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Uzbekistan hosts Central Asia Water Supply and Sanitation Conference

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TASHKENT (TCA) — On November 13, the Central Asia Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Conference convened participants from the five countries of the region in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to discuss best practices for building climate-resistant water supply and sanitation services, the World Bank reports.

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USAID hosts 9th annual Central Asia Trade Forum in Kazakhstan

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SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan (TCA) — The Central Asia Trade Forum, the region’s flagship international event for companies and exporters, opened on November 12 in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Over 500 leaders from government, business and civil society from Central and South Asia, Europe, and the United States gathered to explore investment and innovation in horticulture across the region, the U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan said.

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Kyrgyzstan’s consul-general in Istanbul sacked following businessman killing

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan's consul-general in Istanbul, Erkin Sopokov, has been sacked two days after a businessman from China's Xinjiang Province was shot dead in Turkey's largest city, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

The Kyrgyz presidential press service said on November 12 that President Sooronbai Jeenbekov had signed a decree on removing Sopokov from the position.

On November 10, Aierken Saimait (aka Ayerken Saymaiti), an ethnic Uyghur from Xinjiang, whose name was cited in an investigative report by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service about the illegal withdrawal of some $700 million from Kyrgyzstan, was shot dead in Istanbul.

Turkish media reported that Saimait's car parked nearby had "forged" license plates registered with Kyrgyzstan’s consulate.

However, the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said on November 12 that the car belongs to Sopokov and the license plate is legally registered with the consulate.

Earlier in May, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service obtained documents confirming that at least $250 million had been funneled away from Kyrgyzstan via bank accounts belonging to Saimait and a Kyrgyz company.

After RFE/RL's report, Kyrgyzstan’s Service for the Fight Against Economic Crimes confirmed that Saimait, his spouse Vufuli Bumailiamu, and the company Abdyraz had sent more than $646 million from Kyrgyzstan abroad via 11 bank accounts.

The investigation also revealed that the activities of Saimait and his wife had been allegedly linked to a Kyrgyz foundation with ties to the family of Kyrgyz lawmaker Iskender Matraimov.

Matraimov has denied the allegation.

The police chief in Turkey's southern city of Adana, Atilla Kilic, said on November 12 that two Kyrgyz nationals, Husein Akmataliev and Abdullah Enver, as well as a Syrian citizen, Ali Isbeh, had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the killing of Saimait. According to Kilic, the trio was detained when trying to cross the Turkish-Syrian border near Adana.

Nazarbayev offers Kazakhstan as neutral site for Putin-Zelenskiy talks

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan's former President Nursultan Nazarbayev says he is working to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, RFE/RL reported.

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Kazakhstan: Government reports steady economic growth in Jan-Oct 2019

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — At the Government meeting on November 12, Minister of National Economy Ruslan Dalenov reported on the results of the country’s socio-economic development in January-October 2019, the press service of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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Kazakhstan and Turkey expand cooperation

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — During his working visit to Turkey on November 10-11, Kazakhstan Prime Minister Askar Mamin held negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vice President Fuat Oktay, attended the XI meeting of the Kazakhstan-Turkey Intergovernmental Economic Commission and the opening of a bilateral business forum, and also met with the captains of Turkish business, the press service of the Kazakh Prime Minister reported.

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EU and UN FAO provide computer equipment to Tajikistan’s Agriculture Ministry

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has handed over 57 computers, 57 printers and 57 sticks for internet connection to the Ministry of Agriculture of Tajikistan as part of a European Union funded project to strengthen the Ministry’s institutional capacity. The Ministry of Agriculture will distribute this equipment to the agricultural departments in the districts to advance collecting data in the fields, which will allow better analysis and reporting system by agricultural experts, the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan said on November 11.

