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Afghanistan politicians, Taliban cite 'tremendous progress' at Moscow talks

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KABUL (TCA) — Senior Afghan politicians and the Taliban said they made progress during peace talks in Russia, although they did not make any significant breakthrough, RFE/RL reported.

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Kazakhstan’s First President Nazarbayev becomes honorary chairman of EEU Economic Commission

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — At a May 29 summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a trade grouping that comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia, former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has become the honorary chairman of the EEU Economic Commission (the governing body of the organization).

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed naming Nazarbayev the honorary chairman of the EEU Economic Commission and the other leaders supported the idea.

The summit in Kazakhstan’s capital was meant to mark the 25th anniversary of Nazarbayev's public call for the creation of the EEU and the fifth anniversary of the treaty that established it.

The EEU was established on the basis of the Customs Union under a treaty that was signed by Putin, Nazarbayev, and Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and came into force on January 1, 2015.

During the summit, Nazarbayev awarded the presidents of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus a medal named after himself, RFE/RL reported.

Nazarbayev presented the Order of The First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev separately to Vladimir Putin, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, and Aleksandr Lukashenko. The medal features a likeness of Nazarbayev's face in profile.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, interim Kazakh President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, and President Igor Dodon of Moldova, which has observer status in the EEU, also attended the meeting. Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, whose country is not an EEU member, took part as a guest.

Observers say Putin seeks to use the EEU to bolster Moscow's influence in the former Soviet Union.

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to observe Kazakhstan’s early presidential election

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Some 50 OSCE parliamentarians from 23 countries will deploy to Kazakhstan for the 9 June early presidential election, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said on May 29.

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German president meets with Uzbekistan business people

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TASHKENT (TCA) — On the last day of his three-day official visit to Uzbekistan, May 29, Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, accompanied by the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov, attended a meeting of Uzbekistan and Germany’s business circles in Tashkent, the Jahon information agency reported.

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German president visits Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev discussed bilateral cooperation in the Uzbek capital on the second day of Steinmeier's three-day official visit to Central Asia's most populous country, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.

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Kazakhstan: China's ambassador rejects Xinjiang crackdown allegations

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Pressed for information about what relatives and activists say is a crackdown on indigenous, mostly Muslim ethnic groups in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang, the Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan angrily denied any wrongdoing by Beijing, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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Russia hosts Taliban delegates, calls for withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan

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KABUL (TCA) — Hosting Taliban delegates and Afghan politicians in an effort to promote itself as a peacemaker in Afghanistan, Russia has called for the complete withdrawal of international forces from the war-ravaged country, RFE/RL reported.

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EU and Kyrgyzstan discuss cooperation on human rights

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Representatives of the European Union and the Kyrgyz Republic met on May 27 in Brussels to discuss human rights issues and cooperation in related areas during their annual Human Rights Dialogue, the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic reported.

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Russian defense minister, Tajikistan president discuss military cooperation in Dushanbe

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has discussed military cooperation between Russia and Tajikistan with the Central Asian country's President, Emomali Rahmon, and its defense minister, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

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Kyrgyzstan: 65% stunting reduction in Naryn oblast

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The implementation of a project called SPRING by USAID between 2014 and 2018 has resulted in a 65% reduction of stunting rates in the Naryn oblast, the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan said.

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Kazakhstan and Turkey to strengthen cooperation, increase investments

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Kazakhstan and Turkey will increase bilateral trade turnover to 5 billion U.S. dollars, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Afghanistan politicians, Taliban negotiators expected to meet in Moscow

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KABUL (TCA) — Senior Afghan politicians and Taliban peace negotiators are expected to attend a two-day meeting in Moscow this week, RFE/RL reports.

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Kyrgyzstan: Atambayev at risk as law allowing prosecution of ex-presidents comes into force

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyz legislation under which former heads of state can be prosecuted came into force two days after ex-President Almazbek Atambayev stepped down from the leadership of opposition Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK), RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

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Uzbekistan to subsidize domestic exporters

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan will provide a range of state subsidies to domestic exporters, including up to 50 percent compensation of costs when goods are exported via railways, Xinhua news agency reported with reference to an Uzbek presidential decree.

