Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – From 10 December to 16 December 2022

Central Asia Watch Team: Alexandre Brière, Julie Eifler-Bolander, Alexiane Pradier, Sophie Marc, Maxime Delaye and Audrey Colin.

12/12/2022: Conference between the United States of America and Mongolia for the strengthening of the economic relations – Julie Eifler-Bolander.

On 12 December, a conference was organised on the occasion of the 35 years of cooperation between the United States of America and Mongolia, as reported by the Mongol media Montsame. This event was organised by the Bank of Mongolia, and it allowed the different representatives to review the current state of the cooperation and the perspectives of future development. Within the framework of the “third neighbour” Mongol policy, the USA is indeed a very important partner of Mongolia, which exports manufactured goods and gold and imports cars, machinery and food. The official website of the Bank of Mongolia explains that a new roadmap had to be discussed because of the recent global geopolitical turmoil (Covid-19, inflation, energetic and food security, Chinese 0-Covid policy) in order to ensure the continuity of the 4 cooperation agreements for trade and investment already signed since 1994. Moreover, the role of the AmCham (the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia) and of the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which is the American foreign aid agency, was put forward. The MCC supports the implementation of climate resilience in Mongolia, which is strongly affected by desertification and which is the 8th most vulnerable country to climate change, particularly through the implementation of common projects including water infrastructures and water recycling. Moreover it is important to highlight that a partnership with the American company Meta was presented, especially for the access to digital and for education.

12/12/2022: International Forum of the Group of Friends of Neutrality for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan – Alexandre Brière.

On 12 December, in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan, on the initiative of the Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, an international conference was held entitled: “Dialogue – Guarantee of peace”. This event was organised on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Neutrality and the 27th anniversary of the acquisition by Turkmenistan of the status of permanent neutrality. According to the United Nations press service, several ministerial delegations participated in the negotiations, including the Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Central Asian States, Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as the Head of the Center United Nations Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia. As reported by the press service of the Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, special attention was paid to the goals of the new development strategy of Uzbekistan for 2022-2026 adopted this year, as well as to the development plans of the Central Asian countries in economic cooperation and regional interconnectivity in transport and communication. In addition, there was talk of deliberating on the deterioration of the political situation in Afghanistan, which is at the heart of international security concerns. The “Group of Friends of Neutrality for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development” structure is an informal association designed to strengthen political dialogue within the framework of the UN. Finally, this organisation serves as a platform for initiating a vast multilateral dialogue under the aegis of the United Nations, in accordance with the principles of neutralism, in order to find solutions to the issues related to questions of regional security, sustainable development and economic and trade cooperation.

13/12/2022: Meeting between the Presidents of Tatarstan and Kazakhstan as part of the strengthening of economic and commercial ties – Alexandre Brière.

On 13 December, in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, a meeting took place between the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov. According to the press service of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this meeting takes place in the context of strengthening bilateral Tatar-Kazakh relations in the fields of trade, economy, investment, culture and humanitarian aid. During the discussions, special attention was paid to the implementation of joint projects on the territory of Kazakhstan in key sectors of the economy, including the automotive sector. As reported by the press service of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, this event comes after the launch of the first production of tires at the KamaTyresKZ automobile plant, located in Saran, Karaganda region, northeast of Kazakhstan. This plant is the first major Kazakh industry in the field of automotive tire production, the realization of which is the result of a collaboration between Tatneft, a Russian oil company, headquartered in Tatarstan, and Allur, the largest Kazakh automotive company. In this regard, Tatarstan plays a major role in promoting economic and diplomatic ties between the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Over the past few years, Tatarstan has carried out major investment projects in Kazakh territory. These projects were implemented in order to respond to the economic integration strategies of the member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union and to increase the export potential of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

14/12/2022: Meeting at the top between the Turkish, Turkmen and Azeri presidents – Maxime Delaye.

