zavqi Zavqizoda that took place on March 20, Ambassador of Germany to Tajikistan, Dr. Andreas Prothmann, informed about the decision of the German Government to allocate to Tajikistan funds in the amount of 1 million euros through the German Development Bank - KfW to cover the needs of the country in the fight against the new coronavirus COVID-19.” READ MORE: https://asiaplustj.info/en/news/tajikistan/society/20200320/germany-allocates-1-million-euro-to-support-tajikistans-efforts-to-prevent-the-spreading-of-coronavirus

Tajikistan: Feast in the time of coronavirus

The Tajik president is bullish that his country will dodge the pandemic and spent the weekend glad-handing the public

Mar 23 — “There are few countries left in the world that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has not yet reached. Even in pockets relatively untouched by the virus, apprehension is intense. Not Tajikistan. Authorities here had, as of March 23, recorded not a single case. And the president, 67-year-old Emomali Rahmon, is not just unperturbed by what the World Health Organization, or WHO, has called a pandemic. He is positively bullish that his country will dodge the problem and, accordingly, spent the weekend glad-handing the public and attending massive celebrations and marches organized for the Nowruz spring holiday.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-feast-in-the-time-of-coronavirus

Dushanbe elects persons to represent it in Tajikistan’s upper chamber of parliament

The Tajik President’s son has become a member of the country’s upper house of parliament

Mar 27 — “Dushanbe has elected persons to represent it in Tajikistan’s upper chamber (Majlisi Milli) of parliament (Majlisi Oli). A joint meeting of members of legislatures of Dushanbe and its four districts to elect five persons to represent the Tajik capital in the Majlisi Milli took place on March 27. Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali, Tajik Technical University Rector Ilhom Amonzoda, Tajik Medical University Mahmadsho Gulzoda, Dean of the Faculty of Law of Tajik National University Dilshod Rahmonzoda and Chairwoman of the Education Department in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni District Lola Odilbekova were elected to represent Dushanbe in the Majlisi Milli.” READ MORE: https://asiaplustj.info/en/news/tajikistan/power/20200327/dushanbe-elects-persons-to-represent-it-in-tajikistans-upper-chamber-of-parliament

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan: Unjust deserts

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

Mar 24 — “There has been grim news this week out of Turkey, where as many as 37 nationals of Turkmenistan are reported to have died after using surrogate alcohol to ward off possible coronavirus infection. This incident is a sad example of the tragedies that can occur when people have limited access to reliable advice on how best to protect their health. Back in Turkmenistan, the government has largely maintained its tomblike silence over the global COVID-19 pandemic.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-unjust-deserts

At Least 37 Turkmen Workers Die From Tainted Alcohol In Turkey

Turkey is home to many labor immigrants from Central Asia, including Turkmenistan

Mar 24 — “Reports from Turkey say at least 37 labor migrants from Turkmenistan have died from drinking tainted alcohol during the past week. At least 38 people have died after drinking the illegally sold alcohol in Istanbul, RFE/RL correspondents report.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/at-least-37-turkmen-workers-die-from-tainted-alcohol-in-turkey/30506901.html

'Chaos In Stores': Turkmen Food Prices Skyrocket Amid 'Antivirus' Measures

Food prices have been rising in Turkmenistan's bazaars and markets in recent days

Mar 25 — “Food prices have reached record highs in the Turkmen capital in recent days as the government has restricted entry into Ashgabat amid apparent government efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. "Beef was selling at about 40 manats (about $11 at the official rate) a kilo in the bazaar yesterday, and it was about 32 manats ($9) just three days ago," an Ashgabat resident told RFE/RL on March 24. He added that, while meat prices go up almost daily, the price tags don't change and still show about 24 manats ($7) a kilo for meat.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/turkmenistan-coronavirus-food-prices-skyrocket--special-measures/30508897.html

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Engage in Joint Military Exercises

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan take joint responsibility for their border with Afghanistan

Mar 23 — “When President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power, good relations with the neighboring countries was at the center of his foreign policy. He has stayed true to this course and numerous activities on a number of tracks have been taking place in the past four years. One track for cooperation is military collaboration between Uzbekistan and its neighbors; such cooperation was absent prior to Mirziyoyev’s presidency.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/uzbekistan-and-tajikistan-engage-in-joint-military-exercises/