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World Bank supports public financial management, state-owned enterprises reforms in Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT (TCA) — A new project approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on May 24 will advance Uzbekistan’s transition into a market-oriented economy by creating more economic opportunities and better jobs for its citizens. The US$ 33 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) will support the Institutional Capacity Building Project.

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Turkmenistan addresses youth employment issue amid growing unemployment

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — At the Turkmen Cabinet session on May 24 Deputy Prime Minister Gochmyrat Myradov briefed President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov that a draft of the program for youth adaptation to the changing labor market and employment improvement as well as the relevant action plan had been designed and prepared, Chronicles of Turkmenistan independent news website reported.

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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

AIFC, Bitfury to jointly implement blockchain projects

One of the world’s leading full-service blockchain technology companies has entered Kazakhstan

May 21 — “Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and the Bitfury blockchain company agreed May 17 to create projects using blockchain technology. Bitfury also plans to open data centres in Kazakhstan to diversify the work environment and cooperate with Nur-Sultan Akimat (city administration). “We are pleased to welcome Bitfury in Kazakhstan and the AIFC is ready to support the development and distribution of blockchain technology in the region. I am confident that the development of human capital will receive an additional inducement as well,” said AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov at the May 17 session of the Astana Economic Forum.” READ MORE: https://astanatimes.com/2019/05/aifc-bitfury-to-jointly-implement-blockchain-projects/

Tyson eyes multibillion-dollar bet on Kazakh beef as route to China

The US company may find an easier way for exports to China through Kazakhstan

May 23 — “Tyson Foods is in talks over a multibillion-dollar investment in Kazakhstan beef production as a back door into China, allowing the US meat company to dodge high tariffs on American agricultural goods. The US is the world’s largest beef producer, but sales to China have been disadvantaged since Beijing imposed a 25 per cent retaliatory tariff in July last year, bringing the total levy to 37 per cent. The value of US beef exports to China fell 17 per cent year on year in the first quarter.” READ MORE: https://www.ft.com/content/691aedd0-7c6f-11e9-81d2-f785092ab560

Kazakhstan: Press freedom missing from agenda of media talking shop

The Kazakh authorities openly acknowledge blocking internet traffic to prevent access to postings from Nur-Sultan’s political bête noire, France-based disgraced banker Mukhtar Ablyazov

May 23 — “When international journalists gather for Kazakhstan’s annual Eurasian Media Forum, they can expect lively wide-ranging debates about pressing issues facing the global fourth estate and the world in general. What they cannot expect at the forum organized by Dariga Nazarbayeva, the Senate chair and daughter of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, is any debate about egregious violations of press freedoms in Kazakhstan, where a situation already characterized as dire by international watchdogs has recently deteriorated sharply.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-press-freedom-missing-from-agenda-of-media-talking-shop

How Kazakhstan's New President Will Navigate His Country's Role in the Global Great Power Competition

Upcoming presidential elections in Kazakhstan are all but guaranteed to cement the succession process from long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

May 24 — “On June 9, Kazakhstan will officially have its first new leader in three decades. This date marks Kazakhstan's presidential election, which was moved up by more than a year after long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation in March. Prior to resigning in March, Nazarbayev had led Kazakhstan since 1989, the entirety of the country's post-Soviet independence.” READ MORE: https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/how-kazakhstans-new-president-will-navigate-his-countrys-role-global-great-power-competition

KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyz women turn to plastic surgery to get 'European eyes'

Plastic surgery is a fast-growing market in Kyrgyzstan

May 17 — “In the past, Alina Makhmedova taped her eyelids to change the shape of her eyes. About a year ago, the resident of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, signed up for a so-called "Asian blepharoplasty" or double eyelid surgery. After consulting with her friends, she turned to Instagram where many surgeons have personal profiles showcasing their work to find the right specialist for her.” READ MORE: https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/17/kyrgyz-women-turn-to-plastic-surgery-to-get-european-eyes

Using a business mindset to fund advocacy NGOs in Kyrgyzstan

Shifting to a business mindset is hard for non-profit organizations, but with limited opportunities for funding in Central Asia, it is a change worth making