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Man wanted for huge illegal cash withdrawals from Kyrgyzstan shot dead in Istanbul

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BISHKEK (TCA) — A businessman from China's Xinjiang Province whose name was cited in an investigative report by RFE/RL about the illegal withdrawal of some $700 million from Kyrgyzstan has been shot dead in Istanbul, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

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Kazakhstan presents its ancient and medieval art in Greece

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The National Museum of Kazakhstan opens the exhibition "The Great Steppe: History and Culture" on November 11 at the Epigraphic Museum of Athens (Greece). The exhibition will run until December 11, as part of the international exhibition project "The Procession of the Golden Man in the world museums," the press service of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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ADB to help improve rural water supply and sanitation in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $27.4 million financing package to provide safe and reliable water supply and sanitation services to more than 64,000 people living in a mountainous rural area of the Kyrgyz Republic, ADB’s Country Office said on November 11.

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ADB helps to complete Uch-Kurgan hydropower plant upgrade in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic have signed a $100 million financing package to modernize aging equipment and improve power generation capacity at the Uch-Kurgan hydropower plant (HPP), the oldest of the six HPPs installed along the Naryn river cascade in Kyrgyzstan. Uch-Kurgan HPP’s generation capacity will be increased from 180 megawatts (MW) to 216 MW, ADB’s Country Office said.

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Weekly Digest of Central Asia

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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: Confidence low in government trust-building exercise

Over the past two decades, the Kazakh president’s office has instituted at least six ad hoc commissions to defuse some kind of political impasse. The latest is not off to an auspicious start

Nov 4 — “When it became evident that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 66, a lifelong apparatchik, was to become Kazakhstan’s new president, the development generated little enthusiasm. Some of those not reeling from the shock of Nursultan Nazarbayev leaving a job he had held for three decades took to the streets. For them, Tokayev was more of the same.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-confidence-low-in-government-trust-building-exercise

Russia’s ‘Coal Weapon’: Hampering Kazakhstani Exports to Ukraine

Kazakhstan’s economic interests suffer from the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Nov 5 — “The press service of the Ministry of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan reported, on October 25, that Russia’s current ban on the transit of some Kazakhstani goods contradicts the fundamental principles of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Russia’s restrictions are negatively affecting Kazakhstan’s economy, especially its coal industry and, in particular, coal exports to Ukraine. According to Kazakhstani authorities, the Central Asian republic’s coal miners are losing more than $11 million monthly.” READ MORE: https://jamestown.org/program/russias-coal-weapon-hampering-kazakhstani-exports-to-ukraine/

Traveling Kazakh exhibition leaves scandal in its wake

A chance for contemporary Kazakh artists to show their works on three continents has been overshadowed by mismanagement and dodgy contracting

Nov 6 — “Kazakhstan spends many millions burnishing its international reputation. This year the government spent one of those millions introducing the global art elite to the country’s shady business culture. Last fall and winter, a government-funded traveling exhibition called Focus Kazakhstan showcased contemporary Kazakh art on three continents. Roughly 400 pieces by 100 artists were met with rave reviews in Berlin, London, South Korea, and New Jersey.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/traveling-kazakh-exhibition-leaves-scandal-in-its-wake

No Distress: Kazakhstan’s ‘Opening Up’ Makes It A Standout Among Frontier Markets

In building up their capital market, Kazakhstan has made itself a standout in frontier markets

Nov 7 — “Famous hedge fund manager Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates in Connecticut likes to say that either you’re being paid for earnings or you’re being paid for yield. With earnings growth and yield shrinking in many of the advanced economies (negative in parts of Europe), investors are forced to look far from home. That’s not taking them to the usual places like Brazil, where interest rates aren’t what they used to be.” READ MORE: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2019/11/07/no-distress-kazakhstans-opening-up-makes-it-a-standout-among-frontier-markets/#7ba38a0e36bd

KYRGYZSTAN

British Ambassador Charles Garret: In Order to Protect and Develop Democracy, Everyone in the Country Needs to Play a Role