Uzbekistan Temporarily Chooses Observer Status Instead of Full Membership in Eurasian Union

By initially opting for observer status rather than pursuing full membership of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, Tashkent is showing its sensitivity to Western partners

Mar 23 — “On March 6, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan approved the decision to apply for observer status with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) (Kun.uz, March 7). The move brings to a close months of speculation about whether Tashkent would end previous president Islam Karimov’s policy of eschewing all Moscow-led integration processes. Uzbekistan’s current head of state, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has been undoing Karimov’s legacy in a number of areas, despite initially pledging to carry on his policies unchanged; now, opening his country to joining the Kremlin’s major regional integrationist supranational institutions, including the EEU, appears to be a part of that process.” READ MORE: https://jamestown.org/program/uzbekistan-temporarily-chooses-observer-status-instead-of-full-membership-in-eurasian-union/

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Likely to Sign Border Treaty Soon to Avoid Worse Problems

For Central Asia countries, border delimitation remains one of the most pressing issues left over from the Soviet era

Mar 26 — “Nearly 30 years after the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), many former Soviet states are still struggling to deal with the delimitation and demarcation of their borders. In the cases involving Armenia and Azerbaijan or Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (see EDM, January 28), in particular, this issue has involved regular and often-large scale ethno-national violence. Yet, most of these unresolved border struggles have taken place without much attention from Moscow or the West.” READ MORE: https://jamestown.org/program/kazakhstan-and-uzbekistan-likely-to-sign-border-treaty-soon-to-avoid-worse-problems/

AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan is Drifting Toward Civil War. The Coronavirus Pandemic Makes One More Likely.

The tragedy of Afghanistan is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and its problems are bound to be compounded by the coronavirus pandemic

Mar 25 — “America has finally laid down the law in Afghanistan, where Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah remain mired in a dispute over last September’s presidential elections. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan as part of a bid to broker a deal between the Afghan leaders. Pompeo’s intervention failed. He then left the country announcing the reduction of U.S. aid to the country by $1 billion and threatening another $1 billion reduction the next year.” READ MORE: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/afghanistan-drifting-toward-civil-war-coronavirus-pandemic-makes-one-more

Is Peace Possible? Many Key Issues Missing From U.S.-Taliban Deal For Afghanistan

Some experts have warned Washington made too many concessions to the Taliban without getting much in return

Mar 26 — “The United States has publicly hailed its agreement with the Taliban as a "historic opportunity" to end the nearly 19-year war in Afghanistan. But several crucial issues are either vague or entirely absent from the accord, prompting fears that the deal will not achieve a lasting peace in the country, which has been consumed by conflict for more than 40 years. The deal signed on February 29 would allow U.S. President Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign pledge to stop "endless wars" and bring home thousands of U.S. troops during an election year.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/many-key-issues-missing-from-u-s--taliban-deal-for-afghanistan/30509592.html

The Afghanistan Exodus: Why America Must Leave Kabul Behind

Today’s world may be too dynamic for Afghanistan to return to its pre-9/11 state. If it is, then America should recognize that other countries will fill the void left after its troops are gone

Mar 26 — “If America withdraws from Afghanistan, will it return to the chaos of the 1990s? Those who want the United States to stay fear that it would, with warlords and Islamists vying for control, terrorist groups proliferating and hard-won gains immediately lost. Yet another possible outcome is that regional powers would fill the vacuum and Afghanistan would become their problem instead. The United States can live with this result.” READ MORE: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/afghanistan-exodus-why-america-must-leave-kabul-behind-137942

WORLD

Trump’s New Central Asia Strategy Aims to Be Realist. But It’s Unrealistic

Leaders across Central Asia are unlikely to line up behind the Trump administration’s call to embrace the logic of competition with Iran, Russia and China

Mar 25 — “The State Department released its updated strategy for Central Asia last month—a relatively short document that is mostly taken up with reiterating traditional U.S. priorities in the region. While it lacks the grand ambitions that fueled earlier U.S. approaches to Central Asia, particularly the aim to reshape its strategic geography through U.S.-backed infrastructure initiatives, the Trump administration’s new approach isn’t without its own ambitions.” READ MORE: https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/28628/trump-s-new-central-asia-strategy-aims-to-be-realist-but-it-s-unrealistic