May 20 — “Kyrgyzstan is often described as the “Switzerland of Central Asia”, but not only for our spectacular mountains. Relative to more autocratic minded neighbors, we represent the most open country in this region. However, despite a reputation for hosting the most vibrant civil society in Central Asia, the sector lives in a precarious situation, vulnerable to a political system that grants disproportionate power to the presidential administration.” READ MORE: https://www.openglobalrights.org/using-a-business-mindset-to-fund-advocacy-ngos-in-kyrgyzstan/

Of Mosque And State In Central Asia

No one in Kyrgyzstan is suggesting limiting the role of Islam in the country, but some in government seem intent on ensuring mosque and state remain separate

May 23 — “Rulers and leading Islamic clerics in Central Asia have lived in complicated symbiosis for more than 1,000 years. Both sides have often sought to increase their influence by using the other. Two recent events -- one in Kyrgyzstan, the other in Turkmenistan -- show how little some things have changed in the region.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-of-mosque-and-state-in-central-asia/29959145.html

TAJIKISTAN

Sharing views on media, migration and radicalism with our Tajik sister city

A cohort of nonprofit leaders, university professors and journalists from Tajikistan visited Boulder last week to discuss the role of the media in the U.S., and share ideas about how to grow a free press in Tajikistan. Boulder was chosen as a location on the U.S. State Department-sponsored visit because of our sister-city connection with Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe

May 23 — “Tajikistan is dealing with a migrant crisis, albeit one different from the situation in the U.S. Tajiks travel throughout the Central Asia region, often to Russia, in search of employment, only to face racial-based discrimination, attempts at extremism from terrorist groups, and, often, expulsion back to Tajikistan.” READ MORE: https://www.boulderweekly.com/news/sharing-views-on-media-migration-and-radicalism-with-our-tajik-sister-city/

Tajikistan: Internet grinds to a halt after president’s criticism

Tajik authorities have extended the blockages on websites to all Google resources, which meant that internet users could not access Gmail, YouTube or Google Drive. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites are also off-limits

May 23 — “The already-slow internet in Tajikistan ground even slower this week following criticism from President Emomali Rahmon, who expressed fears about the risk of online communication bolstering terrorism. Speaking at a meeting of post-Soviet security officials on May 21, Rahmon said more needed to be done to combat the activity of extremists in the virtual space.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-internet-grinds-to-a-halt-after-presidents-criticism

Why Did Dozens Die in Tajik Prison Riot?

Questions asked over second outbreak of serious violence in six months in Tajikistan

May 23 — “Another deadly riot in one of Tajikistan’s largest prisons has again highlighted what experts say are serious flaws in the country’s entire penal system. Officials said that 32 people, including three prison officers, were killed as a result of the riot that began at 9.30am on May 19 in the Kirpichny facility in Vakhdat, near Dushanbe. It was the second prison riot in the last six months, and the authorities once again blamed Islamic radicals within the 1,500 capacity facility for the violence. The Prosecutor General’s Office reported that a criminal investigation had been opened into the riot.” READ MORE: https://iwpr.net/global-voices/why-did-dozens-die-tajik-prison-riot

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmengeologiya Makes Another Gas Discovery In Turkmenistan

Hydrocarbon exports, the bulk of which is natural gas going to China, make up 25 percent of Turkmenistan’s gross domestic product, but low energy prices since mid-2014 and subsequent pricing disputes with Russia and Iran have hampered Turkmenistan’s economic growth

May 21 — “The state-owned subsurface exploration company Turkmengeologiya made another gas discovery in the Caspian region, hitting an onshore reservoir in Turkmenistan, which contains the world’s fifth largest proved natural gas reserves. Specialists from Turkmengeologiya report an industrial gas inflow at a depth of about 2,400 m (7,874 ft) in Tajibai, an area located in the eastern corner of Turkmenistan. Further analysis is required to assess the deposit and determine its potential for development.” READ MORE: https://caspiannews.com/news-detail/turkmengeologiya-makes-another-gas-discovery-in-turkmenistan-2019-5-20-34/

Turkmenistan’s alpha male goes to the dogs

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

May 21 — “Russia continues to be a source of good news for Ashgabat. On May 15, just a month after Turkmenistan resumed selling gas to Russia, regional news agencies reported that the two countries had formally agreed to end arbitration proceedings over their previous gas spat, which had ended sales in 2016. A day later, Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said that talks were underway for a new five-year contract.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistans-alpha-male-goes-to-the-dogs

