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Qatar Mining Company looks to invest in Kazakhstan deposits

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Qatar Mining Company plans to implement an investment project for the extraction of gold and copper in Kazakhstan, Kazakh Invest national investment promotion company said on April 3.

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Afghanistan and Belarus sign economic cooperation agreement

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — Senior officials from Afghanistan and Belarus on April 4 signed a bilateral agreement on trade and economic cooperation which is aimed at strengthening relations and joint investment between the two countries, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

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Kyrgyzstan: Bill preserves immunity from prosecution for ex-presidents

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — A bill that initially had been drafted as a way to prosecute former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has, instead, preserved the immunity from prosecution of former presidents, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan's parliament passed the bill in its final reading on April 4 by a vote of 111 to 3.

One of the authors of the legislation, Iskhak Masaliev of Onuguu-Progress party, said he opposes the final language of the bill.

Masaliev said original intention of the bill was to remove immunity for former presidents, but the language upon its final reading had been altered in a way that, "on the contrary, increased the immunity."

The bill in its first reading was approved in December amid calls by some lawmakers and other politicians for an investigation into decisions made by Atambayev while he was in office.

It was later amended with considerable proposals by other lawmakers.

The final version of the bill deprives former heads of state, by consent of the Parliament, of immunity in order to bring them to criminal responsibility for acts they committed while in office. If a former head of state breaks the law after resigning as president, he or she will be held responsible like any other citizen, 24.kg news agency reported.

In addition, the former presidents will be deprived of immunity and other privileges if they remain in politics and claim for public office.

Russia’s LUKOIL to explore and develop Zhenis block in Kazakhstan

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Russian oil company LUKOIL on April 3 said it has concluded a contract with Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy and national oil and gas company KazMunayGas for the exploration and development of hydrocarbons on the Zhenis block in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea. Zhenis Operating LLP (a fifty-fifty joint venture between LUKOIL and KazMunayGas) will be operator of the project.

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Kyrgyzstan: President's brother quits Atambayev's party amid split

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Asylbek Jeenbekov, a Kyrgyz lawmaker and brother of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, has quit the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) chaired by former President Almazbek Atambayev, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

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ADB convenes Kyrgyzstan banks to enhance trade finance opportunities

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) gathered more than 50 representatives from 21 local commercial banks in Kyrgyzstan on April 3 to discuss recent developments in international trade finance. The ADB Trade Finance Program’s (TFP) experts updated the gathering on how trade finance is evolving in the region and globally and shared recent case studies to support efforts by local banks to improve their trade finance products.

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Uzbekistan growth to improve further to 5.2% in 2019 — ADB

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — High infrastructure spending, an improved investment climate, increased exports, and expected agriculture pickup are helping Uzbekistan sustain its growth, but the economy remains challenged by persistent credit expansion, accelerated inflation, and a widening current account deficit, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), released on April 3.

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Infrastructure development key to Afghanistan's growth — ADB

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — Focusing on infrastructure development will help bring about long-term growth in Afghanistan and address persistent issues affecting the country’s economic prospects, apart from security, including poor connectivity, poor access to limited energy supply, and low agriculture productivity, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, released on April 3.

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Kazakhstan’s economic growth to slightly moderate in 2019-2020 — ADB

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s economic growth is forecast to slowdown in 2019 and 2020, reflecting lower oil prices and reduced growth in the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. Aside from oil revenues, public investment is expected to become a key source of economic growth in the coming years, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, released on April 3.

The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019, ADB’s flagship economic publication, projects the growth of Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product to moderate to 3.5% in 2019 and 3.3% in 2020 from the 4.1% achieved in 2018. Average inflation is estimated to remain at 6%, at the upper end of the central bank’s target range for the year, and expected to moderate to 5.5% in 2020, as authorities maintain measures to absorb excess liquidity, countering inflationary pressures imposed by higher import prices as the tenge depreciates. Food price inflation is projected to slow down to 5.2% in 2019 and 5.0% in 2020 due to incentives provided for domestic food production, the institutionalization of stabilization funds for critical food items, and the imposition of selective price controls.

“A healthy banking system is key for achieving sustainable economic growth and promoting private sector development,” said ADB Country Director for Kazakhstan, Mr. Giovanni Capannelli. “It is also vital that authorities improve bankruptcy procedures, strengthen independent portfolio reviews of the banks, and improve their supervisory functions to increase transparency, accountability, and the integrity of the banking system.”

