For the first time since the start of armed clashes on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, business cooperation between the two countries has begun to return. Kyrgyz Energy Minister Taalaibek Ibrayev and his delegation recently visited a pair of Tajikistan's energy facilities, the Rogun and Nurek hydroelectric power plants (HPP), according to the press service of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Energy. Tajikistan's Deputy Minister for Energy Halmukhamadzoda Sobron showed Kyrgyz colleagues how the Rogun HPP is being built, as well as some special underground facilities and tunnels under the plant. Sobron described problems faced by Tajik hydro construction workers when using construction equipment at the site, and detailed the integrated stage-by-stage approach to building the main structures of the hydropower plant. "More than 15,000 hydro construction workers are involved in the construction of the Rogun HPP, more than 300,000 machines and equipment are operated, and skillful planning allows dozens of contracting companies to work simultaneously," Tajik power engineers emphasized. The Kyrgyz side noted that the exchange of experience in the construction of such grandiose facilities will be useful in the construction of Kambar-Ata HPP-1 in Kyrgyzstan. During the three-day visit, Kyrgyz power engineers also visited plants responsible for the production of hydromechanical equipment and for the production of electrical equipment. During the meetings it was emphasized that after the border issue is resolved, the sides are ready to cooperate with each other again on all issues. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are usually connected by high-voltage power lines, which play an important role in the regular supply of electricity to local residents living in the border areas. However, these lines are now out of operation. The problem with the border between the two countries arose after the collapse of the USSR. Essentially both parties claimed land that's rich in water resources, as the issue of agricultural irrigation is very relevant in the arid region. More than 30 years have passed since then, and the parties still cannot agree on the disputed territories. Because of this, conflicts periodically arise between citizens of border villages -- as well as residents of enclaves and border guards of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- including with the use of heavy weaponry. The last such conflict took place in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan and Sughd region of Tajikistan in September 2022 -- at which time there were hundreds of deaths on both sides and civilian infrastructure was destroyed. Since May 2021, transportation by land or air between the countries remains closed. Trade and all business contacts have been suspended. To date, the two countries have agreed to demarcate about 90% of the disputed territories. Rogun HPP is a hydroelectric power plant under construction on the Vakhsh River. It is the largest HPP in Central Asia. Construction of Rogun HPP began in the 1970s, but in the 1990s work was stopped due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of civil war in Tajikistan. Construction resumed only in 2010 with the support of the World Bank. The first...
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According to the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York between the Kazakh government and the UN regarding the deployment of a peacekeeping contingent to the UN Disengagement Observer Force mission. This will be the first time in the history of Kazakhstan when the UN has given the country a mandate to carry out an independent peacekeeping mission. Earlier, Defense Minister Ruslan Zhaksylykov reported that 139 servicemen will be sent to the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria. They will maintain a ceasefire between the warring parties in accordance with the mandate of the UN mission. In order to fulfill the UN mission with professionalism, peacekeepers from Kazakhstan have undergone a thorough selection and training process in accordance with all the requirements and standards of the UN. The training lasted six months, and took place at the center for peacekeeping operations under the Kazakh Ministry of Defense. "The instructor staff of the centers of peacekeeping operations, demining and military medicine participated in the training of the servicemen. To improve practical skills and interoperability