Headlines from the Caspian: March 7, 2022
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Mar 8, 2022
Energy and Economy
Caspian Region Economies Feel the Sting of Sanctions Against Russia
Remittance from migrant workers in Russia from Central Asia will continue to decline as the ruble plummets in value because of sanctions, and the economies of Central Asia and the South Caucasus will feel other effects of the sanctions as well. Kazakhstan has injected hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign reserves into its economy in an attempt keep the tenge stable, and the Kyrgyz som dropped substantially in value. As the war continues it is unclear how Russia’s actions and subsequent sanctions will continue to affect the Caspian region.
Turkey and Azerbaijan Discuss Joint Projects to Support Small and Medium-Sized Business
Opportunities for joint projects to support small and medium-sized businesses were discussed at a recent meeting between the Azerbaijani Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communications and the Turkish Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization. The two countries are looking to increase mutual trade turnover to $15 billion in 2023 from $4.6 billion in 2021.
Azerbaijan to Expand Gas Storage Capacity
State owned oil company SOCAR is working to expand Azerbaijan’s underground gas storage facilities to 5 billion cubic meters (bcm). The country currently has a total capacity of 3.5 bcm split between two storage facilities in Galmaz and Garadagh, enough to meet approximately 30 percent of Azerbaijan’s domestic gas demand.
Remittances to Central Asian Countries Projected to Decline
As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, remittances to Central Asian Countries are expected to decline in 2022. Kyrgyzstan is now expected to experience a 33 percent decline instead of a 3 percent increase in remittances as initially projected for 2022. The weakening of the Ruble against the U.S. dollar and decline in Russian economic activity would negatively impact employment prospects for migrant workers.
Uzbekistan Meets with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Delegation
On March 7, Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Jamshid Kuchkarov held a meeting with representatives of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The Ambassador of Switzerland to Uzbekistan Konstantin Obolensky was also in attendance. Participants discussed ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan, economic stability, and potential partnerships with the Swiss organization.
Uzbekistan and China Discuss Deepening Cooperation
The Embassy of Uzbekistan in China and the President of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Equipment and Electronic Products held a meeting to discuss expanding industrial cooperation between the two countries. As a result of the meeting, the parties agreed on the joint development of a roadmap to increase cooperation in industry, investment, and interregional relations.
Security and Politics
Armenia Chooses New President
After Armen Sarkisian’s sudden resignation as President of Armenia, Armenia’s parliament selected Vahagn Khachatrian as the new President. Khachatrian had previously served as the Minister of High-Tech Industry under Prime Minister Pashinian.
Kazakhstan Declines to Support Either Russia or Ukraine
Several high-level government officials in Kazakhstan have insisted that Kazakhstan is neutral on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Government officials point to the positive relations Kazakhstan has with both Ukraine and Russia and have called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Source: Fergana News Agency
Foreign Ministers of Russia and Kyrgyzstan Meet
On March 5, the Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Ruslan Kazakbaev traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Discussion focused on security issues in Central Asia and coordination between the two countries in international organizations, including the UN, CIS, CSTO, and SCO. Kazakbaev noted that the start of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia were welcomed, suggesting that Kyrgyzstan could provide a “platform for peace” if needed.
Anti-Russian Sentiment Grows in Georgia
Anti-Russian rhetoric has increased in Georgia as a growing number of Russians are crossing the border following the invasion of Ukraine. The Bank of Georgia now requires new Russian customers to sign a loyalty pledge condemning Russia’s invasion of Georgia and Ukraine. The ruling party, Georgian Dream, is working on legislation to ban discrimination on ethnic grounds and incitement of ethnic hatred as of March 4.
Georgian and Danish PM Hold Phone Talks
On Monday, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen discussed the importance of joint international efforts to end the war in Ukraine. Bilateral relations between the two countries and Georgia’s European integration were also discussed. Garibashvili expressed hope that Denmark would support Georgia’s bid to join the European Union.
Sources: (24.kg, Agenda.ge, Azernews, Eurasianet, Fergana News Agency, RFE/RL, UzDaily).