Industry will expand by 4.3% in 2019 and 4.4% in 2020, according to ADO, as state led-investment in the manufacturing and utilities’ sectors will partly counterbalance the limited gains in oil production, which are expected to decline in the first half of 2019 as Kazakhstan needs to meet its commitments with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the three major oilfields (Tengiz, Karachaganak, Kashagan) undergo planned maintenance. Agriculture is forecast to grow by 3.0% in 2019 and 2.5% in 2020 as a result of the updated state support program—although more could be done through focused intervention, Capannelli said.

Kazakhstan was the first Central Asian country to join ADB in 1994. During its 25-year membership, Kazakhstan has received over $5 billion in sovereign and private sector loans and about $50 million in technical assistance grants in support of transport, agriculture, water, education, health, as well as finance and public sector management. ADB’s support is helping the country develop and upgrade its regional connectivity, support private sector enterprises, foster gender and social equality, and deliver knowledge products and services. Regional cooperation and integration initiatives under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation program remain an integral aspect of ADB operations in Kazakhstan.

Tajikistan needs to diversify production, exports to improve economic resilience — ADB

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan’s reliance on a narrow export base and remittances, coupled with a widening trade deficit, has made the economy vulnerable to external economic shocks. Diversifying production and exports could improve incomes and economic resilience, and sustain economic growth in the country, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, released on April 3.

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WCO, OSCE train Central Asia customs in preventing illicit trafficking of cultural heritage

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — A four-day training programme on the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage (PITCH), organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with the support of the Border Management Unit of the OSCE Project Office in Dushanbe, completed in Tajikistan last week.

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Eight entrepreneurs win funding to start businesses in Kyrgyzstan

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The University of Central Asia’s (UCA) School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) organised an event on March 28 where 30 alumni of UCA’s entrepreneurship programme pitched business project ideas and competed for financial awards. The eight best pitches received grants from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for further business development. Winning projects include bakery and pastry shops, souvenir production, women’s clothing, and furniture businesses.

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American music group completes tour in Turkmenistan

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — American ensemble Mariachi Champaña Nevin completed its tour in Turkmenistan with a standing room only concert in Ashgabat on March 29. The ensemble visited Turkmenistan March 24-31 and gave a series of workshops and concerts sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat, the Embassy said on April 2.

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Kyrgyzstan uses solar power, youth education to improve forests

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Installing solar panels on foresters’ houses and educating children and youth on sustainability and environmental protection are two recent ways in which Kyrgyzstan, together with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has set about upscaling its sustainable forest management.

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Turkmenistan: Ashgabat residents install satellite dishes on the ground

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Authorities in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat prevent the residents from installing satellite aerials on the facades of residential buildings and occasionally order public utilities staff to dismantle the dishes from the walls. As a result, people are now installing the aerials on the ground in front of their houses, independent foreign-based news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports.

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Uzbekistan to build 25 solar power plants by 2030

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan plans to build 25 solar power plants with a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) by 2030, with the first one to be completed in two years, Xinhua news agency reported citing an Uzbek energy official.

Uzbekistan will start construction of the country's first 100 MW solar power plant in the Navoi region this year, Sherzod Khadjaev, deputy energy minister, told Uzbek state TV on April 1.

He said the country plans to complete the construction within two years, and that another 24 such power plants are planned to be built by 2030.

The government of Uzbekistan and SkyPower Global announced in 2018 the signing of a landmark solar power purchase agreement under which SkyPower Global will invest 1.3 billion U.S. dollars to build 1,000 MW of solar energy generation capacity throughout the country.

Khadjaev said that the country will produce 67.5 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity this year and expects the figure will reach 120 billion kWh in 2030.

The total potential of solar energy in Uzbekistan exceeds the equivalent of 51 billion tons of oil, according to expert estimates.

Uzbekistan also reached a deal with Russia in 2018 to build the country's first nuclear power plant.

In power generation, Uzbekistan remains heavily dependent on coal- and natural gas-burning power plants, but the country aims to increase the share of renewable energy generation in the coming years.

Uzbekistan, EU discuss cooperation, Afghanistan

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — On April 1, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov received a European Union delegation including the Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian and Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia, the Jahon information agency reported. They discussed the state and prospects of multifaceted interaction between Uzbekistan and the European Union, including cooperation in the implementation of projects aimed at socio-economic revival of Afghanistan and a comprehensive solution to the problems of the Aral Sea region.