British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Charles Garrett’s interview to CABAR.asia analytical platform

Nov 6 — “‘Institutions and individuals all need to play their roles openly and in line with the law. This is very much a challenge for the UK as well as Kyrgyzstan and other countries that believe democracy is best foundation for a fair and prosperous society’” READ MORE: https://cabar.asia/en/british-ambassador-charles-garret-in-order-to-protect-and-develop-democracy-everyone-in-the-country-needs-to-play-a-role/

The mountain valley 'one landslide away' from radioactive catastrophe

In Kyrgyzstan, environmentalists say the radioactive waste is just one landslide away from contaminating the water supply for the Fergana valley

Nov 6 — “Decades-old uranium stockpiles are threatening the water supply of millions of people in the mountainous peaks of Kyrgyzstan - prompting an urgent call for help to prevent a radioactive catastrophe. It's said to be one of the most polluted places on the planet - the land near the town of Mailuu-Suu in Kyrgyzstan.” READ MORE: https://www.euronews.com/2019/11/06/the-mountain-valley-one-landslide-away-from-radioactive-catastrophe

Kyrgyzstan’s journalists dare where authorities do not

Investigative journalism is only just taking hold in Kyrgyzstan. Although Kyrgyz media enjoy relative levels of freedom compared to neighboring countries, meticulous and in-depth reporting is poorly funded and often ignored

Nov 7 — “Few places symbolize Kyrgyzstan’s long-running failure to address corruption as well as Bishkek’s Ataturk Park. Once a green oasis, it has been shrunken repeatedly at the hand of the state for private gain. As part of a year-long investigation into the distribution of residential plots in what was once a protected green belt of land, journalist Metin Dzhumagulov, 24, paid multiple visits to homeowners there, usually posing as a prospective buyer.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstans-journalists-dare-where-authorities-do-not

TAJIKISTAN

Tajikistan, Uzbekistan reportedly reach border settlement

Tajiks are angered by reports that the government is giving away a gold mine

Nov 5 — “The governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have reportedly reached an agreement to resolve outstanding disagreements about the delimitation of their shared 1,312-kilometer border. Asia-Plus newspaper on November 5 cited an unnamed official in Dushanbe as saying that a document finalizing the arrangement will be signed by the nations’ heads of government early next year.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-uzbekistan-reportedly-reach-border-settlement

Attack In Tajikistan Could Have Broad Implications For Central Asia

The reported shoot-out in Tajikistan near the Uzbek and Afghan borders will concern Russia and China as well

Nov 6 — “A deadly attack on a Tajik border post reported early on November 6 is disturbing for many reasons, including the fact Tajik officials are blaming the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group for the assault that authorities say left at least two security servicemen and 15 militants dead. The alleged attack has raised alarms across the southern parts of Central Asia and will no doubt be duly noted by the Kremlin, where officials have long warned of such a possibility. Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, is also sure to take notice.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/reported-attack-in-tajikistan-could-have-broad-implications-for-central-asia/30256653.html

Its Media Muzzled, Tajikistan Prepares To Extend Ruling Family's Grip On Power

Tajik President Rahmon has consolidated power by silencing and exiling opponents while subordinating all nascent media outlets to the official line

Nov 7 — “On a recent afternoon, Tajik bloggers, reporters, and journalism students gathered to hone their skills in digital media. Huddled over laptops in a stuffy classroom, they discussed ways to present data, engage viewers, and highlight the issues at stake for the poor, corrupt Central Asian state they call home. As the session drew to a close, they revealed the capstone projects they'd present to culminate the weeklong program. In a place where criticizing authority is fraught with danger, some ideas seemed to skirt the edge.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/media-muzzled-tajik-ruling-family-prepares-to-extend-grip-on-power/30258700.html

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan: Not cottoning on

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

Nov 5 — “RFE/RL’s Turkmen service, Radio Azatlyk, last month ran a first-person account from a young Ashgabat doctor wishing to share his story about the challenges of living as a gay man in Turkmenistan. Kasymberdy Garayev, 24, gave his account under pseudonym, but was later exposed. What he described was a life of torment, both mental and physical, meted out by his family and the authorities.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-not-cottoning-on

Who inspires Turkmenistan's elites?

