Expert center for eurasian development
Rus / Eng

In Focus: ECED Central Asia Digest: April 16-22 2018

By Alexander Vorobiov (@AlexandVorobiov) - translated by Toni Michel (@villageescape)


Last week was again rife with quite notable political and economic events in Central Asia: Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev reshuffled the leadership of the armed forces while the Senate in Astana ratified a protocol on allowing special American cargo transits from the Caspian Sea ports of Aktau and Kuryk to pass through the country to Afghanistan. In neighboring Uzbekistan, construction works at the Kandym Gas Processing Plant in the south of the country started ahead of schedule; the project is being realized together with Russia’s Lukoil and is aimed at delivering gas to China. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev also said last week that a joint nuclear power plant construction undertaking with Rosatom will potentially get underway already in 2018. Meanwhile, significant internal changes swept through Kyrgyzstan, with Parliament expressing no confidence in the government after which Prime Minister Sapar Isakov was removed from his post. Muhammetkaliy Abulgaziyev replaced him as head of the government. In Tajikistan, Parliament ratified a border treaty with Uzbekistan while Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov received the governor of Saint Petersburg, Georgy Poltavchenko, in Ashgabat.





Central Asian Representatives at Summit of CIS Military Chiefs of Staff

The chiefs of staff of Central Asia’s individual armed forces came to Kazan last week where the corresponding committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was came together. During the summit, the officials exchanged views on the changing circumstances in the military-political sector, analyzed challenges and threats to military security in the CIS and tested the water for cooperation in jointly using unmanned aircraft and a single system to identify radiation. (, April 21)





Kazakh Foreign Minister in Ankara for Talks with Erdogan

Kazakhstan’s chief diplomat Kairat Abdrachmanov met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last week to lay the groundwork for a visit by Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev to Turkey in summer and to prepare a high-level session of the joint Council on Strategic Cooperation that is to be chaired by Erdogan and Nazarbayev. The Turkish President noted the strategic partnership between the two countries and expressed his support for the Astana Format of Syria Talks with Russia and Iran. (Press Service of the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan, April 20)

Kazakh Senate Ratifies Caspian Cargo Transit Agreement with US

Special supplies for the US military effort in Afghanistan will be able to transit the Kazakh Caspian ports of Kuryk and Aktau after the Senate in Astana ratified an amendment to a September 2017 Agreement between Kazakhstan and the US. The good transit will be organized on a commercial basis via Azerbaijan, then through the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan and then via rail to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. A US-Kazakh accord on cargo transit already exists since 2010. (, April 19)

Nazarbayev Reshuffles Military Leadership

Kazakhstan’s military saw a shake-up of its leadership this past week, with Kaidar Karakulov being moved from the Astana Regional Command to heading the airborne unit of the army. There, he replaced Almaz Dzhumakeyev. Aulat Adyrbekov was then appointed commander to Karakulov‘s previous post at the Astana Regional Command while Askar Jolamanov became commander of the army’s rocket and artillery units. Saken Bekjanov, finally, was chosen to lead Kazakhstan’s navy. (Press Service of the President of Kazakhstan, April 18)

Nazarbayev Announces End to Government Recovery Program for Struggling Banks

Kazakhstan’s President chaired a monitoring meeting on the activities of the National Bank this past week where the regulator presented its findings from 2017 as well as the perspectives for the development of the financial sector. Nazarbayev said that a program to help struggling banks had performed very badly and would be ended this year; he also criticized managers and stakeholders of credit institutions like EksimBank, Bank of Astana, Quazaq Banki for inefficiency. (, April 18)





Mirziyoyev Talks Cooperation in Phone Conversation with Putin

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev spoke to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone this past week to affirm the mutual momentum for closer cooperation and a strategic partnership in all spheres. The call came about upon Tashkent’s initiative. Mirziyoyev furthermore raised the launch of the Kandym Gas Processing Plant that was realized in cooperation with Russia’s Lukoil and is one of the biggest such complexes in Central Asia. (Press Service of the President of Russia, April 19)


Uzbekistan Aims at Building Nuclear Power Station in 2018

In a ceremony marking the opening of the mentioned Kandym Gas Processing Plant, Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev raised the possibility of signing a construction accord for a nuclear power station already this year. “Everything we will sign with Putin will remain in force and we will see to a speedy beginning of the project,” the President said. Russia and Uzbekistan concluded a treaty on cooperating in the field of peaceful nuclear energy. (Sputnik Uzbekistan, April 19)

