Tag Archives: international relations

Arbitration is damaging our reputation, says Kazakhstan’s Dariga Nazarbayeva

JUNE 16 2021 (The Bulletin) — Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and an MP, said that Kazakhstan had to avoid getting dragged into international arbitration proceedings as they were damaging the country’s reputation as a place to do business. She specifically mentioned the long-running arbitration between Kazakhstan and Moldovan Anatoli Stati over an oil field which he says was illegally expropriated.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Erdogan flaunts his power in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

BAKU/JUNE 15 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed off the influence he has built up in the region by visiting a town captured by Azerbaijan in a war against Armenia last year and by hosting Kyrgyz Pres. Sadyr Japarov for only his second visit to a foreign leader outside Central Asia since grabbing power in October.

With Azerbaijani Pres. Ilham Aliyev by his side Mr Erdogan toured Shusha, Azerbaijan’s biggest trophy from its victory over Armenia for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, in what some analysts described as a victory lap.

Turkey helped Azerbaijan in the war, supplying drones and military advisers. In return, it now has a permanent military presence in Azerbaijan and can count on Baku’s staunch loyalty.

“We call on everyone, who has an influence on the region, to see the facts, acknowledge the Azerbaijani people’s victory and look to the future,” Mr Erdogan said after signing the ‘Shusha Declaration’ with Mr Aliyev. Armenia criticised his visit to Shusha as provocative.

On June 9, Mr Japarov, the Kyrgyz president, had flown to Ankara to meet with Mr Erdogan. Other than two meetings with Russia’s Pres. Vladimir Putin, this was his first trip outside Central Asia since taking power last year. At their meeting, the two leaders talked up relations and the threat from Gulenists, followers of an exiled cleric that Mr Erdogan blames for a failed coup in 2016. 

There was no mention, though, of Orhan Inandi, a Kyrgyz-Turkish Gulenist businessman and educator who disappeared in Bishkek in May. His wife has said that Turkish security forces abducted him and are holding him in the Turkish embassy in Bishkek.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Azerbaijan to open embassy in Sarajevo

JUNE 14 2021 (The Bulletin) — Azerbaijani Pres. Ilham Aliyev ordered his government to open an embassy in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. Bosnia Herzegovina has become something of a geopolitical battleground for influence and Mr Aliyev may want to support his key ally, Turkey. Turkey wants to extend its influence in Europe through one of the continent’s only Muslim countries.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

NATO snubs Georgia, again

JUNE 14 2021 (The Bulletin) — At their annual summit in Brussels, NATO members said that Georgia was still on track to join the Western military alliance but declined to give it a specific joining date. Georgia was given a ‘membership action plan’ in 2008 and has been an enthusiastic supporter of US-led operations in Afghanistan but it has been increasingly frustrated not to have been allowed to formally join NATO.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Azerbaijan swaps POWs for Armenian landmine map

JUNE 12 2021 (The Bulletin) — In a deal brokered by Georgia and the US, Azerbaijan exchanged 15 Armenian POWs for a map from Armenia of landmines laid in one part of Nagorno-Karabakh during a six-week war last year. Armenia has said that Azerbaijan holds 200 POWs, although Azerbaijani officials have said that the number is far smaller. Last week, a landmine killed two Azerbaijani journalists and an official.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Berdymukhamedov celebrates paying off China debt

JUNE 11 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkmenistan has paid off its debt to China, Turkmen Pres. Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said at a government meeting. Mr Berdymukhamedov said that by paying off the Chinese loans, Turkmenistan had increased its independence. China has been criticised for forcing loan recipients into debt traps. Turkmenistan took the loan, reportedly around $8b, from China to pay for the construction of its Galkynysh gas project and for a gas pipeline running to China.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Uzbeksitan and Tajikistan agree bilateral deals worth $1b