Multilingualism is a common feature among Turkmenistan’s educated class

Nov 7 — “Ashgabat, 4.30 am. A crowd of foreign guests has gathered in the arrivals hall of the capital's international airport, sleepy but excited. They are met by a young man in his early 30s, who runs back and forth between from the group in the arrivals hall and the street, ensuring that everyone gets onto the right car headed for the right hotel.” READ MORE: https://globalvoices.org/2019/11/07/who-inspires-turkmenistans-elites/

Caspian Cooperation as a Way to Solve Economic Problems of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is now in vital need of extra resources, but according to experts it will be hard to get them

Nov 8 — “In the last 2-3 years, independent media write regularly about the inflation in Turkmenistan, incessant queues, shortage of basic goods, and strengthened punitive measures against those who are disgruntled. The authorities of the country never comment these statements and still claim Turkmenistan lives in the age of “power and happiness.” However, certain official measures still show that the country experiences hard times: since early 2019, Turkmenistan totally cancelled all public utilities privileges for the people that existed since 1993 and qualified the country as the “social paradise.” READ MORE: https://cabar.asia/en/caspian-cooperation-as-a-way-to-solve-economic-problems-of-turkmenistan/

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan Comes in From the Cold

Under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan is abandoning its traditional isolationism and becoming an increasingly important player in the dynamic relationship among Russia, China and, to a lesser degree, the U.S.

Nov 5 — “For years, isolationism guided Uzbekistan's interactions with the wider world. Now, however, reforms stemming from a political succession in Central Asia's most populous country are reverberating far beyond Tashkent. As part of its political evolution, Uzbekistan has strengthened cooperation within Central Asia while also becoming an increasingly attractive partner for Russia, China, and the United States as they engage in a strategic competition for influence and investment in the region. The opening presents significant opportunities for Uzbekistan to expand its economic and security outreach to its neighborhood, yet the changes also pose risks, as the competition among these larger powers could pull the country in directions it doesn't want to go.” READ MORE: https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/uzbekistan-comes-cold-bri-russia-central-asia-china

Startup Success for Uzbekistan?

Hopes are high in Uzbekistan for hi-tech entrepreneurship as an emerging market

Nov 6 — “Amid increasing government investment, experts in Uzbekistan believe the country could be on track to become a regional leader in the startup sphere. The state has taken a number of measures to support the country’s emerging hi-tech industry since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016, not least improving internet access. More than 33 million people live in the largest country in Central Asia, with 68 per cent of them able to access the internet through mobile subscriptions. In 2018, on Mirziyoyev’s personal initiative, the data network bandwidth grew ten times from 110 to 1200 gigabits per second.” READ MORE: https://iwpr.net/global-voices/startup-success-uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's Unsinkable Zoyir Mirzaev

Governor Mirzaev emerged politically clean himself after forcing six men to stand in a muddy ditch

Nov 6 — “The name Zoyir Mirzaev probably means little or nothing to most people. But the newly appointed governor of Uzbekistan's southern Kashkadarya Province is clearly someone President Shavkat Mirziyoev wants in his government. The 51-year-old Mirzaev has experience: He was governor of Samarkand Province from 2010 to 2016. But just a year ago, he was being called a major embarrassment to the Uzbek government.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/uzbekistan-s-unsinkable-zoyir-mirzaev-/30255942.html

AFGHANISTAN

The Afghan President (To Be) Who Lived A Secret Life In A Czechoslovak Forest

Documents for the first time reveal details of Babrak Karmal's secret life in Czechoslovakia and the dramatic events that preceded his rise to power in Afghanistan

