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Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – From March 12 to March 18, 2022

Central Asia Watch Team : Aliya Yechshanova, Sarah Guérin and Denis Lavaud

03/14/2022: The groups Turkmen Energy Development Concern and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat to sign contract – Aliya Yechshanova –

On march 14, the Leader of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov gave «green light», on signing the corresponding resolution, in which the energy construction concern Türkmenenergogurluşyk of the Ministry of Energy of Turkmenistan will conclude a contract with the Afghan company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat for construction and commissioning works in the province of Herat, in particular at the Nur al-Jahad power plant.  The aim is to increase the capacity with further increase of electricity supply. This section is one of the stages of the «road map» on the construction of power transmission lines of the inter-state project Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP). The main work to be undertaken under the contract is the design, logistics, construction, installation, сommissioning of open switchgears of the Nur-el-Jihad power plant. In January, representatives of the above organizations discussed issues of the early implementation of TAP.

03/14/2022: Kazakhstan is actively developing a new law on the development of alternative energy – Aliya Yechshanova –

At the meeting of the Council for the Improvement of the Investment Climate (CICC) under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov, that took place on march 14, the issues of financing commitments under the climate pact and further strengthening of the international position of Kazakhstan in promoting the «green agenda» were discussed. Kazakhstan had been among the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement and had announced ambitious goals to decarbonize its economy. The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan is carrying out significant work on the preparation of key documents related to new directions of development that correspond to modern realities. Alikhan Smailov noted that a new Environmental Code was adopted in 2021, which defines standards for State environmental regulation, encourages the attraction of green investments and ensures the implementation of international environmental obligations. “A new Law on the development of alternative energy is being developed to stimulate  the development of environmentally friendly energy sources. The new Concept of the investment policy of Kazakhstan until 2025 will be based on the observance of the principles of ESG and the green economy,” said the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. For these purposes, the Doctrine of Carbon Neutrality by 2060 is currently being developed, which will determine the strategic course of state policy for the consistent transformation of the economy of Kazakhstan.

03/15/2022 : The unsurprising election of Serdar Berdymuhamedov as President of Turkmenistan – Sarah Guérin –

On March 15, three days after the presidential election was held, a press release announced the nomination of Serdar Berdymoukhamedov, the 40-year-old son of the incumbent leader, as president, with 72.97% of the votes cast. His inauguration will take place on March 19. The victory, while overwhelming, is however less marked than what one is accustomed to seeing in states like Turkmenistan. Serdar’s father, Gurbanguly, won over 97% of the votes cast in the 2012 and 2017 elections. It is obvious that the intention behind this result is that Serdar Berdymukhamedov does not eclipse his father, who will continue to play an important role in the state apparatus, particularly as President of the Senate. While CIS observers said on March 13 that they had found no violations and that the Turkmen presidential elections had been open and competitive, the US State Department told on March 15 that they did not respect the OSCE standards. Turkmenistan did not demonstrate that “its electoral processes [are] free, fair or competitive”. Moreover, ballot stuffing was even broadcasted on state television. According to local sources of Turkmen.news, in different cities of the country, some names were already on the electoral lists, ballot papers were given out already ticked next to the candidate Serdar Berdimuhamedov, and in several polling stations in Dashoguz the ballot boxes were already half full on the morning of the voting day.

03/16/2022: Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wishes to reform the political system of Kazakhstan – Denis Lavaud – 

On march 16, during an address to the Parliament, the president of Kazakhstan kassym-Jomart Tokayev, introduced his project to reform the political system of the country. He presented his wish to move from a «super presidential» regime into a presidential regime with a strong Parliament. This reform plans to prevent the president from being a member of a political party during his mandate, to lower the number of deputies elected by the president, to prevent the president’s family members from occupying important positions, political responsibilities or from running public companies.

03/16/2022: Uzbekistan to re-open its borders with Kazakhstan and Tajikistan – Denis Lavaud –

The uzbek government decided, on march 16, to re-open its borders with Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, by lifting all the restrictions applied to the land borders that were set up at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

«All the restrictions applied to the land borders between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan were lifted on march 16. We will restore the border points, after a two years break» declared the spokesperson of the uzbek government, at a moment when the country knows an enhancement of its health situation.

The government also announced its wish to negotiate the reestablishment of the bus liaisons between Uzbekistan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

03/17/2022 : Uzbekistan positions itself and calls for an end to aggression in Ukraine – Sarah Guérin –

Speaking in the Senate on March 17, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov urged both sides in the conflict to find a diplomatic solution. «For this to happen, military activity and aggression must first be stopped». Abdulaziz Komilov also recognized the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and affirmed not to recognize the independence of the two territories of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is significant given its diplomatic and economic interdependence with Russia. All the other Central Asian countries have so far adopted if not silent at least evasive positions. As Temur Umarov, a fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, noted in a comment on his Telegram feed, «Each [of the Central Asian countries] in their own way depends on Russia, and therefore they don’t want to anger her. But at the same time, there is not a single Central Asian country that can support Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, as this would indirectly legitimize Moscow’s attempts to interfere in their own internal affairs». Uzbekistan thus stands out from its peers in Central Asia, especially since the Uzbek government also proposed on March 10 simplified procedures for applying for work and residence visas for foreign investors in the IT sector. Uzbek officials said IT companies will benefit from a wide range of tax breaks and additional relocation assistance. This is a sign that Uzbekistan hopes to attract the brain drain currently taking place in Russia. Visas will be issued from April 1.

03/17/2022 : The President of Tajikistan and the United Nations High Commissioner discussed the situation of refugees from Afghanistan – Sarah Guérin –

On March 17, as reported by the head of state’s press service, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon received the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. This two-day visit to Tajikistan comes after a visit by Filippo Grandi to Afghanistan. During the meeting, discussions focused on issues relating to the arrival of Afghan refugees in Tajikistan and durable solutions for their reception and integration, and in particular on cooperation between Tajikistan and the United Nations and its structures in this regard. Meanwhile, Filippo Grandi also met with Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rakhimzoda on March 16 and expressed satisfaction with Tajikistan’s efforts to solve the problems of stateless people. This visit comes at the right time, since on March 15, Tajikistan asked for help to strengthen its border with Afghanistan, including financial and logistical assistance. As the Director of the Drug Control Agency (DCA) of Tajikistan, Major General of Justice Khabibullo Vohidzoda has pointed out, assistance is needed due to the growing threats from Afghanistan, especially regarding drug and arms trafficking, terrorist and extremist activities, human trafficking and other transnational crimes.

 

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