Iran Looms Large in Central Asia Despite Sanctions and Saudi Financial Muscle

Iran’s attractiveness to Central Asian nations increases the Islamic Republic’s importance to the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s infrastructure, transportation, and energy-driven plan to connect the Eurasian landmass to Beijing

Mar 26 — “Saudi Arabia may have gotten more than it bargained for when authorities in Khujand, Tajikistan’s second-largest city, ordered that the city’s largest and most popular mosque be converted into a cinema. The order followed the closure of some 2,000 mosques in the country in the last three years, and the arrest last month of scores of Muslim clerics and teachers, many of whom were accused of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that is banned in both Tajikistan and the Saudi kingdom.” READ MORE: https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/03/26/iran-looms-large-in-central-asia-despite-sanctions-and-saudi-financial-muscle/

Afghanistan locks down Kabul due to coronavirus outbreak

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — The government of Afghanistan is moving to lock down the country’s capital, Kabul, a city with an estimated population of six million, due to the coronavirus outbreak in Afghanistan. The lockdown begins on March 28 and will continue for at least three weeks, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported citing government officials.

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Kazakhstan: Authorities detain 25 over deadly ethnic clashes in February

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Authorities in Kazakhstan say they have detained 25 people during a police operation connected to February's deadly ethnic clashes in the country’s southern region of Zhambyl, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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Switzerland donates protective equipment for Kyrgyzstan medical workers to fight COVID-19

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BISHKEK (TCA) — On March 27, the Government of Switzerland equipped mobile units of the Family Center of Medicine of Chui Region (northern Kyrgyzstan) and Regional Family Center of Medicine of Pervomayskii district of Bishkek with necessary personal protective equipment, the Swiss Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic said.

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UN FAO/GEF natural resources management project continues in Central Asia

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — In Central Asian countries, there is an ongoing regional project of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on integrated natural resources management. “Integrated natural resources management in drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural production landscapes in Central Asia and Turkey (CACILM-2)”, the five-year project of the FAO and GEF was launched in the end of May 2018 with a budget of over US $75 million. This is one of the largest natural resource initiatives co-financed by participating countries, FAO said on March 26.

This is the second phase of the Central Asian Countries Initiative on Land Management (CACILM-2) regional program, which background was established in 2003, when Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan agreed to join efforts in responding to the challenges of climate change, the threat of desertification and degradation of fertile soil.

The main objective of this FAO-GEF multi-country project is to widely disseminate and scale up the best technologies and approaches of integrated natural resource management in drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural landscapes of Central Asia and Turkey.

Over the past 50 years, the population of Central Asia has been growing rapidly, its population has tripled and amounted to 74 million in 2020, while more than a half of the population lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture in terms of livelihood.

In extremely vulnerable climatic conditions, with a steady decline in available water resources and the need to feed growing population, the region faces serious challenges in food security and sustainable use of land and water resources, among others.

Climate change undermines agricultural and rangeland productivity in all countries of the region. Pastures, for example, are at risk of desertification due to rising temperatures and reduced precipitation, which directly affects livestock productivity. Another challenge is that rangelands, which occupy between 77 and 95 percent of all agricultural land in the region, are not properly managed.

More than 88 percent of arable land in Kyrgyzstan and 97 percent of agricultural land in Tajikistan are subject to erosion. Productivity on 66 percent of arable land is degrading in Kazakhstan; in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan this figure reaches 80 percent.

In addition, from 40 to 80 percent of irrigated farmland in the region is subject to salinization or waterlogging, and the highest rates in these areas are observed in Turkmenistan (68 percent) and Uzbekistan (51 percent).

Over the last two years the implementation of project activities continue at 18 pilot areas of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which were selected on arid, salt-affected regions with prevalent land degradation. On those project demo sites, the project team of experts demonstrate the best technologies and approaches of integrated natural resource management, drought preparedness and conservation agriculture practices.

With support of the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, demo sites were selected in 5 regions of Kazakhstan and field works began on demonstration of salt- and drought-tolerant crops, conservation technologies, practices for soil reclamation, as well as on the production of fodder and forage crops, management and restoration of rangeland resources.