Nov 3 — “In the winter of 1978-79, Afghanistan's communist regime deployed a hit squad to find and kill Babrak Karmal, the high-profile ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Fearing for his life, Czechoslovak authorities secretly hid Karmal and his family in a remote hunting lodge in the dense forests straddling the border with East Germany. The family-of-six lived covertly for a year under the protection of the StB, Czechoslovakia's notorious secret police. To ward off the assassins, they were relocated to a sanatorium in a secluded mountain village and then an abandoned villa that was once used by the Soviet Army.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/that-time-an-afghan-president-(to-be)-was-secretly-hiding-in-a-czechoslovak-forest/30250494.html

The Islamic State Will Outlive Baghdadi. Afghanistan Shows How

The Islamic State-Khorasan in Afghanistan offers a powerful case study of the militant group’s ability to create autonomous affiliates that flourish and endure

Nov 5 — “A couple of years ago, a conspiracy theory emerged alleging that the United States was backing the Islamic State in Afghanistan. It had a curious mix of propagators: former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Russian government, and large numbers of Pakistani Twitter handles, among others.” READ MORE: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/05/isis-terrorism-killing-islamic-state-outlive-baghdadi-afghanistan/

How the Taliban Won America's Nineteen-Year War

It is likely that more and more Afghans will start either associating themselves with—or relating to—the Taliban insurgency

Nov 6 — “As a supporter of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, I hoped that we Afghans—in addition to ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban menace—would utilize this opportunity to revive our economy, build an infrastructure, raise our standards of living, and bring an end to warlordism and the culture of impunity. Despite some important—albeit fragile—achievements, Afghanistan as a whole hasn’t benefitted the way it should have from U.S. presence, owing to the collective incompetence and irresponsibility of the international community and the Afghans alike.” READ MORE: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/how-taliban-won-americas-nineteen-year-war-94356

WORLD

New Silk Road money is paving the Old Silk Roads

A hurricane of yuan blowing through Central Asia funds everything from high-rise hotels to thousands of km of highways

Nov 6 — “There never used to be much to do in Khorgos, a remote and dusty outpost on the China-Kazakh border. As recently as 2011, it was a settlement of a mere 500 souls – a sleepy village lost in endless steppe. No longer. Today, it’s not just on the map, it boasts newly paved roads, 5-star hotels and soaring shopping malls. And in the the not-too-distant future, it could be one of Asia’s great trade and trans-shipment nodes.” READ MORE: https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/11/article/new-silk-road-money-is-paving-the-old-silk-roads/

Central Asia: Towards Development in an Era of Turbulence

The situation in Central Asia is often viewed through the prism of various kinds of challenges resulting from both the general state of affairs in the world, conflicts at the regional level, and the rapidly changing situation in individual countries

Nov 6 — “The uncertainty associated with the weakening of international institutions and the arms control system, the increased level of conflicts in the Middle East, the continuing tension in Afghanistan, as well as the radicalisation and spread of violent ideologies by terrorist Islamist organisations cannot but have a direct impact on Central Asia.” READ MORE: http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/central-asia-towards-development/

Tajikistan president meets with business community in France

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — As part of his official visit to France, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon met with the French business community representatives to discuss Tajik–French trade and economic cooperation, the president’s press service reported on November 8.

The chair of the Tajik-French Business Council opened the event.

While noting the necessity of expanding the intergovernmental cooperation in promising sectors such as hydropower, transit infrastructure, light, food and chemical industries, mechanical engineering, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy as well as processing of healthy agricultural products and tourism, President Rahmon referred to the meeting as an important factor for the development of the relationship between the two friendly countries.

Currently 20 French companies are successfully operating in Tajikistan. The opening of the French Development Agency in Tajikistan would be another facilitating factor in propelling trade and economic relations between the two countries’ businesses.