Yangykala Canyon

Few people have ever heard of, let alone visited, one of Turkmenistan’s most impressive natural attractions

May 22 — “Turkmenistan is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Asia, and one of the least visited in the world. And out in the far west of this often forgotten country lies a natural attraction that few Turkmen have ever even seen: the Yangykala Canyon, a windblown landscape of colorful canyons and strange formations that stretches some 15 miles across the desert to the Garabogazköl Basin.” READ MORE: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/yangykala-canyon

UZBEKISTAN

ISRAELI WATER-FROM-AIR COMPANY PROVIDES SERVICES TO UZBEKISTAN ORPHANAGE

Uzbekistan is a country in desperate need for a secure water supply as it is "double landlocked"

May 20 — “Watergen, the Israeli company that developed technology capable of turning air into water, is now a source of freshwater for over 120 children in an orphanage in Uzbekistan's city of Bukhara. GEN-350, the water generator created by Watergen, can produce up to 900 liters of water per day. It weighs a mere 800 kilograms, making the system transportable and easily installable.” READ MORE: https://www.jpost.com/Jpost-Tech/Israeli-water-from-air-company-provides-services-to-Uzbekistan-orphanage-590140

The lost Louvre of Uzbekistan: the museum that hid art banned by Stalin

This museum in a bleak outpost has one of the world’s greatest collections of avant-garde art, rescued from Stalin’s clutches by an electrician. But now it needs a rescue of its own

May 21 — “I am sitting at a huge table at the Ministry of Culture in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as officials explain what sounds like a wonderful opportunity. There’s currently an international call-out to find someone to run a gallery in the country, one housing the world’s second-largest collection of Russian avant garde art. What an amazing job, I think – raising the profile of a museum that could turn out to be the Louvre of central Asia.” READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/may/21/lost-louvre-uzbekistan-savitsky-museum-banned-art-stalin

Uzbekistan unveils its latest bash at Latin alphabet

Attempts to devise an alternative to Cyrillic have been ongoing since 1993

May 22 — “Alphabet-tinkering continues apace in Central Asia. This time it is the turn of Uzbekistan, where language officials have unveiled the latest — and what they say is the last — revision to the Latin alphabet version of the national language.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/uzbekistan-unveils-its-latest-bash-at-latin-alphabet

German President Should Push Uzbekistan for Further Reforms

After the early euphoria around the “Tashkent spring” under Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan’s reforms need to enter a new phase

May 23 — “German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier likes to travel to countries he believes are on a path to reform. He contends that the extra international attention reinforces the process. For this reason, according to his aides, he is visiting Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous country, on May 27-29. Steinmeier, a former foreign minister, will be among the most senior Western politicians to visit the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in September 2016.” READ MORE: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/05/23/german-president-should-push-uzbekistan-further-reforms

AFGHANISTAN

'We can live or we can die': How cricket redefined a war-torn nation

Cricket has allowed the world to look at Afghanistan in a different light, one away from the Taliban and the terrorism

May 20 — “He closes his eyes and the memories flood back. No clean water. No clothes. No shoes. With temperatures north of 45 degrees, his was a world about survival. It is said that the darkest hour comes before the light shines. In the case of Afghanistan -- a nation tied inextricably to conflict, out of the ashes of the Soviet-Afghan War and Taliban insurgency has risen a glorious phoenix of hope.” READ MORE: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/20/sport/afghanistan-cricket-world-cup-spt-intl/index.html

Pakistani Duplicity Caused the United States to Lose in Afghanistan

Islamabad’s objectives for Afghanistan have always been different than those of the United States

May 21 — “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C.” H. R. McMaster wrote that statement in his 1997 scathing critique of the Vietnam War, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. He was a major in the Army at that time. Now, he is a retired lieutenant general and former national security advisor to President Donald Trump.” READ MORE: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/pakistani-duplicity-caused-united-states-lose-afghanistan-58752

Assessing the Trump team’s Afghanistan peace plan

The Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy repeats mistakes made by the Clinton and Obama administrations

