• KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01137 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00226 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09283 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 22

Central Asia’s Combined ‘Army of Turan’: Could a Hypothesis Become a Reality?

Kazakhstan will host the military exercise, "Birlestik-2024" in July of this year. Notably, this became known from the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. The exercises will be jointly held by the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It is a convenient occasion to refresh the topic of the 'Army of Turan', which is periodically raised by experts both in Central Asia and neighboring countries. The Army of Turan is a hypothetical military bloc of Turkic-speaking countries. Its ideas have become relevant in the context of global geopolitical turbulence.   I hear the thunder of cannons... Most military analysts consider Azerbaijan to be Turkey's proxy in the South Caucasus. In general, Baku's rapprochement with the capitals of Turkic states (plus Dushanbe) meets Ankara's interests in creating a unified cultural and economic space: Turan. However, does the integration of Turkic states mean that they will eventually be able to create a NATO-style security pact in Central Asia? Such initiatives have resumed with renewed vigor after the end of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, during which Turkey has shown the capability of its weapons. Indeed, in 2022, against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan - the only country of the participants to share a land border with the Russian Federation - pondered how to protect itself from further expansion of the northern empire's borders. But in the run-up to the summer of 2024, fears have mostly subsided. Many were sobered by the obvious fact that loud declarations of assistance from strong states at best mean the delivery of obsolete weapons, but no more. At worst, your offender will be censured from high podiums, and you will be sympathized with. For example, Turkey, the most likely to defend Central Asia from outsider aggression, did not risk helping the Palestinians, its brothers in faith, and got away with accusing Israel of fascism. So, the 'Army of Turan' exists in the heads of fantasists and pan-Turkics, but in reality, something ordinary is going on — the arms trade. Let's see what the armies of the Central Asian republics are armed with, excluding Turkmenistan, which has declared neutrality.   Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan The most troublesome neighbors in the region have not been able to complete their border delimitation process. As a result, quarrels periodically erupt, in which border guards from both sides intervene, staging mini-warfare. The cause of discord is usually the same: water. The Tajik and Kyrgyz militaries gain some combat experience in these micro-quarrels. Despite or based on this experience, Dushanbe relies on agreements with other countries -- Russia, China, India, Iran, and CSTO partners -- for its defense capability. Tajikistan's armed forces number only 9,000 men. They have 38 tanks (T-62 and T-72 modifications), 114 armored vehicles (APCs, BMPs, BRDMs), 40 artillery systems, and several short- and medium-range air defense units. The Air Force has four Czechoslovakian L-39 Albatross, combat trainers. Kyrgyzstan does not have much more power in the number of its troops, at around...

A Demographic Phenomenon in Kazakhstan — the Population is Rapidly Getting Younger

Kazakhstan stands out sharply on the demographic map of the world, according to Alexei Raksha, a Russian demographer. The republic's government supports high birth rates, which not only bring significant benefits but can also be a source of risk. Independent demographer Raksha has repeatedly said that Kazakhstan does not fit into global fertility trends. By all parameters (relatively high GDP, rising living standards, urbanization, etc.), the republic belongs to countries that should have already completed the first demographic transition. This term means a decline in mortality and fertility due to improved nutrition and medicine, resulting in simple generational replacement. That is, women no longer give birth to 10-15 children, hoping that two or three of them will survive. The first demographic transition has ended almost everywhere except in Africa, scientists believe. Nevertheless, according to Raksha, Kazakhstan -- along with Israel -- shows other indicators. In both countries, both religion and the desire for some kind of historical justice play a role. However, the demographer emphasizes that Kazakhstan's fertility figures are unevenly distributed regionally and ethnically. The fertile southern and western regions contrast sharply with the north, where the population is aging. Raksha recently commented on Kazakhstan's birth rate by women's ethnicity in 2022-2024. "If Kazakhs, Uzbeks and Uyghur women have birth rates at 2.9 to 4.2 children per woman, then representatives of European nations have an average of 1.3-1.5 children (average European level). It is obvious that there is a deep difference in cultural attitudes, both in the degree of social conservatism and in the level of religiosity," he wrote online. According to his data, in recent years, Kazakhstan has been steadily overtaking Uzbekistan, formerly considered the regional leader in population "production". This is confirmed by the data of the study of the leading medical journal The Lancet "Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation" (IHME) on fertility in 204 countries and territories in the period from 1950 to 2021 with forecasts up to 2100. According to the report, Kazakhstan has surpassed all its neighbors in Central Asia and all countries in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of fertility over 70 years. For contrast, Raksha constantly cites data on prolonged depopulation in Europe, North America, China, Korea, and Japan. Countries whose population is inexorably aging and whose birth rate is below the level of simple reproduction (less than two children per woman) are doomed to attract labor migrants, the expert believes. In addition, the SWO plays a destructive role in the post-Soviet space. Russia has faced precisely unrecorded but obvious demographic losses, while Ukraine is on the verge of social catastrophe. Kazakhstan will not face the fate of an endangered country in the coming generations. In late April, the Bureau of National Statistics of Kazakhstan reported that the total fertility rate in 2023 amounted to 19.52 per 1000 people. In 2022 it was at the level of 20.57 births per 1000 people. The highest birth rates are noted in Mangistau region (26.74 people per 1000 people), Turkestan region (26.18) and Shymkent...