During the meeting with leading businessmen and investors, Tajikistan's rich natural resources, such as water, precious stones, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, minerals, agricultural industry, and the cultivation of high-quality fruits, vegetables and cotton were presented as profitable areas of cooperation. The French entrepreneurs and investors were invited to visit Tajikistan to familiarize themselves with its ample opportunities.

Following the meeting the following new documents on cooperation were signed:

- MoU on cooperation between Tajikistan's State Unitary Enterprise (SUE) Tojinvest and MEDEF International, France.

- Agreement on cooperation between Tajik Aluminium Company (TALCO) and Fives Group in the amount of € 200 million, with €52 million for reconstruction of the anode production line at the first stage. (The anode production line was built 45 years ago by Fives Group.)

- A tripartite agreement on cooperation between TALCO, Fives Group and the German company RIEDHAMMER for the import of modern technology for the reconstruction of TALCO’s anode production line.

- An agreement on cooperation between the Airbus and Somon Air on the import of helicopters.

- An agreement on cooperation between the Laboratoire INNOTECH International and SIFAT PHARMA.

- An agreement on cooperation between the Amid and the Shiver Group on the creation of a shopping center in the Bobojon Ghafurov district of Sughd, Tajikistan.

Fourth Aarhus Centre in Kyrgyzstan opens in Naryn

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The fourth Aarhus Centre in Kyrgyzstan officially opened on November 5 in Naryn. The new Centre is part of the co-operation between the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek and the University of Central Asia.

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Uzbekistan, US cooperate in public health education

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TASHKENT (TCA) — U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Daniel Rosenblum on November 7 participated in a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize joint public health education and scientific research between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States of America, and the Tashkent Medical Academy, representing the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent said.

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RFE/RL president discusses media freedom, accreditation with Tajikistan leader

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President Jamie Fly has called on Tajikistan's leader to ensure that the right of Tajik audiences to receive objective news and reporting are respected and that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists in the Central Asian country can work freely and without intimidation, RFE/RL reported.

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Turkmenistan and Italy developing economic cooperation

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — A business forum which gathered together representatives of business circles, government organizations and private structures of Turkmenistan and Italy took place in Milan on November 6 as part of the official visit of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to Italy, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

The Trade Agency of the Ministry of Commerce of Italy and Trade and Industrial Chamber and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan were the hosts of the event under the aegis of foreign departments of the two countries.

The forum was opened by General Director of the Trade Agency of the Ministry of Commerce of the Republic of Italy Roberto Luongo, who said that subjects of the forum are not limited by export-import relations but also spread to the study of wide opportunities of cooperation. At the same time, Mr. Luongo pointed out significant growth of trade between Turkmenistan and Italy by the outcomes of the first half of 2019.

Mr. Luongo said that the current meeting has to be continued during a return visit to Ashgabat next year.

Vice-President of Lombardy Region of Italy Fabricio Sala also made a greeting speech at the forum, saying that the forum gives good opportunities for study of future cooperation. Being one of the rapidly developing economies of Central Asia with huge natural resources, Turkmenistan represents huge economic potential for establishment of trade and investment relations, he said.

As of today, 22 investment projects to a total amount of around 13 million US dollars and 16 companies with Italian capital operate in Turkmenistan.

Signing of bilateral documents took place as a result of the Turkmen–Italian business forum. In particular, 12 memorandums and agreements were signed in the diplomatic field, energy industry and transport spheres, textile industry, as well as in the banking sector, healthcare and education.

In addition, 11 contracts were signed by Turkmen businessmen with different Italian companies, including for supply of equipment and technological lines for import substitutive production facilities.