May 23 — “Zalmay Khalilzad, President Trump’s special envoy for Afghanistan, continues to pursue a diplomatic settlement with the Taliban framed mostly around the idea that the United States will withdraw from Afghanistan and, in exchange, the Taliban will foreswear terrorism. Khalilzad’s strategy will never work.” READ MORE: https://www.aei.org/publication/assessing-the-trump-teams-afghanistan-peace-plan/

U.S. Commander: Al Qaeda Operating ‘Across’ Afghanistan

General's comments come as Washington seeks assurances that Taliban won't let terrorists use Afghan soil

May 23 — “Al Qaeda is operating "across" Afghanistan in several regions, according to Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. "We have seen al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yes, in different parts of Afghanistan," Miller toldTOLONews. "In different parts of Afghanistan, we can find them, so it's not one particular region, it's across the country." READ MORE: https://freebeacon.com/national-security/u-s-commander-al-qaeda-operating-across-afghanistan/

WORLD

‘Navruz Spirit’ Quietly Vanishes From Central Asian Leaders’ Agenda

Foreign visits and international exchanges demonstrate that Central Asian states’ relations with other non-regional players are apparently more important to their governments than relations with their closest neighbors

May 21 — “The second Central Asian Leaders’ Consultative Working Meeting was supposed to take place this spring, in Tashkent. However, scheduling conflicts around the Navruz holiday (March 20, 2019) prevented the summit from convening. For a time, there were indications that the summit would simply be rescheduled for April 12 or some unspecified date later that month.” READ MORE: https://jamestown.org/program/navruz-spirit-quietly-vanishes-from-central-asian-leaders-agenda/

Steady as it goes in Central Asia

Japan should use its long, underappreciated history of engagement with Central Asia to promote stability in this vital area

May 22 — “Foreign Minister Taro Kono was in Central Asia last weekend, meeting with his regional counterparts to discuss economic cooperation and security. While that region usually gets little attention — except when things go wrong or when foreign media highlight its quirks — it has assumed growing importance in geopolitics. Its abundant natural resources, its large Muslim population and its geographic location at the crossroads of Asia, the Middle East and Europe make it an increasingly important geopolitical consideration.” READ MORE: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/05/22/editorials/steady-goes-central-asia/#.XOempis9vIU

Tajikistan: Caritas Germany promotes social work development in GBAO

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — The Branch of the German Caritas Association in Tajikistan (CARITAS) has announced the launch of its new one-year Social Work Development Project in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) that will operate in all 7 jamoats (Porshinev, M. Shirinjonov, Suchon, Navobod, Gh. Shabozov, Ver and Vanqal’a) of Shughnon district. CARITAS’s Project Coordinator Umeda Munavvarova and Deputy Chairman of Shughnon District Saidarabzoda Gulghuncha opened a round-table earlier this week which was attended by representatives from Local Government Authority, public organizations, as well as the private sector and other stakeholders.

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ADB to help modernize Uzbekistan's railway fleet

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TASHKENT (TCA) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $170 million loan to help improve Uzbekistan’s railway fleet through the procurement of 24 state-of-the-art electric locomotives. The new locomotives will enhance the performance of the railway system by offering cleaner, more reliable, and efficient passenger and freight transport services, ADB’s country office in Uzbekistan said.

“Transport and connectivity are crucial for the growth and development of a double landlocked country like Uzbekistan, and remains a high priority for our support to Uzbekistan,” said ADB Country Director for Uzbekistan Ms. Cindy Malvicini.

Rail transport plays a significant part in Uzbekistan’s economy, particularly in moving large amount of freight in long distances as well as in moving passengers between the country’s densely populated cities. The 4,669-kilometer (km) rail network in Uzbekistan carries about 40% of total freight volume and about 4% of total passenger volume of the country’s land transport needs. In terms of electrification rate, more than 50%, or 2,350 km, of the country’s railway network is currently electrified.

“Having a cleaner, more efficient, and reliable transport network, in the form of electrified railways, will help boost Uzbekistan’s growth and maximize the country’s potential as a transport hub at the heart of Central Asia,” said ADB Senior Transport Specialist for Central and West Asia Mr. Ko Sakamoto.