In Turkmenbashi, on the Turkmen coast of the Caspian, an exceptional meeting took place on December the 14th between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. After bilateral meetings and a short ceremony, the Turkic heads of state met in a trilateral discussion. The purpose of this summit at the initiative of Turkmenistan was, according to a press release from the Turkmen government, to “propose concrete initiatives to build a constructive partnership on both a bilateral and multilateral basis”, particularly on issues of cooperation in the domains of economy, transport, communication and energy. The Heads of State also took advantage of the meeting to sign a series of symbolic agreements on the creation of a joint advisory commission for the establishment of cooperation agreements. Following the meeting, President Ilham Aliyev made a point of expressing during a speech all his “gratification to President Serdar Berdimuhamedov for his hospitality and the high level of organisation of the trilateral summit”. The latter concluded his speech by emphasising his hope “for the regular holding of these summits which greatly contributes to the development of relations between these brotherly countries”, thus underlining the importance of the ties linking the three Turkic countries and their shared interests in regular cooperation.

14/12/2022: President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signs an agreement with Peter Spuhler, CEO of Stadler Rail AG – Audrey Colin.

On 14 December, Kazak President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the CEO of the Swiss railway group Stadler Rail signed an agreement worth 2.3 billion euros according to Astana and the Swiss company. This agreement provides for the delivery of 537 cars to equip the Kazakh railway network. The Swiss group will also acquire and modernise a local factory in Astana with around 100 employees and use the country’s aluminium to carry out production. Peter Spuhler stated the group’s intention to increase production levels by 35% by 2030. He also mentioned the possibility of exporting the factory’s production, recalling that the company’s cars are currently exported to 35 countries. The agreement also provides for cooperation in education. This cooperation is supposed to result in a transfer of knowledge and expertise. The company plans to set up training centres for young Kazakhs and to establish exchanges with Kazakh colleges and universities. The aim of this long-term cooperation, according to the national authorities, is to minimise the environmental impact and maximise the life of the fleet. The President expressed his conviction that the implementation of this joint project would strengthen trade and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Switzerland.

15/12/2022: Tajik President Emomali Rahmon met with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif – Sophie Marc.

The President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, paid an official visit to Pakistan on 14 and 15 December and met with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, according to the attached press release published on the website of the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also able to meet the President of the Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, as indicated by the Tajik Foreign Ministry. The discussions revolved around the development of bilateral relations between the two countries and cooperation in certain areas, in particular industry, new technologies, trade and the fight against the trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic drugs, according to the media Asia-Plus. As a result, several treaties were signed at an official ceremony, including an agreement on the transit of goods. According to the media outlet Business Recorder, a coordination committee to facilitate the transit of goods between the two countries will be set up to implement the agreement signed on 14 December. At the end of their meeting, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon invited the Pakistani prime minister to officially visit Tajikistan whenever he wanted, according to Newswires.

15/12/2022:  Adoption of a resolution from the Joğorku Keñeş regarding the smog of Bishkek – Alexiane Pradier.

On 15 December, right after a special meeting, Joğorku Keñeş adopted a resolution regarding “measures to reduce air pollution in Bishkek” as said by the official website of Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Council. This meeting follows on from the fact that the capital city reached the first place on the global ranking of cities in terms of air pollution on the 11th of December, based on the data delivered by the AirQuality website. Kyrgyz medias and Kloop add that the smog of Bishkek has a “‘very unhealthy’ level of pollution”, well above the annual standards recommended by the World Health Organisation. The density of this smog being harmful to the citizens, the subject took an unprecedented significance within a single week, defining itself as a sudden and major public issue. The medias Kloop and indicate that due to this, numerous frictions were created between the Kyrgyz authorities and environmentalist NGO like UNICEF and MoveGreen which are denouncing the lack of actions from the state concerning the smog, a problem the capital city Bishkek has had for many years. Medias and Kaktus add the conflicts are also internal, especially with frictions between multiple political and legislative stakeholders, who can’t seem to agree on the degree of responsibility of each other. However, a common ground was found regarding the measures to reduce air pollution, as the state managed to obtain a 50 millions dollars loan from the World Bank to resolve the situation. The first step was taken on the 16th of December as the nomination of the Director of the State Institution “Green Energy Fund under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic” took place, a decision signed by the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Akylbek Japarov as said on the official website of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic.

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