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Uzbekistan's foreign debt on the rise

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan's total external debt increased by 9.5 percent in 2018 from the previous year, reaching 17.3 billion U.S. dollars as of January 1, 2019, Xinhua news agency reported on March 31 with reference to the country's central bank.

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Kazakhstan, Spain discuss deepening of strategic partnership

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko and Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Fernando Valenzuela agreed to deepen the strategic partnership between the two countries during the Kazakh-Spanish political consultations held in Madrid on March 29, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said.

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Uzbekistan ready to host talks between Afghanistan government and Taliban

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on March 31 met the visiting Uzbek delegation, led by Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, and discussed the peace process, regional connectivity, infrastructure projects and economic ties between the two countries, TOLOnews reported with reference to the Presidential Palace’s statement.

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Rights watchdog urges Kyrgyzstan to drop charges against anti-Putin protesters

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Kyrgyzstan to drop the case against a couple who is facing criminal charges for staging a peaceful protest ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Bishkek last week, RFE/RL reported.

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China’s plan for railway to Uzbekistan is transforming Central Asian geopolitics

  • Written by Paul Goble

TASHKENT (TCA) — China is competing with Russia for greater influence on Central Asia countries, using infrastructure and transport investment and projects to achieve that goal. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Paul Goble:

Chinese plans to construct a railway from Xinjiang through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan and onward to Turkmenistan will, if realized, transform the geopolitical situation in the region. This rail corridor promises to open up new possibilities for regional countries to bypass Russia in pursuit of foreign markets. And if completed, this railway will accelerate China’s gradual displacement of Russia as the dominant power in post-Soviet Central Asia, particularly given that Beijing has already demonstrated its willingness to use its economic might to extract political concessions from governments there. Finally, this railway will reduce Chinese dependence on routes passing through Russia, thus increasing Beijing’s freedom of action.

At the same time, however, Beijing’s plans have the potential to promote instability in Kyrgyzstan, where the proposed route will pass through the predominantly ethnic-Uzbek south of the country. Southern Kyrgyzstan still does not have any rail links with the north or the capital, Bishkek. Consequently, some Kyrgyzstanis worry that the planned Chinese project could eventually threaten the territorial integrity of their country. To that end, Bishkek is seeking to invite Russian involvement into the project.

But Moscow is reluctant to do so both because of the project’s enormous direct costs and because such a Chinese line would significantly reduce Russian influence in the countries along its route, effectively ending Russia’s ability to dominate the region. At present, most existing transit corridors to and from Central Asia must pass through Russia given that other routes, through unstable Afghanistan or politically isolated Iran, are anything but attractive.

Consequently, Moscow is seeking to block or at least slow the Chinese project by playing up the fears in Kyrgyzstan and promoting the development of a north-south route that would keep the Kyrgyz Republic firmly rooted in the Russian camp. Yet, at present, Moscow lacks the funds required to build it—in striking contrast to Beijing, which is reportedly prepared to spend $1 trillion on transport corridors like this new east-west railway, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (Poistine.org, Accessed: March 20.

Ongoing discussions of the possibility that China might build a rail line connecting it with Uzbekistan and the West date back to the 1990s; and in 2006, expert commissions in Beijing and Bishkek even agreed on a specific route. But beyond talk, there has been little movement until now. At the beginning of March, TASS reported that Kyrgyzstan was encouraging Russia to become involved lest the project result in growing Chinese dominance (TASS, March 1). Kyrgyzstani, but not Russian, news outlets have been reporting that Moscow is interested (Ehokg.org, March 1).

That Russia has still not officially confirmed its willingness to take part in this effort reflects both the enormous cost of the proposed rail line—now estimated at $7 billion—as well as Russian convictions that the route, as envisaged, threatens “the national interests of Kyrgyzstan” in three ways, Moscow commentator Aleksandr Shustov writes (Ritmeurasia.org, March 8).

First, the construction of such a line, even if China were to bear the overwhelming costs, would put Kyrgyzstan in debt to China and result in an influx of more ethnic Chinese, something many Kyrgyz do not want (Ritmeurasia.org, November 14, 2018). Second, by linking the southern portion of the country to China and Uzbekistan rather than to Bishkek, the Chinese plan could spark new ethnic-Uzbek protests in the south and threaten the central government’s control. And third, it would reduce Kyrgyzstan’s ties with Russia, links the Kyrgyz Republic needs to maintain its existence as a landlocked state. Many Kyrgyzstanis are worried about the same thing, Shustov says, citing the words of several indigenous experts on this point (Vb.kg, February 4, 2013).