JUNE 11 2021 (The Bulletin) — At a meeting in Dushanbe designed to show off their new and strengthen friendship, Uzbek Pres. Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Tajik Pres. Emomali Rakhmon signed bilateral deals worth $1b. Relations between the two neighbours have improved markedly since the death in 2016 of Islam Karimov. The bilateral deals were focused on industry and manufacturing.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

France agrees $577m finance deal with Georgia

JUNE 10 2021 (The Bulletin) — France demonstrated its financial clout in the South Caucasus by signing a $577m deal to provide grants and loans to Georgia over the next three years. France is home to sizable Georgian and Armenian diasporas and takes a close interest in the region. Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan met with French Pres. Emmanuel Macron in Paris last month and in 2008, French officials negotiated an end to a war between Russia and Georgia. The loans and grants will be used to finance infrastructure and social welfare projects.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Tajikistan accused of sending Uyghurs to China

DUSHANBE/JUNE 10 2021 (The Bulletin) — The Tajik government is rounding up Uyghurs and sending them to China where they are imprisoned in so-called re-education camps, rights activists told the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

In a statement to the ICC, the East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE), an Uyghur group that wants to see an independent Xinjiang, said that Chinese agents were directing Tajik police in raids against Uyghurs. It said that the number of Uyghurs living ins Tajikistan had dropped to 100, from around 3,000.

“Those without the ‘correct paperwork’ are then deported back into China by Chinese authorities in small groups of up to 10 to avoid international attention,” the ETGE told the ICC. “The remaining Uyghurs are completely controlled by the Consulate and have to participate in weekly meetings with informers who report back to the Consulate.” 

Neither the Tajik nor the Chinese government has responded to the accusations. Tajikistan is a member of the ICC but China isn’t.

Western governments have accused China of trying to wipe out Uyghurs by imprisoning 1m Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz living in Xinjiang. China has denied the claims and said instead that it has set up a network of camps to re-educate Muslims to help them succeed in modern-day China.

Activists have accused the Kazakh and Kyrgyz governments of ignoring the plight of their people in China but this is the first time that a government has been accused of rounding up Uyghurs for the Chinese authorities. Activist hope that they are able to bring pressure on China by highlighting Uyghurs’ plight in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan has built up strong relations with China over the past decade, taking cheap loans to build roads and infrastructure and to beautify its towns and cities.  

In return, China has built up major political and economic patronage, controls many of Tajikistan’s most valuable mineral and energy assets and has reportedly set up a military base in the Tajik section of the Pamir Mountains.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Armenia to drop cognac branding on brandy exports

YEREVAN/JUNE 10 2021 (The Bulletin) —  Armenia’s government agreed to stop marketing its premium brandy products to Europe as cognac from 2032, part of a trade deal that it signed with the EU four years ago.

The announcement that Armenia would finally drop using the cognac brand came 10 days after PM Nikol Pashinyan had been in Paris meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to lockdown France’s support for Armenia over its ongoing border rows with Azerbaijan. 

France, a key ally of Armenia, has been pushing for the cognac title to be used only by brandy produced in its Cognac region. In return for dropping the term cognac, the EU promised to spend 3m euro helping Armenia build up a new brand for its brandy exports to Europe.

The TASS news agency quoted Armenia’s deputy PM Mger Grigoryan as saying that a new brand for Armenian brandy had not yet been decided upon.

“I am not ready to disclose such details so far because major market players have no consensus so far,” He said.

Armenia had appeared to drag its feet over imposing a ban on the cognac branding after signing an Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the EU in 2017 that improves trade relations and enforces European standards. 

EU law protects regional names on European food and drink products, although Armenia will still be able to market its brandy as cognac in Cyrillic on bottles sold to Russia, its main export market. The EU struck a similar deal with Moldova in 2014 when it agreed to drop using the cognac term too. Premium Moldovan brandy is now called Divin.

Brandy is an important part of Armenia’s branding and it is famed across the former Soviet Union. Its most famous producer is the Yerevan Brandy Company which markets its products under the Ararat brand and is owned by France’s Pernod Ricard.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021