with officers of the contingent's headquarters, classes were held on military decision-making at the operational-tactical level," the Defense Ministry reported. Kazakhstan's peacekeepers were taught English, rules of engagement, and international and humanitarian law. They also trained in how to protect the peacekeeping base, organize roadblocks, patrols, disarm explosive devices, and provide assistance and evacuation. Based on the results of the training, experts said Kazakhstan's peacekeeping contingent showed a high level of training and motivation. Kazakhstan has painstakingly equipped the peacekeepers in accordance with UN standards. They have been provided with modern weapons and military equipment. The contingent has armored wheeled vehicles with combat modules, KamAZs, high cross-country vehicles and engineering equipment -- as well as all the necessary lifesaving equipment. Also, one of the vehicles has been converted for evacuation of the wounded. It's equipped with an oxygen machine, defibrillator, medicines and other medical equipment. The Kazakh ministry's specialized department says that during the peacekeeping mission the servicemen will be paid three times their monthly allowance, with an additional $1,448 from the UN budget. Moreover, after completion of service to the mission, they can count on treatment at a health resort and an extra 14 days added to their basic annual leave. Peacekeepers from Kazakhstan will include individual servicemen as military observers as well as staff officers. Members of specialized units are also in demand; they include infantry, medical, reconnaissance and engineering. Over the past 16 years, more than 600 Kazakh servicemen have participated in seven UN peacekeeping missions spread across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Currently, 19 peacekeepers from Kazakhstan are serving in UN contingents in Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara and the Central African Republic.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the youngest daughter of the First President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, has sold her luxurious two-story Beverly Hills mansion, Le Palais. The exact amount of the deal and the name of the new owner were not disclosed, but it's known that the buyer paid about $36 million. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the house, located opposite the Beverly Hills Hotel, has an area of 4,500 square meters. Karimova-Tillyaeva bought it in 2013 for $32.75 million from real estate developer, Mohammed Hadid, the father of models Bella and Gigi Hadid. Le Palais was built according to Hadid's own plans. The mansion has a summer terrace, a garage for 10-12 cars, separate rooms for staff accommodation, an 18-meter outdoor swimming pool, and a roof garden. For the hosts and their guests, the house has seven bedrooms, a dining room of approximately 500 square meters, a ballroom which can accomdate 200 people, a home theater, a gym, and a Turkish bath with an indoor pool. Four years ago, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva and her husband Timur Tillyaev put three homes up for sale in Hollywood at prices ranging between $6 million and $6.5 million. They had purchased the properties in 2014 through offshore companies for $16.1 million in total. The couple then proceeded to rent the properties out. In 2015, the American press became aware that the daughter of the Former President of Uzbekistan owned four luxury mansions in one of the most fashionable areas of Los Angeles - the neighborhood of Bel Air. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the couple also own real estate in France and Switzerland, where their home in Geneva is valued at $41 million. The 44-year-old youngest daughter of the late President Karimov is the founder of the Harmonist Maison de Parfum perfume company. Her husband owned the largest wholesale market in Uzbekistan,Abu Sahiy. In 2017, Mediapart published an investigation which revealed that Abu Sahiy had transferred $127 million through offshore bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Karimova-Tillyaeva, known in the West as "Till," served for ten years as Uzbekistan's Ambassador to UNESCO. She is actively involved in various projects in the fields of culture, health, education, science, and the ecology. The Sen Yolg'iz Emassan (You Are Not Alone) Foundation, which she heads, conducts free surgeries for children from low-income families in Uzbekistan.