Liberalizing Kazakhstan’s Economy Must Not Become Uncontrolled Privatization, Expert Warns

Last week, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a decree on reducing the state’s participation in the economy, aiming to help develop competition and private business. This could be a significant boost to the economy, financial analyst Rassul Rysmambetov, an Almaty-based expert in distressed assets and Director of the Financial Freedom Public Foundation, told The Times of Central Asia, though everything will depend on how the decree is implemented. Firstly, the decree envisages creating a National Office for Privatization under the Agency for the Protection and Promotion of Competition. This office is to develop criteria for state assets subject to privatization and create a list of them. In addition, measures are provided to increase the autonomy, quality, and independence of corporate governance at Samruk-Kazyna, the National Welfare Fund, and its subsidiaries. “The government must establish a specific list of large entities that will offer major stakes in the next two years in IPOs,” President Tokayev explained. According to Tokayev, the quasi-public sector – bloated and often ridden with debt – needs serious reform. “We need to put an end to the question of where state participation should continue and where competition can be developed. The largest share of the state in the economy is represented by the group of companies held by the Samruk-Kazyna fund, so that is where this work must start. New, systemic measures are required to fundamentally rehabilitate the fund,” the president stated. A separate section of the decree presents measures aimed at protecting the rights and legitimate interests of business, including decriminalizing offenses related to economic activity and coordinating with prosecutors on prohibitive and restrictive measures initiated by government agencies. This is not the first time Kazakhstan has tried to liberalize its economy – it has even privatized social institutions, such as hospitals, schools, and creative centers for children before – but previous attempts yielded no tangible successes. “We need to continue to work to improve the quality of services, consistently reduce state participation and eliminate excessive regulation and restrictions. This applies to all sectors of the economy,” Tokayev stressed. “Uncontrolled monopolies, unequal access to resources and unfair trade practices must be eliminated at the root. A pillar of economic liberalization will be effective privatization. There have been so many privatization plans, but every time we make the same mistakes.” Rysmambetov believes that professionals should take the lead. “Liberalizing the economy is a process. By no means can it be limited to a single decree – it is a strategic course. I see here dozens, if not hundreds of by-laws, industry reference documents and possibly new laws and codes. I'm afraid that parliament will prove unable to keep up with the pace at which these reforms should be carried out,” he stated. According to Rysmambetov, Samruk-Kazyna could be dissolved tomorrow, but the holding has taken on a lot of debt for its subsidiaries, meaning that in the near term its assets can only be partially privatized. In general, each Samruk-Kazyna company has a related supervising ministry, so, to...

Kazakh News Publisher Says New Media Law Does Little for National Press

Kazakhstan's new law "On Mass Media," recently passed by its lower house of parliament (the Majilis), has agitated the country's reporters. In an interview with The Times of Central Asia, Dzhanibek Suleyev, the publisher of several news sites, remonstrates that the law should have been more supportive of the national press. An aspect of the law that has caused heated discussions is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' new right to deny accreditation to foreign journalists "in case of a threat to the national security of the Republic of Kazakhstan." A few months ago the Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn't renew or refused to issue accreditation to 36 correspondents of the news website Azattyq, the Kazakh affiliate of the U.S. Government's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). No explanation was given for this rejection, and Azattyq has filed a lawsuit in court. Suleyev explained: "It is clear that the state wants to protect itself and society as much as possible from extremist publications and the spread of deviant morality, but what is proposed for those who simply do their work honestly, every day? We like to impose restrictions, but what about support? I think that if the state were to expand the field of cooperation, the press would be less critical." "Apparently, the state authorities have such an ambiguous opinion of Azattyq. In addition, the lack of accreditation clearly does not prevent 'going on the air,' the audience has access to the materials. I do not think that denial of accreditation to foreign media will become a mass phenomenon. The New York Times or leading sports publications and channels will hardly be denied accreditation. You have to understand that from the point of view of the state, there are ordinary media, and there are structures engaged in propaganda and counter-propaganda, and this should be taken into account," Suleyev explained. Suleyev said that the establishment of a one-year statute of limitations for media materials is a positive development, as it protects journalists' rights. It was initially proposed to set the term at three years from the date of publication. "It is good that it was reduced to a year, three years of limitation is the death of the publication. Of course, I would have liked to reduce the statute of limitations even further, but thanks for that. If journalists are always afraid of the court, how can they work? Because of the long statute of limitations, editorial offices need to keep archives, video, audio and documents, not everyone can do this. Besides, with a long statute of limitations, it is easier to settle scores with the press, to get unwanted people closed down," he said. Suleyev was happy to see more television programs in Kazakh. The new law aims to increase the amount of Kazakh-language and domestic content on television and radio. From 2025 at least 55% of TV and radio programs should be broadcast in Kazakh, rising to 60% from 2027. Retransmission of foreign TV and radio channels will be reduced to 10% from...

