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In Focus: ECED Central Asia Digest: 27 November – 03 December

Translated by Toni Michel (@villageescape) – check out his work at

The past week has been rife with notable events in Central Asia. The meeting between Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbai Jeenbekov at the sidelines of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) summit in Minsk could be the first step towards ending the dead-end in the two countries’ relations. Moreover, Jeenbekov himself travelled to Moscow on his first official visit abroad, which traditionally carries extra weight. Equally interesting this week were Russian-Uzbek relations, with the sale of 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia to Tashkent and a meeting between the two Prime Ministers, Dimitri Medvedev and Abdulla Aripov. Finally, a visit of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Tajikistan has been widely considered successful with 13 cooperation treaties signed.


Central Asian Leaders Meet In Minsk For CSTO’s Collective Security Council

The Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Emomali Rahmon came to Minsk for a session of the CSTO’s Collective Security Council that concluded with the signature of 21 agreements. As CSTO’s rotating Presidency is held by Kazakhstan in 2017-18, Nazarbayev presented Kazakhstan’s priorities for Astana’s chairmanship. The summit furthermore decided to elevate the status “Nelegal”, a CSTO-led permanent regional operation to counter illegal migration. (Ria Novosti, 30 November)


Kazakh National Bank Raises GDP Growth Prognosis

The National Bank of Kazakhstan has reconsidered its prognosis for GDP growth in 2017, now projecting 3,5% instead of 3,1%. For 2018, the regulator is then expecting 3% in GDP growth and 5-7% inflation which is then set to drop to 4-6% in 2019. The more positive outlook this year is connected to the mineral resource industry picking up steam in the 3rd quarter while the rest of the economy was able to stay on its positive track. (, 30 November)

Kazakhstan and Belarus sign agreement of social-economic cooperation

President Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded his official trip to Minsk this week, having signed a complex agreement on social-economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Belarus until 2026. The accord mainly concerns mutual investment in industry and deeper cooperation in commodity extraction as well as in the service sector. The two sides also agreed on expanding the links between their scientific-technical sectors, and jointly develop their transport infrastructure and military-industrial complex. (, 29 November)

Kazakhstan Fulfills Obligation To Decrease Uranium Mining This Year

2017 will see Kazakhstan lower its Uranium output from 24 thousand tons last year to 22 thousand tons. “Kazatomprom” made a decision in conjunction with other companies early this year to lower the extraction of Uranium in order to raise world market prices for raw materials which had contracted by nearly 47%. Kazakhstan is the world leader in Uranium production since 2009 and holds the world’s second largest reserves. In the last 10 years, the country increased production nearly sixfold. More than half of Kazakh Uranium exports go to China. (Sputnik Kazakhstan, 29 November)

Nazarbayev And Mirziyoyev Discuss Mutual Relationship

The state of the bilateral relationship was the subject of a phone call between Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev last week. The two leaders ascertained the successive implementation of the agreements that had been concluded during their mutual visits to Astana and Tashkent. They further noted the sharp rise in trade and business activity between the two countries. In the future, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will continue to progressively develop their relations and consult each other on the most pressing regional and international issues. (Press Service of the President of Kazakhstan, 29 November)


Russian And Uzbek Prime Ministers Meet For Negotiations In Tashkent

Uzbekistan’s capital hosted Russia’s PM Dimitri Medvedev this past week for negotiations with his Uzbek counterpart Abdulla Aripov. The latter described the relationship with Russia as built on mutual respect and trust; furthermore, Aripov said that the recent visit of Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Moscow had opened a new chapter in relations between the two countries. Medvedev noted that the contacts between Moscow and Tashkent were rooted in concrete agreements. The two sides stressed the importance of their joint projects and documents to be signed (TASS, 02 December).

Gazprom To Buy Cbm 20 Billion Of Gas From Uzbekistan And Kazakhstan

Russia’s energy giant Gazprom will expand its gas purchases from Central Asia to cbm 20bn this year and will buy the same amount in 2018. “As a result of agreements reached between the leaders of Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, increased deliveries of about cbm 20bn are foreseen for 2017 and 2018”, Andrei Zotov, a spokesman for “Gazprom Export” said. Natural gas purchases by Gazprom from Uzbekistan were already rising from 01 January 2016 after an accord to that effect had been reached at the end of 2015. (TASS, 01 December)

Uzbekistan Acquires Mi-35 Helicopters From Russia

This past week, a contract on the sale of 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters for Uzbekistan’s air forces was concluded with Russia’s defense export agency “Rosoboronexport”; delivery is set to begin in 2018. A source familiar with the issue said that the deal was sealed during the visit of Russia’s Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev to Uzbekistan at the beginning of November. Upon Tashkent’s invitation, a delegation of “Rosoboronexport” is currently visiting Uzbekistan to discuss potential further exports of arms and military hardware with representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the Committee for Defense Industries. (Ria Novosti, 30 November)

Tashkent And Kabul Begin Construction Of Power Supply Line To Afghanistan

Uzbekistan and Afghanistan are beginning the construction of an electricity pipeline from the Central Asian republic to Baglan Province in Afghanistan. The project had been launched during a regional conference on economic cooperation in Afghanistan that took place on 14-15 November in Ashgabat. “A visit of an Afghan delegation to Uzbekistan on 29 November kicked off this initiative and we immediately began with the implementation”, said Amanulla Galib, the head of Afghanistan’s National Energy Company. (, 29 November).