Kandym Gas Processing Plant Completed Ahead of Schedule

In Uzbekistan’s southern Bukhara Region, the Kandym Gas Processing Plant was opened in a ceremony attended by President Mirziyoyev, the head of Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov and Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak. The project was jointly pursued by Uzbekneftegaz and Lukoil for which the Kandym complex became the largest investment project in Uzbekistan. The overall cost amounted to more than US$3,4 billion. (Press Service of the President of Uzbekistan, April 19)

London Ready to Provide £1,5 Billion for Oil and Gas Projects

The UK’s Export Financing Agency UKEF and Uzbekistan’s Fund for Reconstruction and Development FRRU announced on April 18 that they had signed a £1,5 billion (US$1,775 billion) contract in London during the first UK-Uzbek Investment Forum. Financing is to be provided by UKEF to support unspecified projects in the oil and gas sector of Uzbekistan. Tashkent is planning to complete large-scale projects in the area. (, April 19)




New Prime Minister Appointed in Kyrgyztan

President Sooronbay Jeenbekov affirmed the nomination of Muhammetkaliy Abulgaziyev as Kyrgyz Prime Minister on April 19 after the latter was endorsed by a majority in the Kenesh, Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament earlier on the same day. Abdulgaziyev was supported by the ruling Social Democratic Party SDPK, the “Kyrgyzstan” fraction, “Bir Bol” and “Respublika – Ata Zhurt” which joined the coalition the day before. Earlier in March, Abulgaziyev was appointed as head of Jeenbekov’s Presidential Administration after serving as Deputy Prime Minister in his government. (Interfax, April 20)


Parliament previously passed a motion of no confidence in the government of Sapar Isakov, Abulgaziyev’s predecessor, upon the initiative of the political groups “Respublika – Ata Zhurt” and “Ata Meken”. Out of 112 deputies present, 101 voted for the motion, five voted against. Sapar Isakov was Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister since August 25, 2017. (, April 19)



The Kenesh furthermore gave its green light to Abulgaziyev‘s cabinet that exchanged the entire rank of deputy prime ministers, upon the new Prime Minister’s proposal. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyladayev, Finance Minister Adylbek Kasymaliyev, Justice Minister Ainur Abdyldayev, Culture Minister Sultan Zhumagulov, Agriculture Minister Nurbek Murashev, Transport Minister Zhamshitbek Kalilov, Labor Minister Taalaikul Isakunova, Education Minister Gulmira Kudaiberdiyeva kept their previous jobs. (FerganaNews- April 20)




Russia Proposes Tajikistan to Become EEU Observer

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov proposed Dushanbe this past week to consider the possibility of becoming an observer state of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) during a session of the Russo-Tajik intergovernmental commission. He pointed out that observer status does not equal membership and the corresponding political obligations but still promotes trade and mutual economic exchanges. “We want all our partners in the CIS who develop our joint agenda with us to understand what exactly we are doing within the EEU,” Shuvalov added. (CA-News, April 21)

Tajik Parliament Ratifies Border Agreement with Uzbekistan

In a unanimous vote, Tajikistan’s Parliament has ratified a border agreement with Uzbeksitan that was signed in the course of a visit by Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev in March. The accord delimitates 192 kilometers of the border, leaving only one parcel of about 2 kilometers in the area of the Farkhad Hydroelectric Dam in question that is located at the juncture between Tajikistan’s Sughd and Uzbekistan’s Sirdaryo Region. (Sputnik Tajikistan, April 19)

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to Hold Historic Joint Military Maneuver

Sources in the Tajik Government reported last week that the Defense Ministries of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are planning joint military maneuvers before the end of the year to practice anti-terrorism cooperation. The exercises could take place on a number of testing sites on the territories of both countries. Currently, the two countries are discussing the date, number of troops and military hardware for the maneuver. (Asia-Plus, April 18)


Russia and Turkmenistan Hold Consultations on Migration Issues

Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Yevgeny Ivanov headed a delegation visiting Ashgabat this past week to conduct consultations with his Turkmen counterparts and exchange views on how to develop the cooperation of the two countries’ consular services. For Ashgabat, particularly questions surrounding labor migration have priority due to the worsening of the economic situation in the country. In 2017, 74.000 Turkmen citizens embarked to Russia. (PressServiceoftheTurkmenForeignMinistry, April 18)

St Petersburg Governor Visits Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov welcomed St Petersburg’s Governor Georgy Poltavchenko in Ashgabat this past week. Poltavchenko said that his city was interested in continuing its cooperation with Turkmenistan, particularly in the trade and economic sphere, in energy, industry and construction. (Press Service of the President of Turkmenistan, April 18)


Follow the Expert Center for Eurasian Development on Twitter and Facebook.