No Lessons Being Learned From Kazakh Floods, Says Political Analyst

Kazakhstan has been prone to flooding before, but the 2024 Kazakh floods have added a catastrophic page to the chronicles. Political analyst Marat Shibutov tells The Times of Central Asia that only extremely tough measures can motivate ministers and akims (local government executive) to actually work on flood prevention.   The Floods Have Not Yet Peaked Areas and homes in many regions of Kazakhstan -- Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Aktobe, Akmola, Kostanay, East Kazakhstan, North Kazakhstan and Pavlodar -- remain flooded. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, more than 113,000 people have been evacuated from the various disaster zones. The threat of another destructive wave of surface water still remains for major cities, even high-rise buildings are battling high in water in Atyrau, Petropavlovsk and Kostanay. Kazakh president Kasym-Jomart Tokayev has already visited the affected regions several times. According to local reports, people are now concerned not with punishing those responsible, but with paying fair compensation for lost housing, farms and livestock, and, most importantly, with creating an effective flood control system. In particular, residents of dacha (detached suburban) houses in Uralsk blocked the highway, demanding that the akim of the city include them in the list of those to be paid. If more floods occur it will be impossible to live in flood-prone areas. The only alternative is a radical revision of the requirements for residential zoning protective measures. Tokayev spoke about the responsibility for breached and unfinished dams and dikes, as well as the overlooked forecasts made by meteorologists about increased snowmelt and the threat of flooding not only from rivers, but also from the steppes in late March. For the lack of timely flood control measures, he announced a harsh reprimand to First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar and Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Nurzhan Nurzhigitov. Local administrators weren't spared either, with harsh reprimands and warnings for incomplete official compliance to the akims of Aktobe, Kostanay and West Kazakhstan regions -- and a harsh reprimand to the akims of Atyrau, Akmola, Almaty, Pavlodar and Abay regions. According to official data from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, in 2024 to date seven billion tenge ($15.5 million) have been allocated just to local executive bodies for flood mitigation activities. In March 2024, 66 billion tenge ($147 million) was allocated to carry out work relating to combating emergency situations. From 2019 to 2023, the Emergency Situations Ministry's expenditures increased almost fourfold, to 264 billion tenge ($588 million). Over the past five years, over 762 billion tenge ($1.7 billion) has been allocated from the national budget. What exactly those funds were towards remains an open question -- possibly as part of ongoing criminal cases.   Disasters of the Past It's not the first time that high water has caused irreparable damage in Kazakhstan. In Uralsk they still talk about a serious flood in 1942. In early May, the water level in the Urals reached 943 centimeters, and a 9-point storm raged on the river. Over 500 families were evacuated from...

Will Europe Learn Lessons From Central Asian Gas Failures to Secure Oil Imports Bypassing Russia?

Despite loud statements and reports, alternative routes for transporting oil from Kazakhstan and Central Asia to Europe remain only intentions. The desire of the EU to diversify its hydrocarbon suppliers is running into internal bureaucracy and a lack of understanding of how things work in Central Asia, which is in fact seeking to ship its energy in different directions.   Lost gas To start, it is worth recalling the Turkmenistan-Russia gas dispute of 2009. Before that, Gazprom bought gas from Central Asian countries at the border, swapping some volumes of domestic supplies with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and buying gas at prices lower than EU export rates. Gazprom explained this practice rather simply: there is no economic sense in transporting the gas through Russian territory, so at the border the price cannot be European (minus transportation) – this gas was consumed in Russia or supplied at preferential prices to Ukraine, while Russian gas was sent to Europe. In 2008, Turkmenistan produced 70.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, exporting 47 bcm, with an increase in production and exports planned for 2009. According to the Energy Institute, gas consumption by European countries in 2022 amounted to 498.8 bcm, meaning Turkmenistan alone, assuming export volumes stabilized at 50 bcm per year, could cover 10% of Europe’s needs. That amount, 50 bcm of gas, is the annual consumption of Switzerland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway and North Macedonia combined. However, Turkmen gas would never reach Europe. When an agreement on the volumes and prices of gas purchases by Gazprom failed to be reached, 15 years ago, on April 9, 2009, there was an explosion and fire on the eastern branch of the Central Asia-Center (CAC) gas pipeline, at CAC-4. Subsequent negotiations to resume the transport of Turkmen gas between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which took place in September 2009 in Moscow, could not resolve the dispute. All these years, the media and European leaders have been talking about building the so-called Nabucco gas pipeline, which was to go from Central Asia, along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, through Azerbaijan and on to Germany and Austria. Its design began back in 2002. Note that by 2009, had the project been energetically implemented, Nabucco could have been built and the first deliveries would have begun. In 2022, gas consumption in Germany and Austria amounted to 77.3 bcm and 7.9 bcm, respectively, meaning supplies from Central Asia could cover at least half of their needs. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for a large-scale gas pipeline. The Central Asian countries wanted to supply gas to Europe via alternative routes, receiving European prices for their commodities, and Europe could have significantly diversified its gas imports. Another player, however, was closely watching Europe’s red tape and indecision – China.   Hidden dragon China understands how to work with Central Asia, and in 2007 construction of the first line of...

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