The project will provide 24 electric locomotives, 16 of which are optimized for freight trains and 8 for passenger trains. These locomotives will help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 900,000 tons per year, while also reducing local air pollution. The locomotive depot in Tashkent, called O’zbekiston, will also be upgraded to effectively cater to service and maintenance needs of the new electric fleet. O’zbekiston Temir Yo’llari, the publicly owned railway company, will implement a long-term development strategy to equip itself for the emerging transport needs of the country.

The project will help reduce travel times on Uzbekistan’s railway network, improve service quality and reliability in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) transport network, and strengthen the conditions for the private sector in the country to grow. It is also aligned with the goals under the CAREC Railway Strategy 2017–2030, which notes railways’ role as an engine for economic growth in Central Asia.

Total cost of the project is $218.3 million, with the Government of Uzbekistan contributing $48.3 million. The project is expected to be completed by June 2025.

ADB’s $170 million assistance directly complements other projects in Uzbekistan for the electrification of the country’s railway network, two of which are supported by ADB. In September 2011, ADB approved a $100 million loan for the electrification of 140 km of railway between Marakand and Karshi, while an $80 million loan was approved in April 2017 for the electrification of 145 km of railway linking the cities of Pap, Namangan, and Andijan in the Fergana Valley.

Uzbekistan: First Chinese law firm opens in Tashkent

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TASHKENT (TCA) — The first Chinese law firm in Uzbekistan opened this week in the capital Tashkent, Xinhua news agency reported.

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US largest meat producer eyeing expansion into Kazakhstan

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. meat producer, says it is eyeing expansion into Kazakhstan as it seeks growth overseas, RFE/RL reported.

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Lukashenko proposes Kazakhstan supply oil to Belarus

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Belarus is holding talks on the delivery of oil from Kazakhstan and suggests stepping up these talks, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Belarus Yermukhamet Yertysbayev in Minsk on May 23, BelTA news agency reported.

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EBRD and EU support water supply system in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Almost 80,000 people from four municipalities across Kyrgyzstan will have regular access to safe drinking water as a result of projects supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union.

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EBRD and Kyrgyzstan launch Climate Finance Centre

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Kyrgyz Republic are addressing climate related risks in the country by launching a Climate Finance Centre (CFC), which will help bridge financial assistance available through the national and international climate funds such as the Green Climate Fund. It will attract necessary investment for climate projects in various sectors ranging from energy and water to agriculture and health in Kyrgyzstan, the EBRD said.

The CFC was launched on May 23 in a ceremony attended by Muhamedkalyi Abylgaziev, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, Alain Pilloux, EBRD Vice President, other senior officials and IFI representatives.

The establishment of the Climate Finance Centre was supported by Climate Investment Fund’s Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience.

The CFC’s objective will be to mobilise and coordinate investments and associated donor funding aimed at the improvement of climate resilience in sectors like water supply and treatment, power supply, health and food security, disaster risk management and many others.

Its activity will be of strategic importance for the Kyrgyz Republic, which is highly vulnerable to climate risks due to the high frequency of climate-related disasters, its dependency on climate-sensitive economic sectors and its ageing infrastructure.

EBRD Vice President Alain Pilloux said: “With the establishment of a well-functioning and effective climate finance coordination mechanism managed by the Climate Finance Centre, we can secure and streamline necessary funding for priority climate investments in the Kyrgyz Republic. The country’s climate impact mitigation strategy will now be supported the largest multilateral financing mechanisms for climate action”.

The EBRD is a major investor in climate finance in many of the 38 emerging economies where it works, a driving force in energy efficiency projects, a pioneer in the development of renewable energy sources and an increasingly important player in adaptation to climate change, having signed almost 180 climate resilience investments since 2011. Under its Green Economy Transition (GET) approach, the EBRD aims to dedicate 40 per cent of its annual investment to green finance by 2020 and is well on the way to achieving this objective.

Since 2011 the EBRD financed 74 climate resilience investments in Central Asia with total amount of EUR 441 million.

Share of SMEs in Kazakhstan’s GDP reached 28.3% in 2018

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — At a press conference on May 22, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of National Economy Yermek Alpyssov reported on the development of small and medium-sized businesses in the country and the support measures provided under the state program Business Roadmap 2020, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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