However, lurking behind even these concerns in Moscow and, to a lesser extent, in Bishkek is something else that could transform more than just Central Asia, the Moscow commentator suggests. Beijing insists that the new line have tracks the width of the international standard (1,435 millimeters), which China and most of the world uses, rather than the Russian gauge (1,520 millimeters), found throughout Central Asia and the rest of the post-Soviet space. China wants the change to make the route more profitable by eliminating the need for transitions at the Chinese-Kyrgyzstani border and then again at the Turkmenistani-Iranian one.

If China succeeds, there will be even more pressure on these countries to shift away from the Russian standard track width, thus driving them further away from Russia unless it too decides in the future to make such a shift—a highly unlikely prospect.

These problems are certainly helping to slow down any movement on this project, but Beijing seems committed, setting the stage for more actions by Moscow, including potentially stirring up trouble in Bishkek or in Kyrgyzstan’s south as it works to delay or even block the Chinese plan (Rossyiskaya Gazeta, May 16, 2015). That said, China has the money and the political will to continue to push for what would be not only an economic advance but a geopolitical triumph. And Moscow, as worried as it is by both, may find itself on the losing side.

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

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

On His Watch: The Dark Events Of Nazarbaev's Long Reign

Nazarbaev's presidency was marked by numerous suspicious deaths — many of them unsolved — of journalists, activists, protesters, businessmen, and politicians

March 26 — “The major economic strides made by energy-rich Kazakhstan during President Nursultan Nazarbaev's nearly 30-year reign often overshadow reports chronicling an undemocratic, repressive tenure punctuated by jailings and the suspicious deaths of opposition leaders, activists, and journalists.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/on-his-watch-the-dark-events-of-nazarbaev-s-long-reign/29843509.html

KAZAKHSTAN AFTER NAZARBAYEV: THE FIRST PRIORITY IS CONTINUITY

The coming weeks and months will test the robustness of Nazarbayev’s opaque, but no doubt meticulous, succession plan

March 26 — “Last week, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, resigned after 30 years in power. At 78 years old, Nazarbayev’s resignation had become all but inevitable, but the events of Mar. 19 still contained an element of surprise. Even so, Nazarbayev’s strongman tendencies are not going anywhere: By manipulating the constitution over the years, he has created a powerful post-presidential role for himself.” READ MORE: https://warontherocks.com/2019/03/kazakhstan-after-nazarbayev-the-first-priority-is-continuity/

What’s Behind Nazarbayev’s Surprise Resignation ‘Ruse’ in Kazakhstan?

Nazarbayev likely found that ruling Kazakhstan has become more difficult than it was just a few years ago

March 28 — “Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, resigned from office March 20, stunning the nation and the region. For many Kazakhstanis, Nazarbayev is the only leader they remember. At age 78, he had ruled for three decades and was the last remaining Soviet-era leader still at the helm of a former Soviet country.” READ MORE: https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/27711/what-s-behind-nazarbayev-s-surprise-resignation-ruse-in-kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Looks Beyond Central Asia for New Trade Opportunities

As Kazakhstan aims to become one of the top 30 developed economies by 2050, it has to continue to appear as an attractive trade partner and a destination for extra-regional investors

March 28 — “Trade between Kazakhstan and India in 2018 reached USD$1.2 billion, according to the Kazakhstani authorities. While this amount is not particularly large when compared to Kazakhstan’s trade with China or Russia, it is nevertheless an important milestone as it demonstrates Astana’s (now known as Nur-Sultan) success when it comes to expanding its pool of trade partners and investors well past its Central Asian neighborhood.” READ MORE: https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/kazakhstan-looks-beyond-central-asia-for-new-trade-opportunities/

KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan: Filling the Kumtor hole

Kyrgyzstan needs to launch production at new gold mines, in order to reduce its dependence on Kumtor mine

March 27 — “The start of production is beckoning at Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest goldmine, the owner of the concession has announced. News that Jerooy could start turning out gold by the year’s end could not have come at a more auspicious time. Last week, the International Monetary Fund sounded the alarmabout the country’s most important goldmine, Kumtor, warning that output there is set to collapse within the coming few years.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-filling-the-kumtor-hole