The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev paid a working visit to Qatar on February 13-14, during which he delivered a speech to the members of the Consultative Assembly (Majlis al-Shura) in Doha. About a dozen documents were signed after negotiations between the Kazakh side and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The main agreement focuses on cooperation in the construction of gas processing plants at Kazakhstan's Kashagan field between the state company, JSC QazaqGaz, and Qatar's UCC Holding - as well as projects in the field of energy and gas between JSC Samruk-Kazyna, the Kazakh Ministry of Energy, and Qatar's Power International Holding. According to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to Qatar, Arman Isagaliyev, President Tokayev's speech contained comments and observations about the upcoming reforms in Kazakhstan, as well as an assessment of events in the Middle East and the world in general. Qatar appears keenly interested in the structure and operations of state institutions given that the first parliamentary elections in the country were held just three years ago. Tokayev proposed after state-level talks that the countries could enter a fully-fledged strategic partnership. Furthermore, Tokayev noted that it's necessary to develop an inter-modal transport network connecting the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, and to expand cooperation in agriculture and organize cultural exhibitions from Kazakhstan and Qatar in each other's capitals in 2025. During the talks, Tokayev said he is ready to increase exports to Qatar on 60 non-resource-based commodity items by $250 million, and proposed bilateral trade be increased to $500 million.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov to reconsider Kyrgyzstan's draft law on foreign agents, which is currently under consideration in the parliament and has already been passed by the country's Supreme Council in a second reading. In his letter, Secretary Blinken says that this bill in its current form "jeopardizes the access of Kyrgyz citizens to vital services." According to the U.S. official, after the law is passed, Kyrgyz citizens may have problems with access to health care, education and more services provided through programs run by non-governmental organizations with the support of Washington and other foreign partners. "Your vibrant civil society has long been the strongest in the region and a key part of Kyrgyzstan's democracy. I am therefore writing to you to express my concern about the Kyrgyz parliament's draft law on foreign representatives, which, if passed, would impose onerous civil and criminal penalties on non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It jeopardizes one of your country's greatest assets," the U.S. Secretary of State wrote. According to Blinken, many Kyrgyz NGOs and foreign-funded NGOs are already thinking about stopping their activities in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Secretary of State urged the Kyrgyz president to weigh these concerns and discuss them with members of parliament (MPs). According to the bill being discussed by MPs, the concept of "foreign representative" will be introduced into law, and will place special responsibility under the law on non-profit (NPO) and non-governmental organizations. In particular, Western representatives aren't satisfied with the fact that the bill proposes introducing an article in the Kyrgyz Criminal Code on "creation of a non-profit organization that infringes on the personality and rights of citizens." Active participation in such organizations will be punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of 100,000-200,000 soms ($1,100-$2,200). Moreover, the draft law introduces additional reporting obligations for foreign-funded non-profit organizations that engage in political activity in Kyrgyzstan. Other international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, as well as representatives of EU, UK and other countries stated that they are not satisfied with the draft law. They also called on parliament and the president to reconsider the bill. "The introduction of onerous reporting requirements in the draft law is likely to prove crippling for small and medium-sized media organizations and create significant risks for media freedom and open debate on issues of public interest in the [Kyrgyz Republic]. It is particularly worrying that the amendments under consideration would impose almost complete state control over the right to free expression of civil society and media representatives," said Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The discussion about draft laws on NGOs and foreign agents has been going on in Kyrgyzstan for several years. Amendments and additions have been made to the draft law. Now the bill is close to final adoption and signing by the president. Speaking at the People's Kurultai last December, President Japarov said that more than...
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will be working together to open an additional checkpoint for goods vehicles on their countries’ border. They are also set to further their cooperation in the water and energy sectors. These agreements were reached at a meeting between the Kazakh prime minister, Alikhan Smailov, and the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s cabinet of ministers Akylbek Japarov in Almaty on February 1st. Kyrgyzstan has complained for years about long lines at the Kazakh border for its cargo trucks bringing goods to Russia through Kazakhstan. The most recent big traffic jam occurred on the Kyrgyz side of the border in August 2023, when more than 600 trucks were stuck at the crossing. These delays were caused by Kazakh authorities carrying out enhanced checks on trucks entering the country from Kyrgyzstan, ostensibly to combat illegal border activity. However, the situation caused speculation that the jams were a result of a dispute over irrigation water resources between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Irrigation water remains an issue in Kazakh-Kyrgyz relations. Last summer the southern regions of Kazakhstan experienced a severe shortage of water for their fields, while upstream Kyrgyzstan also lacked water and couldn’t supply enough of it to its northern neighbor. Kazakhstan, especially its dry southern regions, is dependent on water coming from Kyrgyzstan. At the meeting on February 1st Mr Smailov also spoke about the growing trade between the two countries, with bilateral trade growing by 12% and reaching $1.3bn between January and November 2023.