In Kyrgyzstan, FAO in partnership with the non-governmental organization Camp Ala-Too, is actively working on strengthening knowledge and capacities of rural communities in Naryn Oblast on sustainable pasture management.

In 4 districts of Tajikistan, initiative groups of women farmers have been formed. They have already begun cultivating salt-tolerant crops in their farms. The groups are designed to disseminate sustainable and climate-friendly land use technologies through Farmer Field Schools.

About forty varieties of drought and salt tolerant crops — plants and trees — were planted at demonstration sites in 4 regions of Uzbekistan using various field technologies. Already 100 farms in the target districts, the heads of which were trained under the project, have begun cultivating drought- and salt-tolerant crop varieties such as corn, African pearl millet, black cumin, sugar sorghum, flax and many others using hydrogel and conservation tillage methods including zero tillage.

In partnership with the Government of Uzbekistan, the project contributes to the implementation of the “Million Fruit Trees” program by arranging the planting of drought-tolerant trees on the dry bottom of the Aral Sea and other semi-desert regions.

In all 5 countries covered by the project, multiple activities are carried out to train government officials, farmers and a wide range of specialists in the field of agricultural production in advanced technologies for the sustainable use of water resources, forecasting droughts, conservation tillage and other approaches that contribute to environmental sustainability in drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural landscapes throughout the region.

In addition, within the framework of the project, a number of scientific and applied research has been completed, or is in the final stage, including in the field of drought risk management, early warning and drought risk management system caused by climate change processes.

For all countries of Central Asia, the project develops special guidelines based on biosaline technologies to sustainably manage land areas prone to soil salinity.

“In a region where agriculture plays a major role in ensuring food security, the issue of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources is vital,” said Makhmud Shaumarov, the Regional Program Coordinator. “Since the launch of the project, we have managed to build fruitful relationships with key stakeholders in all countries participating in the project, which contributes to the successful application of sustainable technological solutions in response to a number of challenges in the field of natural resources management and increasing agriculture productivity in all participating countries."

Survey assesses impact of US aid cut, COVID-19 on Afghanistan economy

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan’s economic growth cannot withstand the US $1 billion aid cut by the US and the financial pressures originating from the spread of coronavirus, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reports with reference to a survey by the Biruni Institute.

The survey warns that if the Afghan government adopts austerity and a cost reduction policy, the Afghan economic growth rate will slump by 10 percent.

“If the government decides to apply an austerity policy in the face of an outbreak of coronavirus, and reduce the budget by one billion dollars, the economic growth rate will slump by 11 percent,” said Omar Joya, a researcher of Biruni Institute.

According to economic researchers, the dependency of Afghanistan on foreign aid makes the country very vulnerable to the policies of donor nations.

“In case one billion dollars is reduced, the results will be devastating, because today, in view of the coronavirus, we need incentives and financial packages to fight the coronavirus, not reduction in aid or contraction,” said Nazeer Kabiri, the head of Biruni Institute.

Currently, over 50 percent of the national budget is being paid by the foreign donors, and of that 37 percent is paid by the US.

But the Afghan Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy hit back at these predictions and called them premature judgments on the economic growth rate of the country in the view of the COVID-19 outbreak and the aid reduction.

“It will have an impact on the trade and business activities, but the inter-ministerial committees are working to tackle these issues,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.

“The Afghan economy at this juncture is more vulnerable compared to the region and world economies,” said Mohammad Younus Salek, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy.

The US State Department on March 23 announced it will reduce aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to convince President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah to end a feud that has jeopardized a peace deal signed last month.

Afghanistan has so far registered 94 coronavirus infections.

Kazakhstan reports first coronavirus death, strengthens restrictions in Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Shymkent

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — As Kazakhstan reported its first death from the coronavirus on March 26, the government has strengthened the quarantine regime in the capital, Nur-Sultan, and Almaty.

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IMF approves nearly $121 million to help Kyrgyzstan fight coronavirus outbreak

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on March 26 approved a US $120.9 million disbursement to Kyrgyzstan to help meet the urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Kazakhstan: Security officials arrest man they say was plotting 'terrorist' attack

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The National Security Committee of Kazakhstan says it has arrested a man suspected of plotting a terrorist act in Nur-Sultan, the capital of the Central Asian nation, RFE/RL reported.