8 wild and beautiful places in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s rugged landscapes and unique heritage make it a can’t-miss destination

March 27 — “The cities of Kyrgyzstan are filled with Soviet-style buildings, sprawling markets, and ornate mosques. However, outside of the bustling, metropolitan streets of Bishkek and Osh, wonder awaits: A journey deeper into the wilder parts of Kyrgyzstan treats the senses with turquoise alpine lakes, towering snowcapped peaks, and sweeping walnut forests.” READ MORE: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/kyrgyzstan/wild-and-beautiful-places-adventure-hiking-trekking/

Kyrgyzstan and climate change: Kol Suu, the Naryn and the Fergana Valley

An account of freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker Katie Arnold’s journey across Kyrgyzstan

March 27 — “In the saddle with Katie Arnold as she rides, drives and hitch-hikes across Kyrgyzstan, a country on the frontline of climate change where melting glaciers, drought and erratic rainfall threaten both lives and livelihoods.” READ MORE: http://geographical.co.uk/people/explorers/item/3087-explore-river-in-crisis

Putin in Kyrgyzstan: A Tiny Base Expansion and a Hydropower Agreement

A minute expansion of Kant air base and an agreement on hydropower cooperation were some of the outcomes of Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan

March 29 — “On Thursday, March 28 Russian President Vladimir Putin made a state visit to Kyrgyzstan. Before Putin landed in Bishkek, the Russian government announced a $30 million grant to help Kyrgyzstan balance its budget. The visit included the usual bevy of agreements — according to Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Jenish Razakov, 65 bilateral agreements worth $12 billion were expected to be inked. Eurasianet reported 30 signed during the visit and another dozen between private sector entities in advance of the visit. And, of course, there was effusive talk of a strong bilateral relationship.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/putin-in-kyrgyzstan-a-tiny-base-expansion-and-a-hydropower-agreement/

TAJIKISTAN

US-funded broadcaster under scrutiny for enabling Tajikistan’s strongman rule

RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, is facing Washington’s scrutiny, as critics say it is ineffective in performing its watchdog responsibilities in Tajikistan and overly accommodating to the country’s strongman president

March 27 — “Since its founding at the outset of the Cold War, U.S.-funded news broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has sought to promote press freedoms and advance an American vision of democracy in some of the world’s most hardened dictatorships. RFE/RL’s mission – to “provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate” – often puts its reporters in the way of harassment from undemocratic governments. As modern authoritarian regimes become more adept at muddying the waters with false narratives, that goal has never felt more urgent.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/20988-us-funded-broadcaster-under-scrutiny-for-enabling-tajikistan-s-strongman-rule

Tajikistan: Security chief’s son-in-law killed in road race crash

The monied children of Tajikistan’s political and business elite — known informally as the “golden youth” — routinely organize high-risk road race contests

March 27 — “Images of a horrendous car crash last week in the heart of Tajikistan’s capital have been circulating widely on social media and among messaging app users. Multiple sources have now confirmed to Eurasianet that fatalities in the accident, which occurred on the night of March 23, included the son-in-law of Saimumin Yatimov, the head of the country’s feared security services.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-security-chiefs-son-in-law-killed-in-road-race-crash

Tajikistan to supply electricity to China

To establish power supplies to China, it is planned to build a 500 kV power line of 550 kilometers in length to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

March 28 — “Relations between Tajikistan and China are a streamlined and dynamic mechanism for comprehensive cooperation and strategic partnership. Tajikistan is considering the possibility of exporting surplus electricity produced in the country to China. Along with the sale of electricity to the Central Asian republics, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tajikistan also intends to supply it to China.” READ MORE: https://www.azernews.az/region/147905.html

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan: The Trump card

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

March 26 — “President Donald Trump has been in the news this week. In Turkmenistan. According to Turkmen state media, the U.S. president wrote to his counterpart in Ashgabat to wish him happy Nowruz holidays and offer a note of encouragement in building the still-notional Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, or TCP.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-the-trump-card

Turkey’s police officers detain Turkmen females

The women said that without any legitimate cause they were accused of engaging in prostitution and had been detained on the streets or in their own houses rather than in restaurants or in brothels

