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Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – From May 7 to May 13, 2022

Central Asia Watch Team : Elisabeth Nagy, Mathieu Bailly et Denis Lavaud

05/11/2022: A possible trade agreement between Kazakhstan and Turkey could redistribute the cards in Central Asia. – Elisabeth Nagy –

During his first state visit as president of Kazakhstan since 2019 to Turkey, on May 11, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev discussed with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan the need to maximize the potential of the international trans-Caspian transport route “the Iron Silk Road,” which connects the Chinese city of Xi’an to Istanbul via a railroad through Kazakhstan, a sea link with Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea, and then a railroad through Georgia to Turkey. Kazakhstan aims to become a strategic point between China and Europe, and a “logistical superpower”. The Turkish and Kazakh goal is to reach 3.1 million tons of freight trade this year. To this end, President Kassym-Jomart  Tokayev organized a meeting on May 11, 2022, with industry giants to promote Kazakhstan as an attractive investment destination. The meeting seems to have been successful as 30 trade agreements worth up to $1 billion were signed during the meeting. 

05/11/2022: The Republic of Kazakhstan to be the first foreign country to produce Turkish ANKA drones. – Mathieu Bailly –

During a visit to Ankara, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed an memorandum of understanding, a nonbinding agreement to form a new partnership, with the Turkish government on May 11th. The agreement, made by TUSAŞ and Kazakhstan Engineering, planned to produce ANKA Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Kazakh facilities, as well as a joint agreement for maintenance and repairs. Kazakhstan therefore became the first foreign country to produce the UAV, superseding an agreement in November 2021 to deliver 3 ANKA drones. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reported that the deal will produce approximately 10 billion in bilateral trading volume.

 This agreement was part of Turkey’s diplomatic strategy to strengthen relations with central Asia countries. As Turkey is a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Federation of Russia condemned the agreement. Sputnik, Russia’s state-owned news agency, strongly criticized the agreement, stated that it was a “Trojan Horse” from Turkey. 

05/12/2022: The European Union and Japan wish to partner up to set up joint projects. – Denis Lavaud – 

Japan and the European Union have declared, following the 28th Japan-EU summit that took place on May 12 in Tokyo, that they want to jointly develop various projects in the world, and particularly in Central Asia. These cooperation projects between the EU and Japan will notably concern renewable energies as well as microfinance and will be carried out in close cooperation between the European Investment Bank and the Bank of Japan.

“We are exploring different possibilities for cooperation, particularly in transport, energy, digital and supply chains in the Indian Ocean region, the Balkans and the Eastern Partnership, Africa. We are also studying the possibilities of development by considering Central Asia as a potential region for future cooperation,” the spokesperson for the event said at the end of the summit.

05/13/2022: In Kyrgyzstan a public commission was created to investigate the mysteries of the 2017 plane crash. – Elisabeth Nagy –

Sadyr Japarov decided to create, on May 8,  a public commission in order to determine the causes of a plane crash. In 2017 in Kyrgyzstan, 39 people lost their lives and dozens of homes were destroyed after a plane crash. A criminal investigation was launched in 2017 to determine the culprit of this tragedy, but the case was dismissed. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov believes that the investigation was conducted “badly and slowly.” Therefore, the president decided to create a public commission on May 8 to determine the exact causes of the accident and make them known to the general public. The purpose of the 18-member commission, which includes lawyers, investigative journalists and activists, is to examine the causes and consequences of the crash, as well as how to resolve the difficulties faced by the survivors of the village of Dasha-SU. The damage caused by the crash is estimated at 3 million dollars.  

Many questions remain unanswered, such as why the ATC Airlines plane was in the area, as well as the unclear distribution of the approximately $610,000 in compensation from the airline to the victims and their resettlement, which has not been done.  

Some speculate that former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev may not have acted voluntarily, fearing that this would reveal the case. 

05/13/2022: Dushanbe to host the Foreign Affairs Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States. – Denis Lavaud – 

The capital of Tajikistan will host the Council of Foreign Ministers of the CIS countries on May 13. The attending ministers from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Moldova and Russia were present at the event.

Although Ukraine officially remains a member of the CIS, the country no longer participates to the different meetings of the Community.

The meeting focuses on the prospects for development and cooperation within the CIS, as well as on issues of international security, development of education and on the humanitarian sector. The situation in Ukraine will also be discussed.

As journalists are not allowed to attend this summit, the results of this meeting will be communicated via a press conference, to be held at the end of the day.

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