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New China-Europe freight train route passes through Kazakhstan

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — A new China-Europe sea-rail freight train route was launched in Xi'an, the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi province, on March 25, Xinhua news agency reported with reference to China Railway Xi'an Group Co., Ltd.

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Turkmenistan: Food prices skyrocket amid 'antivirus' measures

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Food prices have reached record highs in the Turkmen capital in recent days as the government has restricted entry into Ashgabat amid apparent government efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, RFE/RL reported.

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Afghanistan: Government and Taliban to discuss prisoner release

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghan government officials are set to meet with a Taliban delegation in the coming days to discuss an initial release of militant prisoners, Afghanistan's National Security Council says, RFE/RL reported.

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ADB to support Kazakhstan in its fight against COVID-19, ADB president says

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa and Kazakhstan’s Minister of National Economy Ruslan Dalenov on March 25 discussed how ADB can support Kazakhstan in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Kazakhstan bans export of key food products amid coronavirus outbreak

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The government of Kazakhstan has suspended the export of socially significant food products since March 22 to guarantee the domestic supply, Kazakh Minister of Trade and Integration Bakhyt Sultanov announced on March 24, Xinhua news agency reported.

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US, Uzbekistan mark 20 years of cooperation in fighting tuberculosis

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TASHKENT (TCA) — In commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, March 24, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emphasized the shared gains with the Government of Uzbekistan achieved over the past two decades in the fight against this deadly but curable disease. USAID in partnership with the National TB Program introduced the most modern anti-TB medications and new treatment models to Uzbekistan, trained health care workers to implement international TB control standards, and improved the capacity of labs by introducing rapid diagnosis tools such as GeneXpert machines, the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan said on March 24.

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Afghanistan: President reassures Afghans US aid cut will not affect daily life

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani says a cut in aid from the United States will not affect "key" areas of daily life in the war-torn country even as it battles to stem the coronavirus outbreak, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

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Kyrgyzstan: Curfew enacted in Bishkek as country fights coronavirus outbreak

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan is declaring a state of emergency in the capital, Bishkek, and several other cities and regions in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

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Uzbekistan closes border, Kazakhstan takes economic support measures amid coronavirus outbreak

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TASHKENT, NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Uzbekistan closed its borders on March 23 and announced it will effectively lock down its capital, Tashkent, from March 24 to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Central Asia’s most populous country, RFE/RL reported.

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US announces reduction in aid to Afghanistan after Pompeo’s fruitless visit to Kabul

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KABUL (TCA) — The U.S. State Department has announced a $1 billion reduction in aid to Afghanistan and a review of the scope of its cooperation with the country, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

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Turkmenistan: President orders businesses to observe ‘financial discipline’

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has ordered the government to ensure that private and public enterprises exercise rigid control over their finances and make efficient use of funds “allocated for the implementation of state-run programs,” independent news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported.

It appears that the order has been driven by financial constraints Turkmenistan is facing amid reduced natural gas imports by China, the main importer of the Turkmen gas, as well as a steep drop in gas prices, which also affects the state budget, largely dependent on the export of hydrocarbon resources.

The order was given at the session of the Turkmen Cabinet of Ministers on March 20 chaired by President Berdymukhammedov. At the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister overseeing economy and finance Gadyrgeldy Mushshikov made a progress report on improving the finance, banking and insurance industries, the state information agency TDH reported.

Following the deputy prime minister’s report, Berdymukhammedov said that thanks to a successful policy of “open doors”, large foreign companies are involved in implementing large-scale projects in Turkmenistan and called on “to expand cooperation with foreign business communities on the prospective Turkmen market”.

Tajikistan implements IMF’s Enhanced General Data Dissemination System

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan has implemented the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Enhanced General Data Dissemination System (e-GDDS) by publishing critical data through the National Summary Data Page (NSDP). The page aims to serve as a one-stop publication vehicle for essential macroeconomic data on the national accounts, government operations and debt, monetary and financial sector, and balance of payments, the IMF said on March 20. These data will be disseminated in both human and machine-readable formats. The e-GDDS was established by the IMF’s Executive Board in May 2015 to support improved data transparency, encourage statistical development, and help create synergies between data dissemination and surveillance.

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