March 28 — “Since early March Istanbul’s police officers have been detaining females who hold Turkmen citizenship and are legally employed in Turkey. Correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” report that the women are informed that they have been detained on charges of prostitution.” READ MORE: https://en.hronikatm.com/2019/03/turkeys-police-officers-detain-turkmen-females/

Gazprom CEO visits Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan seems to be closer to resuming its gas supplies to Russia’s Gazprom

March 28 — “On 27 March representatives of the Russian gas giant “Gazprom” headed by Chairperson of the Board of Directors Aleksey Miller paid a working visit to Turkmenistan. “Gazprom” press center reports that Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov met with Mr. Miller in Ashgabat. According to the press-release issued by the Russian gas company, in the course of negotiations the sides discussed the issues related to energy cooperation.” READ MORE: https://en.hronikatm.com/2019/03/gazprom-ceo-visits-turkmenistan/

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan: President comes away from UAE visit with multibillion dollar promises

President Mirziyoyev managed during his visit to the United Arab Emirates to come away with more than $10 billion worth of deals in areas including finance, alternative energy, infrastructure and agriculture

March 27 — “In honor of the official visit to the United Arab Emirates by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Dubai’s soaring Burj Khalifa skyscraper was lit in the white, green and blue of the Uzbek flag. That was just the cherry on the cake, however.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/uzbekistan-president-comes-away-from-uae-visit-with-multibillion-dollar-promises

GM, S. Korea suppliers, UzAuto ink partnership deal

Uzbekistan is a leading automobile manufacturer and exporter in Central Asia

March 29 — “GM Korea Co. said Friday that South Korean car parts suppliers will benefit from a deal signed between GM International Global Purchasing & Supply Chain (GMI GPSC) and Uzbek carmaker UzAuto. On Wednesday, GMI GPSC, UzAuto and the GM Korea Supplier Association signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of Uzbekistan's auto industry and Korean firms' exports of auto parts to the central Asian country, the carmaker said in a statement.” READ MORE: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20190329006300320?section=economy/economy

Uzbekistan’s First Competitively Tendered Solar Project Receives Global Interest

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is advising the government of Uzbekistan on a landmark PPP transaction that will lead to the creation of a 100 MW solar plant in Navoi region

March 29 — “This project will be the first phase of a larger government initiative to generate up to 1 GW of new solar energy, helping the country reduce dependence on gas and increase its share of renewable energy in the energy mix. Uzbekenergo, a state-owned national power utility, issued the request for qualifications for the project on February 1, 2019, and received submissions from 23 companies from around the world, including from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.” READ MORE: https://www.saurenergy.com/solar-energy-news/uzbekistan-competitively-tendered-solar-project-global-interest

AFGHANISTAN

End the Afghan War—Don’t Prolong It

What is needed right now is bold leadership by President Trump to take the firm, necessary steps of ordering a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan for the benefit of the United States

March 25 — “Senators Rand Paul and Tom Udall have recently introduced legislation that would effectively end the war in Afghanistan within twelve months. Whether this effort gets any traction remains to be seen, but the substance and intent of the bill is sound: For the security and benefit of the country, it is time to end the war and redeploy American troops back to their home bases.” READ MORE: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/end-afghan-war—don’t-prolong-it-49017

Who’s interested in Afghanistan’s lithium?

What connects mobile phones, the Taliban, India and China? A metal called lithium

March 27 — “In the last few years, one bright spot in the Indian economy has been the soaring growth of the mobile phone manufacturing industry. India is now the world’s second largest manufacturer of mobile phones; it is also the second largest user of mobile phones. The mushrooming of this industry is one of the success stories of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign.” READ MORE: https://www.fortuneindia.com/polemicist/whos-interested-in-afghanistans-lithium/103069

Fate of Afghanistan Hinges on Donor Funds, Watchdog Warns

In fiscal 2019, donor countries are expected to provide about 51 percent of the Afghan government’s $5.6 billion budget, with about 15 percent going to reconstruction

March 28 — “If and when negotiators reach an accord with the Taliban to pacify Afghanistan, the United States and international donors should be ready to plan for years of continued funding of a government in Kabul still shaky after 18 years of the U.S.-led coalition’s war. So warned John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, to mark the release on Thursday of his third “High-Risk List” outlining eight key challenges to the continuing U.S. presence in the war zone that has cost Americans 2,400 service members’ lives and $780 billion.” READ MORE: https://www.govexec.com/defense/2019/03/fate-afghanistan-hinges-donor-funds-watchdog-warns/155909/