Pakistan views Afghanistan’s Taliban as 'relatively friendly' — US report

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KABUL (TCA) — Pakistan continues to view the Afghan Taliban as "a relatively friendly and reliably anti-India element in Afghanistan", according to a US Congressional Research Service report titled “Afghanistan: Background and US Policy in Brief”, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

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Kazakhstan and France increase trade, investments

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — In January-September of this year, trade between Kazakhstan and France increased by more than 6%, to US $3.4 billion, and the inflow of direct French investment in the economy of Kazakhstan in the first half of 2019 increased by more than 24%, to $537 million. This was said at the meeting of Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Askar Mamin with representatives of the France-Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by its President Gerard Fries, the prime minister’s press service reported on November 7.

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New rail container service launched from China via Kazakhstan to Prague through Bosphorus

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — A delegation of Kazakhstan’s national railways company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), headed by the Chairman of the company’s Management Board Sauat Mynbayev, took part in the ceremony of receiving the first Xi'an-Ankara-Prague train on November 6 in Ankara (Turkey), KTZ’s press service reported.

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Russia–Kazakhstan Business Council speaks for more economic cooperation

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — A meeting of the Russia–Kazakhstan Business Council was a key highlight of the first day of the 16th Russia–Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum which is taking place in Omsk, Russia on 6–7 November.

The forum was organised by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Roscongress Foundation. Discussions at the meeting centred around the general theme of “Modern Aspects of Economic Cooperation” highlighting the drivers of improved interactions between the two countries. The meeting was attended by representatives of Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry, major businesses, and government authorities, the Roscongress Foundation reported.

The two largest countries in the post-Soviet space share more than just similar economic models inherited from the Soviet era but also common neighbours, common political interests, and cross-border ties of regions spanning from the Volga to the Altai region. This offers extensive opportunities for joint industrial and trade development, innovation, and exports.

Participants in the meeting discussed promotion of cross-border cooperation, exports, and cooperative ties, as well as energy cooperation prospects.

“More than 10,000 businesses with Russian capital successfully operate in Kazakhstan, to be found virtually in every sector of the economy. As we know, since 1 January 2015, we have been operating within the common space of the Eurasian Economic Union, aiming to ensure free movement of goods, capital, and labour. To enable it, a strong institutional framework has been established and effective formats developed for interactions among Member States. Our business people have been empowered through the provision of effective mechanisms that were put in place to enable entry into new markets for their products without having to deal with any additional administrative requirements. Unfortunately, there are also certain trade constraints, totalling about 70 today and listed in the relevant white paper, but the Eurasian Economic Commission is working to eliminate them,” said Temirlan Zhantasov, Director of the Economic Integration Department at Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Trade and Integration.

“The volume of trade between Russia and Kazakhstan has been growing at around 5% a year, reaching as much as USD 18 billion last year. This is a good figure but it is still very small considering the real opportunities that can open up for our countries in this area. We can cooperate not only in energy and logistics but also, for example, in retail trade – here too, opportunities are enormous. We need to intensify information sharing, organise joint discussions, participate in exhibitions, and hold presentations, that is to step up joint activities in any way possible,” said Vladimir Padalko, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.

Belarus rejects Tajikistan’s extradition request for opposition activist

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Belarusian authorities have decided not to extradite opposition activist and journalist Farhod Odinaev to his native Tajikistan, where he is wanted for alleged membership in a banned organization and supporting extremism, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

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Kazakhstan to improve quality of life of 7 million rural residents

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The Government session on November 6 chaired by Kazakhstan Prime Minister Askar Mamin reviewed the implementation of the Aul – El Besіgi rural development project, the prime minister’s press service reported.

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Tajikistan: Unknown persons attack border post, 17 killed

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — An overnight shoot-out at a post on the Tajik-Uzbek border has ended with one Tajik border guard and one police officer killed, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported citing Tajik authorities.

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Germany helps to restore forests in Tajikistan

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — In Tajikistan, thousands of hectares of forest have been restored with Germany’s KfW Development Bank's support, much of it together with local residents. The new trees prevent erosion, preserve biodiversity, reduce people's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change – and generate additional income for the people affected, KfW reported on its website.

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