Head Of China’s State Council Supports Infrastructure Project “China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan”

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the sidelines of a summit between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s heads of governments in Sochi. Li said that China is interested in realizing the railroad project “China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan”. For his part, Isakov remarked that Bishkek is supporting China’s infrastructure and connectivity initiatives in Central Asia and added that the idea to create such a transport link also originated in Tashkent. (, 01 December)

Kazakhstan And Kyrgyzstan Agree To Resolve Border Situation

Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Sooronbai Jeenbekov reached a settlement last week to resolve the deadlock at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border. “We have agreed that both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as well as the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will set up check-points at the border. At the same time, controls will be conducted at the frontier with China”, Nazarbayev said in Minsk. He stressed that all outstanding border questions will be resolved after the implementation of a special road map and added that that he had invited Jeenbekov to come to Kazakhstan on an official visit. Jeenbekov announced that the border will be open already before the signature of the road map. (, 30 November)

Jeenbekov On First State Visit To Russia

Upon Russia’s invitation, Kyrgyzstan’s newly-elected President Sooronbai Jeenbekov visited Moscow on his first official visit abroad. He met with President Vladimir Putin, who remarked that Kyrgyz exports to Russia had more than doubled in 2017 and that the trade volume between the two countries had increased by more than a third. Putin particularly highlighted that the Kyrgyz President had chosen Moscow for his first official visit outside the country. (TASS, 29 November)


Tajikistan Delivers Diplomatic Note To Kabul After Border Shootout

In a diplomatic note, Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry has demanded that Kabul thoroughly investigate an incident that took place at the respective border in the night of 02 December. Chairiddin Achmatov, a Tajik border guard, had been killed and four of his comrades wounded during a firefight with drug smugglers that night. Three traffickers had been killed while others went into hiding on the Afghan side of the border. (Ria Novosti, 03 December)

Tajik President Calls On CSTO To Strengthen Tajik-Afghan Border

Tajikistan’s leader Emomali Rahmon has called upon his fellow CSTO heads-of-state during their summit in Minsk to help Dushanbe strengthen its border with Afghanistan. Rahmon further noted that Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan is in fact CSTO’s southern frontier and argued that terrorism, extremism, drug smuggling and trans-national crime are among the main threats today. (Press Service of the President of Tajikistan, 30 November)

EBRD Prognoses Further Rapprochement Of Tajikistan Towards EEU

Difficulties in the banking sector and the wider economy could compel Tajikistan to establishing closer ties with the EEU in order to gain access to financial support. This is according to a report by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In July, Abdufattoh Goib, the head of Tajikistan’s customs service, said that a working group of his department has been conducting a comprehensive study into “all issues relating to EEU membership” and had come to positive conclusions that were presented to the government. (Asia-Plus, 27 November)

Assembly Of Belarussian Tractors Begins In Tajikistan

Tajikistan’s Hisor District this week saw the launch of a tractor assembly line by manufacturer MTZ, a Minsk-based firm. In a first phase, the production of 50 units of the “Belarus-80.1” and “Belarus-82.1” tractors are planned while capacities to assemble up to 300 units per year will be created. What is special about the Hisor plant is that production will start from scratch and that the site will be included in the Tajik government’s list of critical facilities. Production of trailers, special car equipment as well as utility vans, firetrucks and other special vehicles are set to begin in Hisor District in 2018 to be sold in Tajikistan and its neighboring Central Asian states. (Embassy of Belarus in Tajikistan, 27 November)


13 Documents Detailing Cooperation Signed By Turkmenistan And Tajikistan

During negotiations between Emomali Rahmon and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Dushanbe, the two Presidents highlighted the positive dynamic Turkmenistan’s and Tajikistan’s multi-facetted cooperation. At the same time, though, they noted the decline in mutual trade. The negotiations culminated in the signature of a declaration on strategic partnership, an agreement on the cornerstones of cross-border work, services as well as export and import taxation. Furthermore, among other accords, a partnership agreement on long-term economic and trade cooperation was concluded. (CA-News, 02 December)

New Head Of “TurkmenGaz” Appointed In Ashgabat

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has named Myrat Archayev as head of the state corporation “TurkmenGaz”, according to a press release. Archayev had already temporarily filled the key government post of Turkmenistan’s Gas Agency since April 2017. (Press Service of the President of Turkmenistan, 01 December)

Turkmen State Budget To Contract In 2018

Turkmenistan’s Parliament has adopted the state budget for 2018 which provides for a reduction in revenue by 8 billion Manat (about $2,2bn) and in expenditure of 9 billion Monot (about $2,5bn). Like in previous years, the state’s income will in effect be raised from the oil and gas sector, the chemical industry and the electrical energy as well as construction sector. (Chronika Turkmenistana, 27 November)