Escalating the US Air War in Afghanistan Isn’t Working

The dramatic increase in U.S. airstrikes that began last year has brought Afghanistan no closer to peace. In fact, Afghan soldiers, police, and civilians are dying at record rates

March 28 — “A U.S. airstrike in the Kunduz province of Afghanistan on Saturday killed 13 civilians, the United Nations reported Monday. Ten of them were children, all from the same extended family. One day earlier, on Friday, two American soldiers were killed, also in Kunduz, both felled by small-arms fire. The Pentagon released their identities Sunday: Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, from Colorado, and Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, from Ohio.” READ MORE: https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/03/escalating-air-war-afghanistan-isnt-working/155900/

WORLD

The U.S. Central Asia power plan intersects with BRI

Central Asia may become a model area for Sino-U.S. cooperation in international development

March 25 — “According to local media, Tajikistan launched a U.S.-led power network project – the Central Asia-South Asia power (CASA 1000) project. Its first phase aims to achieve the interconnection of the power grids among the four countries in Central Asia. The long-term goal is to open up the connection between Central Asia and South Asia and significantly solve the power shortage in the region.” READ MORE: https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d674d32416a4e33457a6333566d54/index.html

Bruce Pannier on Change in Central Asia

In 1990, journalist Bruce Pannier first went to Central Asia — what was it like and what’s changed since then?

March 26 — “Bruce Pannier is one of the most experienced journalists working on Central Asia. Having first traveled to the region in 1990, Pannier now works at RFE/RL authoring the Qishloq Ovozi blog. In this interview, Pannier shares some of his earliest experiences as a student and his perspective on journalism in the region. Of course, we also discussed some of the latest developments in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/bruce-pannier-on-change-in-central-asia/

The Trojan Horse Of Chinese Investment

China has been using BRI to establish soft power through methods that would qualify as bribery and helps promote corruption and financial impropriety

March 28 — “China is a highly ambitious nation. Beijing unabashedly harbors dreams of world domination, first in the technology arena before eventually become a leading military power. The poster child of President Xi Jinping’s grandest ambitions, Made in China 2025 and the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aka the Silk Road project, have faced a considerable political and geopolitical backlash in the past chiefly due to Beijing’s maverick and highly controversial style of doing business.” READ MORE: https://safehaven.com/markets/economy/The-Trojan-Horse-Of-Chinese-Investment.html

China thanks Kazakhstan for 'support' of Muslim crackdown in Xinjiang

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — China has thanked Kazakhstan for supporting its crackdown on the restive far-west region of Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of rights abuses against indigenous ethnic groups, including Kazakhs, RFE/RL reported.

China has been under criticism for operating internment camps for Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other mostly Muslim groups in Xinjiang.

A report by a UN panel of experts last year said that an estimated 1 million of them were being held in "counterextremism centers."

They said millions more had been forced into reeducation camps.

Beijing has insisted that the facilities are not internment camps, but "vocational education centers" aimed at helping people steer clear of terrorism and allow them to be reintegrated into society.

On March 28, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Kazakhstan counterpart Beibut Atamkulov in Beijing.

According to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Atamkulov said his country "understands and supports the measures taken by China's Xinjiang region" to tackle terrorism, separatism and extremism.

"We appreciated the Kazakh government's understanding and support for China's position, and we will never let any person or any force damage the friendship and mutual trust between China and Kazakhstan," Wang said, according to the statement.

Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry did not mention Xinjiang in its statement on Atamkulov's visit to China. But a March 28 statement by the ministry said that "the issue of the situation with ethnic Kazakhs living in the People's Republic of China" was also discussed.

Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim Kazakhs are the second-largest indigenous community in Xinjiang after Uyghurs, and the region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

China is a major trading partner for neighboring Kazakhstan, where authorities and state-controlled media have generally avoided the issue of the internment camps.

In recent months, several demonstrations protesting against the reeducation camps for Muslims in Xinjiang were held in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia's Republic of Tatarstan.

Uzbekistan’s first competitively tendered solar project receives global interest

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is advising the government of Uzbekistan on a landmark public-private partnership (PPP) transaction that will lead to the creation of a 100-megawatt solar plant in Navoi region. This project will be the first phase of a larger government initiative to generate up to 1-gigawatt of new solar energy, helping the country reduce dependence on gas and increase its share of renewable energy in the energy mix, the IFC said.

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